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proud alum AND talented teacher

| Libby Thurston

Will Schaller is a sixth grade teacher in Houston, Texas and for him, it’s hard to quantify what UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education’s Summer Institute has meant to him. At the age of 23, he has already been involved with the program for 15 years – since he attended himself while in elementary school.

Summer Institute provided Will the opportunity to learn what he wanted and to choose from many creative activities. “As a child, there wasn’t a single Summer Institute session I missed. I believe this was because we had the power to choose. With children, choice is so important and Summer Institute was the first time in my life I could choose what I wanted to learn about!”

While a student at Chippewa Falls High School and then UW-Eau Claire, Will went on to work in Summer Institute as a teaching assistant. The experience helped him solidify his own plans to become a teacher. “I learned a lot as a teaching assistant in Summer Institute. Seeing the kids in the classroom, watching their faces light up – that’s when I realized, this is what I want to do.”
Will’s enthusiasm for teaching and learning is infectious and there is no doubt that he is a favorite among the kids. Now in his second year of teaching in Texas, Will attributes much of his teaching philosophy to things he learned and observed in Summer Institute and as he pursued his Education degree at UW-Eau Claire.

The result? Will’s experience through Summer Institute guided him in seeking a degree in Education and has led him to be a confident teacher. “There’s a quote that says ‘children see magic because they look for it.’ In Summer Institute, it’s all pure imagination. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to take a photo or decorate a cake. The wide variety exposes kids to so much, pulls out their strengths, and channels creative energy, mixing it with the academics. Instead of saying, ‘that’s not the right answer’ I’ve learned to say ‘I like the way you’re thinking’ and let their imagination run wild. That’s how I love to teach.”