Learning Together: Academy at Middle Fork Hosts Six Student Teachers Fall 2020

This past semester, the Academy at Middle Fork hosted six student teachers from Appalachian State University. These students teachers shared their experience of what “Learning Together” meant to them at the Academy: 

Alyssa Brashear ’20

Alyssa Brashear

Alyssa Brashear, of Havelock, North Carolina, graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education this December. She completed her student teaching in the first-grade classroom Melissa Boyd ’15. 

For Brashear, her favorite part about student teaching at the Academy was the staff: “They are very close with one another since it is a smaller school, which has helped with feeling comfortable and safe within the school environment.”

When asked what “Learning Together” means to her, Brashear said, “Learning together this semester has meant learning how to best teach our kids while being completely virtual.” 

“An experience where we learned together was one of our virtual science classes,” noted Brashear. “All of the kindergarten through second-grade students were on Zoom together, and we studied plants that are living when in the ground but non-living once they are dug up.”

“I am also learning about what my students like and need and working towards providing them a safe space for them to open up while still being in their home,” she added.

Brashear chose Appalachian because of the teacher education program. “I knew that is where I needed to be.”

Her advice for future student teachers is “Always keep a positive attitude! Sometimes things will not go your way and that is okay! We are all learning in new ways, and this is a great practice no matter how you are teaching.” 

Brashear is currently substitute teaching for the Academy and looks forward to having her own classroom and remaining in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

William Hardin ’20 

William Hardin

William Hardin, of Greensboro, North Carolina, graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education this December. He completed his student teaching with Robin Phelps, the Academy’s health and physical education teacher for all grades. 

Hardin’s favorite part of student teaching at the Academy was “being able to learn from a great teacher like Coach Phelps and interacting with the students.”

“What learning together means to me is working together to meet an end goal to help the school succeed as a whole,” said Hardin.

“Hopefully I’m helping students become physically literate and physically active so that they can live a healthy life while assisting the production of other subject areas in school,” he added.

Hardin was also a student-athlete, competing as a member of the Mountaineers football team.

Hardin’s advice for future student teachers is “make sure that you stay organized to limit stress and increase your effectiveness.”

After graduating, Hardin plans either to get his master’s in administration or strength and conditioning or to become a PE teacher at an elementary or high school.

Erin Morrison ’20 

Erin Morrison

Erin Morrison, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education this December. She completed her student teaching in Brittany Hendricks’s kindergarten classroom. 

Morrison’s favorite part of student teaching at the Academy was “working collaboratively with such a great kindergarten team.”

“Learning together means to share ideas and help each other elevate to their full potential,” said Morrison. 

She added, “An example of this was during faculty meetings where we had the opportunity to share how we felt as well as what was the best option to proceed with the school year.”

Morrison is also impacting education and learning together in her community. “I bring home what I know and re-teach the students in my neighborhood who become stuck and confused with the material,” she noted.

As a sprinter for the Mountaineers, Morrison chose Appalachian because of the track and field program and the atmosphere of friendly teammates.

Morrison’s advice to future student teachers: “Keep going!! It’s only up from here!!”

After graduating, Morrison hopes to start teaching full-time.

Jean Carlos Garcia Reyes ’20

Jean Carlos Garcia Reyes

Jean Carlos Garcia Reyes, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education this December. He completed his student teaching in a third/fourth grade combination class under clinical educator Hannah Cope.

For Garcia, his favorite part of student teaching at the academy was the welcoming atmosphere of his clinical educator, grade level team, and all of the Academy staff. 

“I feel like I am a part of the Academy family, and I couldn't be more proud to be,” he added. “They have been doing everything they can to make sure I get the most from my student teaching experience and become the best teacher I can be.”

“‘Learning Together’ to me means that my students aren't the only ones learning every day,” he noted. “I am too.” 

“I have experienced ‘learning together’ through team planning and learning about the coolest things from the students,” he added.

“I chose Appalachian because it truly is First for Teaching,” said Garcia. “Upon stepping foot in the Reich College of Education, I knew that this is where I wanted to study to pursue my career in teaching.”

He added, “Through multiple field experiences, professional development opportunities, and collaborating with current, retired, and other aspiring teachers, I know that I am working towards my goal of becoming the best teacher I can be.”

“Growing up, I never had a Hispanic male teacher,” he noted. “Today, I change that for many as I aspire to serve as a role model for many young children.” 

“I want my students to know that they can be anything they want to be as long as they have a passion for it,” he added. “We must continue to break society's norms and tear down stereotypes.”

