A high school program that trains generations of educators

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For Desert View High School senior Alehxia Apodaca, there is a special moment every teacher experiences.

“Every teacher talks about their little light bulb moment,” she said.

She said the first time she saw her blistering moment was when she was playing at school with her little brother.

“I would love to liven up these little lessons with a chalkboard,” she said. “And I would say ‘here is the letter A’.”

Now Apodaca has the opportunity to see this moment while she is in high school. It is part of the Education Professions program, where high school students learn classroom teaching as well as other school staff jobs. High school students are sent to local elementary and middle schools, which constitutes their internship in the program.

“At the end of my internship, I was able to teach a lesson,” Apodaca said. “So once the children sat in front of me in a circle and I read them a book about sign language and Braille.”

The course began just before the pandemic hit and Desert View teacher Elizabeth Skeggs was hired to lead the program. She said even during the pandemic, students have learned all the joys and challenges that come with the job.

“We had a really good first year,” she said. “Then we had to switch from distance and it was a big adjustment, but we didn’t give up.”

She said the students are not just interning with teachers, but with school counselors and librarians.

“They’re able to give feedback and have those experiences early on, so when they enter the workforce, they’re not starting from scratch,” Skeggs said.

This is Apodaca’s third year in the program and she is interning with a school counselor. Together they have developed a peer mediation program where students come together to help other students talk about their personal issues.

Apodaca said the program prepared her for success in many areas of her life.

“Being in this class taught me so many different things that I can apply to different areas of my life,” she said.