‘The Future Depends on Teachers’ campaign celebrates role educators play in shaping children’s lives

Three education students share their experiences, encourage others to join profession
Abbey Goers | April 30, 2021

As the shortage of teachers is felt across the state, heightened by the pandemic, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is partnering with TEACH, a nonprofit committed to helping people navigate the path to their teaching certification.

WDPI and TEACH released The Future Depends on Teachers,” a public service announcement as part of Teacher Appreciation Week, which runs Monday, May 3 to Friday, May 7. The campaign highlights the importance of teachers in Wisconsin and celebrates their role in shaping students’ futures while calling for others to join the profession.

“Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, our teachers remain dedicated, innovating, and rising to meet the unique needs of their students. More than ever, we must work to inspire our next generation to become teachers,” said State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor in a WDPI news release.

"The Future Depends on Teachers" public service announcement / TEACH

 

Deanna Schultz, interim associate dean for the School of Education at University of Wisconsin-Stout, and the education faculty are passionate about preparing future teachers.

“We recognize the need for more teachers and are doing all we can to fill the teacher pipeline. Even during the pandemic, our faculty have found innovative ways to provide quality learning experiences, partnering with area schools that serve as learning labs for students throughout their program. When our undergraduate teacher education students complete their student teaching and graduate, they are well-prepared to be quality educators,” Schultz said.

Three UW-Stout education students – Kayla Jellison, Michala Belter and Preston Johnston, were inspired by their teachers and professors to pursue careers in education.

Impacting students in family and consumer sciences

Jellison, a Family and Consumer Sciences Education senior from Champlin, Minn., loved her FCS classes in high school and the variety of subjects they covered.

“I had amazing teachers, Ms. Brumbaugh and Ms. Oraskovich, who I really looked up to. I loved how passionate and energetic Ms. Brumbaugh was in my Child and Human Development class and how she helped her students,” said Jellison, who has a human development and family studies minor.

Oraskovich taught Jellison’s FCCLA seminar, where she built a portfolio of her high school teaching experiences. She still has the portfolio and used it while applying to jobs.

Kayla Jellison, FCSE senior.
Kayla Jellison, FCSE senior / Kayla Jellison

“They were both so caring towards students. I think a big part of inspiring students to become teachers is to care about them,” Jellison said. “Being a positive and friendly face for students who do not have that outside of school will make a big impact. It is also important to be passionate about what you teach. The students will match your energy.”

In 2018, Jellison presented with Brumbaugh at the Minnesota Department of Education’s FCS Summer Career Pathway Institute. “This was a great experience for me because I got to teach teachers. I also networked with FCS teachers around the district, which gave me some familiar faces before I started student teaching,” she said.

Jellison completed her student teaching with Anoka-Hennepin School District this spring. “My cooperating teachers continued to show me that teachers who really care can make a huge impact on their students’ lives. I cannot wait to do the same,” she said.

Jellison is graduating Saturday, May 8. She has accepted a position as an FCS teacher at Andover High School. The school currently only offers culinary classes. Jellison will have the opportunity to build its FCS program alongside another first-year teacher.

Sharing enthusiasm in special education

Belter, a senior from Elk Grove, Ill., chose to be part of the special education program because she wanted to be around peers and professors who believe all students are unique. In her Behavioral Interventions course, for instance, she learned that behaviors have a function.

 

Michala Belter, special education senior
Michala Belter, special education senior / Michala Belter

“The student communicates that with the teacher, whether they want to or not. One of the many reasons students act out is because they need something more to achieve in the classroom,” Belter explained. “Teachers should focus on the strengths of their students to help them achieve in more ways than one.”

Belter realized in high school that she wanted to be a teacher while volunteering in the special education classroom.

“The teacher I worked with encouraged me and told me time and time again, ‘You do such an amazing job with the students. You would be such a great teacher.’ I am so happy I volunteered in that classroom,” she said.

While volunteering, Belter realized her first-grade teacher inspired her as well, showing her the kind of teacher she wants to be. “I want to push my students to their potential and remind them how they need to act but lead a fun and creative environment for the students to enjoy learning,” she said.

Belter’s teachers encouraged her to become a teacher because they believed in her talents and patience, especially with other students, and her strong work ethic, she said. In turn, she believes she can inspire others to become teachers by sharing her excitement and enthusiasm with her students.

Belter will student teach this fall with either the Chicago Public School District or School District 211 in Schaumburg, Illinois. She will graduate in December and wants to teach high school students.

“I want to help them push through the struggles of high school, and I am confident I can motivate them to work hard,” Belter said. “I want to help my students continue their lives in the real world, whether it is continuing their education or getting a job. It is also an age where students see the world is theirs. I want to provide them with the sources to get them where they want to be.”

Inspiring others with opportunities

Johnston, a senior from Minneapolis, taught adaptive swimming lessons and acted as a personal care assistant. She joined the special education program because she was constantly inspired by kids. Her teachers and professors helped fuel her passion.

 

Preston Johnston, special education senior.
Preston Johnston, special education senior / Preston Johnston

"I knew my end goal was to become a special education teacher," she said. "From high school to college, I was lucky enough to have teachers that supported my academic and personal growth. I hope to have a positive impact on my students' lives like these teachers left on mine."

Johnston is president of the Student Council for Exceptional Children. She thinks she can inspire others to become teachers by providing opportunities to work with students. “It is a rewarding experience to see the impact that you can make on students' lives and, in turn, the impact they can make on yours,” she said.

Johnston will student teach this fall at River Heights Elementary School in Menomonie. She plans to teach in the Minneapolis area following graduation this December.

UW-Stout's School of Education has prepared teachers and educators since 1891. It offers seven undergraduate programs, five graduate programs and post-baccalaureate educator certifications. Family and consumer sciences and special education are offered both on-campus and online.


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