His advice to future student teachers: “Don't be afraid to ask questions! To be honest, I was a bit nervous about having too many questions at first but my clinical educator has been so willing to answer any of my questions!” 

“They are all here to make sure we become the best we can be,” he added. “I can assure you that asking questions is meaningful to our learning! Enjoy your student teaching experience!”

Garcia is currently enrolled in Appalachian’s master’s in reading education program, and he is pursuing a graduate certificate in teaching emergent bilingual populations in content areas. After completion, he plans to immediately begin his teaching career as an elementary educator. 

Sean Shovlin ’20

Sean Shovlin

Sean Shovlin, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, graduated this December with his Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. He completed his student teaching in Allison Phelps’s fifth-grade classroom. 

Shovlin’s favorite part of student teaching at the Academy was the community. “They are so open to real inclusiveness,” he noted. 

“Also, I love how as a lab school we can work with the professors and graduate students from Appalachian to come up with some cool new approaches to teaching,” he added.

“When it comes to ‘learning together’ I always connected it to my experience about learning on equal footing with our students instead of constantly being seen as an expert about everything,” said Shovlin. “This can be seen whenever we talk about different cultures or even different home-lives, where students have a chance to educate the entire class about something none of us know or experienced.”

“Also another great example is our use of remote teaching,” he added. “It's a growing experience for us all to adjust to when it comes to acknowledging the limits of technology while embracing mistakes and learning to become flexible with that technology. ‘Learning together’ to me means growing together because of how we enrich each other.”

Shovlin chose Appalachian because of the Reich College of Education’s reputation for being one of the best teaching colleges. 

Shovlin identifies as an ethnically-mixed gay cisgender man. He chose to major in elementary education because “I want to prove to myself and others that representation is something we all deserve no matter on what level.” 

Part of the welcoming environment at the Academy was being encouraged to “show off my pride flag as I teach.”

His advice to future student teachers: “I know as educators we can be very sensitive and considerate people, but don't forget your needs. You deserve rest, to relax, go have fun, fight for your rights, fight for the rights of others.”

Shovlin also shared advice to educators who are not always represented: “To my other educators, my people of color, the men, other LGBTQ+, my trans and non-binary siblings, and my friends with disabilities - I know that if you look around our average class you might not see many of us. You are just as important as any other educator, you are also vital for that kid that also feels alone, misunderstood, or not as loved. Don't give up! Even though I don't know you personally I know you can do great things because you are an educator.”   

After graduating, Shovlin would like to remain in Winston Salem to teach. 

Summer Vaden ’20

Summer Vaden

Summer Vaden, of Lewisville, North Carolina, graduated this December with her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. She completed her student teaching in a third/fourth-grade combination class under clinical educator, Suzanne Smith. 

Vaden’s favorite part of student teaching at the Academy was “the support from ALL of the faculty and staff! I have felt so welcomed by everyone, just as if I was a part of the staff!”

“The students are also SO awesome,” she continued. “Even though we are learning remotely, their energy and excitement can be felt through the screens.”

“Learning together means that, as a teacher, we can learn with and from our students,” said Vaden. “Every day, I learn just as much about and from my students as they do from me.” 

“My students see life with so much excitement and joy, and they are so excited to learn, which makes me so excited to be a teacher,” she added.

Vaden and Smith did their best to make the online instruction feel as much like an in-person classroom as they could. 

“For example, one of my students plays the accordion at the beginning of class every day,” Vaden noted. “My students are finding ways to express themselves through the screen, and I think the connections we make through the screen will make the connections even stronger when we can be in the classroom together once again.”

Vaden began her academic career at Appalachian as a commercial photography major. She changed her major to education after her sophomore year. 

“Appalachian has an amazing education program, I cannot say enough good things about it,” said Vaden. “All of my professors have been absolutely incredible, so supportive through everything, and truly want each and every student to become the best teacher we can be.” 

“The community is truly amazing,” she added. “Within my Block classes, I became close with my classmates and we were all able to support and learn from one another, and still do to this day. “

Her advice to future student teachers: “Don't stress...or try not to. It's going to go fast, just get ready and hold on tight. Whether instruction is virtual, hybrid, or in-person, you can do it! Remember to believe in yourself and your abilities!”

After graduating, Vaden hopes to immediately begin teaching in her own classroom, and eventually, she would like to return to Appalachian to earn a master’s in reading education.

Academy Student Teacher Fall 2020
Published: Dec 18, 2020 1:19pm