Utah Tech education programs helps students prepare for hardships of teaching

The education program at Utah Tech University offers lots of opportunities for students. One of them including working within the on campus preschool. Annie Sorensen | Sun News Daily

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Education plays an important role in our lives, and Utah Tech University’s professors are seeking to prepare the next generation of educators. 

Utah Tech’s motto is, “Active Learning. Active Life.” Students are provided with hands on learning in a variety of environments which includes the education program.

However, jobs related to education have been the subject of recent controversy.

Ellie Lofting, a sophomore art major from Vista, California, said, “I’ve had a lot of people tell me not to be a teacher because of the underpayment and dangers of it, but it’s something that I’ve really put my mind to and want to pursue no matter the circumstances.”

Teachers are widely regarded as being underpaid in Utah with the median salary for a teaching job being just over $46,000, which is roughly $13,000 less than the national average. 

Teachers may also face many hazards while in the classroom including:

  • Disease transmission
  • Workplace violence
  • Work-related stress
  • Legal considerations

In 2019, the Center For Disease Control And Prevention surveyed students and found that nearly 13.2% of students surveyed admitted to carrying a gun, knife or club on school property. This has led to approximately 7% of teachers in the U.S. being threatened with injury through violence every year.

Despite the growing controversy, teaching positions are still expected to increase at an average rate of 5% through 2028 due to a rapidly growing population and increase in English language learners.

According to psychologytoday.com, teaching is the single most important profession due to teachers’ capacity to shape the minds and futures of so many. 

“A solid K-12 education is foundational to everything: to quality of life as adults and to a successful foundation in life,” said Adriana Brandt, associate professor of education. “As a teacher, you have the potential to impact the life of every student who walks into your classroom. It’s an awesome responsibility and one that is well worth it.”

Teachers also have the ability to impact students through many crucial stages in their life. Kindergarten teachers introduce young minds to the wonder of learning, middle school teachers have the challenge of instilling a passion for academics in teenagers, and high school teachers are charged with teaching detailed content to large groups of near adults.  

Brenda Sabey, dean for the college of education said: “I may not remember who won MVP of an athletic season or who won an Oscar last year, but if you asked me to name which teachers I remember, I can name almost all of them. Why do I remember them? Because they had an impact. That appealed to me: that I could have a positive impact and help a child the way my teachers helped me.”

With 11 bachelor’s degrees offered, Utah Tech’s Department of Education is preparing students of the program to be “outstanding teachers within diverse and changing communities.”

“Education majors gain hands-on experience in K-12 classrooms as soon as they enter the program-spending at least one full day per week in a classroom,” Brandt said. “They experience working with a range of mentor teachers, in a range of grade levels and content areas, and with different student groups.”

Brandt said there is no shortage of time spent applying what students have learned directly to K-12 classrooms.  

“During the semester we get a couple of opportunities to observe elementary and intermediate schools,” Lofting said. “It’s a super cool way to learn from the environment firsthand.” 

Brandt encourages students that are unsure about pursuing a degree in education to take EDUC 1010, which is an introduction to education course. This will give students solid exposure of what it means to be a teacher in K-12 schools and even includes opportunities to shadow teachers at different grade levels. 

Lofting said a typical day for her as a student in the education program is really nice.

“I’ve got a couple of education classes mixed with a couple of art classes, and I seriously enjoy every single one,” Lofting said.

If you want to learn more about the education department at Utah Tech and the degrees offered, visit https://education.utahtech.edu/ or reach out to a faculty member.