Teachers for Tomorrow students serve as role models for the next generation

Carter Fischer helps students with their work while helping in a classroom at Swift Creek Elementary School.

Kellilyn Jones

Carter Fischer helps students with their work while helping in a classroom at Swift Creek Elementary School.

For its second year in a row, Teachers for Tomorrow (T4T) is giving seniors the unique opportunity to gain experience working with elementary level students. Students who participate in this elective travel to Swift Creek Elementary School and learn skills such as thinking on their feet, problem solving and teaching others.

English and service learning teacher Kellilyn Jones is the head of T4T; she educates her students on the multiple facets of educating young children.

“[Students] come to class like normal for about six weeks,” Jones said. “We go over basic things such as what the average third grader is learning, SOLs in the school, some rules and what to expect. Beginning around October students report to the elementary school instead.” 

After the instructional period, students go to the elementary school every time they have the class, with the exception of even Mondays. On those days, Jones uses the time to hold a seminar.

“We discuss any issues they are having, but usually we get a lot of funny stories,” Jones said. “It is an opportunity to listen to your classmates and talk about any problems, as well as to get some feedback.”

Jones is proud of the impact that her students are having in their community.

“All of the teachers are so thankful,” Jones said. “It teaches students to slow down and have more trust in themselves. They get to be role models for the young kids.”

Jones believes that T4T is not just for students interested in becoming teachers, it is also for students who wish to learn life skills, empathy and patience.

“It is not about deciding whether or not they want to be teachers,” Jones said. “It is more about understanding how we grow and how we develop emotionally.”

Jones thinks her students hold a sense of responsibility to show up for class.

“My students just tend to have fun,” Jones said. “They do not want to miss this class, because they know there is a class waiting for them. When they walk into those classrooms, it is a big chorus of hoorays.”

Fifth grade teacher Amy Ford, who has had T4T students in her classroom since last year, believes that the student volunteers often underestimate their impact.

“The students that come into our rooms have served a valuable role, more than they realize,” Ford said. “They become an important part of the classroom.”

The relationships formed in the classrooms between the T4T students and the elementary students leave a lasting impression on both parties.

Thomas Jackson (left) plays the bass and Jacob Alexander (right) plays the clarinet for the students.

“Last year, my advanced math students loved working with our helper,” Ford said. “When the end of the year came, some of my students were visibly upset when they found out when his last day would be!”

Ford believes that students who wish to participate in T4T require a strong desire to work with children and a high level of commitment.

“They need to be flexible as it can vary greatly sometimes in what I need my Teachers for Tomorrow students to do,” Ford said. “Students should have good leadership skills and should be doing well in school so they are good role models.”

Senior Katelynn Menjivar, a student in T4T, feels her participation in the program is extremely rewarding.

“I love seeing [the student’s] faces when I walk in,” Menjivar said. “They are so happy that I am there, and I am so happy to be there because I know I am making a difference in their lives.”

Katelynn Menjivar directs her students into the classroom coming from recess. (Kellilyn Jones)

Menjivar hopes that the experience she obtains in T4T will help prepare her for her future.

“I want to be a pediatric nurse when I am older,” Menjivar said. “Being around the kids has really exposed me to that environment.”

Students who wish to know more about Teachers for Tomorrow should speak to Kellilyn Jones in room 401. All rising seniors are eligible to sign up for the class.