Story and video by Kara Adkins and Mattie Daily
Senior Jack Howard is all too familiar with the scent of arts and crafts and the poster covered hallways of Lakeside Elementary School. He attended Lakeside from kindergarten to fifth grade and going back brings back feelings of nostalgia to the Ready, Set, Teach! student.
Although the desks seem much smaller and the curriculum less complex, he still loves going back to his third grade teachers classroom and helping her with the students.
“It’s really cool because I get to see things and be like ‘wow I remember when I did that’ and ill see things around the classroom that I definitely remember and just all of the memories of working with that teacher come back,” Howard said.
For most students at CHS, the everyday duties of a teacher’s job go unnoticed. But for a select few students they personally know the responsibilities of educators because they themselves get the opportunity to be one.
RST is a program at Coppell that allows students to visit elementary schools three days a week in order to help the teacher out and find out if they are interested in a career in education.
“So many times when a student is in high school they think they know what their career choice is. They go to college and spend four years studying that and go into the force and go ‘oh my gosh I hate my job,” RST teacher Shelly Redding said. “It allows them to get a sample of what teaching is really like.”
Yet for those who didn’t attend elementary school at Coppell, the CISD elementary schools are a new experience. Senior Austin Gaudet moved to Coppell in sixth grade, and although he didn’t attend school here as a child, he still learns plenty from the school every time he goes.
“The students have taught me that every day passes by and that it is just important to always be happy,” Gaudet said. “They experience the world in a better way and they teach me to just live life and as long as I stick with them eventually they will get whatever I am trying to teach them.”
Howard followed in both of his sister’s footsteps by taking RST, however, he still had doubts about the program until his first day in the classroom.
“I was a bit nervous about whether or not the kids would like me and if I would like my teacher again because I hadn’t seen her in such a long time, but I am totally blown away,” Howard said, “I have so much fun every single day I go there.”
Redding personally knows what the RST kids experience on a daily basis because she herself was in the program at Irving High School. It made her re-evaluate her decision to teach elementary school kids and let her find her passion for high school children.
“I thought I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher and I did the exact same thing these kids do and there were a lot of things that went into it but I always tell my kids that there was this little boy who sneezed in his hand and then he wiped it all over my pants,” Redding said, “I realized I could not do elementary school and I couldn’t be with little kids.
“I would have gone to college and specialized in elementary education but I figured out that teaching was for me, it just wasn’t the little kids. Here I am 24 years later still teaching, just now its big kids.”
Even those who take RST and realize teaching isn’t for them don’t leave the class empty handed. The class gives each student a great set of skills that can carry them into many career fields.
“They learn how to work well with others, flexibility, compassion, and empathy. Teaching is a put others first kind of profession. You don’t have to live your life that way, but it’s a good characteristic to have,” Redding said. “This class is about teaching but it’s also about life skills with others because you have to work with people no matter what your profession is.”
This unique program at Coppell allows students the chance to truly find out where their passion lies and if teaching is for them. It seems that students who take the class are pleasantly surprised with what the class entails and the opportunities it allows.
“I’ve always loved kids and teaching is just a fun thing to do,” Howard said. “I enjoy going to the elementary schools and getting to hang out with the kids.”