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  • Morris Daily Herald

    GAVC teaching students work in classrooms, obtain four-year school dual credit

    By Michael Urbanec,

    18 days ago

    Seven Grundy Area Vocational Center students were the first to receive dual credit toward their four-year teaching program at the University of St. Francis, operating through the GAVC’s teaching program.

    Not only does this prepare students for the future, but it helps them save a lot of money. By the time they leave the Grundy Area Vocational Center, the education program students have eight credit hours that will transfer to whichever school they plan on attending.

    “When you go to college now, you already have so many credits,” said Abby Hougas, a recent Morris Community High School graduate. “It really just helped get me going on to college and it’s like, a lot cheaper. Let me tell you that.”

    Hougas spent her year both in her own classroom and helping out a teacher in another. Hougas wants to become a special education teacher, so she spent her year helping out with the STARS program, a special education services program.

    Tanna Curry, a Coal City graduate who split her time in the classroom between first grade students second grade students before teaching PE this year, said these courses helped build on the coursework she’d already done in the classroom.

    “The classes that brought us into schools are the ones that I liked,” Curry said.

    Hougas agreed, and said it went a long way toward getting them comfortable in the classroom before even leaving high school.

    “We actually get to see the environment instead of imagining,” Curry said. “Like, we actually got in there in did it.”

    Paige Walker, a Coal City graduate, spent her time with kindergarten students and helping with an occupational therapy class while Morris graduate Kira Dergo spent her time helping teach first graders. It was a learning experience for all of them.

    “You really have to love kids,” Hougas said. “If you don’t like kids at all, you probably won’t like it but if you like kids and you’re outgoing, you’ll love it. You grow really strong relationships with the kids.”

    Dergo said the kids always kept her on her toes.

    “Sometimes there’s the kids that are just bouncing off the walls,” Dergo said. “They always have to say something, and they talk your head off.”

    The students learned through this experience how some of their teachers must have felt over the years.

    “I honestly feel like, maybe when I was younger, I did the same thing,” Hougas said.

    Walker said she spent much of last year with eighth grade students, so having kindergarten students this year was a learning experience.

    “I learned how different the teachers have to discipline and teach lessons,” Walker said. “Like, if you do the same teaching for middle school and kindergarten, the kids won’t take you seriously but if you teach the kindergartners like the eighth graders, they won’t understand a word you’re saying.”

    Walker said the kindergarten students are just a bit more fun than the eighth grade students and surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, they listen better.

    “Even jumping from first and second grade, there’s a big difference,” Curry said. “I thought it wouldn’t be, just going up a grade, but in first grade they’re more dependent on you and need your help. In second grade, it’s almost like they’re on their own. They don’t need as much help anymore, and that’s crazy to me because it’s only a year apart.”

    Instructor Deb Eungard said GAVC will continue its partnership with the University of St. Francis, starting with the introductory Foundations of Teaching class for first year students. Students will come back their second year, typically their senior year of high school, as advanced teaching students. There, they will be able to receive five additional credits.

    “I’ve worked really hard to develop this partnership with the University of St. Francis and we’re the first program here at the GAVC that offers dual credit through a four-year university,” Eungard said. “It’s been a great partnership, and they’ve saved a lot of money getting eight credits here in high school.”

    It also allows the students to start college as second-semester freshman, Eungard said. They’ll have a whole semester’s worth of credits out of the way.

    Eungard said the students get to pick their teacher, school and grade level during their first year when they do two different site evaluations. Then their second year they decide where they want to spend their year as advanced students in a teaching situation similar to an internship. That way, the students get to see the kids develop from the beginning of the school year all the way until the end. This includes many situations high school students wouldn’t regularly see, like seeing young students go through speech pathology or sitting in on IEP meetings with students and parents.

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