HUNTINGTON – Marshall University’s student teachers could only watch and wait as West Virginia’s statewide teachers strike interrupted their senior year. With their classes canceled and their lesson plans put on hold, many immediately feared how it would affect their own path to an education degree, let alone the future of teaching in West Virginia.
Most, if not all, remain committed to teaching as a career choice. While higher incomes and new experiences can be found elsewhere in the world, it seems they haven’t been dissuaded from the option of remaining in West Virginia’s schools.
“I love West Virginia and I love being here, so I’m OK with it,” said Abigail Miller, a Barboursville native who is student teaching at Culloden Elementary School. “Money isn’t that important. I’m in it for the kids and their education.
“And I’m very hopeful for the future because (the teachers) fought so hard.”
Marshall’s College of Education and Professional Development kept its student teachers updated throughout the nine-day strike, assuring them they would not be penalized for something they could not control.
“Marshall has been extremely accommodating,” said Jessica Scohy, a Charleston native who was teaching special education at Milton Elementary School. “Because I know they weren’t going to punish us for this, I felt a lot more at ease and I was able to finish everything.
“I know it’s not about the money, and now we’ve got the support from the entire state.”
Madison Stone’s lesson plan on the Civil War was interrupted when Central City Elementary School closed, but it proved to be a learning experience in itself.
“It taught me to be flexible, and that’s what teaching is all about,” said Stone, a Charleston native. “So, in a way, it was kind of a lucky experience for us because we got to see more of what other student teachers don’t get to see.
“In a way, that’s helped me know this is a good career choice.”
While most agreed money isn’t the defining factor in choosing a teaching career, they were open to exploring opportunities outside West Virginia, if not for higher pay, then for simply a new experience away from home.
“Even if it does get bad here, there will always be another position somewhere else,” said Cade Mills, an Ona native student teaching at Martha Elementary School. “It’s a pretty flexible career.”
Most of Marshall’s student teachers will be reassigned to new schools Monday as part of their regular rotations, though some will be allowed to remain in order to fulfill their lesson plans as needed.
Seniors will graduate from Marshall on May 5.
Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter @BishopNash.