JCC Interns Extend Student Learning In Elementary Classrooms

JCC intern, Kaleisha Mosley, works with fourth grade students, Karson Milne and Kyle Maynard, during Katie Zwald's class. Submitted photo

“I am learning a lot about how to run a classroom through my internship,” said Jamestown Community College early childhood education student Hannah Ekstrom, who plans to become a kindergarten teacher. “It gives you an opportunity to see if being a teacher is really what you want to do. You can’t really know unless you actually work with kids hands-on, which the internship provides to me.”

Hannah is one of five JCC interns at Fletcher Elementary School this semester. There are 18 JCC students interning in classrooms across Jamestown schools. Depending on the placement, internship requirements are anywhere between 20 to 100 hours over the course of the semester and cooperating teachers provide feedback on the interns throughout the semester. Students are required to engage in hands-on experiences, not just observation, and some courses require students to develop and teach lessons in their assigned classroom.

“This is my third year working with a JCC intern,” said Fletcher Elementary School first grade teacher Ashley Calla. “I feel that it is important to have interns in the classroom so that they can get a hands-on experience working with children. Miss Ekstrom will be working with small groups of students during reading, writing and math workstations and one-on-one with students. She will also be part of our skills lessons, assisting students with reading, answering questions from the text and tricky words. She is required to develop a lesson plan and teach the lesson to the students, as well as keep a journal of her experiences.”

Student interns help classroom teachers in a variety of ways including additional support in their classroom to help meet individual student needs. Teachers are able to give back to the profession by supporting new educators coming into the field and interns are able to get real-life experience. An additional benefit is that the JCC students often become more interested in working with students and often apply to work in after school programs, tutoring programs or volunteer for activities such as STEM days.

“I am happy to do an internship in Mrs. Zwald’s classroom so I can get experience and feel comfortable working with children,” said JCC student, Kaleisha Mosley, who is in Katie Zwald’s fourth grade classroom. “I can learn from Mrs. Zwald how to be a better teacher and receive notes on my teaching skills. I am majoring in early childhood education and plan to be a fourth grade teacher so this is a perfect way for me to see a classroom firsthand.”

Mrs. Zwald is hosting an intern for the first time. “I have found that discussing the art of teaching elementary students has reminded me why I love being a teacher. I remember the excitement of my student-teaching experiences and my first full-time teaching job. Ms. Mosley is great and is going to be a great teacher some day. The kids and I are all really enjoying having her in our room!”

“Students benefit from internships as they are participating in diverse classrooms gaining valuable hands-on learning experiences that they will be able to apply to their future careers as teachers,” said Renee L. Funke, PhD, Director, JCC’s Teacher Education Program. “They are able to see what being a teacher is really like and what to expect within a school setting. They are also networking — some of our former interns finished their Bachelor’s degrees and have been hired in the JPS District, including at Fletcher School.”