Mary Lou’s Mentorship Experience with SJ at Hillcrest Elementary

My name is Mary Lou Keirns and I teach Kindergarten at Hillcrest Elementary in Northglenn, Colorado. I have taught for 28 years in Kindergarten and First Grade. SJ was my teacher cadet from January 31, 2013 to April 26, 2013.

SJ was easy to work with and took to the children quickly.  Kindergarteners love to talk and it was very easy and relaxed for SJ to answer the children in the proper way. She always made it a point to come in each morning and circulate the room as the students were entering. We call this a “relaxed start”. SJ took care of collecting the children’s daily folders and checking them in for me. She learned to take out the homework if there was any and collect any important notes. I allowed her to grade their homework and at the end of her experience, she brought the children up to the table who had more than three mistakes to correct it. SJ was also responsible for conferencing with two children who needed extra help during writing time. I also let her pick two others each day to visit with and help at writing. I loved when I would look over and see her laughing and enjoying the children’s stories.

She made a huge difference during writing time being an extra teacher in the room. SJ watched me for the first week and easily took to what I would do with each student during writing encouraging the children to resource the room or their tubs on their tables. She did a cute lesson for the kids during Easter week where she modeled a story of what she had done at Easter. They went back to their seats and completed an Easter story. It was a great experience for all! During reading, it was SJ’s responsibility to work with all children. She engaged in Kindergarten sight word practice, sight word games, reading the books of the day with each child in a group format, playing beginning sound games, rhyme games and alphabet games. She was a favorite of the kids and they all wanted their turn with her! If Sam was there during math time, I had her work with the children who needed extra practice.

I think the activity I liked best was SJ doing a bulletin board. Eric Carle was our author of the month and we did some paintings like Eric Carle would do. SJ took pictures of each child and glued them on a green circle. Each of these circles were part of Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar. She cut out a caterpillar face and made a board with their paintings and the caterpillar with each of their faces on it. SO so cute and it is still hanging up in the main hallway!

SJ also had the experience of joining my grade level in a weekly meeting. She sat and listened to us collaborate and plan our weekly lessons. SJ had planned on joining us on a field trip to the zoo, but we had lots of snow and the trip was postponed. She also had the chance to do recess duty with me as well! That was an experience as she watched 100 kiddos run around on a playground! I loved having SJ in the room! Any extra teacher is only a benefit for the children! The children totally loved her and respected her! Sue Less did a wonderful job preparing her students for the classroom experience. YEA for the Teacher Cadet Program!


The Mentor Experience with a Teacher Cadet- Mark Twain Elementary

Working with my teacher cadet this semester has been a wonderful experience.  My cadet has been basically reliable, very enthusiastic and confident.  She jumps in whenever asked, never balking at last minute requests or changes in responsibilities.   She is willing to do just about whatever I need, although I have worked hard to make sure that she is primarily working with students and not spending time at the copier. Hands on experience with 1st graders is the most valuable thing that I can provide.

My class has bonded with her completely.  They ask me about her whereabouts when she isn’t able to come in and choose to work with her whenever given the opportunity.  In fact, I am just a little concerned about how much they are going to miss her when she completes her assignment with us at the end of this week!  She has promised to keep in touch with us as her schedule allows and plans to attend our end of the year field trip to the zoo with us in May.  Gladly, we just can’t quite seem to say a final good-bye.

The work required at my end has been mostly centered on making sure to give her opportunities to experience as many different facets of teaching as I possibly can.  She has taught, observed, tested, graded, attended a parent conference (with permission of course), copied (a little), done recess duty with supervision and  put up a bulletin board!  I hope that I have given her an honest window into the job that teaching is, the joys and the frustrations both.    It has been a wonderful experience for all involved and I look forward to working with this teacher cadet in an official professional capacity in the future.  She will be a wonderful addition to the teaching profession. 


Mentorship Experiences – Powell Middle School

Having a teacher cadet this semester enriched my teaching experience. My cadet asked meaningful questions and was eager to learn about what teachers do in and out of the classroom. Her inquiry made me reflect on my own practices, and her presence helped me be a better teacher. She was also very useful to have as an assistant who graded, entered grades, designed bulletin boards, and even filed. Most valuable, however, was her help with individual and small groups of kids. What a great program!

Littleton Teacher Cadets


Original article from The Littleton Independent

Littleton, Colorado – Of the 17 students who completed the Littleton Public Schools Teacher Cadet program last year, 16 are pursuing a career in education at a four-year institution, according to the course’s instructor.

The nationwide program came to Colorado in 2000, but 2010-11 was the first school year it was offered by LPS. Students from the Douglas County, Sheridan, Cherry Creek and Englewood school districts also are allowed to participate. The goal is to maximize the quality of the next generation of educators in the United States.

Littleton_TC2012_2“So often, the best and the brightest go into law, engineering or medicine. What we want to do is promote education as a career and retain students as teachers,” said Katie Kirgan, LPS Teacher Cadet instructor.

This year’s program has 18 students. The class sizes are intentionally kept small because the year-long curriculum is rigorous and includes a heavy dose of hands-on training. The first semester, in the fall, centers on classroom lectures and teacher observations. The students then spend the spring semester gaining field experience, teaching for two hours a day four days a week. The teacher cadets are exposed to education at all levels, from elementary through high school. The 15 required observation hours also includes time spent shadowing administrators.

Littleton_TC2012_3Teacher Cadet is open to high school juniors and seniors with an interest in education. Students can earn both high school and college credit for completing the curriculum. In addition to learning how to teach, the cadets study the history of education, how to find a job, the licensing process, and legal and ethical issues.

The program calls Littleton Public Schools’ Ames Facility home, which is at 7300 S. Clermont Drive in Centennial. Though it falls under the umbrella of LPS, Teacher Cadet welcomes students from many south metro school districts.

“It provides good perspective to hear different issues from different school districts,” Kirgan said. “It just makes the discussions that much richer.”

Littleton_TC2012_4LPS’ Teacher Cadet is in a recruiting phase for the 2012-13 school year. Applications will begin to be accepted Feb. 1. Prospective students should possess a grade-point average above 3.0, a good attendance record, solid teacher recommendations and an enthusiasm for education.

The Teacher Cadet program was founded in South Carolina in 1985. It has since spread across the country and came to Colorado in Jefferson County in 2000.. Teacher Cadets is a program created in the state of South Carolina and operated by The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement.

– Article written by G. Jeff Golden