The moment Ottawa University teachereducation students set foot in a school, they will be interviewing for jobs. At least that’s what faculty members in Ottawa University’s School of Education tell their students.
“Whether they are doing practicum work or student teaching, they are actually informally interviewing for potential positions,” says Instructor of Education Luis Hinojosa. “If they do a great job, administrators talk to each other and tell them of the quality students they are working with, in case those districts are looking to fill positions.”
“Forming positive relationships within the school district you are student teaching is a huge advantage post-graduation,” Hinojosa says. Which explains why so many Ottawa University graduates end up teaching in nearby districts.
“USD 290 (Ottawa) has benefited greatly from the partnership we have with Ottawa University,” says former USD 290 Superintendent Dean Katt. “Ottawa schools have numerous OU graduates working at all levels within the school system.”
When a student enters his or her student teaching semester, Hinojosa says he/she is placed in an area school district – most commonly Ottawa, Central Heights, West Franklin, or Wellsville. However, Hinojosa says the University also partners with other districts, like Blue Valley, Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Spring Hill, and some of the Kansas City, Kansas, school districts.
“We recently visited with Jeff White ’93, principal at Trojan Elementary in Osawatomie, who told us we have an open door policy for our practicum/ student teachers within his building,” says Hinojosa. “He has been a great resource for us.”
Once a student completes student teaching, Hinojosa says there are some obvious advantages to applying for teaching positions within that same district.
“There is an advantage for those students to apply for positions within the building they student taught, especially if they developed a rapport with the administration there and asked them to watch them teach,” he says. “The reputation OU has within the area is important to uphold. We must make sure we produce a teacher candidate with the skills and experiences that will set them apart from candidates from other universities.”
For Katt, Ottawa University graduates have shown great potential within the Ottawa School District. Many have had long tenures within the district, and some have even gone on to hold administrative positions.
“Through student tutors, volunteers, observations, practicums, and student teaching, USD 290 has had the benefit of picking ‘the cream of the crop’ from Ottawa University education majors,” says Katt. “The partnership we share with Ottawa University has helped us fill many of our teaching positions with wellprepared, exciting young educators.”
For Hinojosa and other faculty members in the School of Education, that’s exactly what they want to hear. “We have had some quality teachers coming through our program, and I have no doubt they will find a position when they graduate,” he says. “It is great to see ‘Ottawa University Alumni’ license plate holders when you pull into parking lots of these schools.”
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