By Danielle Church
Killeen Daily Herald
Over the next two weeks, 22 prospective teachers will be gaining some very useful experience working hands-on with schoolchildren during an annual student enrichment camp, Summer Adventures in Learning, or SAIL, offered at West Ward Elementary School in Killeen.
“SAIL is very unique because it’s field experience,” said Jan Parham, Tarleton Model for Accelerated Teacher Education coordinator. “I’m honored to be here.”
This is Parham’s first year directing TMATE, an alternative teacher certification program offered by Tarleton State University that allows students with at least a bachelor’s degree to obtain certification to become an education professional.
“The TMATE program establishes anyone who’s interested in teaching,” Parham said. “(Whether) it’s a beginning career or a secondary career.”
The TMATE interns who participate in SAIL camp do everything from lesson planning to teaching students on their own, Parham said. It gives them the reality check needed to work in a classroom environment.
An ‘ah-ha’ moment
For some of the soon-to-be teachers in the program, getting this experience is an eye-opener to the reality of the profession.
Sherry Phillips is a retired soldier from Fort Hood who enrolled in the program to begin a new career. She is currently interning with SAIL, along with fellow retiree Wade Troupe.
“It’s not as easy as they make it sound,” Phillips said. “It’s an ah-ha moment for us.”
Both Phillip and Troupe have experience working with children through other programs, but look forward to the next two weeks worth of experience.
“I’m enjoying it,” Troupe said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for. All of the stuff we’ve learned over the past six weeks … you get a good feel for it.”
TMATE Supervisor Gladys Swindle said the students in their program range in age from 25 to 55 years old, and admits that they’ve “had success with our graduates.”
The SAIL program has enrolled an estimated 75 students so far this year in first through eighth grade, many of whom have returned from previous years.
Christopher Cheaele, 11, of Eastern Hills Middle School is one of them.
“It’s fun,” he said. “Every year there’s new and interesting things. I like the activities that they do.
“(The interns) are all nice, and they are very understanding.”
Swindle, who has been with the program for the past nine years, said they “try to tweak it every year to make it better.”
The camp began Monday and runs through Aug. 5. Parents interested in enrolling their child, or seeking more information, can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 526-4914.