Local classrooms host future teachers

Sheri Byrd, Story and photo
Kaiserslautern American

***image1*** The KMC is currently the temporary home to 24 teacher interns, completing their obligatory semester of student teaching during the spring semester, before graduating from U.S. universities as fully qualified teachers.

The program, in its fourth year in KMC schools, has grown every semester, hosting more and more interns. The current group of students represents eight universities, including some who took their courses from online programs.

Volunteer KMC teachers take interns into their classrooms for the entire semester, coaching them from theory to practice in their subject or specialty.

“The interns work with our outstanding teachers learning strategies and best practices in classroom instruction in an international setting,” said Kathryn Forystek, Kaiserslautern District assistant superintendent. “Our overseas atmosphere adds a dimension not normally experienced by interns.”
The interns can then seek employment, with DODDS or U.S. schools, holding a resumé few recent graduates can match.

Furthermore, local students receive the latest technology and educational research that the interns bring from their universities to the classrooms.

The program is administered by Department of Defense Education Activity headquarters in Arlington, Va. Once applicants have been accepted for the program at their university, DODEA places interns in DODDS overseas schools based on number of supervising teachers and housing availability.

Ramstein American High School is hosting seven interns this semester, six in teaching and one in counseling.

“I love working in a DODDS school,” said intern Donnie Hale, 37, from the University of Texas at San Antonio, student teaching geography. “There is such a sense of community here. We’ve been so welcomed. And you have to deal with far fewer serious discipline problems here. I’ve never even come close to sending a student to the principal.”

Through an agreement with the 435th Services Squadron, the teacher interns live in base housing scheduled for future renovation or demolition. These apartments would not be available to military members and would otherwise remain empty. In the past, interns had to reside with volunteer teachers or families. The availability of the empty apartments has enabled the KMC to take on more interns than ever, said Mrs. Forystek.

The only major disadvantages, according to Mr. Hale and the other interns, are lack of personal transportation, “being trapped on the base all week,” and missing their May graduations this spring.

“But we’ve made such wonderful friendships here,” said Becky Anderson, 22, from the University of Kansas, student teaching high school English as a Second Language and middle school Spanish. “Often at schools in the states, they barely notice a student teacher is there. Here, we’ve gotten to know each other, the other teachers and even the students really well.”

The RAHS group has taken advantage of their short time in Europe, traveling to more than half a dozen countries since their term began in January.

For more information on the DODEA student teaching program, visit www.dodea.edu/pers /employment/studentteaching/stuteach_Index.htm.