The after-school scene at Horizon Middle School in Kearney is abuzz with energy: young students finishing homework, their teachers bouncing around to answer questions—and now, an additional group of college students to lighten the load.
"It’s helping my students become better teachers and at the same time giving these middle school students more people to answer their questions."
This troupe of tutors comes courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. They’re students themselves, all enrolled in Professor Amy Nebesniak’s Math 430 course. They have dreams of careers in elementary, middle school, or math education, and these study sessions are part of their own training.
“I noticed that pre-service teachers just didn’t have enough confidence in how to see where a student is struggling, and how to ask the questions to help them,” said Nebesniak, associate mathematics and statistics professor at UNK. Practicum and student teaching trains future educators in lesson planning and leading a classroom. But opportunities like this are strengthening Nebesniak’s students’ skills working with young learners one-on-one. They get to apply techniques learned at UNK in a real-world classroom, and learn to adapt those skills on the fly to better connect with students.
Not only does this collaboration benefit the UNK students, but it makes life easier for the Horizon Middle School teachers, too. Kids can’t learn without asking questions, and if there aren’t enough helpers to answer those questions, learning stalls. By adding a few helpful hands to the classroom, more of the students’ questions get answered.
By connecting UNK with its wider community, Nebesniak and her Math 430 class aren’t only investing their time in education—they’re ensuring a brighter future for students, and for the state’s next generation of educators.
Pictured in the header photo from left to right: UNK student Courtney Harwager, Amy Nebesniak, and UNK student Kaylea Watson.