NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Aspiring teachers got a firsthand look at their future careers on Wednesday as they helped alongside teachers at an elementary school in Pasco County.
“Ever since I was a little kid, even when I was a kid, I’ve loved being with kids,” said Emma Reiser, a senior at River Ridge High School. “I love my friends too, so as I got older, I just loved working with actual kids too.”
Reiser is part of the New Teacher Academy at River Ridge High School. On Wednesday, she and about 150 other aspiring teachers got real-world experience in the classroom while helping at Moon Lake Elementary School in New Port Richey.
“It’s a day of service, and this gives the students an opportunity to have hands-on experience,” said Beth Hess, the New Teacher Academy lead at River Ridge High School. “They’re working in all of the classrooms, and it is just life-changing for these students.”
Hess explains the day helps students get a feel for if the field is a good fit while also getting them excited about the profession by learning alongside top educators and role models. She explains the program has grown over the years.
“We started six years ago with about 30 students, and we’re now on year six, and we have increased our enrollment 363 percent in six years,” said Hess.
Whether working with younger students one-on-one or supporting the teachers, the future classroom leaders shared what they got out of the experience and why teaching is right for them.
“I love just being in the classroom interacting with the kids,” said Alexis Schorden, a River Ridge High School student. “It’s like you just feel something different in you. You feel like you’re doing something with your life.”
“The idea of I guess building the future is definitely something that interests me in becoming a teacher,” said Tommy Nguyen, a River Ridge High School student.
Program leaders see the day as an opportunity to help mold the minds of future teachers with a motto #InspireTheDesireToTeach, while students share they’re excited and ready for the next step to reach the classroom.
“It gives me like a glimpse of my future. I plan to teach elementary school, so for me right now, this is literally like my dream is happening as we speak,” said Reiser.