St. John’s Lutheran School in Norwood Young America welcomed a new practice teacher this year to help further her in her dream. Kiah Bakken, the new teacher, not only loves Carver County, but grew up going to local schools like St. John’s, and hopes to continue to work at similar facilities.

“I was blessed that St. John’s wanted to take me,” said Bakken. “I’ll be graduating and finishing up in May, and hopefully finding a job after that.”

Bakken grew up in Mayer, attending Waconia’s Trinity Lutheran School until she was old enough for Mayer Lutheran High School. From a young age, she knew she wanted to teach, specifically at schools like the ones she grew up in. She’s been attending Concordia in Wisconsin to receive her early education degree as a well as second major in special education.

Normally, students in the education program would be getting their practice close to campus. Thanks to COVID, though, Bakken and the other students were encouraged to find an opportunity close to home, since that’s exactly where she was. This brought her to St. John’s, who were happy to help her.

Since she attended smaller private schools for her education, Bakken’s personal dream is to work at a school just like them, especially with her second major in special ed.

“Personally my dream is to start my own special ed program, especially a Lutheran school, since that’s so under serviced,” she said.

She followed up stating that she’d be happy anywhere, but would really love to achieve that particular goal. It’s what attracted her to St. John’s in the first place, as well as her own personal experience in Lutheran private schools.

“They’re just a very welcoming community, and already treat me like one of their own,” she said.

What’s more impressive is, at time of writing, Bakken has been a practice teacher for about two weeks, which really made her feel more supported by the staff. And already, she’s having a fantastic time with her first graders. Putting together lesson plans, answering questions, and assisting is a lot of work, but for Bakken, it doesn’t feel like it.

“I love kids, so I love interacting with them, so it doesn’t feel like a chore at all,” she said. “I love what I do, so it never feels overwhelming to me.”

While Bakken has been able to teach in person, her professors have also helped prepare students for practice teaching remotely just in case. They’ve been given plenty of resources and assistance to help them through their practice, which Bakken noted was a blessing.

Bakken is set to graduate at the beginning of May, though that won’t be the end of her practice teaching. She will continue to teach until the semester is over for St. John’s before beginning her search to start her career. Until then, she’s very happy to be at St. John’s, and can’t wait to teach more.

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