BYU student teachers getting international experience

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    By Brooke McCoy

    The Mexico student teaching program is preparing BYU students for teaching situations throughout the world.

    “BYU students must receive preparation for and experience in dealing with multicultural classrooms,” said Brad Wilcox, program director.

    Traditionally, BYU has not been able to provide students with practical experience in working with individuals from a variety of ethnic minorities, Wilcox said.

    Recognition of the need for multicultural experiences led to the development of the Mexico student teaching program and Guatemala internships, he said.

    “I have never been out of the United States,” said Sean Richey, a senior from North Edwards, Calif., majoring in history teaching.

    He has been teaching Spanish for the past year and a half, but wants to be immersed in the culture and have a unique experience.

    Teachers graduating BYU should feel prepared to succeed anywhere, Wilcox said.

    BYU students planning for the Mexico student teaching program must take a preparation class.

    “The class tells you what its like, so you know what to expect and how not to offend people,” said Maria Bradley, a senior from Sandy, majoring in elementary education.

    Bradley said that she chose Mexico over other student teaching opportunities so she could become a more effective teacher for the Spanish immersion students.

    She will be teaching at Juarez Academy in northern Mexico that is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints.

    “One of the most tangible benefits of participating in the program has been the advantage it has given alumni in the job market,” Wilcox said.

    Student teachers report additional professional and personal benefits such as advantages in obtaining employment, increased ability to meet the needs of individual student, increased flexibility and creativity, confidence overcoming challenges and expanded relationships, Wilcox said.

    “I don’t know any Spanish,” said Carla Koptic, a senior from San Diego, Calif., majoring in history teaching.

    Koptic later plans on teaching history in California and wants to be prepared for mixed cultures in the classroom.

    Another students explained the benefits the Mexico student teaching will have on her language skills.

    “In the states, if you said it in Spanish and the people didn’t understand you, you could usually say it in English and then they would get it,” said Cami Allen, a senior from Provo, majoring in elementary education.

    She will be teaching in Tula, a city just outside of Mexico City.

    Allen speaks fluent Spanish from her mission in Tucson, Arizona, but said that in Mexico she will be forced to speak only Spanish.

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