Aug. 10, 2001

CONTACT: Carol Anderson





YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University students earned three of the five awards for the 2001 Outstanding Student Teacher/Intern of the Year given recently by the Michigan Association of Teacher Educators (MATE). Melissa Bergstrom, Cathy Hanson, and William Renner were the EMU recipients of the award granted to student teachers who excelled in their student teaching experience.

"Eastern Michigan University student teachers did extremely well this year as they have consistently done in the past," said Dr. Jerry Robbins, dean of education at EMU. For the past 15 years, since the award's inception, MATE has recognized some 200 new teachers for their excellence in teaching and, according to Dr. Tom Kromer, co-chair of the MATE Student/Intern Awards Committee, EMU students have consistently been represented among those receiving awards.

"I had fun with student teaching. It was awesome, especially since I could be creative," said Bergstrom. "Marshmallow Geometry" was the lesson one day at Pittsfield Elementary School as she introduced her 26 fifth grade students to cubes and polygons. Marshmallows were used to illustrate the concepts of space, volume and 3-D geometry. This interactive, hands-on exercise of forming shapes with toothpicks and marshmallows excited the students and increased their enjoyment of the subject, she said. Bergstrom will begin teaching a fifth grade class this fall at Kyle Elementary in Troy, Ohio.

"I found out about my award on my first wedding anniversary! I was so shocked. Everything was going really well that day," said Hanson, who introduced her fourth graders at Bates Elementary in Dexter to the concept of disabilities. "I wanted them to know that people with disabilities are not different, but just differently abled," said Hanson. Setting up a "Mrs. Hanson's Grocery Store," she introduced her students to the concepts of vision, hearing, physical, mental and learning impairments.

Each student was assigned a disability and experienced the difficulty of purchasing items. Vision impaired students wore taped-up goggles and could only see through a few holes. Hearing impaired people listened to her whispered directions wearing headphones, while the mentally impaired were given various geometric-shaped "coins" to which she randomly assigned a monetary value and then asked them to pay for an item with exact change. The learning impaired had to read a grocery list with letters that "jumped" up and down within each word. The physically impaired were on crutches and were required to carry items without using a bag. Hanson will do her special education student teaching at Clarkston Elementary this fall and plans to graduate in December 2001.

Renner had his first graders at Model Elementary in Ypsilanti packing suitcases for a social studies lesson. Each student was assigned a suitcase with a designated state on the front. They had to look at a map, find their state's location and decide what should be packed for a trip to that state. Students decided that they'd need snowshoes in Alaska and beach towels in Florida. Everyone had fun, including the parents, who were invited to an after school "show & tell" travel show. "Teaching is so rewarding and I really like early elementary. This is when they're most impressionable and in need of a good role model," said Renner.

The award was especially sweet for Renner. He did his student teaching in the same elementary school he attended. His third grade teacher is now the principal and he team-taught with his kindergarten teacher.

Renner is teaching at Ypsilanti's Community Education Summer School Program this summer and will be student teaching pre-school in the fall at the University of Michigan's Center for Working Families.

Applicants for the award were required to submit a videotape containing an introduction to a lesson, an unedited 30-minute segment of the lesson, and a reflection of what went well and suggested improvements. They also submitted a lesson plan for the video and answered a questionnaire on teaching. All the materials were judged on three levels.

Eastern Michigan University ( is a four-year, comprehensive metropolitan university committed to the needs of its students and communities through teaching, research and service. EMU offers more than 200 programs in the arts, sciences and professionals through traditional classroom settings, on-site continuing education classes and online courses. EMU is the fifth largest university in Michigan, serving 24,000 students from around the world and offers undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate programs.