Principles of Education Students Gain Real-World Teaching Experience


Alanna Kologey

Senior Erin Rankins assists Gregory Kelly in rolling silverware. Every Tuesday, they take a bus to Petty’s Steak and Catfish to prepare the students for the work force.

The gleam of the silverware disappears as the students roll it tight. Eyes twinkle in response to the kind and encouraging words as the students roll the coffee cart through the white halls. A helping hand assists in stocking the colorful shelves of cans, and the students grin wider at the warm-hearted gesture. These are just glimpses into the weekly routine of junior Sarah Krol and senior Erin Rankins.  Knowing that they are making a difference in the world sends a warmth through their hearts.

Krol and Rankins help teach life skills students Tuesday through Thursday during second and third periods. This opportunity allows them to learn the skills necessary to be successful as a teacher as well as skills that will help them in other areas of life.  

“[Erin and Sarah both] exhibit good teacher qualities,” Rhonda Walker, principles of education teacher, said. “I always tell my kids whether [or not] you’re going to be a teacher, at some point, you will teach somebody something. There is something to benefit from this [opportunity] even if you choose not to go into education.”

In the first principles of education class, students cover everything that is associated with education and in the second year, they apply what they have learned in the real world. During her second year, Rankins was assigned to teach her first class.

“It’s made me mature because last year, being a junior, I originally started out teaching seniors,” Rankins said. “I had to grow up real fast.”

In December of Rankin’s junior year, Walker challenged her to create a game for the life skills Christmas party.

“She saw how I connected with the special needs kids and suggested that I help teach the students,” Rankins said. “I was kind of hesitant at first because I didn’t know if I could handle it, but I learned that anything is possible.”

I wouldn’t trade [these kids or these experiences] for the world.””

— Erin Rankins

On Mondays, the day Rankins and Krol are not helping with the life skills class, they go over to Early Childhood Center and assist at the library. However, on Tuesdays, they go to Petty’s Steak and Catfish with the students to help roll silverware.

Teachers use their coffee cart business as a tool to teach the students how to manage money by selling coffee to faculty and staff around the school every Wednesday. At the end of the week, the life skills students get paid fake money that they can use in a store set up in the classroom.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn how to work with these students and teach them skills that they will need for life,” Krol said. “It’s teaching me the innovative part of teaching and new ideas.”

Every Thursday, the pair of student teachers help life skills students organize cans and stock shelves at the local food pantry.

“If they want to go into teaching, this provides them real-world experiences of what it’s like,” Walker said. “You can’t get anymore authentic than what they are doing.”

After high school, Krol plans on going to Tyler Junior College for her basics and then transfer to the University of Texas at Tyler. Her aspiration is to become a special ed teacher.

“I love helping people, and I love these kids,” Krol said. “I really enjoy getting to spend part of my school day doing this with them.”

Rankins plans on entering into the sports marketing career. She hopes to work with a major or minor league baseball team.

“It is absolutely amazing,” Rankins said. “I wouldn’t trade [these kids or these experiences] for the world.”