Learning To Teach

Sarah Kahl, elementary education, grows as an educator at local community center

From an early age, Sarah Kahl loved to play school and pretend she was teaching and helping students. Today teaching is Kahl’s reality as she is now finishing her elementary education degree.

From her practicums, to service learning projects, to internships, Kahl has learned teaching impacts the teacher as much as the student. One of her most memorable learning experiences as an education student has been the time she’s spent at Centro Cultural de Fargo-Moorhead.

Centro Cultural is a community leadership development center in Moorhead that was started by Latino families living in the Romkey Park Area. It’s a resource center where the community can come together, and it also serves as a youth center.

Kahl was introduced to Centro through an education and multi-cultural class. MSUM students tutored children who attended Centro’s after-school program, ran by Youthworks. When the semester ended, Kahl applied for the summer internship.

Kahl spent the summer at Centro and grew from the experience. “Before getting involved at Centro, I had my vision of every type of student there can be,” Kahl said. Her visions expanded when she worked with non-English speaking students, a hearing impaired student and all types of personalities.

Kahl made an effort to connect with each student. “There was one boy at Centro where you could tell he was running the place, and I needed to figure him out,” Kahl said. “I found out he loves soccer so I went up to him and said, ‘Can you get me a schedule? I’d like to come and watch you.’ After that he was a totally different kid and very helpful.”

One of the best lessons Kahl will carry with her is “to get to know the kids and find out their interests, because that will really help them see you’re not just there to teach, but that you’re really there for them.”

Steve Grineski, education professor, said Kahl often went the extra mile “by doing extra tasks, like staying late and cleaning the facility, attending some of the children’s sporting events, and doing social activities with the children. The children were very aware that Sarah was their advocate and good friend.”

Grineski decided to have his students in his Social Foundations of Education class work with Centro after learning about Kahl’s experience.

“She was a wonderful role model for my students regarding her leadership, teaching skills, and care and compassion for the children,” Grineski said.

One example of Kahl’s compassion for the students was when she helped others at Centro properly communicate with a student who is hearing impaired. Kahl printed 20 pages of sign language examples and brought them to Centro.

“I pulled him to the side and I signed, ‘Hi. My name is Sarah,’ and his eyes just got huge like, ‘whoa you know how to communicate with me,’” Kahl said.

As luck would have it, a student in Grineski’s class had studied American Sign Language. Kahl paired her up with the hearing impaired student and they worked together the entire semester.

“She provided him with popular music videos done in sign language, and he was glued to the computer screen,” Kahl said. “He turned around and looked at me, and I gave him thumbs up, and he just had this huge smile and put his thumbs up,” Kahl said.

“That’s one thing that I love to see, students having that extra stride or step in their life to excel,” Kahl said.

Kahl continued to volunteer at Centro, even when her summer internship ended. “I just want to stay involved as much as I possibly can because the kids are so awesome,” Kahl said.

This semester, Kahl is student teaching at Roosevelt Elementary in Detroit Lakes.