- Sponsorship -

Students Learn Early if Teaching is for Them

Teacher Cadets Get a Foot in Classroom Door

It’s clear within seconds after Taylor Fox takes over Angie Freeland’s second-grade class at Pine Island Elementary: This high school senior is a natural in the classroom.

She did have a good teacher; Taylor was in Freeland’s class back when she was a first-grader.

“Everybody scootch up closer to me,” Taylor says with a confidence that puts her pint-sized charges at ease. “I want to know, how many of you have a bedtime?”

A show of hands, a quick finger to the lips to those who are a bit too eager to share their answers, and rapt attention as she reads aloud the Mo Willems book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late” prepare the class for today’s lesson on what it is to have prior knowledge.

Senior Marshall Kilgore works with Pine Island fifth-grader Matthew Swart on a poetry assignment
Senior Marshall Kilgore works with Pine Island fifth-grader Matthew Swart on a poetry assignment

Taylor is one of 20 high school students who are spending the year as Teacher Cadets. The year-long pilot course aims to recruit K-12 teachers while they are still juniors and seniors in high school.

“That’s where you can target your best and brightest and give them a foot in the door before they graduate,” said Cheryl Bischer, who leads the Teacher Cadets. “If they decide to be teachers, they have an advantage having already been in the classroom. If they decide not to be, that’s a success too, in that they’ve decided that before they get to college.”

Bischer, who also teaches health, culinary arts and child development at the high school, brought the program to Comstock Park from Brighton, where two of her former students there already have been hired as teachers in that district.

Teacher Cadets spend the first semester observing classrooms in all district buildings to get a feel for which grade level they would most like to try their hand at teaching. They also study learning styles, create lesson plans and work on their presentation skills.

The second semester, students spend one hour three days a week in the classroom.

Senior Taylor Fox asks second-grader Darian Williams about his prior knowledge of snow

‘Teaching Feels Perfect to Me’

Senior Marshall Kilgore chose to work with Pine Island fifth-graders because, he said, “They are young enough that they are all still sponges, just absorbing knowledge, but old enough that you don’t have to remind them to wipe their noses.”

Working with young people runs in Marshall’s family. His mother teaches criminal justice at Grand Rapids Community College and is a probation officer. Both his parents have social-work backgrounds.

“My No. 1 belief is that knowledge fights ignorance,” Marshall said. “What better way to help shape who children will become? Teaching is a pillar of social work, and helping children is what I want to do.”

He plans to attend Western Michigan University and major in elementary education.

“I’ve always loved being a leader and helping my peers,” Marshall said. “Teaching feels perfect to me, and I feel so comfortable in Teacher Cadets.”

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Comstock Park closes all schools for in-person instruction

Dave Washburn, superintendent of Comstock Park Schools, said the decision to go all-virtual was made due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases among staff and students, as well as the number of staff and students quarantined...

Laughter, lessons & support for virtual students, parents

Key to learning from home: get outside, be safely social and find ways to bond, moms say...

Superheroes, jungle explorers, Cinderella join virtual kindergarten lessons

As an all-virtual kindergarten teacher at Stoney Creek Elementary, Tiffany Imhoff is constantly adapting and tweaking her lessons to keep her students engaged and learning...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU