Required internships or field experiences for undergraduates are often reserved for senior year, when students are focused on finishing their last few classes and building their resume. Not so for the education majors at Providence, who often have their first taste of classroom experience as Freshman. As they progress from lower to upper division classes, this experience grows, and by the time they reach their senior year, they are introduced to full time in-class teaching.
In the past, Providence enjoyed a well established relationship with the teachers and staff at Ontario Christian School, which was convenient when the college was located in Ontario. After the move to Pasadena, Lynn Hoekstra, adjunct teacher of education had the challenge of quickly establishing relationships with teachers and principals in the Pasadena area. Despite these challenges, Providence students have been welcomed by four local schools, including Arcadia Christian, Pasadena Christian Junior High, Westminster Academy, and Judson International. Hoekstra said that “these schools have graciously welcomed our Providence students and through teaching, our students will be able to not only gain experience for their future, but serve the community as well.”
Students taking the “Education of Psychology” or “Teaching of Reading” classes are required to visit schools to assist teachers every Monday. Brielle England, who was inspired by her 7th grade teacher to pursue a career in education is one of these students working as a teachers aid. Her work includes everything from helping the students with flash cards, phonics, and reading, to photocopying papers, or any other the tasks that need to be done. She said that the five kindergarten students at Westminster are just “so cute! It was hard to go flash cards with them and make them go through the cards again when they messed up because they would just bat your eyelashes. Ugh! They’re just so cute, so fun!” Hoekstra commented that the biggest challenge for the aids is that classroom time is limited. She added, “Some of the students have been able to work in the school for 1.5 to 2 hours at a time, but many of them work in 40 minute time periods. They want to be there longer.”
Jamie Garcia and Lorah Gleason, both seniors, are the two Providence students teaching full time. Garcia is teaching first grade at Arcadia Christian and Gleason is at Pasadena Christian Junior High. Tight schedules and hectic days have plagued these two vigilant apprentices, yet Garcia and Gleason are still enthusiastic when they talk about their students, even if the work leaves them exhausted by the end of the day. Garcia said that even though she has experience with lesson planning, it still takes up quite a bit of time, but she is getting faster and more adept at reducing the amount of time she has to pour into preparation. The rewarding part of her job comes “When the kids get it – when you introduce something really challenging, and they understand, and a light bulb goes off – that makes me smile. When they pray every morning, and I hear these kids praying for the classroom and for me it makes my day, it shows me why I’m there; I’m there to serve God, and they’re there to serve God.” For these two students, an internship is not simply spending time working in order to be able to check it off a requirement list, it is an opportunity and an expression of the call to be disciples wherever they are placed. Their example serves as a great reminder and encouragement for Providence students in all majors.