Education students hear from graduates at teacher panel

Education students hear from graduates at teacher panel
Nolan Ortbahn, McKenzie Johnson, Jordan Mertes, and Katie Osmanski present their first year teaching experiences.

The education association held a first-year teacher panel Oct. 12 for students who are pursuing a career path in education. This was an opportunity for current education students to learn from recent graduates to ask questions and to get an idea of what their first year of teaching might look like.

There were four panelists whose teaching experience ranged from kindergarten to high school. Nolan Ortbahn, McKenzie Johnson, Jordan Mertes and Katie Osmanski are now in their first year of teaching after graduating from Augustana. This panel consisted of topics about time and classroom management, the application and job interview process and authentic connections.

“I am making a difference, and there is something new every day,” fourth-grade teacher Mertes said.

The student leader of the Augustana University Education Association (AUEA), Brooklynn Gross, welcomed everyone with snacks and even a chance to win a prize at the end of the session. As an English and secondary education major, she was thrilled about how she is able to bring this opportunity to students.

“I really encourage education majors to come whether they are a freshman or senior, it is really important to hear from our veteran teachers,” Gross said.

The teachers are able to supply information to help students get their foot in the door with their careers.

“Education is the most powerful tool that we have to create and maintain a free society and promote the greater good,” Dean of the School of Education, Laurie Daily said.

She also explained how the panel is perspective-sharing; furthermore, it can also open job opportunities for students.

One of the options that the panelists published was taking a substitute teaching position any chance it was available.

“Once you are in college, it is all experience you can put on your resume, all the time you can spend in a classroom, [that] will make you a better teacher,” Ortbahn said.

Others chimed in to explain that taking up a substitute position for even a half-day can give a better perspective on what the environment looks like.

Sophomore Sam Skarstad attended the panel to learn about what her path as an educator may look like and what she might experience in the classroom.

“It was so nice to hear about what their experience has been like in the real classroom, to hear their excitement makes me excited as well,” Skarstad said.

She said her goal is to create bonds with her students and for her students to do the same when she finds herself in the panelists’ position as a first-year teacher.

Augustana takes a variety of approaches to give students leverage in their career-seeking path before and after graduation. Daily explained that information can be received from principals, superintendents and even alumni about employment opportunities. To actively seek out these options can help students receive a position in the area they are passionate about.

The education association will be holding another panel on Nov. 9, in Madsen Center room 164.