- Bryan Middle
Aspiring Educators Qualify for Competition in Nation’s Capital
Aliyah Aljaddou begins her senior year at South High in a few weeks, but she did not take much of a break from the classroom this summer. Instead, she spends her days teaching and learning as a paid student intern at Gomez Heritage Elementary.
"Having one-on-one connections with students and learning more about how to become a teacher instead of going into it blind, you have this opportunity during your summer to do that," said Aljaddou. "It's really fun."
The paid experience during our Next Level Learning summer program is one of several ways Omaha Public Schools invests in the next generation of educators. Aljaddou also participates in Educators Rising.
"You don't have to go into it knowing you want to be a teacher," Aljaddou said about her experience with Educators Rising. "Anyone is welcome. Anyone can be in it. I get to interact more with my own teachers and teachers outside of school and meet new people."
Educators Rising allows students to explore teaching while they are in high school. The goal is for them to return to the classroom after college.
"Anyone interested in working with children in any capacity – whether it's a teacher, a social worker, a nurse or a coach – Educators Rising gives them a glimpse of what it's like," said Samantha Koehler-Overton, South High teacher.
Students from South High, Burke High and Northwest High recently attended the Educators Rising National Conference in Washington, D.C. Students connected with peers from across America and participated in education-based competitions.
“Seeing them get excited about something that I’m already excited about is priceless,” said Koehler-Overton. “It’s just such a cool experience.”
The national conference is available for the top 10 finishers at the state level. Students learn from other future educators and industry veterans.
“When I was a college student, I didn’t get into a classroom until my senior year. That was our student teaching,” explained Sam Bojanski, a South High teacher who attended the national conference with his students.
“Now, they have all those opportunities to get in the classroom -- even as a high school student -- to see if this is something they want to pursue in college or even beyond that,” he added.
Programs like Educators Rising offer solutions for the future of education at a time when staffing challenges face school districts, like many other industries, nationwide.
"It's going to be the answer, hopefully, in a couple of years," said Bojanski.
In addition to Educators Rising, Omaha Public Schools offers a variety of options to inspire future educators. Opportunities include enhancements to education programing in our College & Career Academies and Pathways, a stipend for student teachers, our paraprofessional to teacher program and more.
Aljaddou says having access to hands-on experiences helped shape her plans. She hopes to return to the classroom as a special education teacher after college.
"The Next Level Learning and all the other things I've learned from Educators Rising are really going to help me," she said. "I think it's really good opportunity."