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APS launches new teacher academy this fall

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Alpena High School Principal Tom Berriman and Career and Technical Education Director Joyce McCoy review classroom plans for a new program that will debut at the school in the fall.

ALPENA — Students at Alpena High School will have a chance to learn what it’s like to be a teacher as part of a new career and technical education class when school starts this fall.

Career and Technical Education Director Joyce McCoy said 20 students have enrolled in the new teacher academy.

High School Teacher Elly Diamond said students will learn about how kids develop and learn, educational theories, classroom management, designing lesson plans, and teacher strategies. They will also receive Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety and first aid certifications.

In the second semester, Diamond said, students will spend time in a classroom with a teacher-mentor, where they will observe teacher and student interactions.

She said she wants kids to figure out whether teaching is for them and what it means to be a teacher.

“There’s more to it than standing in front of a group of kids every day,” she said.

The district received a $66,800 grant from the Michigan Department of Education to help purchase the technology, materials, and room decor needed for the class.

“We’re really looking forward to helping our Alpena students understand what the job of a teacher is, because we need them,” McCoy said. “We need them to finish their degree and hopefully come back to Alpena sometime in their career, because we need great teachers.”

McCoy said Alpena Public Schools has sometimes had a hard time convincing teachers that moving to Alpena is the best option for them. Sometimes, a teacher might accept a job in the early summer, she said, but then decide to go back to work closer to their home.

She said that, as more teachers retire, it’s going to be harder and harder to hire new ones.

The hope, McCoy said, is that students in the new teacher academy may choose teaching as a career. They may also decide they don’t want to become a teacher, which is also a valuable lesson.

Students who complete the academy will earn credit from Alpena Community College, McCoy said, and an agreement with Central Michigan University is also being worked out.

Diamond said she’s excited to teach the class, because the education system is in such a unique place right now, between the coronavirus and other societal changes, like the internet, teaching is starting to change rapidly.

“This group of kids, they’re going to change how education is done,” she said. “We’re just on the cusp. We’re just starting that change. They’re going to live it and make it happen. That’s what makes it exciting for me.”

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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