Demling '99 aims to teach in San Francisco

by Hank Leukart | 11/23/98 6:00am

"They think teaching is so easy, but it's scary."

Kate Demling '99, who is hoping to teach in San Francisco next year, said she "didn't learn nearly as much in the classroom at Dartmouth" as she learned student teaching two days a week in West Lebanon this term.

Teaching is not a typical Dartmouth graduate's occupation, but that does not mean students do not want to teach. Demling is one of only six students in the education department's teacher preparation program this year, and although her experience has been not quite as she expected, she has not yet changed her mind.

Demling, who grew up in Boston, said she currently only feels qualified to teach "easy kids," although she says she hopes to eventually teach children with low-income backgrounds.

"The really qualified teachers teach the easy kids, while the bad teachers go to the inner-city kids," Demling explained. "My whole purpose in trying to teach is to rectify the situation, and I want to teach in inner-city schools. But I don't think that for my first year that would be the ideal situation."

Next term, Demling will be teaching full-time instead of taking classes as a culminating experience for the teacher preparation program. She said she originally wanted to teach at the Hanover Ray School, because of the quality of the school's facilities. But Demling said that when she discussed the prospect with her current host teacher, the teacher said that the Ray School is "not reality." Demling now plans to teach at the Mount Lebanon school in West Lebanon next term.

Because of her interest in teaching, Demling obtained a teaching internship in San Francisco during the Winter term of her junior year. She taught a class twice each week for three months, but due to intern regulations, she was never allowed to be alone with the class.

Demling said her experience teaching was very rewarding and convinced her that she wants to teach first graders in San Francisco.

Though she has not started looking for a permanent job yet, Demling said the best way to look for teaching jobs is to look through newspapers to find openings in schools. She also said it is helpful to know someone who already teaches at a school with an opening.

"Parents don't want their kids with strange people," Demling said. "You have to hound and hound to get connections; you can't just go in as a no-name."

Demling also said coming from an Ivy League school is a big advantage when looking for teaching jobs.

Currently, Demling is student teaching at the Seminary Hill School in West Lebanon. She teaches a half day twice each week, and although she said she has been enjoying the experience, she said she often gets nervous.

"They put every kid possible with [a learning disability] in the same classroom because the teacher I have is so good," Demling said. Recently, she had to prepare her own lesson for the children and said it was very successful.

"They really liked what they were doing, so it was a breeze," she said.

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