EMMITSBURG, Md. (AP) — Every prospective teacher in the state must undergo a stint of student teaching, in the hopes that firsthand experience in schools will cement their career choice. Education classes at Mount St. Mary’s University take that requirement a step further, offering their students other opportunities to learn the logistics of teaching work outside the classroom — like planning a field trip.

Through a partnership with a university alumnus, 18 interns were shuttled Wednesday to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, at Washington Dulles International Airport.

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The Mount students were charged with exploring how the center could serve as the site of a field trip, how its programming might be integrated into the school curriculum, but also nonacademic tasks, such as piecing together a schedule and noting the safety measures offered at the center would be sufficient to accommodate the number of theoretical students attending.

“It gives them a lot of that firsthand experience,” said Stacey Brown-Hobbs, accreditation coordinator and professor at Mount St. Mary’s. “We want to make sure that by the time they get to this point, they’re sure this is what they want to do.”

Brown-Hobbs co-teaches two courses with her colleague, Laura Frazier, assistant professor in the department of education: a science, technology, engineering and mathematics methods class, and a social students and assessment course. The shared teaching style is fairly unusual in a university setting, Frazier said.

Junior Karly Sites, one of the students passing through Mount St. Mary’s education program, said the dual teaching method allows her to figure out how to divide a classroom with another instructor.

Sites is amid her 100-day internship, as required by law for certification, at Waverley Elementary School in Frederick. There, she works with students with special needs, often in small groups. She hopes to work in elementary school education and with special-needs students.

Students earning an education degree pop in and out of Frederick County Public Schools periodically, starting freshman year.

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Recently, Sites attended a STEM fair at St. John Regional Catholic School, where she chatted with the point planners of the event, mostly other teachers, and learned how to pique student interest in STEM topics.

The day of the field trip, Sites and her peers were treated to a tour by another teacher, who took them through the space hangars and various airplane hangars, as well.

“It was cool to see from a teacher perspective,” she said.

Throughout the tour, the professors would point out safety considerations the future teachers would need to plan for — the proper ratio of children to chaperones, and the multiple exits of the building.

“We aren’t even just doing the class work, we’re in the field as well, to see what it means in an active way and engage students,” Sites said. “It’s awesome, so many great experiences, rather than just a textbook.”

Story from the The Frederick News-Post via AP.

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