A visit to an elementary school earlier this year is what solidified Burley High School Senior Emma Gibbons’s decision to become a teacher.
Through the Future Educators of Idaho, a group of clubs designed to help high school students interested in teaching, Gibbons had the opportunity to go to a local elementary school and observe and interact with the teachers and students for a day.
“It was interesting to see how the teacher taught, how the students reacted and what things were really like in a classroom setting,” Gibbons said. “The teacher was so kind and compassionate towards the children. I realized while helping that teaching is what I really want to do.”
High school students experience college courses at Future Educators Day.
Although important, the career path Gibbons has chosen has become increasingly unusual. Schools across the nation are experiencing a teacher shortage, and Idaho is no exception, said College of Education Student Support Coordinator Camron Hammond.
The Future Educator Association (FEA) was started by the College of Education three years ago. The goal of the association is to gain experienced educators and mentors who are willing to help students become accomplished educators. Camron Hammond, the student support coordinator, was asked to start implementing the new program in surrounding schools.
“Currently, we have 12 FEA-related chapters established, and last year we had around 200 high school students participate in FEA activities” Hammond said. “We hope to have an additional eight chapters established in the next one to two years.”
The College of Education has representatives who attend meetings and provide mentorship and advice to aspiring educators. They also provide financial assistance to ensure that students interested in teaching have vast learning opportunities.
“The culminating event each year for FEA students is the opportunity to visit Idaho State University for Future Educators Day. The objective of Future Educators Day is to provide students with opportunities to explore a career in teaching,” Hammond said. “Sixty percent of high school seniors who participated matriculated into ISU and are currently education majors.”
Emma Gibbons, president of the Future Educators Association club at Burley High School, has gained motivation to further her education from taking part in the FEA club.
“Being in the FEA club has taught me some of the professional requirements and classroom responsibilities that are needed as a teacher,” Gibbons said. “I’m excited to start my training for this wonderful profession at ISU this summer.”
The students in various chapters around southern Idaho are able to contribute to teacher growth, despite the stigma associated with teaching. Hammond says students are “bombarded” with negative responses about pursuing a career in education, but this negativity doesn’t stop the students from chasing their dreams.
“What they are trying to do is flip this narrative and raise awareness to their peers about the importance of teaching and why a career in this field is so important,” Hammond said.
The Future Educators Association is determined to help students become interested in teaching and to facilitate those who already have a desire to pursue a career in the educational field. The FEA hopes to propel students towards teaching professions and gaining a higher education as well. The Future Educators Day at ISU gives insight on teaching, and allows students to feel what it’s like to be on a college campus.
Future Education Association clubs participate in a variety of activities, ranging from service projects, fundraisers, case studies and teacher appreciation activities. However, Hammond said, “The most meaningful activities occur when our chapters have the opportunity to visit local elementary schools and work directly with students.” Club members are given the opportunity to gain hands on experience tutoring children and giving small group instruction.
The College of Education has plans to create a dual-enrollment program to help more students realize their teaching aspirations.
“We want our FEA students to have the opportunity to jump-start their education and help them get out into the field quicker so they can start making a difference in the lives of their students,” Hammond said.