A chance to become a cadet teacher at a local middle school led Kaleb Wagers to pursue a career in teaching. Wagers will be student teaching in the fall as he completes his degree in secondary education at the School of Education this December. He credits the experience he gained during his time cadet teaching in an eighth-grade social studies classroom with solidifying his decision to go into education.
"I was extremely fortunate to have a teacher who allowed me to gain teaching experience firsthand. While many other cadet teachers were stapling papers or catching-up on assignment for their classes at the high school, I was designing and teaching history lessons to the class several days a week for an entire school year," Wagers said. "I now tell people that I like history, but I love teaching."
Wagers will graduate debt-free, something he was able to do by living at home, beginning his higher education career at Ivy Tech and with the help of scholarships through the School of Education – not to mention all his hard work.
"I would tell students to view their school as a job in itself," he advised. "Cs might get degrees, but they may not get them debt-free. One reason that I was competitive for so many scholarships was because I was in several honor societies that have a GPA threshold."
This fall, Wagers is student teaching geography at North Central High School in Indianapolis before going to Ireland to teach as part of the Global Gateway for Teachers program.
"I believe it is important for teachers to be globally competent," Wagers said. "Having the opportunity to work in a school system that is different from the American system is both daunting and exciting. I hope to come away from the experience as a more informed individual and a better teacher."
He hopes his future classroom is a collaborative one that allows students to work together and learn from each other. Wagers also hopes his students will form their own opinions while becoming productive members of society.
"Too often, history is seen as a subject fixated on rote memorization in the form of names and dates. This is not how history works," Wagers pointed out. "I want to teach students how to think and not what to think. I want my future students to be critical thinkers who participate in civil and political society."
Wagers advises students who are interested in becoming teachers to get hands-on experience – like cadet teaching.
"Given the current education climate, I know that many students might be hesitant to join the field," he acknowledges. "However, I firmly believe that nothing can replace the dignity and joy of working in a field that is as meaningful, important, and fulfilling as education. It is a career with purpose and one that I am proud to be a part of."