ITE Elementary Student & UH Track Team Pole Vaulter

Makenzie Stang

"We discussed the importance of school, explaining that we are athletes, but we are students first. ~ (On bringing 10 UH student athletes to visit her 5th grade class)"

Hometown

San Ramon, California

Department

Institute for Teacher Education - Elementary

Related Degrees

  • BEd, Elementary Education

Position
I am currently student teaching fifth grade at Hōkūlani Elementary.

Did you always know you wanted to go to college and be a student athlete? 
I always knew I wanted to go to college. For me, it was never if I was going to go but where.  And yes, I always wanted to be a collegiate athlete! My dad was the pole vaulting coach at UC Berkeley, so I grew up surrounded by college athletes almost every day. I knew from a very young age that this is what I wanted to do someday. I also watched cousins and friends compete in collegiate sports and wanted to strive to be just like them.

How did you become interested in elementary education?
I have always loved being around children. Growing up, I was a counselor at a summer camp every year. I have always had so much fun being around children and thought that I wanted to teach them. However, I have learned that now I would like to become a middle school or high school history teacher. I am fascinated with history and have always wanted to dig deeper into the past.

What role has your mentor teacher played during your student teaching semester?
My mentor teacher, Shari Kaneshiro, has been the best! She has supported me in so many different ways, not only as a great mentor in the classroom, but as a confidant who I know will always be there to support me. I have learned many new teaching strategies from her that I know I will be able to use in my own classroom someday. Shari allows me to watch her teach and observe as well as to create my own lessons and implement them in the classroom. She is always easygoing and there to give me feedback at a moment’s notice.

Describe the visit that several of your peer athletes made to your classroom?
My students know me as “Miss Stang,” and many do not realize the whole other part of my life as a student athlete. It is important to Shari and I to have all of the fifth graders ready to take that next leap into middle school next year. So, while discussing ideas, we thought it would be great to have some of my friends come into the classroom to talk, answer questions, and then go out to play. I asked several friends from my own team, which is track and field, then football, basketball, and soccer. By the time the day came, I had eleven student athletes all ready to talk to my students.

We discussed the importance of school, explaining that we are athletes, but we are students first.  We stressed how crazy our schedules are and how important it is to keep up on school work, especially with the little amount of time we have to complete it. After taking questions and talking, we all went outside to play which was so much fun! The soccer players took people over to play soccer. A girl from track was teaching kids how to run while another track athlete, the football players, and I played football with some students. Afterwards, all of the athletes took pictures with my students and signed autographs. It was a blast, and I know everybody was having a great time! Afterwards, I have had not only my students ask if the other athletes can come back, but also my friends have asked when they can come back again too.

I had my students write a reflection about what they learned from the athletes and the impact of the day. Some discussed how interesting it was to see how busy we are each day. Others wanted to grow up and be just like us. One even talked about how going into middle school would be difficult with his sports and that he needs to stay focused on school. This experience really impacted my students, and I am so grateful for all of my fellow student athletes and friends who came out to help.

What are your future plans?
I am graduating this semester with a degree in elementary education; however, I am continuing in school and obtaining a graduate certificate in historic preservation. After this, I plan on teaching in International Schools around the world and traveling to better understand history so that I can come back to the United States and teach my students through my own personal experiences and adventures.

I'm interested in learning more about a degree or certificate in Elementary Education.

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