MCC student experiences MEA Next Gen Teacher Program

November 3, 2022

MCC student experiences MEA Next Gen Teacher Program

Spartan News is a presentation of Mason County Central Schools in partnership with Mason County Press.

The saying “a little encouragement goes a long way” is especially true for Sarah Houston, a Mason County Central High School senior. A chemistry teacher’s encouragement to apply to the Michigan Education Association Next Gen Teachers Program took Houston all the way to Wayne State University in the summer of 2022. Houston was selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants to spend 12 days on Wayne State University’s campus and learn about becoming an educator.  

Houston had never been to downtown Detroit or on a university campus, so the program provided many new, educational experiences. Program faculty taught daily sessions about the teaching profession, including developing lesson plans, diversity, and special education. During free time, program leaders took the 40 participants on outings, including a Detroit Tigers game and the ferry to Belle Isle. At the end of the program, all participants co-taught their own lesson plan to elementary children at Brenda Scott Academy. Houston’s lesson focused on the life cycle of caterpillars. In true educator fashion, she described her successful experience by praising her students, stating “they remembered all the stages!”  

Reflecting on the program, Houston shared that learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy helped her understand both young learners and herself. 

“Because I didn’t get enough sleep at home,” as a younger student, Houston explained, “I sometimes slept in class.”  A better understanding of what young people need in order to learn inspired Houston, and “helped push [her] in the direction of teaching.” 

While Houston hasn’t fully decided that she will pursue a career at WSU as a teacher, she knows that she wants a career that helps children. If she opts for WSU, the college guarantees admission to all “Next Gen Teacher” participants.

Houston admits that initially, she wasn’t sure about traveling far away or committing two weeks of her summertime to learn on a college campus. However, making new friends from the U.P. to Illinois, taking excursions to Detroit hotspots, and being awarded guaranteed admission changed her mind. Based on her experience, Houston now wants to pay forward the encouragement provided to her.

“Try new things—always,” Houston said. “Take advantage of every [opportunity] you can get.”  

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