April 22, 2022

Student Teaching in Spain Deepens Faith of Teachers and Pupils Alike


Two students had the semester of their dreams teaching elementary school students in Spain.

Danika Mays and Emily Roberts, both studying early elementary education, spent three months living, learning and working at a private Christian school in Spain. The school serves pre-kindergarten through seventh-grade students from Tres Cantos, Madrid.

Mays, of Bradenton, Florida, and Roberts, of Boston, Massachusetts, originally set their sights on Australia, but COVID-19 upended those plans. Spain embraced them with open arms.

“We took that as this is where God wants us to be,” Roberts said.

PBA upperclassmen studying education take part in a Dream Semester, when they can request a student teaching assignment internationally or domestically that aligns with their career aspirations.

In Spain, the PBA seniors rotated through teaching nearly every grade and subject: Bible, math, science and language arts/reading. Most of their students came from Latin America and learn English as they are immersed in the English-language, American curriculum.

PBA’s Education Department equipped them with the teaching strategies they needed, particularly for working with English language learners, said Roberts. Visiting schools every year since they were freshmen — even if only to read to children — added to their comfort in the classroom, said Mays.

PBA also taught them how to incorporate a Christian worldview into education.

“Having that background really helped us integrate it into our lessons,” at the school in Madrid, Mays said. Teachers were expected to integrate a Christian worldview throughout the day, not only in Bible classes, Roberts added.

Their assignments to teach the Bible, lead chapel for students and prepare a devotion for the staff in Spain helped the young women strengthen their own faith, they said. They also benefitted from seeing various classroom management styles.

They embedded themselves in the community and built relationships with the students and their families, Roberts said. One of their students invited them to his soccer game, and the boy’s parents invited them into the family’s home afterward.

Mays and Roberts walked or took public transportation everywhere they went. While they lived in Madrid, they took jaunts to Paris and Barcelona.

“Being a part of that community was something else,” Roberts said. “It was very cool to live like you lived there.”

As time went on, Mays was excited to see her students identify and share prayer requests.

After they graduate, both Mays and Roberts will teach at Northboro Elementary School in West Palm Beach, where 53 percent of the student body is Hispanic and 41 percent is Black. Roberts said her experience in Spain working with a diverse group of students will benefit her in her new role.

Mays had been praying for an opportunity to teach first and second grade before she landed the position as a second grade English and language arts teacher. The wait was an opportunity “to trust Him,” she said.

Photo 1: Danika Mays and Emily Roberts pose for a photo at the private Christian school where they taught in Spain. Their students “signed” dresses for them by drawing pictures.

Photo 2: Emily Roberts and Danika Mays saw the city by scooter when they studied abroad in Madrid, Spain for their Dream Semester of student teaching.

Photo 3: Emily Roberts and Danika Mays went to a soccer game while they studied abroad in Madrid.

Photo 4: Emily Roberts and Danika Mays took a trip to the Eiffel Tower while they were studying abroad in Spain.

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