Sonora Elementary School Preschool Teacher Dani Corona and Costa Mesa High School Senior Lyla Kibin huddle behind a short bookcase, reviewing their plan for the day before the preschool students arrive. Corona praises Kibin for the obstacle course she designed, an activity that will keep the children engaged inside on a rainy day. “Are you ready?” Corona asks with a smile, as the two walk outside to greet students at the school gate.
The Careers With Children Internship program, which Kibin and Corona are a part of through Coastline ROP, gives Costa Mesa High School students the opportunity to work directly with youngsters after completing the Child Development prerequisite. This introductory prerequisite course is part of the Career Technical Education Childhood Development Pathway Program which focuses on children’s emotional/psychological, cognitive and physical development, as well as the influence of hereditary and environmental factors from conception through early adolescence.
The internship gives high school students the opportunity to directly observe how concepts they learned in the Child Development class are applied in an elementary school classroom. “It’s an incredible opportunity to gain hands-on, real-world experience while in high school,” said Coastline Instructor Monique Rico.
Rico partnered with NMUSD’s Early and Expanded Learning team to place student interns in preschool and transitional kindergarten classrooms at Sonora, Davis Magnet School and Paularino Elementary School. As part of their internship, the high school students create lesson plans, design educational activities, and prepare classrooms for the activities of the day. The goal for each intern is to take on the role of teacher and put into practice what they learned while being observed by the classroom teacher.
“My goal with Lyla is to give her a little taste of what I do in my job. In the 20 minutes before the kids arrive, I'm showing her about lesson plans, materials in the classroom, small group projects, conferences, etc. After the kids arrive, I'm teaching her about line of sight, engaging with the kids, songs to sing to them, and so on,” Corona said. “Lyla is getting experience on all levels of children, as far as age, capability, language, confidence and any speech issues,” she said.
For Lyla, the internship has solidified her commitment to a career with children. She enjoys interacting with the preschoolers as well as learning ways to put into practice the strategies she has learned in her own classroom. The obstacle course Lyla designed for Corona’s students engaged fine and gross motor skills, while encouraging early reading. Each task (jumping, climbing over or under an object, crawling through a tunnel, catching or kicking a ball, etc.) was labeled with the written actions pointed out to the preschoolers by Corona or Lyla as part of their instructions.
Lyla’s observations of how the preschool students interacted with the obstacle course will be journaled and shared with her fellow interns. The high school students meet weekly with Rico to share their experiences in the field and discuss teaching strategies.
“It’s been challenging learning how to communicate with kids in different situations and moods, but I love it. I now know for sure I want to pursue a career in teaching,” Lyla said.