COLORADO SPRINGS — High school students in Colorado Springs are getting a unique learning experience through a hands-on program. The Teacher Cadet Programs aim to inspire high school juniors and seniors to follow a path in the education field.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity and it’s really helpful for a lot of students,” said Taylor Sanchez, a senior participating in the Teacher Cadet Program. “It’s a really fun opportunity. It’s hands on. You get to learn a lot about different types of students, different types of teaching and how teaching has changed throughout the years.”

“I want to become a teacher. I want to teach elementary school, 1st or 2nd grade maybe. I really like working with kids,” said Bella Natibidad, a junior participating in the Teacher Cadet Program.

Students from all District 20 schools are invited to join the program, which consists of spending their last class period at Discovery Canyon Campus.

“It’s really a chance to catch our best and brightest. And get them interested and hooked on that teaching field,” said Katy Snider, a teacher at Discovery Canyon Campus and involved in the Teacher Cadet Programs 1 and 2.

Through this program, students can explore a career as a teacher, shadowing and even teaching their own classes. But the program extends outside the classroom for students to learn all avenues of the education field.

“We plan 3 whole lessons I believe. We actually get to teach, we’re more hands on. We get put in a classroom so we’ll be working with the same kids and the same teacher almost every day. Which I’m really excited for that aspect of it,” said Sanchez.

“They go to different schools. They teach at different levels, elementary, middle and high school. They also have an opportunity over 2 years to earn 6 college credits, which gives them a nice start to pursuing their teaching degree,” said Snider.

The hope is some students come full circle after college and start their career at District 20 schools. This semester consists of students from 5 different high schools who gather at Discovery during the end of their school day for the program.

“By the end of it, their ability to build relationships with different and unique kids. And their ability to feel comfortable speaking in front of a group of people has increased dramatically which will really serve them well in life,” said Snider. “About 60% of people came back and work where they graduated from high school.”

Kids can also earn credit through the Colorado University System, which they can transfer to any school they end up choosing. Boulder also has an agreement with the Teacher Cadet Program that students that complete it with a B average get their application fee waived. They also will get automatic acceptance into their school of education.

This year is the third year that this national program is running at Discovery Canyon Campus. High schoolers can get an application for the program from their school counselor. You can also learn more by clicking here.

“It’s really just good for people skills. You will end up using it even if you don’t become a teacher,” said Natibidad.