THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Meghan Rosendich is working with first graders, but she’s not a teacher…yet.
In a few weeks, she’ll graduate from Cal Lutheran where she’s studying Interdisciplinary Educational Studies. In order to earn her bachelors, she has to spend at least 200 hours doing field study.
That means working in real life classrooms with experienced teachers like Julie Stevens at nearby Meadows Arts and Technology Elementary School or 'MATES.'
Cal Lutheran has been placing undergrads at MATES for a few years, but the school recently made things official, forming a Community Collaboration School Partnership – a first for the university. It’s a partnership where everyone benefits.
For students like Rosendich, it’s a chance to try on their potential careers for size.
“You’re able to experience that full on and really hone in on whether or not you want to be a teacher," she said.
Kristen Walker, the assistant director at MATES, loves having the Cal Lutheran students on campus because it means her elementary students get more individualized attention.
“It gives more hands, more eyes in the classroom," Walker explained.
Plus the college kids are eager.
"[They're] very joyful about learning," Stevens said, "and I think that the students sense that and it helps them be joyful about learning too.”
With 33 years of experience, the first grade teacher says the program has been a welcome change for her too, allowing her to shift gears from teaching children to now instructing adult students as well.
“It’s been a highlight for me," she said, "and it’s really made me blossom as a teacher. I think it’s bettered my teaching skills.”
After a taste of teaching, some of the undergrads may decide this isn’t for them and that’s a success story too. The idea is just to let students discover if this is indeed a path they want to follow.
For Rosendich, it is.
“It’s been a really great experience," she said, smiling.
Ms. Stevens for one, thinks she will make a wonderful addition to the profession.
“Oh my gosh, Meghan is a gem!" she said. "She is just a natural with the kids and she will be a highly successful teacher.”
In part, because of the things she's learned in this classroom.