Humans of Appleton North: Mademoiselle Staskiewicz

Rachel Flom, Features Editor

Some students at Appleton North have the ability to become a teacher’s assistant, where they work directly under a teacher and help them complete tasks that would take much longer doing by themselves. Students have to have already taken the class (or whatever its equivalent may be) and gotten permission from the specific teacher in order to be a teacher’s assistant, and similar requirements apply for those who wish to become student teachers.

Being a student teacher is a more advanced version of being a teacher’s assistant, and many student teachers are either in college or have recently graduated and are on their way to becoming certified. Appleton North has had many student teachers come and go over the last two decades, many of which come from the language department.

Alesia Staskiewicz, most often referred to as Mademoiselle Staskiewicz, was a student teacher for Elizabeth Platten’s French classes for the first semester of the 2015-2016 school year and did activities with a few of the Spanish classes as well. She graded paperwork, helped with lesson planning, and even taught during her time at North. Staskiewicz is a senior at Saint Norbert College in De Pere and plans on becoming a teacher.

During second quarter this year, Ms. Staskiewicz taught French 3 and French 4 to students, and she has been a student teacher at other schools at well. At Freedom Middle School, she taught sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Spanish. “It was such a small school that they couldn’t really teach French there, so they had Spanish instead.”

At Saint Norbert, students majoring in education are required to be a student teacher for one semester, and there are two different placements. Teachers are certified for specific grades, from a lower grade level to a higher grade level. There are two different placements that are required, one for the lowest grade levels a person can teach, and one for the highest grade level. In Ms. Staskiewicz’s case, her certification was for secondary education, which meant that she had to be able to teach at the middle school and high school levels, which is why she taught at both Freedom Middle School and Appleton North High School. For someone with a middle childhood certification, they might be required to teach a lower grade at an elementary school (around first grade) and then towards the end of middle school (around eighth grade). At some colleges, students must be a student teacher for up to an entire year.

Ms. Staskiewicz liked teaching at Appleton North because of the environment and the atmosphere that the school has. “I liked seeing the North Nine. That was one of the first things I noticed and I thought that it’s a really good idea.” She said she appreciated having those types of values present in the education system at the school. “At the middle school where I was at the beginning of the school year, they had a similar acronym with values. They had a value for one month, responsibility, and every morning on the announcements they would say, ‘Our value for the month is responsibility…’ so it’s cool to see that spread around the area at different schools.”

Staskiewicz also noticed the high amount of school spirit present at North. “I really liked seeing how many people are involved in sports and clubs, just involved period.” She had mentioned that the spirit at Appleton North is much greater than that of other schools that she’s attended, as a student teacher and as a student herself.

Teaching was a very different experience for Staskiewicz because of how she was so used to being taught by other people over the years. Her favorite part of teaching at a middle school level was getting to have fun with the students. “You could really be silly because we didn’t focus so much on things like grammar and sentence formation. We did a lot of vocabulary, and so you had to make it fun.” At Appleton North, she loved how advanced the language program was. “In middle school, it was just vocabulary, and very basic things. Here, all of the students in the advanced language classes are started to be able to write paragraphs and do all of these complex grammar things. You may not feel like you’re good at it or understand it all of the time, but you’re at least getting there, and seeing the difference between middle school to here is incredible.”

A great college experience for Staskiewicz was being able to go abroad during her junior year of college. She was able to visit 13 European countries over the span of a few months and she was able to experience home life there and even attend schools as well. She recommends going abroad if any opportunity arises to do so. “If you have any chance in college or with a job or anything, go aboard. It’s so valuable to your cultural perspective. If you never experience firsthand someone else’s culture, someone else’s life, someone else’s way of thinking, you’re missing out.” Staskiewicz encourages everyone to try and go outside of the United States at least one in order to gain that fresh perspective. “Don’t be afraid for money concerns or anything like that; where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s totally a cliché, but it’s still true.”

Staskiewicz also had advice for students looking to enter the education field. “I highly suggest doing an informational interview with a teacher in the subject you think you would want to teach. If you think you want to teach at an elementary school, go talk to an elementary teacher. That was something that I did in high school that opened my eyes a little bit to the profession and gave me more information. I won’t say that decided my career for me, but it was such a helpful step.” She says to do research about the career or occupation, bring questions, and be ready to listen and learn more about the profession.

With her position as a teacher, Staskiewicz had developed a new mindset towards the education system. “Teaching really makes you appreciate being a student. It’s true that being able to teach something really means that you know it and really understand it. It really open your eyes as to what your teacher puts into teaching. Everyone has probably heard that your teacher does more than you think, and it’s completely true.”