OPS internships give high schoolers valuable teaching experience

OPS classrooms open their doors to aspiring educators
Omaha Public Schools is opening the district's classrooms to the potential next generation of educators.
Published: Jul. 6, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There are hundreds of Omaha Public Schools students who are getting the chance to see what it’s like to work in the classroom.

The OPS Summer Internship Program is a paid summer job and is actually attracting some students to the profession.

Giovani Orea and Odalys Alvarado-Roman are participating in the program, helping Jamie Jank with her second-grade summer school class at Castelar Elementary.

Alvarado-Roman just graduated from Omaha South High School, but she learned a lot this summer through the program.

“It helps you understand what the everyday life is being a teacher,” Alvarado-Roman said. “Having to come in early, having to get used to all the schedules.”

Alvarado-Roman said it was her young students that actually sold her on teaching as a profession.

“I’m actually convinced that I want to go into the education system,” Alvarado-Roman said.

The program gives students hands-on experience to get a real look at what it’s like to be in the classroom. With a shortage of teachers across the country, OPS is readying more educators.

“The student intern program has created the capacity of students to be in school working with students while they’re still in school themselves and deciding what they want for their future,” Next Level Learning’s Kelsi Finley said.

Finley is typically an instructional facilitator for OPS during the school year. This summer, she’s getting to experience what it’s like to be a principal.

“It has really opened my eyes to educational leadership and how having a role like this has given me the ability to see that this is where I see my future and how I can support teachers and students for our community through this role,” Finley said.

Orea learned a different lesson during his internship, and that was how hard teachers work.

“It does feel like a bunch of kids, especially in high school, are a bit rude to teachers,” Orea said. “They don’t really care about authority. Right now, I’m a bad kid to some teachers.”

Orea will use the teaching skills he learned this summer to teach adults life and job skills. He also says that next year, he won’t give his teachers a hard time but instead will remember his experience with the young students.

“I’ve learned a bunch with the kids,” Orea said. “The kids say they miss me and they got attached to me even though I’m not a real teacher. I learned a lot about them.”