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Educators Rising empowers future teachers

Students hoping to ‘make a change in the world’

Wyoming — Teacher John Doyle greets his students at the beginning of every class and asks them about the good things happening in their lives. 

The last class period of the day, his sixth-hour students take turns volunteering news about work, school, family and life.

“You all have stories,” Doyle said. “You just don’t always get the chance to tell them, and when you’re a student, people don’t always ask.”

The class is called Educators Rising, in its first year being offered at Wyoming High School. It is part of a national effort that aims to help establish a pathway to careers in education. 

Doyle’s class of 18 mostly juniors and seniors in the semester-long elective learn about secondary education required to be a teacher, and the kinds of careers in education they can pursue. 

They also visit district elementary and middle school classrooms, as well as one class in their own school. 

“Our primary goal for our students is to expose them to what a positive and exciting learning environment should look like, along with highlighting the importance and need for diverse, passionate students to one day have a potential opportunity to teach at Wyoming Public Schools,” Doyle said. “Today’s rising educator is tomorrow’s accomplished teacher.”

Jennifer Slanger, the district’s director of teaching and learning, said Doyle’s class provides an experience for students they may not otherwise encounter while exploring teaching as a career.

“Knowing we are a very diverse school district, our hope is that through Mr. Doyle’s Educators Rising class, we will attract a diverse group of students who are interested in pursuing teaching as a career,” she said.

What Makes A Teacher

Back in his sixth-hour class, Doyle explained to students how they were to review the results from their first test. 

“We’re going to get out of here and circle up outside for conversation, a sharing circle,” he said. “Discussing our written responses together expands our understanding of the topics we’re learning.” 

If students learned something from a classmate’s test answers, Doyle encouraged them to take notes on their own tests to reflect on later. 

One question read: “How do you want to be remembered as a teacher?”

Senior Aja Miller raised her hand to share her answer. “I want to be remembered as a teacher who kids could come to anytime, with anything, and they feel welcome.”

Junior Bryce Bosovich wanted to be remembered for being “strict when you have to be” and “compassionate to your students.”

Junior Carlos Cruz Lopez, far left, said he was most looking forward to making a difference in his school and community as a future educator

Principal Joshua Baumbach sat in on the class circle in the common area just as Doyle’s students began listing careers in education.

“Our teachers make the difference and are the most important positions in our building, but you, the students, are why we’re here,” Baumbach told them. 

Another question on the test asked students how rising educators advocate for the teaching profession and why advocacy is important in that profession.

“By doing what Doyle did: bring my class to other schools so my students can learn what it’s like to be a teacher,” junior Carlos Cruz Lopez said. 

Senior Estella Oliver believed in the importance of advocating for the profession, students and community.

“As a teacher, you’re not just serving your students; you’re serving the community and the district,” Doyle added. “Teaching is not an easy profession right now; it’s tough. Here is when you find out who the strong ones are.” 

Baumbach added: “If you’re not advocating for your profession, it doesn’t help the longevity of the profession and sets a negative perspective about teaching for people in the community.” 

High Expectations

As they reached the end of class, Doyle went over the final question: “What are you most looking forward to as a rising educator?”

“I’m most looking forward to making change in my school, community, inspiring my students and encouraging them to do better every day,” Carlos said. 

Junior Rigo Barajas-Diaz wants to “make my community and my people proud of me.”

Sophomore Mikayla Lee  said she wants “to show more Black and mixed-race kids that they can be teachers too.”
Added Senior Kirsten Schultz: “If you make a change with students, you can make a change in the world.”

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter, covering Caledonia, Kenowa Hills, Godfrey-Lee, Grand Rapids and is a roving reporter for GRCC, Wyoming, Kentwood and Byron Center. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News - covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry.  Following a stint as a copywriter for a Grand Rapids area PR firm, she transitioned from communications to freelance writing and reporting for SNN.  Read Alexis' full bio

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