Teacher Cadet Program: Preparing future teachers for their field of choice.


Interested in becoming a teacher? Tuscarora offers a Teacher Cadet program to Juniors and Seniors that gives college credit through Shenandoah University. This unique class gives students a feel of the teaching profession.

Overseen by Mrs. Palmatier, the students in this program experience an educational field-study environment. In the first and second quarters they learn the history, psychology, and current methods of teaching. Then, in the third and fourth quarter, they interact with the Head Start (preschool) program in Tuscarora before going in depth with the school of their choice out of three options: Frances Hazel Reid, Leesburg Elementary School, or Smart’s Mill Middle School. After choosing a grade and teacher, they spend their first block shadowing that teacher. Not only do they shadow the teacher, but “during our field experience, we are actually able to teach lessons to the students,” Kate Devault, a junior, exclaims.

From their experience in the classrooms, some of the Teacher cadets have determined whether or not teaching is still the career they want. Alyson McCuin, a junior, has used her experience in the program to realize that teaching is not the path she wants to take. Instead of sticking with a profession in English Language Arts, the opportunity has introduced her to a different option. “I no longer want to be a teacher. However, I do want to become an interpreter, and ideally work in the school system,” she informs.

Through the Teacher Cadet program, McCuin has experienced teaching first-hand and states that, “the biggest challenge I’ve encountered has definitely been classroom management and dealing with issues regarding student behavior.” Even though the course observes and deals with classroom environments before the field experience starts, McCuin sees an area that the program could improve upon. “I think that we could use some more practice and instruction regarding lesson planning before beginning the field experience,” said McCuin.

Roslyn McKerley, a senior, still sees teaching as a future profession. She shadows the Smart’s Mill French teacher, Madame Heironimus, and says, “I mostly help in her first block French 1 class and I love getting to know the group of middle schoolers and helping them learn French.” Even though she wants to pursue a History or English class instead of French, she recognizes the opportunity the Teacher Cadet class has given her. “I have learned so much about how to best work with children and adolescents and my field experience has given me hands-on experience with how to manage a classroom,” said McKerley.

The most challenging part of being a teacher is “trying to create a lesson that works for everyone,” said McKerley, “It’s difficult to provide both challenge and support to different students, but it’s rewarding when you know that everyone is learning a lot from and really enjoying a lesson.”

Contrary to McCuin’s statement, McKerley believes that, “This program could be improved by giving us more time in the field experience working with students.”

For Juniors in the Teacher Cadet class, there is an option to continue on and further their experience by taking DE Teacher Cadet II the following year.