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Hartselle High School students pass Praxis II

Charley Gaines

Hartselle Enquirer


Four students at Hartselle High School have the privilege of being the only students in the state to pass an exam most people don’t take until they’ve completed college courses.

MacKenna Kaup (Jacksonville State), Lori Milligan (University of North Alabama), Morgan Sharp (Wallace State Community College) and Jake Tiffin (Troy University) were all involved in the Education and Training Career Academy at the high school. The four graduated in May of this year and went on to higher education institutions. While their college classmates are being exposed to some of the theories and practices of teach

Education and Training is one of eight academies the school offers students to prepare the teens for college and the job market. The school’s academic handbook says, “The courses offered will help students make connections to college studies and careers. It is our hope to provide challenging, project-based, applied training exposing students to as much as possible in a potential career field.” Part of the experience and educational growth through these specialized career clusters is the chance to job shadow, be involved in internships and, like the four who took the Praxis test, take industry credential tests.

Mrs. Nanette Edde is head of the academy at HHS. She teaches family, consumer science and food nutrition.

“I am extremely proud of all of these students,” said Edde. “I love being in the classroom, so to share my passion with students that have the desire to teach is very rewarding.”

Hartselle High School Principal Jeff Hyche said he’s well pleased with his former students’ state performances. “We are very proud that students in our education career academy were the first in the state to pass the state teacher test. This is a testament to the instruction and exposure provided by Mrs. Edde in her Education and Training courses and also to our students who saw value in taking career courses and preparing themselves for success on the exam.”

Each state has its own guidelines and standards based on the national standards for the Praxis test. The Alabama State Board of Education creates the guidelines required to pass the exam through the Alabama Educator Certification Assessment Program (AECAP), which demands the basic skills assessments and Praxis Subject Assessments (content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge).

“The Praxis is a series of three tests for teacher licensing,” explained Ms. Edde. “The first test is a Core Academic Skills test, the second test (the one my students take) focuses on students as learners, the instructional process, assessments and professional development, leadership and community involvement.”

Three of the four students who passed the Praxis under Ms. Edde’s instruction passed the Praxis II: Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6. The fourth student pass the Praxis II: Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 5-9. Ms. Edde said these and other students in the Education Academy cluster take three courses that offer some hands-on experience in the classroom. Students have the opportunity to actually go into classrooms with younger students in the Hartselle City School system and “student teach.”

“The Praxis is normally given to students as they exit four year institutions before being licensed to teach,” Hyche explained. “Our Hartselle students have now pass that from courses taken here before every stepping onto the college campus. We know this gives our graduates a competitive advantage in college and hopefully in the future job markets.”

The seven other academies in the Career Academy program at Hartselle High School include the medical academy, the engineering academy, the IT/AV academy, the business/marketing academy, the agriculture academy, the arts and humanities academy and the law academy. Students who participate in the academies are recognized at graduation with special insignias, as well as the state honors they may pick up throughout their high school career.

Hyche said Kaup, Milligan, Sharp and Tiffin’s success is the “perfect example of what the eight career academies at HHS are about.” Edde attributes a portion of the performances by her four former students to the support from other teachers in the school system.

“All of our teachers in Hartselle are wonderfully supportive in offering my student interns an opportunity to work in their classrooms. I could not offer this program without their support.”

Hartselle City Schools Superintendent Dr. Vic Wilson said these are the types of things that let administrators know they’re meeting their goals.

“Our philopophy is that if you’re going to graduate from Hartselle and there is a certification you can gain while in high school, we want to help you gain it.” Wilson explained how the HCS teachers and administrators work hard to make sure their students not only graduate with their high school diploma, but already have some experience and understanding of the field of study they’re interested in with their higher education learning.

“Mr. Hyche set up these academies, and we’ve expanded them now.” Wilson gave the example of the law academy the HHS has now for students. “We’re trying to create a cluster of courses that will help them prepare for when they get into college so they can stay they’ve already dabbled in certain areas. The academies help us prepare students for that.”

Getting Hartselle students on their career path sooner prevents the unnecessarily extended process of trail and error when teens make the transition to college as well. Nineteen year olds have enough indecisive tendencies and impulsive actions without spending thousands of dollars to take classes they may or may not need when their final decision is made on a career they wish to pursue.

“It is important to give students real-life experiences to see if they are interested,” Edde said. “Hartselle City Schools offers some amazing opportunities for our students to do this at all levels.”

The four future teachers from Hartselle High School have moved on, but their accomplishments won’t soon be forgotten. As Hyche points out, passing the Praxis is no tiny task for students the same age who haven’t graduated high school.

“We had four. No one else in the state had a student successfully do this.”

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