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Elementary Education Major Connects Classrooms
Steve Nation, an elementary education major at Southeast Missouri State University, recently inspired two different classes in two separate schools to connect through letter writing.
Steve, a native of Jackson, Mo., sacrificed his spring break to complete some required observation time for his Block I program. This program is designed to acquaint education majors with the field of education through actual classroom observation. During the week, he visited a second-grade class at St. Vincent De Paul Elementary School and a second-grade class at Meadow Heights Elementary School. The kids at St. Vincent’s were so enthralled with his presence they took it upon themselves to write letters to the students at Meadow Heights.
“I like the classroom atmosphere. I had a lot of fun, and it didn’t even seem as though the observation was required,” said Steve.
Kathy Raines, teacher of the St. Vincent’s second-grade class, has nothing but good things to say about Nation.
“He did a great job. He even brought his pet bearded dragon for our class and kindergarten to see. My class loved this young man so much that we wanted him to have a good time at Meadow Heights, so we wrote letters to the students and we even received replies. It was neat to bridge two different classrooms in two separate schools together.”
Steve said he has fond memories of helping the St. Vincent’s kids create a banner for their First Communion.
“I found that so interesting. They all drew their faces on paper and Mrs. Raines and I got down on our hands and knees to draw the bodies onto the banner. I didn’t get to see the finished product, but it was neat to see the project come together.”
Raines said she was impressed by Steve’s level of motivation and commitment.
“I think it was awesome of him to do this activity during spring break. He even stayed extra time. Block students really do add a lot to the regular classroom.”
Steve’s pet bearded dragon, Spike, was a big hit at St. Vincent’s. However, due to the aquarium’s size and weight, he was unable to show the kids at Meadow Heights.
“The Meadow Heights kids kept asking about Spike, but there wasn’t a way I could bring him in. It was alright because we did have fun playing ‘wallyball,’ which is a form of volleyball that lets everyone join in. They were really accepting of me being in their classroom.”
After Steve graduates in 2010, he hopes to come back to Southeast to complete a master’s degree.
“After I get settled in as a teacher, I’d like to return to Southeast. This University has made me into a more determined and goal-oriented person and I’ve learned a lot from this observation experience. It’s easy to get attached to the kids – talking about them makes me miss them more.”
Steve said he enjoys working as a recreation attendant at Fitness Plus. His area of specialty in elementary education is Exceptional Child, which will qualify him to teach students in kindergarten through 12th grade with learning disabilities, mental handicaps or behavioral disorders. He said he works with children between the ages of six and 12 at Fitness Plus, but he does many other things as well.
“I get to organize birthday parties, summer camps, playdays, ‘Kids’ Night Out’ and other activities. I love my job.”
While he said he’s not much of a traveler, Steve has been to Mississippi for a church event and said he enjoyed the sights and the people.
“I’m sponsoring a child in Ecuador, and I think it’d be neat to eventually visit that country and meet the little boy.”
When Steve isn’t working at Fitness Plus, he said his favorite things to do in Cape Girardeau are dining out and bowling.
“There are so many great restaurants in Cape, but my favorite thing to do is to go bowling with my friends. I also enjoy teaching Sunday School to third- and fourth-graders at First Baptist Church in Jackson.”
Although Steve believes in hard work, he said it’s important to have fun.
“Don’t get lazy and give up, because your futures are important. However, it’s important to not take things too seriously. Have fun and get involved or you’ll pass up many opportunities to meet new people. Enjoy your time at Southeast.”