Intro To Education is Belleville West’s Newest Endeavor


Parks Moser, News Writer

Belleville West’s newest vocational class, Intro To Education, started by DEI Director Dr. Marshaun Warren, and taught by East Spanish teacher Derek O’Chiu, was introduced this year, replacing Human Growth and Development introduced the year prior. 

Whereas the Human Growth and Development class was more so about the psychology of children and how they grow up, the Intro To Education class teaches students the ups and downs of teaching, lesson planning and resumes, and the different types of learning students have. Human Growth and Development is a foundation class, and Intro To Education is an aptitude class. 

“You’ll have a pretty good idea on what you want to do once this class is over”, Intro to Education Teacher Mr. Derek O’Chiu said. “I plan to visit many schools of education such as SLU and SIUC and we have many guest speakers in line like a school psychologist, an individualized education teacher, and a scholarship sponsor.” 

However, those are merely the short-term plans. The district has many more plans for the long-term.

“For all the students in this class to say what their philosophy of teaching is,” Mr. O’Chiu said.  “How and what their style of teaching is. And way further in the future, I’d love for a student that went through this program to come back and teach it themselves.”

Dr. Warren, the official in charge of starting the Grow Your Own program, has high hopes for the program as well. 

“Short term, we would like to recruit more students this year to add a second course to the program. Long term, it is our hope that District 201 never realizes the struggle of the nation’s teacher shortage as we have cultivated large numbers of diverse teachers who began their pre-service journey in our high schools and understand the value of returning to their home community to teach and support the growth of the Belleville Area,” said Dr. Warren. “There are students in the program who are dead set on being a teacher, then others that want to test the waters, like senior Emma Curtis. I honestly still don’t know for sure, but this class is definitely opening my eyes to both the positive sides to teaching, and the negative sides.”

That’s exactly what Intro To Education has done: shed light on the negative and the positive aspects throughout the course thus far. The course is very discussion based, with the usual lecture and notes, of course. But it is a very different atmosphere.

Brad Fairman, Junior said “It doesn’t feel as stressful as other classes, [it’s] a relief. We all vote on what we want to do. We are never bored or learn something that we don’t want to.”

Senior Jasper Kurkey adds on to that, citing that he also loves the laid back dynamic in the class. “We all go with the flow, not everyone has circle time in their class! It’s a more relaxed environment.”

This environment is exactly what Mr. O’Chiu was hoping for when teaching. Even in his Spanish classes at East, he strives for something exciting, but still laid back. “I never want my class to be out of control, but I also never want to hear crickets.” O’Chiu said.

And it definitely feels like he cares, and listens to his students’ input. 

“Teaching this class, the students inspire me to want to be a better teacher. Last year, when lesson planning for Human Growth and Development I had an epiphany of sorts, that this is definitely my life’s purpose. It just feels right.”