Two District Five students turned teachers recently visited their old teacher cadet classes to share tips and tricks and hopefully inspire up-and-coming teachers.
Alyssa Powers, a fourth-grade teacher at Oak Pointe Elementary, and Steffi Johnson, a first-grade teacher at Ballentine Elementary, came back to visit their former teacher cadet teachers at Chapin High School. Both Powers and Johnson took different paths to become educators.
“I actually was accepted into the University of South Carolina as a broadcast journalism major,” Powers said. “But when I started my teacher cadet class at Chapin High School, the first day of my field experience at Lake Murray Elementary School, I came home and knew I was going to change my major to education because it was just amazing. The opportunity that being a teacher cadet gave me, if I didn’t have it, I probably would have gone on and been a journalism major throughout my entire career. And now, I’m here teaching back in School District Five, so it’s just come full circle, and it means a lot to me.”
Steffi Johnson said her teacher cadet experience shaped her into the teacher she is today.
“I knew how impactful teacher cadet was for me and the lessons I learned from the teacher I was paired with,” Johnson said. “I wanted to be able to share the things that I’ve learned along the way. Even when you are a senior in high school, the things that you notice in those classrooms and the experiences that you have are so valuable and five or six years down the road you can still take pieces and apply them to your own journey as a teacher.”
Powers and Johnson were invited back to Chapin High by their former teacher cadet teachers Sara Kimberlin and Patrick Funk. Kimberlin said she hopes her current students understood the value of giving back to the community they grew up in.
“Education is a very reciprocal profession,” Kimberlin said. “Our students need to be able to see that it is important to pay it forward all while seeing the possibilities that are very near to them in their future. Both Steffi and Alyssa were superstar students in high school and we are so excited that they are in District Five and taking their teaching journey with us.”
School District Five Superintendent Dr. Akil E. Ross, Sr. was in attendance for Johnson’s visit and said seeing his former student come full circle was just inspiring.
“I think the idea of things coming full circle is the beauty of the teacher cadet program,” Ross said. “You have a teacher cadet teacher, who had a teacher cadet student, who is now teaching in the district, teaching other teacher cadets how to be a teacher. It’s just a beautiful thing to see and I’m excited about the future of education.”