Local Student Participates in Unique Program Geared Toward Teaching Degree
Writer / Matt Keating
Mackenna Johnson, a junior at Noblesville High School, is participating in a first of its kind arrangement at her school.
Johnson is earning a certification towards a college teaching degree/certification while she attends NHS. The certification also involves an apprenticeship.
The certification and apprenticeship program is based on a coordinated effort among different partners including an intermediary partner (Indiana Region 5 Workforce Development Board), a school partner (NHS), an education partner (Ball State University) and an employer partner (Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville).
Johnson said there are a few goals of the program.
One of the goals is to combine the experiences of high school, college and the workplace to give students exposure to their field of study and the opportunity to engage in their future career during their junior and senior year of high school. This is when students like Johnson are making college and career decisions.
Another goal of the program is to provide students with the preparation and credentials they need to jumpstart their careers. Building partnerships between the schools and businesses in local communities is another goal.
The program also creates a network of industry partners that can meet the workforce demands with well-rounded students that have the professional education, credentials, skills and experience to fill open positions.
In Johnson’s case, the apprenticeship program involves taking high school classes in the morning on the NHS campus and taking college courses in the afternoon virtually. She then later works at the Noblesville Boys & Girls Club for hands-on teaching experience, where she puts into practice what she’s been learning.
Johnson is involved in two different types of hands-on classroom experiences. Through her early childhood education class at NHS, she works with three- to five-year-old kids in the mornings in a pre-kindergarten classroom at Hazel Dell Elementary.
In the elementary school pre-kindergarten classroom, she assists the teacher in journaling with the students, working on recognizing letters and numbers with them and leading them in various workstations as they ‘explore the world.’
Johnson says many of her kiddos cannot say her name very well, so they just call her Miss Kenna, which she enjoys.
Through her Registered Educator-Focused Apprenticeship, she works with kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the afternoons at the Noblesville Boys & Girls Club.
The program will give Johnson exposure to not only college courses, but also to college professors as a high school student. The program gives her a jumpstart on the credentials needed for her career.
Johnson is also networking with professionals in the local school districts, higher education and business community. The courses she takes with college professors help her develop relationships with the college faculty and prepare her for the collegiate experience.
Johnson is also graduating from college a year early with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. The first two years of the apprenticeship during her junior and senior year of high school count as her freshman year of college.
The program also gives Johnson incentives and a priority placement for teaching positions in her home school district. The cost offsets for the program come through State of Indiana grants, the Pursuit Institute, Noblesville Schools district, scholarships through AmeriCorps and paid positions with employer partners like the Noblesville Boys & Girls Club.
The paid hours Johnson works at the Boys & Girls Club are banked as community service hours for scholarship money and gives Johnson and others the opportunity to help build the apprenticeship program and give feedback on what works and what needs improvement.
Johnson hasn’t decided yet on where she wants to go to college but says it will most likely be Ball State University. She would like to be an elementary school teacher and teach first through third grade.
“I like children and enjoy connecting with them,” she says. “I also enjoy building relationships with students and helping them grow to reach their full potential. It’s also fun running into the kids I teach when I’m out in the community, saying hi to them, following up on their studies and interests and enjoying their excitement at seeing a teacher outside the classroom.”
During her time at NHS, Johnson has been involved with Cru, Best Buddies, band and her apprenticeship as an early childhood classroom teacher aid.
“At the moment, I have a full schedule outside of school by working at the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville, working as a hostess at The Nesst of Noblesville restaurant and I’ll be volunteering with the Northview Kids children’s ministry at Northview Church,” Johnson says.
Johnson says she loves living in Noblesville.
“Noblesville is a growing and caring community where I’ve experienced amazing support as a student, as a volunteer and working downtown,” she says. “Living here has opened opportunities for me that I wouldn’t have had elsewhere. I also really enjoy the amenities our city offers, especially our parks and trails.”