A program at USD 501’s Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers or TCALC is training students to become teachers.
TCALC offers a career pathway called “Teaching as a Profession.” The pathway is a two-year long program that gives high school juniors and seniors a chance to explore education before they graduate.
Among the students in the program is Topeka West High School senior Melissa Paz.
“I’m basically learning the ins and outs of being a teacher and the difficulties and the things that come with it so that one day I can go off and be a teacher,” said Paz.
Starting in their first semester, students in the program are placed in classrooms throughout the district to get a first-hand look at the education profession, according to program instructor Megan Ebke.
It also helps the students narrow down what grade they may want to teach.
“You get to go into an elementary class and a middle school class,” said Paz. “I’ll get to see if I like the middle school environment better than the elementary school environment…”
Ebke said the students will also work with school administrators, librarians, social workers and counselors to get exposed to all aspects of education.
The exposure can land students college credit for their coursework and it could also land them a job.
Students in the program can take the paraprofessional exam and work in the district while they are in college.
They also have the opportunity to interview for a teaching position within the district after they graduate high school, to ensure they have a job after complete their college degree.
Paz said she intends to return to Topeka to teach.
“I really want to go into the teaching field and be able to impact kids,” said Paz.