SNC “Block Students” Gain Hands-on Teaching Experience at NDA


Cassi Garrison, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Recently, three sophomore students enrolled at De Pere’s St. Norbert College started their Pre-Student-Teaching program at Notre Dame Academy. 

The program, also known as Sophomore Block, gives students the opportunity to learn more about teaching through hands-on experience.

According to St. Norbert College, this is the teacher-education discipline’s “second-most extensive” field training for college credit, the first being student teaching.

Paige Tesnow, who has been participating in the Sophomore Block under the guidance of English teacher Kayla Robbins, called the program a “rewarding experience.”

“I have learned a lot in the last two weeks getting to work with [Robbins],” Tesnow shared. “She has given me a lot of good advice for when I enter my own classroom in a few years.”

Tesnow, who went to Green Bay West High School and is now pursuing a degree in English Education, said that her first impression of NDA was a good one. 

“All the staff and students that I met in the first few days were enthusiastic and welcoming, which alleviated the nervousness I had coming into the school,” she reflected.

Tesnow said that her favorite part of teaching so far has been interacting with the students.

“I have met so many funny, creative and intelligent students, and it has been so cool getting to know them and their interests,” she said.

Block student Nathaniel Woltman, who is working with math teacher Brian Konshak, said that his own time as a student inspired him to embark on this career path.

“There are two major teachers who inspired me to become a teacher,” Woltman shared. “One of them was Mr. Palma, who is a math teacher at Appleton East. He always brought so much energy and excitement to the classroom.”

The second was Dr. Dunbar, a professor at St. Norbert College.

 “I like his teaching style,” Woltman said. “He gives his students lots of opportunities to collaborate with one another during class.”

Woltman also shared that he has been impacted by Mr. Konshak, who shows that “math doesn’t have to be scary or hard.”

“There’s so much that I want to get done here at Notre Dame,” said the Appleton native, “and I definitely couldn’t get it done without the mentorship of Mr. Konshak.”

Another block student, Sarah Mendelson, said that her favorite part of participating in the program has been her students’ enthusiastic response to her teaching or co-teaching.

“The students in my class are very respectful and keep their energy high,” she said, adding that her favorite experience has been seeing the students’ creative clothing for Spring Week.

“It’s been so fun to see all the crazy outfits they’ve planned throughout the week,” she said. 

Mendelson attended Trinity High School in Illinois and said that she had been drawn towards the education field since she was a student herself.

“As a future teacher, I want to transform the education system and make learning fun for everyone, one step at a time,” she said. 

Meldelson, who is teaching under the guidance of history teacher Adam Rudar, added that she has had a “great experience” so far.

“My first impression of NDA was how big and confusing I thought the layout of the school was,” she shared. “After my first week, I realized it’s almost like a big circle.”

On the advice she would give to someone considering enrolling in the program, Meldelson said: “If you have a passion for a specific subject and had a teacher who inspired you, I say go for it! Always follow your gut.”