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Penchant for teaching soldiers takes man to the classroom through PREP program at NSU
Feb 13, 2014 | 280 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After serving as a military trainer/instructor during six of his 22 years in the U.S. Army and Louisiana National Guard, Rodney Meziere felt he could make a difference in his community by becoming a teacher.

“I enjoyed teaching soldiers. I wanted to give back to my community and teach in the area where I grew up,” he said. He found a position at Cloutierville Elementary/Jr. high near his home and quickly learned that educating middle schoolers is far different from his experience as a military instructor.

“My teaching methods were mostly lecture with limited group interaction. My first year was a disaster and the scores of my students on LEAP and ILEAP were less than desirable,” he said. “I knew if I intended to give the teaching profession some serious consideration, I was going to need help.”

Meziere enrolled in Northwestern State University’s Practitioner Teacher Program (PREP), an alternative certification pathway for individuals who want to become certified to teach. PREP is an intensive 8-week summer program followed by internship and seminar teaching for the following fall and spring semesters in an approved school. Completion leads to a Louisiana teaching license in elementary grades 1-5, middle grades 4-8 or secondary grades 6-12.

“NSU has a long history of producing quality teachers and, besides being close to my home, I knew that it was the right place for me to learn how to become an effective teacher,” Meziere said.    

To enroll in PREP, participants must hold a degree from a regionally accredited institution. PREP completers do not earn a degree but completers can apply 12 hours of coursework towards a graduate degree in education.

After his military discharge, Meziere earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and an associate degree in business administration at NSU in 2008 and completed a master’s degree in heritage resources at NSU in 2010. During the time he was earning his graduate degree, job opportunities in his chosen field withered in the wake of federal cutbacks. He worked for several federal agencies, but “was dissatisfied with office jobs. I wanted to try something different.”

The opportunity to teach at Cloutierville arose in 2012.

“After the challenging summer course, in which I learned a lot about classroom management, instructional methods and other professional attributes such as the qualities and traits of teaching, I felt ready for my second year of teaching,” Meziere said.  “NSU PREP worked.  I implemented what I learned in PREP and am having a very successful year.  Classroom management, teaching, Kagan strategies and other techniques I learned fell into place.” 

Meziere was recently voted Junior High Teacher of the Year at Cloutierville Elementary/Jr. High.

“Everyone involved in the PREP program has been wonderful — instructors, staff and everyone involved,” Meziere said. “I cannot express enough how supportive the program staff has been.  When a PREP student needs anything — help, assistance, advice — the PREP staff will help in a timely manner.  Without NSU PREP, I am most certain that I would not have continued my endeavor to become a teacher.”

Meziere not only recommends NSU PREP to those interested in making a career change, but also as a refresher to veteran teachers.

“Teaching changes continuously and better methods are evolving. NSU maintains current methods of pedagogy and stays abreast with these current changes,” he said.

Beginning this summer PREP will be offered online for students throughout Louisiana. The deadline to apply is April 15. For more information on PREP and other alternate certificate pathways, admission requirements and scholarships, visit dtl.nsula.edu/welcome-2. To speak with an advisor, contact Ramona Wynder, Transition to Teaching Facilitator, at (318) 357-4058 or wynderr@nsula.edu.
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