Courtney Miller prepared all summer for her teaching internship at Westside Elementary

Preparing for her upcoming internship at Westside Elementary in Springville, Utah, Courtney Miller is starting to experience the demands of being an educator.

Miller has been prepping all summer to ensure that she is ready with lesson plans. She is hoping that she’ll be able to help her second graders learn and think about new ideas in different ways.

“I love working with children and helping them reach their highest potential,” she said. “I love seeing their faces when they finally understand a challenging concept.”

McKay School students have the option of teaching either as an intern or as a student teacher for their last field experience before graduating. Student teaching is a semester-long commitment under the direction of a full-time teacher. Interns have their own classrooms for a full school year with a full-time teacher available to consult. Student teachers are not paid, as they are completing field work required for their degree. Because they teach twice as long with full teaching responsibilities, interns are paid half a full-time teacher’s salary with benefits.

Miller believes that after her practicum experiences she’ll be ready for her own classroom. “While the elementary education program gives students a lot of opportunities to be in the classroom through practicum experiences, I am finally able to do things my own way rather than stepping into someone else’s classroom and routine,” she said.

“I realize that this is a big responsibility and there will be a lot of kids who are counting on me to teach them what they need to know for the next school year as well as what they need to know to be successful in life outside of an academic setting,” she said.

Miller’s biggest challenge this summer will be to manage her time and not overdo her preparation. “I tend to think about things too much and then rethink what I’ve already planned,” she said. In order to prevent exhaustion from prepping for the classroom, Miller plans on stopping at 6:00 p.m. to do other activities. Before her summer break ends and the school year starts, Miller hopes to have her lessons planned for the first few weeks of the school year.

Miller knows that earning a teaching degree from the McKay School is right for her. When she was a freshman, Miller thought about seeking a nursing degree but realized nursing was not an ideal fit for her. She turned to the McKay School because she wants to make an impact in other people’s lives and loves being around young people.

“There is nothing more personally fulfilling than when the product of your work is a child’s academic or social growth,” she said. “You will be shaping the future by impacting a child’s view and understanding.”

Psychiatrist William Glasser said, “Effective teaching may be the hardest job there is.” Miller believes this is true and wants to be ready for the upcoming school year.

“Our society doesn’t give teachers enough credit for the work they do,” she said. “Our entire lives are dedicated to making the lives of others succeed, and if we fail, we fail more than just ourselves. I hope that during my first year of teaching I am able to make a significant impact in at least one child’s life. Only time will tell.”