Student Teaching Experience to Acquaint Student With Her Roots

Pritchett to Student Teach at Native American School

Photo of Trina Pritchett explaining a model to students.

Trina Pritchett, left, will learn about her family roots as she student teaches biology, botany and earth science at Sequoia High School on the Cherokee Nation’s tribal land in Tahlequah, Okla.Here, she is pictured with students at Jackson High School during her student teaching assignment in the first half of the spring 2010 semester.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

March 1, 2010 – A Southeast Missouri State University senior begins her second student teaching experience of the semester March 8 at a Native American high school with the Cherokee Nation.

Trina Pritchett of Marquand, Mo., who is of Cherokee descent, says she is anxiously awaiting the experience as a means of understanding her family’s Native American roots.

“It’s the only way I’m ever going to be able to experience a part of my own culture,” she said. “I think it will explain a lot about my own family and how they do things.”

Pritchett will teach biology, botany and earth science at Sequoia High School on the Cherokee Nation’s tribal land in Tahlequah, Okla. The boarding school is home to students representing 16 tribes of Native Americans.

“It’s an opportunity for me to experience a different culture and a different way of living without going overseas,” she said, adding she hopes to live with a Native American family during her student teaching experience.

Pritchett is currently completing Block IV of Southeast’s teacher education program. She plans to graduate in May with a degree in secondary education with a specialization in biology.

Her student teaching experience with Sequoia High School is part of the Renaissance Partnership Program with Native American Schools run by the University of Northern Iowa. The Renaissance Group is a national consortium of 39 colleges and universities, of which Southeast is a member. The Renaissance Group provides student teaching and practicum programs, which offer extensive field experience in diverse settings. The Renaissance Group has developed a relationship with more than 50 schools throughout the United States that have significant numbers of Native American students. This program is exclusively for Block IV students and provides them with unique opportunities to work with Native American students in the United States.

“I’m really excited about it,” Pritchett said. “I really don’t know what to expect” but she added she has met with Dr. Carol Morrow, professor of anthropology, and Dr. Robert Skelton, professor emeritus of history, both of whom are experts in Native American culture, to prepare for the experience. “It’s exciting and terrifying” at the same time, she said. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity.”

Pritchett’s student teaching placement has been coordinated by Dr. Jean Benton, director of International Programs for the College of Education, who assisted her with the application process. Pritchett also took a semester-long preparation course – SE303 “Study Abroad Seminar” — taught by Benton, for her upcoming experience. Students in the course study the political, economic, social, environmental and historical issues of the place where they will be teaching. Students compare and contrast Missouri teaching standards with the standards and curriculum of the country in which they will be teaching. In Pritchett’s case, this is the state of Oklahoma. This allows student teachers to develop lesson plans that meet these standards, Benton said. 

Pritchett is currently completing her first eight-week student teaching experience at Jackson (Mo.) High School, where she has been teaching Biology, Anatomy and Physiology I and II.  

Pritchett is a graduate of Palm Bay Senior High School in Melbourne, Fla., although her family is originally from Fredericktown, Mo.

She says she is hoping her experience at Sequoia High School will prepare her for her future. She says she welcomes the opportunity to teach in the southeast Missouri area after graduating from Southeast, while her long-term goal is to land a full-time teaching position with a Native American School or a position teaching overseas on a Department of Defense military base.

College of Education students interested in study abroad or Native American school opportunities are asked to contact Dr. Jean Benton at (573) 651-2440 or e-mail jbenton@semo.edu.

Photo of Trina Pritchett and her students.

Trina Pritchett, left, shows a model of the heart to students at Jackson High School.