A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Mason and Erinie Yousief were taking notes and studying for finals. Now, the high school students are making their own lesson plans and teaching students as part of their experience at the UTC Governor’s School for Prospective Teachers.

Erinie Yousief (center) teaches children in a UTC classroom as part of her experience at UTC's Governor's School for Prospective Teachers

High school student Erinie Yousief (center) leads children in a learning activity as part of her experience at UTC’s Governor’s School for Prospective Teachers

The Governor’s School, a five-week summer program for rising eleventh and twelfth grade students, is funded by the Tennessee State Department of Education. During the fourth week, the students create lesson plans in preparation to teach a class of students in Youth University at UTC, a summer enrichment program for young children.

According to Dr. Valerie Rutledge, Dean of the College of Health, Education and Professional Studies, the purpose of the Governor’s School is two-fold.

“The program exposes students both to the education profession and to a college setting. Students leave the program much more aware of what it takes to reach their goal of becoming a teacher and to graduate with an education degree,” she said.

The participating students are enrolled in two education courses at UTC. The classes provide an overview of the myths and realities of the profession; an examination of effective teaching strategies, resources, and computer and other technological applications; observations and critiques of teaching performances; analyses of exemplary teaching; an introspective view of learning and teaching styles.

Students are selected to attend the program from a pool of applicants and rated according to high school grade point averages, standardized test scores, recommendations from guidance counselors and teachers, as well as resumes and statements regarding perceptions of their potential as professional educators.

For Mason, a student at Dekalb County High School in Smithville, Tennessee, attending Governor’s School was a dream come true.

“I’ve wanted to teach since I was very young. I have a lot of my family who are teachers, and I’ve been really inspired by them. Coming here to learn more about teaching has been an amazing experience for me,” she said.

Mason has particularly enjoyed her time on campus.

“I can’t wait for college! Being on campus, making my own schedule, and living with roommates has been a lot of fun,” she said.

After high school, Mason hopes to attend college and major for elementary education.

“I hope to use my experience from the Governor’s School to make a difference in children’s lives,” she said.

For Yousief, a student at Battle Ground Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee, taking a college class on the history of education in the United States has been eye-opening.

“It’s been interesting to learn about how socioeconomics affects teaching and the education system. I’ve never been exposed to some of this information before, and a lot of it surprised me,” she said.

Yousief hopes to earn her doctorate and teach college courses.

“Governor’s School has taught me so much about the teaching profession that I didn’t know. After this experience, I’m even more excited about teaching. I can’t wait to have my own classroom one day,” she said.

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