All across the county, they are teaching your kids.

College students go into local classrooms and plan math lessons and English lessons and help give your student one-on-one attention.

Dozens of student teachers are in elementary, middle school and high school classrooms across the county. Most local school districts report that they can take 12 to 15 student teachers each year.

And while the student teachers still are learning what it takes to be an educator, their mentors and other educators are calling them an invaluable resource and a large help to running classrooms all across the county.

“He is an extra set of hands in the classroom and is a tremendous help,” said Kristen Ratzman, a fourth-grade teacher at Westwood Elementary School.

Ratzman agrees to mentor and have student teachers in her classroom because of the experience it creates, she said.

A student teacher watching her makes her set a better example. And students benefit from learning from someone new, said Ratzman.

“They get excited when a new person comes in,” she said.

Educators who have been out of college and have been teaching for years also value what the student teachers might bring to the classroom, said Tammy Sluder, third-grade teacher at Westwood Elementary School.

“It’s a great chance to learn about new things that the colleges are teaching and to have the student teacher bring new and fresh ideas into the classroom,” she said.

Aspiring teachers must commit to at least 10 consecutive weeks in the classroom, with most teaching degree programs requiring more, said Cindy Prather, chairperson of the education department and teacher licensing adviser at Franklin College.

Most schools require a full semester of student teaching as part of their degree programs, which can put student teachers in local classrooms for more than the required 10 weeks, she said.

Student teachers who are in the classroom can make their own lessons plans with help from their mentor teachers. They can also break students up into small groups or help a struggling student one on one, said Cheryl Morgan, principal at Webb Elementary School.

“More adults in the room means more one-on-one time with kids,” she said.

Principals across the county are contacted when a student teacher identifies that they may want to work at their school. Principals then find teachers who may want to commit to taking on a student teacher.

Educators who agree to taking a student teacher do so because they see it as a way to help shape and mentor future educators to make sure the right people are going into the field, said Moran.

“We need good educators, and we have a lot of good role models here,” she said.

Teachers who agree to mentor help them with lesson plans and guide them. They usually also might help with evaluations and filling out some paper work for the student, educators said.

“It is definitely worth it to have help in the classroom,” said Amanda Rector, second-grade teacher at Webb Elementary School.

The largest part of student teaching is giving potential educators time in the classroom to sharpen their skills and make sure teaching is what they want to do.

Sam Godby, a senior at Franklin College, is student teaching with Ratzman.

The experiences he has had in her classroom have allowed him to decide what kind of teacher he would like to be, he said.

“It has really given me an idea of where I want to take my teaching career,” he said.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.