“It’s one thing to think about being a teacher, but teaching in front of an actual class is a whole different ball game,” said Sara Lawson, who will be a senior at Inglemoor High School in fall 2022. “I developed great relationships with my mentor teacher and students that I will cherish forever.”
As part of Northshore’s Careers in Education (CIE) program, Sara spent the second semester of the past school year as a teaching intern in a kindergarten classroom at Maywood Hills Elementary.
Northshore’s CIE program provides juniors and seniors throughout the District with the opportunities to explore teaching careers and more.
“Our students learn about all careers in education fields — teacher, counselor, administrators — and more,” said Sara Collett, the family and consumer sciences teacher who leads the CIE program. “While some know they want to be teachers, others discover all the other paths available.”
Housed at Bothell High School, students from any high school can enroll in the two-period CIE class. Students taking the class for the first time spend the first semester in the Bothell High classroom, learning at a level equivalent to a college education course. Curriculum comes straight from the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) guidelines for training teachers.
For second semester, each student begins an internship at an elementary school three days per week. Those enrolling for a second year move into internships earlier, during first semester.
Learning to Teach
In the CIE class, Collett covers teaching skills such as classroom management and lesson planning, as well as childhood development and relationship building with students. Guest speakers share insights into the variety of career paths in education in addition to being a teacher, as well as resources for how to continue after graduation.
“Teaching this class inspires me and reminds me that the stress of the COVID years won’t always be with us,” said Collett. “Education is a profession that will continue to grow with these students who want to be teachers, principals, or counselors.”
Once they begin their internships, students continue to attend class twice a week on the Bothell campus. Both first- and second-year CIE students make up the class, allowing for peer mentoring and problem solving in addition to building their portfolios and hearing from guest speakers. Throughout the year, students build close relationships with classmates and Ms. Collet.
“The most valuable thing about Careers in Education was that I always had a group of peers and a teacher I could rely on,” said Makena Jorgenson, a 2022 graduate of Bothell High School. Makena will attend San Diego State University to pursue a degree in elementary education. She also intends to take the Paraprofessionals exam (para pros test) in the hope of gaining more classroom experience while in college.
Career Path Support
Northshore Schools Foundation has provided a grant to pay the $94 fee for the para pros test for high school grads from the CIE program. Any graduated student who has completed one or two years of CIE can take the test. All of the 2022 CIE grads signed up to take the test at the end of June.
Supporting CIE students in becoming teachers is a new effort for Northshore, explained Jon Young, assistant director of human resources. To become a paraprofessional, individuals must be high school graduates, 18 years old, and pass the test. While there are no guarantees of employment, Northshore nearly always has openings for paraprofessionals, Young said. Wages start at $27.09 per hour and include benefits.
“Working as paraprofessionals is a nice pathway for CIE students who want to move into teaching,” said Young. “It’s a good-paying job that students can hold while going to college.”
Northshore also supports paraprofessionals who want to move into teaching. Young said four of the district’s 2021-22 paras will begin teaching careers in the fall.
The one-to-one mentorship of pairing each CIE student with a Northshore elementary school teacher is at the heart of this program.
“Through our internships, we are passing on the tradition of great teaching and quality education,” said Collett. “If we want to hire the best, we can start now by sharing all the passion, practices, and knowledge that make Northshore the best.”
After their internships, some students are reinforced in their goal to pursue a teaching career, and some students find that it isn’t the career for them. Gaining these insights while in high school helps to focus their choices when they move to college.
“This program solidified in my head that I am meant to teach,” said Addison Wong, who will be a senior at North Creek High School in the fall. “It showed me the power of being an educator, and the fulfillment that is only possible through interacting with impressionable children.” Addison interned in a kindergarten classroom at Fernwood Elementary School with teacher Teresa Catone.
“Having Addison in my classroom positively impacted students,” said Catone. “It was great for kids to have another person caring about them and facilitating their success.” Catone went on to say that by supporting the math rotations, Addison could re-teach the lesson from the day before to smaller groups who needed some extra help or by supporting them one-to-one, which led to higher scores.”
At the beginning of an internship, the student interns are most likely to watch and learn while building relationships with students. As they get to know the teacher and teaching/learning style of the classroom, interns gain confidence and start doing more and more, including team teaching, taking over for a lesson, working with small groups or individual students, and helping with classroom management.
“Our interns need to know that they are truly valued,” said Katie Morris, a 2nd grade teacher at East Ridge Elementary School. “They take an active role in the classroom environment, and they provide more support for the social-emotional needs of students by being an extra warm and caring person in their lives.”
Morris said the CIE program does an excellent job of challenging students to be on their feet and taking part in the classroom versus sitting and observing. Her intern, Kalee Connelly, moved right into the classroom and quickly built a rapport with the second graders.
“One of the most valuable things I learned this year is how important relationships with your students truly are,” said Kalee. “It will make your teaching experience a lot more fun and easier if you have a good relationship with every single one of your students.”
As a senior at Woodinville High School in the fall, Kalee will take the class for a second year and return to Morris’s classroom in the fall.
“She’ll see more of what school looks like when you’re still setting up routines and establish those relationships earlier,” said Morris. “She’ll be even more comfortable when it comes time to teach lessons.”
Preparing the Teachers of Tomorrow
CIE includes a diverse student population, which can help change demographics of teachers in the future. Currently, a majority of teachers are white females, and while they are great teachers, not all students can identify with their experiences.
“I love that we’re changing the face of teaching,” said Collett. “Who wouldn’t want to see a teacher that looks like them or understands their language and culture?”
Last year, Collett sent students who speak Spanish to be interns in the bilingual program at Woodin Elementary and says that the teachers found them to be invaluable in helping their ELL students. One of the students this year uses special education services and did amazing work in a 4th grade classroom. Two male baseball players with sports scholarships next year interned in a 3rd grade class and with a PE teacher.
“I’m passionate about teaching this class because of how important it is to the profession of education,” said Collett. “My students are prepared to create healthy learning communities.”
A few slots are still open for the CIE class for the 2022-23 school year. Juniors and seniors at all high schools are encouraged to enroll.