Do you think that the ocean views and warm weather are available only during spring break? We are excited to offer our students the option of completing their internships (student teaching) in the southern United States. Partnering with school districts in Charleston, Hilton Head, Celebration (FL), Sarasota and St. Petersburg, the Southern Internship provides opportunities for students to “step out” of Ohio for either six or 12 weeks of their internship and experience teaching in these southern locales. They have great experiences that often lead to that valuable first position.
In 2011, Heidi Roland, a physical education major who completed her fall 2010 internship in Celebration, noted in an AU news release that “this was definitely a different experience for me considering the classes were held outside….It is a new option you can try and I would recommend it to others if you want to step outside your comfort zone.” While in Florida, Heidi was teaching physical education to students who were in kindergarten through fifth grade and the class sizes ranged from 60 to about 160 students. She said the large classes presented challenges, especially since she would have some of the same students several days in a row and they had already learned the lesson.
“Even though I was dealing with many different kids, learning that I know I can teach classes ranging from 60 to 160 kids was a huge accomplishment,” she explained. Heidi, who taught for a full school day each day, was the head teacher for that six-week period and taught the classes on her own. For safety reasons, two regular physical education teachers were there to observe her, she said.
While the whole experience seemed intimidating at first, Heidi would rank it as one of the top five best experiences she has had in her life. She explained that she loved working with the students, even though they were very different in their ethnicity or how they communicated. “Some of them were not even able to speak English, which made it hard on me, but hand signals became very helpful,” Heidi said.
“The most memorable thing that I can take from this, besides the whole experience itself, is the relationships that I made,” she said. “From the kids and teachers, to my host family, and to the other interns, I developed relationships that I will never forget.”
Heidi describes the Southern Internship Program as a great way to have the independence of going somewhere to teach without leaving the United States. “You receive support but not as much as you would at home, which gives you the chance to learn to be on your own,” she said.
In its third year, the Southern Internship experience is available to all students completing an undergraduate degree or the Bachelor’s Plus post-baccalaureate licensure program.