Next Generation Teachers: Four student teachers enter CFHS classrooms

The sophomores, juniors and seniors at Cedar Falls High School are not the only students learning in the building. This year, there are several students from universities learning the art of being a teacher from observation and hands on experience. Some spend time at multiple schools throughout the day, learning how to teach students of all ages, while others spend all day in one classroom, trying to understand how to teach and earn the respect of high school students. No matter what subject they are specializing in, all are anxious to complete their student teaching and have a classroom of their own.

Connor Koppin

Connor Koppin, Choir

Originally from Mason City, Koppin now attends Wartburg College in Waverly. He decided in his freshman year at Wartburg that he wanted to be a teacher, having had an amazing experience in choir when he was in high school and wishing to instill that experience in others. Koppin was randomly assigned to teach choir at Cedar Falls High School, beginning his student teaching on Aug. 12. He will complete his experience on Dec. 14 and graduate soon after with a bachelor’s degree in music education. Then he plans to move to Minnesota and begin his search for a job at a high school where he will teach choir.

Koppin said he feels that the hardest part of student teaching is getting the students to respect him as they respect his cooperating teacher, Eliott Kranz. He felt this on his first day, which was strange for him, but now feels as though the students have grown to respect him, making teaching much easier. As advice for aspiring teachers, Koppin said, “Figure out what kind of teacher you want to be, and then start to teach that way.”


Heather Greel

Heather Greel, Developing Nations

After growing up in Medford, Ore., Greel lived in Colorado Springs, Colo., with her husband, who is in the military. They were stationed there before being stationed here in Iowa, giving her the opportunity to enroll at the University of Northern Iowa as a history secondary education major.

Greel began student teaching after being placed at Cedar Falls High School on Aug. 12, and her last day at the school will be Oct. 11. She graduates two months later in December.

After that, Greel said she hopes to go to graduate school and plans on earning a masters in both education and history.

Greel said she believes that the hardest part of student teaching is the amount of work, as she has all the responsibilities of a teacher in addition to working on her teacher work sample, which is required to complete her student teaching.

She said the best part of teaching is getting to know students and finally experiencing life as a teacher. Greel said she will always remember her students, and they have made her student teaching experience a great one.

She said she believes that if you are passionate about teaching, you should not let anyone or anything stop you from achieving your dreams. “The world needs great teachers,” Greel said.


Meghan Reynolds

Meghan Reynolds, Physics

Reynolds came to Cedar Falls in 2000 after living in Des Moines, to attend the University of Northern Iowa for her undergraduate degree, which she received in biology and music. She was originally a lab supervisor in a research lab and was given the opportunity for a career change, so she decided to take the chance and go back to school to become a teacher.

Reynolds specifically requested the CFHS science department for her student teaching, as it has a great reputation. She began student teaching in the middle of August and completes her time at Cedar Falls High School on Oct. 11 before leaving for Mumbai, India, on Oct. 16 to teach there for two months.

After she graduates with her masters in science education, Reynolds plans to look for teaching positions in the Cedar Falls area, as “it’s like a second home” to her with the university nearby as a great resource.

The hardest part about student teaching for Reynolds is time management and keeping track of everything. Reynolds said that as a teacher, she wants every student to succeed, and it takes a lot of work to do this because all students have different needs. She said she likes student teaching because it gives her the opportunity to succeed and fail, with her cooperating teachers supporting her. Reynolds said, “You have to really want to teach and enjoy it, or it will be incredibly hard to be successful. Don’t just settle for getting by; always strive to do better. That advice should be followed no matter what your career.”


Becca Payne

Becca Payne, Orchestra

Originally from Marion, Iowa, Payne came to Cedar Falls to attend the University of Northern Iowa. She decided that she wanted to be a teacher during her senior year of high school, having strong influences from her orchestra teacher and wishing to make an impact on her students like he did.

Payne was placed in the Cedar Falls District for student teaching, working with students at Cedar Heights Elementary, Southdale Elementary, Holmes Junior High, Peet Junior High and Cedar Falls High School. She goes to each school with her coordinating teachers, Mr. Hall and Ms. Smith. Because of this, she gets the benefit of working with students in grades 4-12 in the orchestra program. Payne began student teaching on Aug. 12 and finishes on Dec. 12, graduating soon after with a degree of bachelor of music in music education-instrumental. After she graduates, Payne plans to work as a substitute teacher while also applying for full-time teaching positions.

Payne said that the hardest part of teaching is that her work is never completely done. She puts a lot of work into her teaching, constantly reflecting on what her students need and often coming in at night for extra rehearsals.

Her favorite thing about student teaching is the students themselves. Payne loves getting to know students as individuals and witnessing them master different concepts that she taught them.

Speaking of her experience, Payne said, “What won’t I take away? I am constantly learning new things about what teachers do both inside and outside of the classroom. It is my goal to gain all of the knowledge and expertise that I can out of this experience, but if you want to know specifically, I think I will take away the passion and work ethic that my cooperating teachers display each and every day.”

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