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By LuAnn Schindler
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Thoendel completes teacher-in-training experience

 

April 29, 2021

LuAnn Schindler

Practical knowledge • (l-r): With instruction from student teacher Brad Thoendel, Kellen Mlnarik and Joe Ahlers make adjustments on a small engine during an industrial technology class at the Clearwater site. Thoendel completed his practicum April 23.

LUANN SCHINDLER

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summerlandadvocate.com

Brad Thoendel has always been interested in teaching.

The Wayne State College senior, originally from rural Ewing, said he wasn't sure if he would ever have an opportunity to stand in front of a classroom and present a lesson.

The Chambers Public School graduate said dyxlexia - a learning disorder that affects areas of the brain which process language - nearly prevented him from following his dream.

Thoendel will receive his degree from WSC, May 8, at a ceremony held in the Willow Bowl.

"I thought I probably shouldn't go into education because of it," he said.

The dyslexia diagnosis was made while Thoendel was in elementary school, when he experienced difficulty reading.

His mom, Elaine, researched potential causes for Brad's reading difficulties and "lack of concentration."

"She found dyslexia fit every single thing I was having trouble with," he said.

The Thoendels traveled to Brookings, South Dakota, where Brad was assessed, using the Davis Dyslexia method. The program centers on "controlling perceptual disorientations in senses of time, vision, hearing and/or balance and coordination," according to the program's website.

The trip was a life-changing experience.

One of the biggest changes resulting from the program was the ability to use audio books as a learning tool.

He found it especially helpful during college.

"Even to this day, taking notes doesn't work for me," Thoendel said. "That's another reason why IT is a good fit for me. There are so many ways to do the same thing. It's just finding which way is best for you."

He attended Northeast Community College and earned a degree in building construction. After graduation he entered the workforce.

Four years passed and the desire to teach never went away, though. After hearing stories about students who never learned practical skills, like changing oil or basic how-to strategies, Thoendel changed career paths.

"I'm trying to fix that by teaching students how to do those things," he said.

He returned to college at WSC in 2018.

Since January, Thoendel has navigated the student-teaching practicum at the Summerland - Clearwater site.

The school was his top choice to gain experience before he enters the Maywood Public Schools, this fall, as a first-year educator.

He thought class enrollment at Clearwater would provide a solid opportunity to hone his teaching skills.

Thoendel has taught a variety of subject matter, including small engines, project-based woods and metals, architecture, construction and introduction to technology.

His favorite class to teach has been the seventh-grade introductory course.

They devised a 3D bag holder, which can withstand a weight of 45 pounds, which will be mass produced for class members.

One of Thoendel's goals for students is to differentiate between low- and high-quality products, a skill that will translate to real-world experience.

"It will help when they are buying a house, renting an apartment or even just getting furniture for college. They will be able to tell good quality from something that will break within a year," he said.

Thoendel also wants students to gain practical skills they can put into practice.

"Practical skills like changing a tire, how to rotate tires, how to change an alternator are important to know," Thoendel said.

The student teacher said he also hopes students see skilled and practical arts as a potential career path.

"Not everybody can become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. Some people want to work outside. There are shortages in construction, plumbing and welding. Those are jobs that will need to be filled," he said.

 

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