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From learning to teaching: 25 Rocks on the road to being teachers after education internships

The students signed letters of intent to pursue an education degree in college, a capstone to their internships in the Rock Island-Milan School District.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — 25 students from Rock Island High School are one step closer to their dreams of becoming teachers.

On May 24 the students signed letters of intent with the Rock Island-Milan School District to pursue an education degree in college — a capstone to their education internships with the school.

"When I heard about the opportunity, I heard about it from Mr. Mertel — he was my soccer coach and he thought that I would be a good fit for it," junior Delaney Carroll said. "I started doing it, and it has been really amazing — it's really fun."

Organizers explained that the internship gives students hands-on experience, as they assist teachers in elementary, junior or high schools for one hour every day for the academic year.

"I would like to go into early education, so like kindergarten through 2nd grade," Carroll said.

Carroll explained how the practical experience has already made a difference for her students.

"One of my students at the beginning of the year was a little behind the rest... he didn't know the ABCs at the beginning of 2nd grade," she explained. "I did a lot of work with him... and there was one day I was working with another student, and he had finished his spelling words on his own — and he was so excited, looking around for me and trying to show them to me."

Teachers across the U.S. are still struggling, however. According to ABC News, 44% of public school teachers quit the profession after 5 years due to burnout — but that's not stopping Carroll.

"I have an aunt who's a teacher, and she's something who's not always happy with her pay but she loves the kids," she said. "I love the students, and it's so awesome to make that impact on them."

The internship program started in 2020 with just a few students, but has gained more participants each year.

"We're almost up to 50 students, and with each one of those students is story — each one of those are a young person who is finding something that they're passionate about," program leader Mike Mertel said.

As part of signing that letter, the school district will offer a guaranteed interview after the student graduates college for any position they are certified for.

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