NC Teacher Cadet program helps students learn to be teachers

Published 2:37 pm Friday, March 8, 2019

Macy Goodwin and Mallory Russell are both North Stanly High School students–but they are both, in many ways, also teachers.

They are both part of the N.C. Teacher Cadet program–which is a course offered to high school students interested in becoming a teacher or working with young children.

North Stanly High School has had the program for about 17 years and for a long time was the only cadet program in Stanly County. But this year, Albemarle High School is introducing the program.

Created in 1997, the program places high school juniors and seniors in middle or elementary school classrooms where they assist cooperating teachers in helping with students.

The motto of the program is “we grow our own,” said Kerri Huffman, English teacher and Teacher Cadet advisor at North Stanly. She has been in charge of the cadet program for the last 12 years.

“It provides them the opportunity to go out and work in another school under a teacher to see what it’s like to work as a teacher,” Huffman said.

The students can have a multitude of tasks including designing and executing lesson plans, tutoring and helping with small groups, she said. The students teach Monday through Friday for a certain block of time for the whole semester.

“It teaches a lot of organizational skills, responsibility and working with others,” Huffman said.

Albemarle High is also excited about its program.

“We are very excited about the partnership we have with our feeder schools and their support with this program,” said Sandie Brundin, Albemarle teacher and teacher cadet director.

Albemarle High has 10 students involved in the program, all of whom are seniors. They are teaching at Central Elementary, East Elementary and Albemarle Middle School.

Goodwin, a senior, and Russell, a junior, both teach at Richfield Elementary School.

This is Goodwin’s second year in the program. She helps teach science and social studies in Isaac Russell’s fourth grade class and last year she helped with music teacher Daniel Dickens’ class.

She helps create lesson plans and also grades a lot of papers to help Isaac Russell, who teaches two subjects to a bunch of students.

“I try and do a lot of things to take stuff off his shoulders so he doesn’t have to do everything by himself,” Goodwin said.

“The kids are a lot of fun and they are really funny,” Goodwin added. “They are all really sweet kids.”

Goodwin said the program has helped her go from under confident to much more confident “in the stuff that I do teaching wise.”

Mallory Russell has been in the program since the beginning of the school year. She splits her week between teaching math in Hailey Smith’s third grade class and helping with Angela Hatley’s exceptional children class.

“I have a big heart for special needs kids,” Russell said.

Though she’s not yet sure if she wants to go into teaching, she does want to do something with special needs children.

Russell has been busy pulling several students aside in Smith’s class to help teach them multiplication and in the exceptional children class, Russell assists the teacher and reads books to the children.

“Building relationships with the kids has been a big part” of the job, Russell said, “because you get to see not only their life at school, but their life at home.”

The program “gives you good responsibility and it builds a lot of character,” Russell added.

Russell plans on taking the program again next school year.

At North, the cadet program is an actual class taught by Huffman, but because the numbers have been small (there are four students in the program this semester) the class has been combined with Huffman’s theater class.

Huffman monitors the students throughout the semester and meets with the cooperating teachers. She also does one formal observation where she goes out and watches her students teach. At the end of the semester, the students will create a children’s book to share and a portfolio of their experiences.

Next year the school’s cadet program will receive a grant in partnership with Pfeiffer University and Huffman plans on teaching the program to a class of 20 students.

“With this grant, we’re going to be able to open up the program and make it a bigger possibility for people,” Huffman said.

The students enrolled in the cadet program at North Stanly teach at North Stanly Middle School and Richfield Elementary School.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

email author More by Chris