Holy Family Catholic School eighth-graders "take over" as teachers for a day
Last week, eighth-graders at Holy Family Catholic School took the top spots in every classroom as part of National Catholic Schools Week.
| 3:15 p.m. February 10, 2017
DR. PHILLIPS "Wait a minute — I don’t see everyone sitting first-grade style,” Bella Scoma said to the class she was teaching at Holy Family Catholic School.
The first-graders immediately turned around in their chairs, folding their hands neatly on top of their desks.
“That’s much better,” Bella said.
The teachers and administrators in the back of the room smiled as they watched the three eighth-grade girls at the front board continue with their lessons.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, it was the eighth-grade class’ time to shine as students took over every classroom at Holy Family. It’s a tradition that dates back to the school’s 1996 inception as part of National Catholic Schools Week.
THE PREP WORK
The eighth-grade students and teachers had been preparing for weeks for this day. First, students were given the opportunity to choose their teaching partners. From there, each team chose an age group — primary, elementary or middle — they wanted to teach.
After finalizing their groups, the eighth-graders wrote letters to and met the teachers whose classes they would be taking over.
Finally, it was time to begin preparation for their lessons.
“We’ve spent about a week on this,” said Ben Irmscher, who helped teach the science lab. “We watched the video and wrote down the lesson plan. Then we wrote about how we were going to teach the lesson and what we were going to do for it.”
It was hard work and a lot of responsibility to handle, but they finally got to put their lessons and class-management plans to action. A few hours into the day, many of the student teachers’ classes were running smoothly, although they quickly realized how much work goes into teaching.
“Getting them to listen has been challenging,” said Kaitlyn Prihoda, who helped take over the music classes. “We do clapping and things like that, but they’re still kids so we try mixing fun with control and try to get a balance between that.”
Her teaching partner and friend, Hayleigh Jusas, echoed her sentiments, adding that keeping students’ attention is a challenge in and of itself.
“It’s been fun so far, but it’s a lot harder than we imagined,” Hayleigh said. “We’ve got to give the teachers credit, especially (because) we’ve (been teaching) the tiny ones. The kids make it enjoyable for us.”
Music teacher Tim Conyers added that classroom and behavioral management is the first and one of the most important steps when teaching a group of children.
“They (the students) may be a teacher one day, they’ll probably be a parent one day, and they really get to understand what it’s like on the other side of the experience in education,” Conyers said. “It’s really a great learning opportunity for them. They might be teaching, if not kids, maybe adults someday, or they might be managing adults someday.”
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
Throughout the morning, Lucretia Head, an eighth-grade language arts teacher, was pleasantly reminded of just how much responsibility the students can handle as she watched them run their classes. It’s all part of the end goal of preparing them for life, she said.
“Next year they’re in high school, so every step we do here is to try to groom them to become more independent and responsible for themselves,” Head said. “I think it’s good experience — they’re acting like adults. That’s the whole goal, to try to get them ready for their future experiences in life.”
Many of the student teachers were enjoying the classroom takeover, but most said they have other plans for their futures — performing arts, design, engineering and other industries among them. However, some are not counting out teaching careers just yet.
“I’ve been wanting to take over the school ever since I was a little kid, and I saw them (the older kids) taking over,” said Daniel Hernandez, who helped take over the science lab. “I thought it would be the most fun thing ever. I’ve been wanting to try this because maybe (one day) I would be a teacher, I don’t know. It (the takeover) just opened an opportunity to see what it would be like if you wanted to be a teacher.”
And for Principal Sister Dorothy Sayers, who has been at the school since its inception, it’s even more rewarding to see the kids she remembers as preschoolers and kindergartners mature over their years of growth at HFCS and take on leadership roles.
“It’s very rewarding, because we’re raising them to go into the world and be good citizens,” she said. “We want them to really put their best foot forward, and always for the greater honor and glory of God. I tell them, ‘Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability — don’t go halfway, don’t even go 100%, go more and give of your best.’
“I’m very proud of them,” Sayers said. “Some of them are really out of their comfort level, but they’ve got to dare to do it — that takes courage.”