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Schofield student teaching in hometown

Working toward graduation ... April Schofield is a PHS graduate, a Western Dakota Vo-Tech graduate, a wife and mother, a full-time employee, an online college student and now a student teacher. Under first grade instructor Jayne Gottsleben’s supervision, Schofield will complete her student teaching and qualify for a South Dakota teaching certificate for grades kindergarten through sixth.

As of January 3, April (Clements) Schofield has been the student teacher in Jayne Gottleben's first grade class in Philip Elementary.

Schofield's own elementary was done at Haakon School District's Elbon and Enterprise country schools, which are now closed. In 1998 she graduated from Philip High School. "Growing up, teaching is what I always wanted to do, then after graduating from high school I didn't know what I wanted to do," admitted Schofield.

Within 13 months, she completed an office technology program at Western Dakota Vo-Tech. Since then she has become a wife and a mother, held down a job a Moses Building Center, and has been studying online through Western Governors University based in Salt Lake City. When her student teaching is completed March 25, Schofield will have completed a four-year bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies for grades kindergarten through eighth grade. She will then be eligible, in South Dakota, for a K-6 teaching certificate.

Her family also ranches. Her husband, Jake, is also a brand inspector. He and their children, Riley (second grade) and Tara (4-1/2 years old), "are excited that I'm at school, but also that I'll be done because this has taken a lot of time from them also," said Schofield. "It was my choice, my dream."

Gottsleben, who is in her 25th year of teaching in the Philip school system, has now had four student teachers. "I think it's a great opportunity to help new teachers coming in. I enjoy the freshness they bring to the classroom, their new ideas," said Gottsleben. "I've had good mentors, and want to pay back and pay forward. April is very competent. I think she will be a strong teacher."

"Mrs. Gottsleben has been very cooperative and helpful," said Schofield. "She is providing me with the skills and opportunities necessary to shape me into a great teacher. It's a lot of work, that's for sure, but its well worth it. I'm enjoying myself a lot. Every day there's something new and interesting."

Gottsleben said, "I'm impressed with her college and its requirements. They are mentors and supervisors spread throughout the United States. She has had to visit classrooms and teachers, doing work and keeping logs. It shows dedication, self motivation and strength to complete such a program. The students love her, they are always open. She has good control in the classroom. They respect her and she gets out of them what is expected. It helps that April had two kids before doing this."

Schofield said, "I am hopeful that in time there will be a job opportunity right here in Philip. I think teaching is a great career in a rural, agricultural community. I am excited to have a part in helping our future generation."

"Jake was very supportive in my decision to return to school and earn my teaching degree. I thank my whole family for all their support through all of this. They have been right there to help out with my kids, so that I could do homework and study for tests."

"To anyone wanting or wishing they could go back to college, I would encourage them to. It is a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of dedication. It hasn't been easy being a mom, working full time and going to college online, but I am so glad I gave myself this challenge and opportunity."