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ASCC and Pava'ia'i school collaborate

The 59th Commencement Ceremony this Friday at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will see Bachelors in Education (B.Ed.) awarded to two students in the Teacher Education Department (TED) who have spent 16 weeks of this semester conducting their student teaching or “field practicum” at Pavai’a’i Elementary School.


Under the joint guidance of TED Director Dr. Lina Galea’i-Scanlan and Pavai’a’i Principal Ms. Tasha Atio’o, ASCC students Ms. Shontel Poloai and Ms. Tonya Tuigamala have gained extensive field experience through their work with 4th and 5th graders respectively at Pavai’a’i.  


Under the TED B.Ed. program, students in the culminating classes ED 490 and ED 491 build up their classroom experience in stages, beginning with observation and team teaching as they work their way to solo teaching and lesson planning. Along with competencies in pedagogy, technology, student diversity, meaningful learning experiences, assessment, professional development, and school and community relationships, a unique requirement of the TED B.Ed. program is a competency in using the Samoan language, history and culture as a responsive teaching foundation to enhance learning. 


The practicum portion of the TED students’ field training culminates with their creating a Thematic Unit Plan, where they organize students to participate around a project centered on a particular theme.


For Tonya Tuigamala, this provided an opportunity to showcase Samoan culture and history when she had her students create a “Hall of Fame” dedicated to individuals of Samoan ancestry in the fields of sports, entertainment and literature. With staff from the ASCC TED and the Pavai’a’i administration observing, individual students in Tuigamala’s class gave short presentations on figures such as athlete/actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, New Zealand-based singer Aaradhna, and author Lani Wendt Young.


Shontel Poloai chose to incorporate contemporary Samoan culture into her fourth-grade curriculum by inviting prominent figures from the community such as House Representative Vui Florence Saulo, who spoke to the youngsters of the importance of staying true to their dreams and goals.


Both Tuigamala and Poloai expressed how their experiences at Pavai’a’i will help them be ready to meet the unique needs of American Samoan students.


“Student teaching has been by far the most exciting part of my life,” reflected Tuigamala. “It has prepared me not only to become a teacher, but also for the bigger world I have yet to experience. The passion for teaching burns within me as I continue to share what I know with students. I can honestly say that I found myself while in the midst of mini-strangers, which is what I called my students. Student teaching has made it easy for me to deal with different circumstances. I encountered the oddest circumstances, and most times they seemed to make my day. Now I’m ready to write and implement lessons in and outside of the classroom, and I’m cognizant of what methods and pedagogies are effective and which to eliminate.”


Poloai said her time with the elementary students reinforced the connection between careful planning and successful results. “The most important thing I’ve learned from my experiences at Pava’ia’i is that when you plan a lesson, you’re not only planning to get the content across, but also planning ways to increase the learning abilities, principled attitudes, and appropriate behaviors that should be part of a learning environment,” she explained.


“After taking courses where I studied different teaching pedagogies and ways to deal with students, I was finally able to implement and put into action the writings I had done in reflective analysis papers, lesson plans, and research papers. When it comes to managing these students’ learning routines, everything has to be explicitly planned. Planning is the guideline not only for the teacher, but for the students as well.”


TED Director Dr. Lina Galea’i-Scanlan had high praise for the efforts of her students as they made the transition from classroom theory to practical experience, and for the role Pavai’a’i Elementary School has played in making this possible. “The collaboration with Pavai’a’i Elementary is very important to our TED Program,” said Dr. Galea’i-Scanlan. “As our partner school for our practicums and our Student Teaching Fieldwork, we strive to maintain open communication with the school in order to ensure that we provide the best learning environment for our students. We hope to remain in strong collaboration with Pavai’a’i, its administrators, teachers and external stakeholders.”


For more information on the ASCC Teacher Education Program, call 699-9155, ext. 431.