UNE Students hired as full-time teachers to allow in-person learning
While many schools in Maine are offering in-person learning only two days a week, Biddeford schools are offering in-person learning for its students four days a week, thanks to several University of New England students majoring in Education.
The seniors are working as paid, full-time teachers for the year, giving Biddeford schools the ability to have small class sizes for social distanced learning while having enough teachers for more classrooms.
“We were trying to determine how to bring kids back safely, while following the recommended guidelines,” stated Margaret Pitts, principal of Biddeford Primary School. “This let us create class sizes that allow for six feet spacing and to have students come back to school on a more full-time basis.”
Bri Walker (Elementary Education, ’21) is currently working as a teacher at Biddeford Primary School.
“I know that remote learning over this past year has been extremely difficult, not only for younger students but for parents and teachers as well,” Walker commented. “It is really amazing that we are able to pull this off and to have the kids here safely. I am glad to just be part of it.”
“The opportunity to combine student teaching with a year of full-time teaching is really a unique opportunity," Bartholomew told NEWS CENTER Maine. "So, we saw it as a win-win that our students could take advantage of and to also provide that service to Biddeford and Biddeford students."
Walker and the other students have mentor teachers in adjacent classrooms in case any issues arise. The mentors take care of administrative duties required by the city and state, while the student teachers put together the daily lesson plans and carry out the day-to-day teaching.
“With the safety measures that we had to put in place, we would not have been able to have classes like this without the student interns and our regular teachers who stepped up to be mentors to them,” stated Jeremy Ray, Biddeford superintendent of schools.
By participating in this unique situation, Walker and the other UNE students will have an advantage over other graduates when they head out into the job market.
“I know that wherever I end up teaching next year I am going to feel significantly more comfortable than I would have had I not done this,” Walker said.