Students Teach at Pond Springs Elementary School


Image by Laura Rivera

The Principles of Education and Training class pose as a group before leaving to teach at Pond Springs Elementary School. “My favorite part about the teaching program is how we actually get to be student teachers,” senior Sohni Ballard said. “Teaching is such a hands-on experience based job, so it’s great that we have the opportunity to be in an actual classroom, instead of learning about it through a textbook.”

For the 2022-2023 school year, students in the Principles of Education and Training course are teaching at Pond Springs Elementary School. 

The Principles of Education and Training course is tailored for aspiring teachers. In the class, students learn proper instruction skills and travel to schools to put said skills into practice. During their time in the schools, students are in charge of teaching different grade levels and assisting teachers with their students. 

I’m a second grade teacher and while we’re there, we do science, reading and writing,” senior Mischa Sikkenga said. “My favorite part is walking around and having the kids ask me questions. Last year we were teaching at middle schools, so we didn’t get to help, but there’s an actual connection with the kids this year.”

Students travel by bus in the morning during their Principles of Education and Training class period. The frequency in which the students travel allows them to form strong bonds with the children at Pond Springs.

“I do miss them when I can’t go,” senior Daniela Fierro said. “The kids are always really excited to see me and since I only went there once last week, they were really sad.” 

Even though the course is meant for students who hope to pursue education as a career, students who have other career plans are free to enroll as well. Senior Sohni Ballard is one of these students and although she won’t become a teacher, she sees tutoring as part of her future because she enjoys collaborating with others. 

“When I chose to continue learning to be a teacher, I did it because I love helping people,” Ballard said. “Being a student teacher this year has made me love teaching even more. I’m in a kindergarten class and hearing the excited chorus of ‘Ms. Sohni’s here’ when I walk into the class makes me so happy. Knowing that these kids care about me makes me even more determined to help provide them with a great education.”

Due to a decreasing interest in the field, the education department has struggled to receive additional funding and the course may not be available to students next year. However, Sikkenga believes the program is worth salvaging. 

“The program has a lot of resources that kids can get,” Sikkenga said. “It’s a free opportunity that we have at school to get hands-on experience, whereas college internships cost money and are super expensive. This program is a really good start for kids who need an experience early on in life.” 

Ballard would like the Round Rock Independent School District to increase funding for the education program. She believes the additional funding will attract more attention to the course, encouraging more students to pursue teaching as a career. 

“I would tell them that teachers are essential to our future,” Ballard said. “Teachers are the backbone of our society and I cannot stress that enough. Every successful person would never have become successful if it weren’t for the wonderful teachers they had.”

In order to produce more future educators and to ensure the program is well-funded, students in the course encourage others to join. 

“I really think more people should become teachers,” Ballard said. “No matter what grade you teach, you form meaningful connections with the students. You help them become better people and more intelligent. You can be a teacher for basically any subject you want, so it’s very flexible. You also can choose whichever age you want to teach, and whether or not you want to be in a school or in a separate tutoring company. I’ll acknowledge that it definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s a really rewarding job.”