A teaching internship helps Alexa Belschner redirect her career to a different aspect of early childhood education.

From left to right: Mentor Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School, Alexa Belschner, and Shanna Litchko, On-site Owner at The Goddard School in Pittsburgh at 301 Fifth Avenue.

As far as she could remember, Alexa Belschner has always been good with kids. For this City Charter High School student, an internship in early childhood education was a no-brainer. After all, she’s been working with children through her church since 6th grade.

“I wanted to learn what it would be like to be around kids all the time in a school setting.” Alexa says, “I wanted to learn what tactics they used for challenging kids. Most of all, I was interested in finding out if this is something I wanted to do as a career.” Alexa was very excited about working with children using The Goddard School’s F.L.EX learning framework. She was intrigued by the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) approach using games and play to expose young children to science and math. With her goals looking towards psychology, she was also thrilled to find out she would get to work with a teacher there, helping with students that had learning disabilities. Her internship helped her to understand and connect with those students and motivate them to join in with the learning program.

 

From left to right: Alexa Belschner and Mentor Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School show off the climbing wall in the large playroom.

From left to right: Alexa Belschner and Mentor Lindsay Kiss, peaking through The Goddard School’s oversized building toys.

For Alexa her internship helped her to understand
and connect with those students and motivate
them to join in with the learning program.

According to Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School where Alexa interned, “We have the highest expectations – not only for our students, but for our teachers. We bring in highly qualified teachers because we want to give our kids the best foundation we can to make them successful. Alexa did a great job interacting with the students. She’d have things under control. I kind of forgot a lot of the time that she wasn’t one of my regular teachers because she did such a great job. She fit in really well.”

This glowing endorsement made it difficult for Alexa. On one hand, she had a way with kids. On the other, she really liked and excelled at math and science.  Her internship was invaluable in helping to choose a direction. She admits, “ It really requires a high level of patience to teach children, it was much more than I had expected, I really learned a lot about myself.” So instead of a teaching career, Alexa plans to explore genetic counseling in college. This career direction will allow her to continue to help educate young children, while using her math and science research skills to get to the root causes of early childhood development issues like autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia and others.

“Before my internship I was going to go into child psychology and child development in a school setting. After my internship, I changed what I wanted to do,” Alexa notes. “I’m looking to study biology for 4 years and then do the master’s program in genetic counseling. I felt that if I move more into a science field, I could make a big difference.”

For this City High student with a 3.82 GPA, “dream boards” and career classes really helped hone her direction. The way she sees it, “I’m also really interested in psychology, the brain and how it works to influence behavior. . . and I already work with kids, so why not put that together and do child psychology from a biological research side.”

Alexa learned other valuable life skills at City High. “I used to be pretty shy,” she recalls. “But at City High, we had to learn presentation and interaction skills. In 11th grade career class, we had to go out and find somebody in our career field and interview them one-on-one. I picked a Neuropsychologist from Allegheny Healthcare network. And that helped make me get used to talking with professionals. I had to prepare questions, email them to him in advance, and that really helped with me being able to talk to professional adults.” It was these skills that put her at ease about working with not only the kids, but also the adults at her required internship.

About The Goddard School

The Goddard School is an early childhood education provider with more than 400 franchised schools in 35 states. Students range from 6 weeks old to Pre-K.  There are 7 schools in the Pittsburgh area and City Charter High School has partnered with the Downtown location for the past 3 years as a way to give real-world teaching experience to some of their high school students considering a career in education.

At this innovative school where everybody is referred to as a “friend”, it’s all about creating a fun learning experience. But it’s not all fun and games, it’s serious learning. “The teachers are asking a lot of questions while they’re playing,” reveals Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School. “For the older students, it’s a lot of center-based learning, where the teacher sets out materials at different tables in different areas of the classroom that are related to the lesson plans of the day and the students are free to move through those centers. For instance, if they are working on the letter A, they might have them writing it on a dry erase board, searching through the sensory bin for things that start with the letter A, exploring the characteristics of apples, different things like that. So, the centers and the play that the kids are doing is very education-focused. It’s so much more than pulling toys off the shelves at random and playing with them.”

For nearly 30 years, the Goddard School has been known for its innovative, learning-based approach to early childhood development: learning through play. This play-based curriculum is grounded in academic research that shows children experience the deepest, most genuine learning when they are having fun.

According to Mrs. Kiss, who was also mentor to Alexa Belschner, City High’s most recent intern, “We bring in teachers who really care about what they do in making sure that our kids are School-ready, Life-ready and Career-ready.”

If this sounds like a motto, it is. And it is what sets these preschools apart. The Goddard School uses the most current, academically endorsed methods to ensure that children have fun while learning the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life. Their talented teachers also collaborate with parents to nurture children into respectful, confident and joyful learners.

To learn more: www.goddardschool.com

Ready for School, Ready for Life, Ready for Careers.



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