Teachers juggle student teachers while pursuing higher degrees


Camdyn Rohde

Science teacher Paul Bell and student teacher Sophie Drew go over lesson plans.

Camdyn Rohde, Reporter

It is no secret that being a teacher–especially within the last few years–has been difficult. Many teachers have had to look only at students’ eyes above their masks or through a computer screen to see a smile on their faces. Despite the hardships that come along with the job, there are still many collegiate students who are determined to continue the teaching profession. Among these are UW-Oshkosh students Sophie Drew and Jenna Augustston. Drew currently student teaches with science teacher Paul Bell and Augustson with English teacher Angela Femali.
“My previous placements have been in the middle school which is a lot different because I don’t look like a middle schooler, but I look like a high schooler, so that’s a little weird being so close to their age. I really like it though, high schoolers are a lot more mature and the content is a lot more fun. I just really like observing and being involved in class activities and getting to do stuff with students. It has been great,” Drew said.
In comparison to the average student teaching experience, Drew and Augustson have it a little different than most. While Bell and Femali both have student teachers, they are also both pursuing higher degrees.
“I am currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program through Cardinal Stritch. When I am done I’ll have a doctorate in Language and Literacy which is a lot of teaching reading type things, but it’s also a lot of leadership classes,” Femali said. “My dissertation will explore the connection between reading comprehension difficulties and mental health difficulties like anxiety and depression in high school students. I’m excited about that work and what it could potentially add to our understanding of students at the secondary level.”
Despite having a multitude of responsibilities on her plate, Femali says having a student teacher during this time has greatly helped her. Augustson says the same.
“My future plans consist of pursuing a higher degree, so Mrs. Femali’s experience of teaching while pursuing her Ph.D. gives me realistic expectations on what that experience will be like. I now have insight into what it is like to have a full-time job and pursue another degree,” Augustson said.
Similarly to Femali, Bell is also pursuing a higher degree, currently working towards getting his license in educational leadership. Due to this, Bell and Drew are both furthering their education, which Bell says has been a big help in the classroom.
“I’d honestly say it’s probably to Sophie’s benefit because now I’m thinking about things in many different ways and I can illustrate my learnings to her. What I’m doing with Sophie is constantly thinking of curriculum and development so it’s to my benefit and to her benefit,” Bell said.
Drew articulates many of the same findings, adding that the relatability between the two is much higher since they are both still learning in their respective fields.
“I think having him still in school gives him the mindset that he’s still learning and still bettering himself as a teacher. Obviously we’re at two different points in our education, but it feels like we’re both working towards the same thing and both still learning and figuring things out,” Drew said. “I feel like we do a lot of exploration and we’re able to learn from each other versus him just having his set schedule and routine and sticking to that. It’s a lot of back-and-forth and he’s telling me about the stuff he’s learning in class and I get to tell him about what I learn and that kind of stuff.”