College of Education Alumni Volunteer to Mentor Student Teachers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—Giving back to Penn State can simply mean getting involved. The Alumni Student Teacher Network (ASTN) is a means of linking alumni with current Penn State student teachers and allowing them to impart their knowledge of education, while learning about new ways of teaching. Dee Stout, the immediate past chair of the ASTN, Penn State graduate, retired middle school teacher, and past student-teacher supervisor, said she believes that it is this act that makes the ASTN a worthwhile experience.“Giving back to Penn State through the ASTN is a great experience. You have the opportunity to encourage student teachers to become the best teachers they can be,” said Stout.
The ASTN, which has locations in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the Centre region (all locations with a significant group of Penn State student teachers), has seminars on numerous topics. Student-teacher supervisors work with the alumni to plan three seminars each semester for student teachers, offering a variety of speakers and experiences.
One topic that each location seeks to offer is job interview assistance. These sessions often include mock interviews, reviewing resumes and cover letters and listening to a panel of professionals who give advice and answer questions.
These seminars are not limited to alumni who are teachers. Administrators, principals and lawyers attend the sessions, providing attendees with a wealth of professional knowledge. A recent seminar dealt with appropriate conduct when attending to parents who are upset or challenging.
“My favorite part is being with student teachers who are confident that they will solve all the problems we have in education,” said Stout. “We need positive approaches in education, and I feel our Penn State students are prepared to be excellent teachers.”
At the end of each semester, the ASTN holds a reception for the student teachers and their mentors.
“The reception is our chance to individually congratulate the student teachers by giving each one a pin that he or she can wear proudly to remember Penn State,” said Stout.
“I feel that teaching is a wonderful profession,” said Stout. “By giving my time to the ASTN, I feel I can share my love of teaching and hopefully inspire the student teachers to take pride in their work.”
--by Amanda Dash (August 2014)