WAUKEE, Iowa — Waukee Schools’ Intro to Education program takes students who are interested in teaching and lets them get hands-on experience helping out in classrooms across the district.

Students get college credit for the course and start off by learning basic teaching skills like classroom management and lesson planning. Then they get placed in classrooms around the district to observe and help teachers.

Liz King, a Waukee student enrolled in the program, said that she and other students are getting more in-classroom experience than some college students.

“A lot of times in college you would only get 20-40 hours of experience but with this program, you get 100-150,” King said.

King wants to teach a foreign language someday and with the Intro to Education program, she is working in a foreign language classroom at Waukee Middle School.

Amanda Gaul is a Waukee teacher and the supervisor of the Intro to Education program. Gaul said that the program shows students what teaching is really like and helps them decide whether they want to pursue it after high school.

“Even if a student leaves this program and decides I don’t want to teach they know for sure because they’ve had the opportunity to work with small groups, large groups, lead lessons, grade things, sit in on PLC meetings, really understand what it means to be a teacher,” Gaul said.

The Intro to Education program has been around for years. Waukee even has 20 teachers who have gone through the program, graduated college, and then come back to Waukee to teach.

Waukee’s program not only offers a great experience for students but also creates a pipeline for teachers to come to the district in the future.