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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Student teachers get their bearings while working within the school

Cevin Dively
Learning the ropes. Student teacher Kirk Popovich prepares for his seventh period class with mentor teacher Makenzie Negri.

Different teachers within the school receive student teachers to mentor throughout the course of a school year. They mentor them for both the fall and spring semesters. 

AP literature and English  teacher Jennifer Lowe has worked with her student teacher, Caroline Clontz since the fall semester. 

“They assign you places based on either your preferences of location, your preferences of grade level or how your personalities are going to get along with your mentor teacher. So, they put a lot of thought into that process. With my specific program, they put you somewhere in the fall semester, and then you typically stay with that same person during spring. Coming here during the spring wasn’t super chaotic for me. I had to relearn school procedures that I had already done all during the fall,” Clontz said. 

The program through Penn State gives students who are interested in student teaching surveys and interviews which include a series of questions regarding placement options with different high schools and their comfort level based on teaching abilities. Clontz went through this process to be able to teach at the high school. She is majoring in secondary English education. Besides student teaching, she participates in THON at  State College and is a writing tutor. 

Social studies and American history teacher Makenzie Negri is mentoring student teacher Kirk Popovich. 

“It was highly recommended against us to have another job while we’re doing this, just because we have all the responsibilities of a teacher as well as the responsibilities of a student doing assignments for Penn State. Right now I’m working with a student to try and help them improve on their goals to get an idea of how student improvement works,” Popovich said. 

The student teachers are majoring in different subjects for Penn State and on top of arriving at the school everyday, they have to also be up to date with their personal classes for their college courses. 

“I looked up to a few of my teachers when I was in high school that used a lot of humor to disarm tense situations in some classes because the school that I went to had some situations that I was not comfortable with and the teachers were able to defuse that and also provided a good environment for learning. I would hope to have a classroom that my students can enjoy and feel safe in as well. I want students to be able to enjoy what I’m teaching, not just feel that they just need to know this for a class and to care about the things they are learning,” Popovich said. 

Popovich has a connection with Anders Sonsteby, who is mentored by academic world history and global affairs teacher John Saboe. His day within the school looks similar to Popovich’s seeing as they carpool to work together. 

“I get to school around 6:50 a.m. to 7 a.m. every day, put my lunch in the fridge and get ready for what I’m going to teach for the day,” Sonsteby said. 

Sonsteby teaches several periods throughout the day regarding academic world history and global affairs. Outside of student teaching, he is a lifeguard for campus recreation at the aquatics department at Penn State. 

It has started to become familiar for the student teachers to arrive at the school everyday and maintain a schedule while also learning new aspects of the high school and teaching within it. This almost feels like a reward when all of the work is accomplished. 

“So being here has been very rewarding for me because there’s a lot of students that when you hear all the problems that they’re facing, it just really tugs at your heart. It’s relatable for a lot of us who chose to go into education because we’ve faced similar issues,” Clontz said.  


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About the Contributor
Cevin Dively
Cevin Dively, Reporter
My name is Cevin Dively. I took yearbook class in eighth grade, and found it interesting, so I decided to continue on with it in the high school. I took Intro to pub, and learned a lot more, then got placed in newswriting for my sophomore year. Aside from newswriting, I'm a Lioneer and dance competitively for a new, local studio. I can't wait to begin another amazing year.  

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