For many college students, internships are arranged to provide hands-on learning about a specific profession or field. For one Elizabeth City State University senior, 40 hours of required observation turned into something much more like an internship in which the student was not the only one learning.
Christy Mode’s ultimate goal is to become certified to teach K-12 special education. Among the requirements for her degree was the completion of 40 observational hours at a high school. As a result, Mode came to this school from the middle of March until the end of April. “I was asked by our lead teacher, Mrs. (Deb) Keenan, if I would like an intern,” said Sue Messenheimer, Occupational Course of Study teacher. “I responded, enthusiastically, ‘yes.’”
So began the routine visits to the school. Mode started off visiting on Mondays and Tuesdays and gradually became more flexible. Even though the visits were for observational hours, Mode still had responsibilities in the classrooms in which she visited.
“I observed different things, and I learned about how (the students) solve different tasks, big or small,” Mode said. “I also tried to build relationships with the children.” Mode easily adapted to the classroom setting.
“I’ve always had a love for children. I have five siblings, so nurturing and caring has always been second nature. But it wasn’t until I had my son and saw him learning did I think ‘Oh man, I can really get into this,’” Mode said.
Messenheimer said Mode was an asset to instruction.
“She was easy to work with and readily involved herself in the classroom,” Messenheimer said. “The students appreciated her extra efforts. I appreciated an extra pair of hands helping.”
One of Mode’s assignments for her degree included creating a workshop or informational briefing for the students. So, Mode collaborated with Keenan to organize a workshop that focused on “transitioning to life after high school.”
“My idea was to create a seminar-type activity for the students,” Mode said.
Mode searched for volunteers to present information in the areas of banking, housing, jobs and transportation.
The outcome of Mode’s labor was a real-world event attended by 40 students and teachers Messenheimer, Joe Tyson, Catherine Van Vliet, and Michelle Smith, and Career Development Coordinator Jennie Rook.
“There were four groups, all grouped according to the color of name tags. The students checked in, their names were checked off, and they were given a folder with some information material containing the day’s activities and schedule,” Mode said. “The groups rotated four times. There was a 10-minute break before the second half of the workshops.”
Messenheimer said Mode worked hard on the event.
“She added fresh faces to the real-world event, which entailed a great bit of work on her part. People work months to pull off this sort of thing that she pulled off in a few weeks,” Messenheimer said. “I think the real-world event continues to be an eye-opening event for students. I appreciate that we can take all students to it, and it provided discussions for several weeks thereafter.”
At the conclusion of her partnership with Messenheimer, Mode said she was very thankful for the help and support she received while working on her project.
“I really appreciated all the help and direction the teachers gave me,” Mode said. “The students were awesome, and I think that they had a really good time.”
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