Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 23, 2014

IUK seniors student teach in New Zealand

From Staff Reports
Kokomo Tribune

---- — What is the best part of Tyler Keck’s student teaching assignment? He’s teaching at an elementary school on the beach, where surfing is part of the physical education curriculum.

Keck, along with fellow seniors Ashley Spraker and John Williams, are the first Indiana University Kokomo students in a new program that places them in schools overseas for their student teaching. They left for Auckland, New Zealand, in February and will return in early May.

Keck, from Kokomo, noted that it is summer in New Zealand, and they will be there for the start of the school year.

“Usually you student teach in winter, leading up to the end of the school year,” he said in a press release. “We get to experience what it is like to start a school year as a teacher. I want to learn just as much from my students and they want to learn from me. It’s an exchange of culture.”

They had a choice of student teaching in Costa Rica, Ecuador or New Zealand. They selected New Zealand because the people speak English, and it would be the most difficult country of the three to get to when not part of a program.

“We also thought of the awesomeness level of New Zealand,” Williams, from Fairmount, said. “It’s the action sports capital of the world. They have snorkeling, lots of caves and mountains, and great places to visit.”

They are among 20 American student teachers going to New Zealand, and as the first from IU Kokomo, they want to perform well so others can have the same experience, Spraker said.

“We are well aware of how lucky we are,” she said. “We are grateful to Dean [Paul] Paese and the faculty for organizing this and giving us the opportunity to have this experience.”

Paese accompanied the students to New Zealand and stayed for the first several days to visit them at school and perform their first classroom visits.

“I think this will be a good experience for them, and will be beneficial to them as they begin their teaching careers,” he said. “A school administrator is going to see this on their resume, and think, ‘That is the kind of teacher I want, who is going to take a leap and step out of the box.’”

All three also had student teaching experiences in north central Indiana. Keck taught sixth graders at Northwestern Elementary School. Spraker, from Cutler, was a special education student teacher at Blue Ridge Elementary in Frankfort. Williams was a student teacher in English at Western High School.