Tamara Bila stepped into the classroom at Hemingford the first week of January 2021 to begin her student teaching experience.
“Part of the teaching program at colleges is the student teaching component,” Hemingford Superintendent of Schools Charles Isom said. “College students list three or four schools to student teach at. This year, some schools limited that access. We were willing to invite them in and fortunately had teachers willing to take on that experience.”
Bila is one of two CSC seniors student teaching this semester at Hemingford Public School.
“I value our education system,” Bila said. “I believe in shaping the future generation, helping them build their character.”
Bila was at the school for two days before taking the lead in the 10-12th grade English class.
“I subbed on my third day,” she said. Bila is working and learning from Hemingford English teacher Bridget Raben who has been at the school for eight years. “She is an excellent teacher.”
Student teaching is a requirement for those in the education program at Chadron State College. The eight- or 16-week program allows the future teacher to get hands-on experience.
“I create all my own materials and lesson plans,” Bila said.
Raben watches, takes notes and offers instructions for her as Bila leads the class.
“The students (at Hemingford) have responded much better than I ever expected,” Bila said. “I think they are a really good group.”
The group of students she is working with number about 70 students in grades 10-12.
“They (the students) all have a good rapport with each other. They are close friends which makes classroom management much easier for me,” she said.
“Teachers are getting harder and harder to find,” Isom said. "We need to continue to help college students get the real experience of being in a classroom. We hope that if we are looking for that position, that the experience was one that they are excited to join our team.”
Hemingford high school is much smaller than the Golden, Colorado, high school Bila graduated from in 2013. Her high school wasn’t good, but it didn’t deter her from following her dream of becoming a teacher.
“Chadron State College has a really exceptional education program,” she said. The reputation of the school drew her from Colorado to northwestern Nebraska. After touring the campus and checking out the town of Chadron, “I thought it was a good fit.”
While attending CSC, she meet her future husband, Conner Bila, and the two married a two and a half years ago and bought a house in Alliance. Conner is a nurse, but is planning on going back to school to become a high school history teacher.
Connor’s grandfather and mother both taught at Hemingford School, Bila said. His family lived in Hemingford “so that’s how I got interested in teaching here.”
Presently, the Hemingford senior English class is doing creative writing, she said.
“There are some farmers’ sons who are excellent in poetry.”
“The two individuals (Bila and Jacob Norris) that are in our building have proven that they will be successful as educators,” Isom said. “We hope that they enjoy their time here and that if we are looking, we can hire them or get them to apply later in their career.”
“I love it (at Hemingford),” Bila said.