AIT Program Grads Successfully Switch Students to Online Learning
(Photo by Alex Dolce)
For 10 student-teachers in FAU’s Accelerated Induction into Teaching (AIT) program, becoming a full-time teacher before receiving their college degree became even more of a challenge. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic started to make its full impact on the state of Florida, these student-teachers, who typically become full-time teachers while learning simultaneously inside an elementary school classroom, had to do so in a virtual classroom for the first time in the program’s history.
The AIT program is a unique, collaborative program between FAU’s College of Education and the local school districts to address teacher shortages. AIT Student Teachers serve as full-time teachers during their final semester and have complete responsibility for their own classrooms. To ensure success, the program provides three levels of support: a mentor provides direct classroom support; university supervisors provide the evaluative service; and a school-based peer teacher provides on-site assistance.
“When the state had to move from traditional teaching to online teaching, these AIT student teachers did not miss a beat,” said Ernest Andrew Brewer, Ed.D., associate director of academic support services and FIAT coordinator for FAU’s College of Education. “They have been asked to do what no other AIT group has had to accomplish. This is a very special group of FAU students, and we are very proud of them.”
This semester, eight AIT student teachers were in the Palm Beach County School District and two were in the A.D. Henderson University school district.
“Online learning is a whole new style of teaching for me, but the support of the parents and fantastic staff at A.D Henderson make it all possible,” said Skylar Voelker, third grade teacher at A.D. Henderson University School. “While the effects of COVID-19 resulted in school closures, I am so proud of the adaptability and resilience of students everywhere.”
The AIT student teachers include:
- Alissa Abell, B.A.E. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, Whispering Pines Elementary, first grade
- Calonda Harvey, B.A.E. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, Manatee Elementary, kindergarten
- Clairecina Jean-Noel, B.A.E. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, Westward Elementary, second grade
- Jazmin Jimenez, B.A.E. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, Rosenwald Elementary, first grade
- Gina Keleman, B.A.E. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, Forestt Hill Elementary, kindergarten
- Samantha Martin, M.Ed. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, Belvedere Elementary, kindergarten
- Shelbi Sparks, B.A.E. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, Greenacres Elementary, first grade
- Joseph Speicher, M.Ed. in secondary education with biology specialization, Park Vista High, biology/environmental science
- Skylar Voelker, B.A.E. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, A.D. Henderson University School, third grade
- Rose Walker, B.A.E. in elementary education with ESOL and reading endorsement, A.D. Henderson University School, fourth grade
“The transition to virtual learning has certainly been a growing experience for both my students and I,” said Alissa Abell, first grade teacher at Whispering Pines Elementary. “I wish that I could be in my classroom with my amazing students, but I am so proud of the progress they have made. I miss them like crazy but working with them virtually and seeing their smiling faces during our video calls reminds me why I became a teacher in the first place.”
AIT Student Teachers are under contract with the partnering district during the school district semester and receive a $5,000 stipend.