DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — While reading to children seems simple, for those venturing into the classroom as teachers, it means much more than just enjoying a good book.Four students in the Texas Tech University Tech Teaches program recently put their literature lessons into practice at the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes-Marble Falls Unit. The students read to different groups of youth at the center as they themselves worked on skills they’ll take into classrooms as teachers.
Watch a video of the program
“This is actually their first education course,” said Kelly Fox, a clinical professor with TTU at Highland Lakes. “They’re studying children’s literature. What they’re learning is to select and critique the different choices of children’s literature and how to use them in class.”
Donna Fogelberg, a TTU student who is also a teacher’s aide in a Highland Lakes school district, appeared at ease as she read “Interrupting Chicken” by David Ezra Smith to a small group of kids. She showed the book to the children, asked if any of them were familiar with it and went over some of the parts of the book.
Then, she began reading.
Fogelberg occasionally paused to ask the Boys & Girls Club members questions about what she had just read, even quizzing them on the meanings of certain words.
The idea, Fox explained, isn’t just to read a book to children, but to make it a learning experience.
As students themselves, the activity is also educational for the Tech Teaches class members.
The program gives locals a chance to earn a degree and teaching certificate close to home. Fox pointed out students such as Fogelberg work full time and might not have been able to pursue a degree had it not been for the TTU at Highland Lakes program.
“It really meets the needs of place-bound rural students,” she said.
Several of the Tech Teaches students accompanying Fox to the Boys & Girls Club didn’t fit the “traditional student” mold. Llano resident Julie Leach didn’t even know she wanted to be a teacher after high school.
Instead, she went to work for a cabinet company before eventually landing at a Kingsland daycare. It was the first time she had ever worked with young children, other than her own child.
“And I just loved it,” Leach said.
As the mother of a 10-year-old, Leach said the TTU at Highland Lakes program better fits into her life than attending classes in Austin, San Marcos or even San Antonio.
“It’s really, really convenient,” she said. “I’m glad it’s here.”
Fox said students take their underclassman studies through one of the community colleges connected with TTU at Highland Lakes. Once they earn an associate degree, the students finish their upperclassmen studies and teaching certificate through TTU. When they graduate, the students earn teaching certification in early childhood through sixth grade with specialization in English as a Second Language or special education.
With a campus in Marble Falls, the university has forged strong relationships with area school districts such as Marble Falls, Burnet, Llano and Fredericksburg. This, Fox said, allows program participants to student-teach and find mentors in those districts.
The location and flexibility gives future teachers such as Leach a path into the classroom.
“Being here, it makes it so much easier,” Leach said. “In two more years, I’ll have my degree and teaching certificate. I think this is a wonderful program right here.”
For more information on the TTU Tech Teaches program, go to www.depts.ttu.edu/hillcountry or call (830) 798-9548.