Student teachers work with school staffs

This article submitted by Molly H. Connors on 9/17/96.

School has started for students, teachers and student teachers.

Paynesville's school system has four student teachers this fall.

Chad Patrick and Merit Christianson are student teaching in the elementary school. Right now, they are both teaching second graders.

Gretchen McClellan is teaching vocal music in the high school and the middle school.

Tom Jansen is in the high school, teaching social studies and history.

All four are happy with District 741.

"I really like it," Jansen said. All of teachers and staff at the high school have made him feel at home.

"The whole staff is easy to get along with," he said. "I walked right in and felt really comfortable" with everyone from teachers to aides.

All the student teachers chose to come to Paynesville. At their schools, they had choices of area schools.

Patrick drove through Paynesville to visit relatives in White, S.D, and liked the looks of Paynesville. He decided to student teach here.

Jansen is an Eden Valley native and wanted to stay close to home.

Christianson actually attends Winona State University, but she's doing her student teaching through St. Cloud State University so she can student teach in Paynesville.

Christianson is from Spicer, and she moved home for the duration of her student teaching.

McClellan is also close to home: she attends St. Ben's and grew up in Sauk Centre.

Their decisions to pursue teaching as a career came from many different reasons.

Patrick has wanted to teach since early junior high, but the early mornings kept him away for awhile.

"I've always had a special repoire with kids," Patrick said. He said he remembers what it was like to be a kid. "A lot of adults forget what it's like to be in their (kids') shoes."

Also, Patrick's father taught at a community college and both his brother and his sister are teachers.

"It runs in my blood," he said.

Jansen was inspired by Mike Novak, Paynesville, who teaches social studies and history at Eden Valley-Watkins High School. Novak "made history very interesting" Jansen said.

McClellan has a lifelong interest in music and kids. She is combining her interests with a teaching degree.

"I've always been interested in music ... also liked being around kids, involved in their lives," she said.

Christianson wants to make learning fun for kids.

"I want to help children learn," she said. "I had a lot of good teachers that made me want to learn more." She decided on elementary education because she wants to help kids with their "firsts," like spelling their first word.

"The first of learning is so exciting to me," she said.

As student teachers, all four must prepare lesson plans and teach classes alone. They have a coordinating teacher as an advisor of sorts. This teacher's classes are the ones that they take over. Supervisors from SCSU and St. Ben's will observe the student teachers throughout their time at Paynesville.

Jansen and Patrick both attend SCSU. All four student teachers will graduate by January 1997.

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