Halifax County Public School is on its way to growing its own teachers with 15 students certified as paraprofessionals after completing the Teachers for Tomorrow program this year.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg, Principal Michael Lewis and Teacher Angela Abdi recognized these students at a luncheon Monday at the high school, and Lineburg said they hope to use this model to train students in other areas as well.

Students who completed the Teachers for Tomorrow program include Nicolette Berry, Mary Beth Carmichael, Jessica Landrum, Alexis Lawson, J’Asha Lee, Erin Ligon, Reyisa Magee, Jamilla Medley, Cynaria Mitchell, Kaitlyn Puryear, Acqueala Richardson, Yelitza Rumbo, Takiara Scott, Deaysa Thaxton, Kassidy Thompson, Cassidy Walker, Amy Wilson and Jayda Younger.

These students have spent the past year learning about types of learners, special education, behavior management, lesson planning and other valuable teaching tools.

During the second part of the class, students gain real-life experience working side-by-side with another teacher in the division for one or two blocks as part of an internship.

“We want you to work with us,” Lineburg told the group of students and their families.

With 28 years of experience in teaching, Lineburg said he has “zero” regrets about teaching.

“In my heart, I know teaching is what I like best. There’s something magical about teaching,” the superintendent said.

Now he’s working with Abdi to create a pathway that would allow for students to work for the school system, while they finish their own schooling.

“We can guarantee at least a substitute position,” said Lineburg, who said at least one student was already working for the school system, and five were on board to join in the summer.

“We need folks like you every single day,” the superintendent said.

Lewis echoed similar sentiments saying, “We are generating our own folks, and that’s the model we want to use for our entire school, but this is the highlight… We want our students becoming our teachers.”

In her presentation, Abdi said she had reached out to each teacher the students had interned with and had them send in something positive and good about each one of them.

Many were praised for being good role models, leaving a lasting impression on the students and for being a natural in the classroom.

Following her presentation, students Nicolette Berry, Alexis Lawson, Yeltiza Rumbo and Cynaria Mitchell shared a few words about their experiences in the program.

Being in the classroom helped Berry feel empowered and to help see herself as a leader.

It helped give her a boost of self-confidence and allowed her to “be a guide for other students to look up to.”

The Teachers for Tomorrow program taught Lawson a couple of lessons such as how to be firm the right way and the value of having relationships with her students.

“Having that bond has shown me that it’s easier to teach a lesson, because they’re more comfortable to sit with you. It also makes it easier to put a smile on their faces,” said Lawson.

She also said the program has reaffirmed her belief she wants to be a sixth grade pre-algebra teacher.

When Rumbo first began the Teachers for Tomorrow program, she learned much about patience in the special education department.

But, it was when she was moved to an elementary school to work as an English Language Learner teacher that she was really able to shine.

“ELL is what I liked the most, because I liked being able to work with kids who needed help with their English, because I know how hard and frustrating that was when I was in elementary school,” said Rumbo.

While in the Teachers for Tomorrow Program, Mitchell learned teaching kindergarten wasn’t as easy as it may seem.

But, even though it can sometimes be challenging, she said the people at South Boston Elementary School were some of the “sweetest people” she has ever met, and working with them has been life changing for her.

“This program has changed me for the better. Before this program, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go to school. Now I know I love teaching. I love the feeling you get when you know that you made a difference in someone’s life. You never know what they’re going through at home or in their personal life, but it’s a reward knowing you made a difference in their life,” said Mitchell.

“You always remember the great teachers you have and the great lessons they taught you. Thanks to this program, I’ll remember great friends, like my cadets, a great class, like my kids, a great teacher, like Mrs. Abdi and a great year.”

The students in the Teachers for Tomorrow program then presented a photo of the class to both Lineburg and Lewis, and Lineburg gave each student a copy of the book “Water is Wide.”

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com