South San Francisco High School has transformed a community service class into a CTE pathway to teaching. The school’s college-bound students would sign up for the community service class because they liked to perform volunteer work for college entrance requirements, gain experience in the work place, and to give back to their community. Over the years, however, Dianna Ariani, the school’s Work Experience, Community Service, and CTE Coordinator, noticed that several students enjoyed volunteering at elementary schools so much that they decided to go into teaching.
As part of the redesigned class, student meet for one full week at the beginning of each semester for specialized preparation and then are placed at an elementary school site. They go daily to the school site with the exception of early release days when they meet with Ariani. As part of the course, students gain first-hand knowledge of what it takes to be an elementary school teacher. They help their teacher supervisors with all types of classroom work; they tutor students, grade papers, read books to the class, clean-up the classroom, post assignments around the room, prep for art projects, make copies, and file. The students write letters of introduction, job descriptions, reflection journals and watch specific videos about blood-borne pathogens, work place etiquette, and ethics on the job. They also learn about grade appropriate reading levels and skills.
Ariani monitors each teacher’s needs to make sure that the student is providing appropriate assistance in the classroom. She also conducts work site evaluations and provides feedback to the students. By the end of the course, each student has created a portfolio of their work. “The class gives student hands-on work experience coupled with related education and support to make their classroom experience more meaningful. Students who complete the course are much more knowledgeable about the teaching profession and enter college with a lot more confidence about what they want to do. The students are also well-positioned to take on additional teaching internships and jobs,” explained Ariani. Given the need for teachers in the state, Ariani expects additional high schools will offer something similar.