As one of three students participating in the year-long student teaching program at Anderson University, 2013 elementary education grad Chelsea Niesley, decided that she was going to make her experience unique. Through hard work and a heart for global studies, Niesley completed her teaching experience in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
To be chosen for this opportunity doesn’t come easily for students. “In order for students to teach internationally, they must have a high GPA, be responsible, and also be someone who can obviously work independently,” said Joyce Wehneman, coordinator of clinical experience for the AU School of Education. When students are chosen for the program, they are asked to choose three places where they might want to go, and from that a country is chosen for them.
The commitment to year-long student teaching is a decision that students make early in their college years. It requires them to plan for classes in the summer and to commit to a full schedule so that they can teach for a year when they are seniors. “I knew that it would mean I would need to pile on classes and take a full load in the summer so I could graduate on time, but I was determined to finish in four years, so that’s just what I did,” said Niesley.
Niesley’s dream to be a teacher has been one she’s had for years. “I first knew I wanted to be a teacher in about fifth or sixth grade,” said Niesley. “Even in high school, I led girls in second and third grade. I absolutely loved it. There was no question that I wanted to become a teacher.”
When Niesley came to AU, she decided to add special education concentration to her major. She also learned about the year-long program and the international experience that might be an option for her. Around her junior year, Niesley went through the process to be chosen.
“Choosing international student teachers is a rigorous process, due to all the interviews and steps that students must take,” said Dr. Jan Fulkerson, dean of the School of Education.
International teaching is open to all education majors, but very few are chosen. The process starts by sending an application, and from there each student has multiple interviews with the committee.
Niesley spent her time in Ethiopia teaching a fourth grade class at Bingham Academy, a Christian international school. “I’ve formed bonds with people from all over the world who have the same passion to teach as I do. I’ve been able to experience the Ethiopian culture, as well as the missionary culture,” said Niesley.
The experience helped to shape Niesley into the teacher she hopes to become. The variety of people she worked with will help her with the variety of children she will someday teach.
“Having been in elementary school classrooms all day every day for a whole school year makes me so excited to have my own classroom,” said Niesley. “Due to AU and my student teaching time, I feel more prepared for teaching my own classroom, and I am ever so grateful.”
— Katie Wenclewicz is a junior from Anderson, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Wenclewicz is an associate of Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.