Mast’s Nashville students become staff for a day in unique lesson

Mast’s Nashville students become staff for a day in unique lesson

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Day after day students sit in their respective classrooms and glean from the knowledge being dispensed by their teachers. Every week they experience and build relationships with their principal, teachers and even custodians.

Elementary kids are soaking up more than staff may realize, and that led to an experimental lesson at Nashville Elementary recently.

One day in September, Nashville Elementary second-grade teacher Brooke Mast was amid a lesson when one of her students began basically joining her in the teaching effort.

“I was teaching a lesson one day, and one of my kids was trying to teach over me,” Mast said. “I said, ‘They are going to take away my job and not pay me if you keep teaching.’ He asked me how he could get a job teaching? Obviously, at that point we weren’t going to get a lesson done, so we stopped and talked about how people get jobs. They asked me how they would do that, and the idea was born.”

She walked over to principal Brian Zimmerly’s office, and the idea began to take root.

“It was neat how this came about. Brooke was teaching, and one of her kids said he could do what Mrs. Mast was doing,” Zimmerly said. “Other kids said they could do other jobs in the school, and Brooke came into my office and said her kids want to try to do some jobs at school. I think one of the things that made it so much fun was how spontaneous it was.”

What transpired was a lesson that kind of organically morphed into something special.

Zimmerly told the kids if they wanted to perform a job at school, they needed to submit a resume stating why they would be the ideal candidate for the job. For the several who didn’t want a job at school, they could request a job in the working world that would interest them.

Popular among the requests were gym teachers Bud Yoder and Megan Stryker. Other resumes went to Zimmerly, Mast, custodian Larry Leckrone and other teachers, and one student wanted to shadow superintendent Eric Jurkovic.

Zimmerly said he was impressed with the letter submissions, and he and Mast began formulating a plan to allow the students to job shadow their respective requests throughout November.

The staff members were more than willing to get involved, and Mast said the excitement built quickly as kids looked forward to their job-shadowing day.

“We liked the idea of having them submit a resume because it made them think about what were the qualities that would qualify them to do a certain job,” Mast said. “They had to write about what they were applying to do, why they wanted the job and what made them a good candidate.”

Mast said her kids were eager to have their day on the job, asking daily when they would get the opportunity. All the teachers were on board. Mast said one student who is usually very reserved job shadowed first-grade teacher Jessica Kurtz and taught a spelling test.

Olivia Bowling-Cappadony took on the task of job shadowing Mast, and her teacher was surprised to realize her student had all her mannerisms down pat.

“Olivia led her classroom time perfectly,” Mast said. “Kids were asking her questions, and she answered them exactly how I would have. It was kind of strange at first, but then she did such a great job. It was cool to watch it happen.”

She said the way Bowling-Cappadony stated phrases and other mannerisms was spot-on, making her realize something very valuable.

“The kids really do pick up on everything we say and how we say it as teachers,” Mast said. “The kids are paying attention and hearing us, and we need to remember that as teachers.”

While teachers may assume their students aren’t listening, Mast said this proved just the opposite and that it was a humbling experience and a lesson to her and the students.

“The kids were great, and they took off with their jobs,” Mast said. “What was really neat was parents wanted to know more about it and took an interest in it, so the kids were obviously excited enough to talk about it with their parents.”

While job shadowing, the kids enjoyed taking on some responsibilities. Casey Pendlebury interviewed Jurkovic and found out having all those responsibilities was more than he imagined.

“After the interview, he said, 'I don’t want that job,'” Mast said of Pendlebury. “He learned a lot. He said he will just be a farmer.”

She went on to say the life skills and experience of the lesson were invaluable for the kids, giving them some real-world experience in the classroom, adding the leadership skills they learned added to the experience.

“I think it was good for the kids because they gained some insight into what some of the staff does here, and it helped give them a little more respect for what takes place on a daily basis,” Mast said. “This is something that will stick with them a long time, and they are already talking about doing it again, this time trying new jobs.”

For a day students got to walk and talk in a staff member’s shoes, and it made an impact on them and the staff.