Monday, April 16, 2012

Another Semester in the Books- Sarah Kraayenbrink

Another Semester in the Books!

It’s hard to believe that I only have five more days left of student teaching.  The epitome of my college career is coming to an end, and I look ahead to the future and the joys of being a teacher.   Looking back, time has gone really fast.  Four months ago I was moving to Denver feeling anxious about what lay ahead for the semester.  Now, however, I feel well-prepared and excited for my career as an elementary teacher.   

My name is Sarah Kraayenbrink, and I am from Sioux Center, Iowa.  I didn’t know that I wanted to become an elementary teacher until the end of my sophomore year of college.  Needless to say, I had a lot of catching up to do in order to complete my schooling in just four years.  After having field experience in numerous schools around the Waverly area, I knew that I wanted to experience teaching in an urban setting in order to prepare myself for any kind of teaching job that I might consider in the future.

My experience in two different inner city schools has opened my eyes to the diversity of students.  I started in third grade at Cowell Elementary.  About 90-95% of the students at the school are Hispanic, and I gained a lot of insight and experience working with English Language Learners (ELL).  The school that I am currently working at is Ellis Elementary.  I am in kindergarten, and there are students from Libya, Russia, Albania, Thailand and Mexico.  Nineteen of the twenty-seven students in my class are ELL, and I have enjoyed learning about their home countries and the languages that they speak.  The students have taught me as much as I hope to have taught them, and I have an even deeper appreciation for the diversity around me.

Besides student teaching, I have enjoyed exploring Denver.  A few places that I visited during my time here were the Denver Art Museum, Botanical Gardens, Denver Zoo, a Nuggets game, Balistreri Vineyards, Hammond’s Candy Factoryand and so much more.  I am going to miss Denver and the students that I have been working with a lot, but I am excited to come back in the near future to visit and to enjoy the beauty of this city and the mountains again!

Sarah Kraayenbrink 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Time to say goodbye, winter 2012.

We are sad to say goodbye to another great group of Wartburg students.  Good luck, we will miss you!  To view more pictures from this semester head over to!

Greetings from Ellis Elementary- Matt Brunsvold

Greetings from Ellis Elementary School in Denver,

My name is Matt Brunsvold and I am from Apple Valley, Minnesota. I decided to do my student teaching out here in Denver for two main reasons: just for the change of scenery and to get experience teaching in an urban school environment. I had been completing field experiences at Wartburg in mainly private schools and a couple in neighboring rural public districts. I am originally from a suburban area and wanted to see the entire spectrum by living downtown in an urban area. Wartburg West is about as downtown Denver as one could get. Taking the bus north for ten minutes or around 14 blocks and it will drop you off right at the state capitol.

The school that I am placed at is named Ellis Elementary. I have had two placements in my time here at Ellis; the first being a 5th grade reading classroom and the second a 3rd grade math classroom. I spent seven weeks at my first placement in 5th grade where I was exposed to the diversity Ellis had to offer. Saying that Ellis is a wonderfully diverse school would almost be an understatement. In the school there are around 25 different native languages spoken by the students and the school right now has about a 68% ELL population, which I’m told is lower than in past years. Students that are identified as ELL are English Language Learners who are learning to speak English on top of the school’s curriculum. On top of the diversity of the school, there is the glaring issue of poverty. 93% of the students receive a free/reduced price lunch which is how the school’s poverty level is determined.

On top of all my teaching experiences, there are so many other things to be doing here. I was so excited that I got a chance to see the group Atmosphere perform at the first ever winter concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater. The weather was freezing but the snow set against the mountain scenery made it all worth it. Other things I have been able to do include seeing 2 plays at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, going to Rocky Mountain National park and hiking around a frozen lake at 9,500 feet elevation, seeing the Denver Botanical Gardens, and go to a Denver Nuggets game. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hello from Nicole Felton!

Hi Everyone,

As I write this most of the interns and social work students are packing and preparing for the trip back to the Midwest.  The student teachers have a couple more weeks before they come back to Wartburg.  I cannot believe it is time to say goodbye to Denver.
I have spent the semester doing my senior social work field practicum at the Bridge Project.  Bridge is an afterschool program and community outreach program that serves children living in public housing.  I work in the South Lincoln public housing section of Denver, which serves students age 3-18.  Bridge works to increase the graduation rate among low-income children in order to help reduce the cycle of poverty.
Every day I teach classes to help students progress in literacy skills, assist in teaching social, emotional, and behavioral skills, and provide family support.  I also help with getting the kids snack, doing homework, and being a resource to about 100 kids per day.  I work one-on-one with children who need a person to talk to and I help children work through emotional problems.  My time at the Bridge Project has increased my enjoyment of working with children and I plan to continue my work in this area after graduation.
My time in Denver has been busy.  I have been to the symphony, the Denver Zoo, the ballet Peter Pan, a Colorado Avalanche game, Red Rocks Amphitheater, The Taming of the Shrew, and the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory.  I have spent time exploring downtown and experiencing several new restaurants.  The time I have spent in Denver has allowed me to embrace all the urban setting has to offer.  Coming from a small town, I struggled to understand how so many people could live in a small space, but after living here for a few months I see they do not live on top of each other.  The people actually work together to make the urban lifestyle vivacious and engaging.  My time in Denver has been an amazing chance to practice social work and indulge in living in the city.

Nicole Felton