Walking into Richard King’s Office on St. Joseph’s Hall ground floor, King greeted me with a smile and invited me to sit down. His office was once Mary Monsour’s, an associate professor in the education department, and is another new aspect that he is enjoying about his new position within the education faculty.
“It’s going very well, now with the student teachers coming up to the point that they’re at the middle of the semester, many of them are switching into new placements,” said Richard King, the new interim director of Field Experiences and Student Teaching at Seton Hill University.
“And we also are getting reports from supervisors. They have been sending me the grades and comments about how the student teachers are doing up to this point.”
In addition to setting up student teaching experiences and assigning grades, King leads the student teaching orientation, observes schools for possible future placements and takes in comments and concerns expressed by student teaching supervisors. His goal is to make the student teaching program as practical and best for preparation as he can.
“I’m meeting with [the supervisors] to try to get some knowledge of what exactly is happening out there because the landscape of public education is always changing,” King said.
He also runs the student teaching seminar. “About every other week or so during those sessions we try to discuss different issues that are of concern for not just student teachers but first year teachers,” said King.
During these sessions, King brings in some of his many teaching connections to share their experiences with the student teachers. They share [information about] things that they may not necessarily think about going into a school or teaching position. All the other elements of being a teacher (such as tasks done while staying at school after the final bell, staying up into the late hours to get work done, and after cancelling vacations) that you don’t normally see by being a student come through the field experiences and the discussions he conducts with his students.
Before being asked to take over for the spring semester as director, King was working as an adjunct professor for the education department.
“I contacted Dr. Quinlan when I was getting ready to retire and indicated I was interested in going into higher ed. and that I would like to serve as an adjunct,” King said. “I started teaching Classroom Management and they started adding courses.”
Before that, King served as a special education teacher and principal at various Western Pennsylvania schools where he faced challenges that he said prepared him for filling the role of director.
“In spite of all those challenges,” said King, “I saw that success could take place, and I felt that was a story that should be heard.”
He’s brought his story and experiences to his students, giving them the best instruction he can as an educator. Along with making sure his student teachers are prepared to enter the workforce, he is also supervising a new pre-student teaching program. This will have pre-student teachers doing field experiences in the classrooms where they may even be student teaching. Right now, it’s a pilot program being conducted with Hempfield Area School District.
Throughout this entire semester, King said that serving as director has been a good experience.
“I’ve learned a lot, but there’s still a lot to learn.”