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Impactful field experiences

Posted 8 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023

UWL senior Martha Moran helps a student at Meadowview Middle School in Sparta. Meadowview, a longtime supporter of UWL student teachers, agreed to become the university's new professional development site after the recent closure of Lincoln Middle School in La Crosse.

Sparta middle school making a difference as new professional development site

In her journey to become a teacher, Martha Moran has gained more from standing at the front of the classroom than she has sitting in the middle of it. 

“Teaching in the classroom is where I have learned most about education,” says Moran, a UW-La Crosse senior with a double major in elementary/middle school education and special education. During the fall 2023 semester, Moran has been teaching at UWL’s new professional development site at Meadowview Middle School in Sparta — an experience she describes as highly impactful. 

“I have acquired the skills to plan and execute lesson plans, monitor comprehension and assessment of curriculum, and manage classroom behavior,” she says. “More than that, though, I have established ways to invest in the student’s success, and the learner as a whole. I have also attained skills to be flexible and adaptable as a teacher. I have learned the importance of a strong community and holding students to a high standard.” 

Meadowview, a longtime supporter of UWL student teachers, agreed to host students for their second field experience after one of the university’s previous professional development sites, Lincoln Middle School in La Crosse, was closed. UWL also has profesional development agreements with Logan and Longfellow middle schools in La Crosse.

Meadowview teacher Nathan Pollnow says he has been impressed by Moran and other UWL teacher candidates through the years. “The teacher candidates have done a wonderful job of jumping into the classroom and helping out,” says Pollnow, a 2014 UWL alum.

Highlights from Moran’s time at Meadowview include a field trip to the Genoa National Fish Hatchery, where she “witnessed students take their thinking beyond the classroom through experiential learning and getting involved in the community.” 

She was able to hit the ground running, she says, in large part thanks to her previous field experiences at Eagle Bluff Elementary School in Onalaska and Lincoln Middle School in La Crosse. 

Moran’s cooperating teacher at Meadowview, Nathan Pollnow, has been another valuable resource, guiding her along while also giving her room to grow on her own. 

“Mr. Pollnow is very involved in the Sparta community and esteemed by his colleagues,” Moran says. “He has great relationships with his students because he cares deeply for the success of all learners. His willingness to teach me, as his field student, is no exception. Mr. Pollnow is welcoming and inclusive to all that enter his classroom. He trusts me as a student teacher and allows me a leadership role in the classroom.” 

Pollnow, a 2014 UWL School of Education graduate, says he’s been deeply impressed by Moran and the other UWL teaching candidates placed at Meadowview. 

“The teacher candidates have done a wonderful job of jumping into the classroom and helping out,” he says. “I have seen some of the lessons they have created and have heard about great things happening in other classrooms as well. The positive energy and excitement that they bring with them each day is contagious and really helps the school environment. They have also done things beyond their requirements, such as putting in extra hours by helping on field trips and joining us for parent-teacher conferences.” 

After graduating, Moran hopes to teach sixth grade in the La Crosse area — a place she has “fallen in love with.” Moran will spend spring 2024, her final semester at UWL, student teaching at Meadowview. She'll be in Pollnow's room once again, and will also assist in special education for the fifth grade. 

For Pollnow, who completed two placements at Meadowview when he was in college, working with the teacher candidates has brought his career and education full circle. 

“I have had the opportunity to work with many teacher candidates, both field experience and student teachers over the years, and it has largely been a positive experience,” he says. “The partnership with UWL enables us to bring even more teacher candidates into our school. They bring a lot of energy and different ideas to the classroom, and the students greatly benefit from having another adult to help them out. The students always form a strong bond with the teacher candidates, and you can tell that the students look up to and respect them.” 


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