pcsh staff who wrote voya grantA group of teachers at Park Center High School received a $2,000 grant from Voya Financial to support an Experiential Learning Garden, a space designed to allow experiential learning through a universally accessible community garden.

Community gardening provides students with the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the school by working together to achieve shared goals and provide hands-on learning in all academic areas. It is also designed to support healthy eating and nutrition. The garden will be an outdoor classroom where students with all abilities will collaborate through hands-on learning.

The Experiential Learning Garden was selected from a group of more than 650 applicants and is among 100 winners across the country who received this award of $2,000 to help fund and bring their program to life. Through the Voya Unsung Heroes program, Voya Financial awards grants to K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and their ability to positively influence the children they teach.

Pictured above (from L to R): Park Center Senior High Special Education Teachers Cara Perszyk, Stephanie Johnson, Rhonda Greiff, Kyle Alveshere and Social Worker Jennifer Anderson were all contributors to the Experiential Learning Garden grant proposal.

future teachers

New this year, Park Center Senior High students have the opportunity to explore the teaching profession through a specialized course. In the course, students practice presentation skills, write reflective papers and participate in service-learning experiences – all to give students more understanding on how to be an effective teacher. The course studies the social, historical and political factors that influence schools today. This course is a concurrent credit course – meaning students are eligible for high school and college credit.

“I’m excited about the first year of this course,” said Joanne Bauerly, family and consumer science teacher at Park Center Senior High. “I’m so proud of my students. This diverse group of future leaders will make excellent teachers, counselors or principals if they so choose.”

Students exploring many different career paths will also find this course beneficial. The skills required to be a teacher are transferrable to many other fields including counseling, social work, nursing, negotiations, coaching and many more.

Last month, students in the course (pictured above) heard from Dante Williams, the recruitment and retention manager of Osseo Area Schools, who shared his top five ways to prepare for a career in teaching:

  1. Identify the age group you want to work with and start working with them. Whether you are working as a nanny, babysitter, camp counselor or volunteer, spend as much time as you can working with children.

  2. Apply to open positions with Kidstop. Students can start working in these positions at age 16 after-school. At age 18, you can become a part-time or full-time employee as an educational support professional through Kidstop. These positions allow you the opportunity to work with students and start to build skills on managing groups of students. Managing student behavior is an important skill that will be helpful to future teachers.

  3. Attend an accredited university or community college with a teacher prep program that works for you and your budget.

  4. Gain practicum experience in a community where you want to work when you graduate. Learn about the community you want to serve and seek to understand cultural similarities and differences before you begin your practicum experience. At Osseo Area Schools, we offer paid practicum opportunities for all current educational support professionals working toward their teaching licensure.

  5. Prepare for your first year of teaching. Build a network of professors and colleagues who you can reach out to with questions. Find a mentor and stay in contact with them. The first year in teaching can be challenging, but with support, it will be easier.

In addition to taking this course, students also can participate in the Educators Rising club at PCSH or have conversations with their favorite teachers. Osseo Senior High and Maple Grove Senior High will offer a similar course for students interested in the teaching profession next year, pending enough student tallies. The Career Resource Centers at all high schools are great resources for pursuing careers after high school or college.