Back to School: New program works to better prepare future teachers

It’s the second day of school at Clark Elementary in Paducah, and students are still getting into the swing of things.

Darian Helton isn’t a teacher quite yet, but she’s already assumed the role.

"As soon as they came in the door you have 24 eyes looking to you," says Helton.

Helton is a student at Murray State University. This year, the school launched a new student teaching program. Helton is one of 10 college students who were picked to participate. Now she’ll get to help teach a class for an entire year, rather than just a semester.

A typical student teacher doesn’t walk into the classroom until the middle of the school year when the kids are already in student mode. Helton started her student teaching job at the end of June, learning about how to get ready for a new school year from an experienced teacher.

"They have to plan every first day activity, registration, decorating their rooms. And it’s really helpful to see how they get all that started, because you don’t learn that in college," says Helton.

Clark Elementary School Principal Stephen Ybarzabal says it’s the type of experience that can get you hired.

"I think they’re going to be better prepared first-year teachers than anyone else out there," says Ybarzabal.

The goal of the program is to put out strong candidates to teach your child.

"Sometimes parents are nervous that you’re a first-time teacher," says Helton.

Helton says you’ve got nothing to worry about if your child ends up in her classroom.

Murray State University partnered with five local schools for the year-long student teaching program. It includes Clark Elementary School, Murray Middle School, Mayfield Middle School, Browning Springs Middle School in Madisonville, and Paducah Middle School.

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