Pathway Partners and the Future Teacher Internship program provide real world experience and knowledge for MHS students
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — There could not be a better example of the goal of the mentoring program Pathway Partners than the relationship between Grant Elementary teacher Jenna Southworth and Marshfield High School (MHS) senior — and now graduate as of May 24 — Mikala Critelli.
Pathway Partners connects students interested in a specific field with an adult mentor who works in that area. Critelli wants to be a teacher, and Southworth is a 2006 MHS graduate who came back to Marshfield to be a third-grade instructor.
Critelli was also in the Future Teacher Internship program offered by MHS.
Career and Technical Education Coordinator at MHS Jenni Fredrick said that the Future Teacher Internship program is a “work-based learning opportunity to help Marshfield High School students learn more about a career in education.” The student intern spends time with a current teacher for two class periods a day, four days a week, over the course of a semester.
Southworth and Critelli have been paired through Pathway Partners for about two school years, and Critelli worked with MHS math instructor Dennis Goettl for her future teacher internship.
Through the Future Teacher Internship program, Critelli assisted in Goettl’s freshman math class. Critelli said the internship combined with her relationship with Southworth “definitely reaffirmed my interest in becoming a teacher.”
Critelli said that she could rely on Southworth as a sounding board for advice when she had frustrations as a teaching intern. When the two get together, they do what most friends do: have lunch together, chat over coffee, and text to stay in touch. Southworth even coached track last year while Critelli was on the team. The pair often talks about the path Critelli needs to take to get where Southworth currently is, though Critelli intends to teach high school math rather than elementary school.
“Mainly (we talk about) college and what she did in her school and what I could do as a resemblance of (that), what classes I should take first kind of a thing, or just talk in general about life,” Critelli said. She added that it was beneficial for her to see how Southworth presents ideas to students even if she hopes to eventually teach an older age group.
Critelli said it was valuable “just to see her ideas as someone who is going into a similar field, what they think, and how to get ideas of what I could do as a future teacher.”
Critelli won this year’s Pathway Partners scholarship, which is funded through Marshfield Sunrise Rotary and also a contribution from Dr. Lori Bents of Bents Chiropractic Center. Critelli will receive $1,000 towards her college education.
Southworth said that she has had future teacher interns in her classes before, including MHS senior — and now graduate — Ellie Fehrenbach this year, but working with Critelli is her first experience with Pathway Partners. Southworth said that she enjoys being able to help students whose position she was in recently.
“I think it was a great opportunity, and it’s kind of just a way to give back. I loved it when I was in high school and was able to meet with someone who was easy to talk to and had experience but it wasn’t a parent or a relative,” Southworth said. When Southworth was at MHS, the Future Teacher Internship program did not yet exist, but she participated in a class called “Careers with Kids,” which was geared towards a career in child care rather than teaching but did provide hands-on experience working with children.
Southworth added that the Future Teacher Internship program is “a chance of a lifetime to get an opportunity to just be in a classroom and not wait for four years of college and then you’re like, ‘Gosh, I think I’m doing the right thing.’”
Critelli called Southworth her “accountability partner,” constantly encouraging her to stay on top of school work, research colleges, and work toward scholarships throughout their relationship. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will welcome Critelli to campus in the fall.
Southworth added that having a relationship with Critelli has been “refreshing.”
“It helps to just keep things positive. You get caught up in your day, and you just get in the zone, and it’s just nice to be with someone who’s — she’s very refreshing — so it helps you hit the reset button. And the simple things that sometimes get you wound up, you’re like ‘You know, it’s totally not worth being wound up about,’ so she just allows me to look at the big picture,” Southworth said.