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Local high school program raising next generation of educators

Local high school students teach elementary class
Posted at 6:23 AM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 11:07:20-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For Desert View High School senior Alehxia Apodaca, there's a special moment that every teacher experiences.

"Every teacher talks about their little light bulb moment," she said.

She said when she first saw her light bulb moment, it was when she would play school with her little brother.

"I would like host these little lessons with a chalkboard," she said. "And I would be like 'here's the letter A'."

Now, Apodaca has the opportunity to see that moment while she's in high school. She's apart of the Education Professions program, where high school students learn about classroom teaching as well as other school staff jobs. High schoolers are sent to local elementary and middle schools, which is their internship in the program.

"By the end of my internship, I actually got to teach a lesson," Apodaca said. "So one time the kids sat in front of me in a circle and I read them a book about sign language and braille."

The course began just before the pandemic and Desert View teacher Elizabeth Skeggs was hired on to head the program. She said even through the pandemic, the students learned all the different joys and challenges that come with the job.

"We had a really great first year," she said. "Then we had to go remote and that was a big adjustment but we didn’t quit."

She said students are not only interning with classroom teachers, but with school counselors and librarians.

"They are able to give their opinions and have those experiences early on so that way when they enter the workforce, they aren't starting from scratch," Skeggs said.

It's Apodaca's third year in the program and she's interning with a school counselor. Together, they developed a peer mediator program where students come together to help other students talk about any personal issues.

Apodaca said the program set her up for success in many areas of her life.

"Being in this class has taught me so many different things that I can apply to different areas of my life,” she said.