|Graduating MOHS senior Patsy Kelly works with a student|
Preparing the next generation of educators
Those two fresh faces that you may have seen walking around Tinc Road belong to Patsy Kelly and Autumn Pederson, Mount Olive High School students in the teacher cadet program.
Begun four years ago and modeled after a successful program originally started in South Carolina, the cadet program is a year-long class that provides interested MOHS students with a way to explore the teaching profession as a career path.
MOHS juniors and seniors are given a broad introduction to the teaching profession through the cadet program, including lessons on child development, learning styles, teaching methods and strategies, changes in education, and the public perceptions of education.
The highlight of the class comes in the spring when the cadets go out into the field and spend time every day with a Mount Olive teacher in the classroom. This six- to eight-weeklong experience provides students with the opportunity to see veteran teachers in action and apply all the knowledge they’ve learned in the program by working with kids.
In the classroom, cadets will work with students in small groups or one-on-one, in addition to other duties that support the instructional process. This year, cadets are at the middle school and CMS in addition to Tinc Road.
Patsy has been working with fourth-grade teacher Samantha Darnesto and Autumn has been working with first–grade teacher Dena Moschello.
“Being able to student teach in Ms. Darnesto's class was an amazing experience,” said graduating senior Patsy Kelly, who will soon begin a six-year program at Seton Hall studying elementary education with an emphasis on special education and speech pathology. “Each time I walked into the classroom and received a big welcome from the students yelling "Hi Miss Kelly!" my day was instantly brightened.
“Helping children learn and grow feels so rewarding. Leaving the class after working with them all these weeks was a very sad moment for me. I’ll never forget the kids and what Ms. Darnesto and the whole experience has taught me.”
As part of the teaching experience, each cadet also spends one entire day with his or her mentor and delivers a lesson to the class with Susan Pasqualone, MOHS cadet and English teacher, in attendance. Ms. Pasqualone recently observed Patsy delivering a lesson on amphibians to Ms. Darnesto’s fourth-graders.
“I was so impressed with the way Patsy conducted the lesson,” said Ms. Pasqualone. “She was comfortable in front of the students, loving, sophisticated in her approach, and self-confident.”
Since its inception, the cadet program has been incredibly successful in encouraging talented high school students to consider teaching as a career and providing a hands-on overview of the profession. Colleges often waive introductory teaching courses for entering MOHS graduates who have completed the program and are pursuing a path in education.
Sixteen MOHS students are already enrolled in the program for 2014-2015.
Actively learning about New Jersey
While it’s only 551 pixels tall on your screen, the mural of the State of New Jersey done by Tinc Road fourth-graders and artist Doris Ettlinger is actually about six-feet tall in real life. Labeled with the names of townships and illustrated with famous landmarks and important geographical features, the map also features self-portraits of the students.
Ms. Ettlinger is a New Jersey resident and illustrator of numerous award-winning children’s books, including “G Is For Garden State.” She’s been visiting Tinc Road for the past seven or eight years, discussing her work as an artist and helping fourth-graders create New Jersey-themed murals.
“The kids love her,” said Pamela Sexton, fourth grade teacher. “The mural ties in things we’ve done all year in a way that lets kids creatively apply their knowledge. It’s so important to do these special projects and make memories for kids.”
Ms. Sexton met Ms. Ettlinger years ago at a Barnes & Noble book signing and arranged the first school visit. The artist has been coming to Tinc Road annually ever since to help reinforce New Jersey history and geography – a major social studies topic for all state fourth-graders.
This year, the mural contains the Great Seal of the State of New Jersey which is a perfect tie-in and segue to a new districtwide fourth grade project that combines language arts, social studies, and technology. The students are working on the website Glogster.com to design a new state seal that incorporates important New Jersey features that they have researched using books and reliable, student-friendly websites.
Each student also wrote a business letter to Governor Chris Christie that explained the design choices of the new seal and a poem, song, or pledge that highlighted important New Jersey features.
This multidisciplinary project-based learning assignment helps meet the fourth grade technology goal in the Common Core State Standards that states that students should use “digital tools to access, manage, evaluate, and synthesize information in order to solve problems individually and collaboratively and to create and communicate knowledge.”
For more information about Doris Ettlinger, visit her website at:
To learn more about the fourth grade integrated learning project, go to:
And the URLs below provide information about the Common Core State Standards: