Teacher Appreciation Day: UW-La Crosse education professor preparing future teachers

UW-La Crosse education mentor Lisa Pitot keeping teaching passion burning for future teachers
Training Teachers

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The Wisconsin Department of education notes 40 percent of teachers leave the profession in their first five years. However, a professor at UW-La Crosse is keeping future teachers’ passion for education burning.

“I think that’s what this COVID pandemic has taught me is be flexible,” Dayna Trimborn said, a student teacher who is graduating soon from UW-La Crosse. 

Have you thanked a teacher lately?

“They’re the ones doing the work,” Mandi Hunt said about her students. “We’re just here to guide them and support them.”

Teachers won’t ask for attention but after the year they taught, they’ve earned some extra credit. Assistant Professor Lisa Pitot taught for 28 years. Now she teaches the next wave of teachers at UW-La Crosse.

“These are students who are getting a degree in grades one through eight,” Pitot said.

Trimborn is one of her students.

“She was the person I would text if I had concerns, or if I needed help setting up a lesson, any advice,” Trimborn said.

Trimborn student teaches in Hundt’s class at Lincoln Middle School. A massive help in Hundt’s eyes after COVID changed every piece of her classroom.

“I don’t know what I would do without having a teaching partner,” Hundt said.

The pandemic left a scar. WPI points out one in every five teachers were not planning to return to teaching last fall because of COVID-19. That’s not turning Karlee Kirking away from her passion.

“It’s not the end of the world for education,” Kirking said.

She said people like Pitot light the way even when a camera lens is a path to the classroom.

“There’s a saying we have in education. It’s called building the plane while we’re flying it,” Pitot said.

The pandemic left plenty in place of what it took away.

“Ten-fold there’s more skills that they’ve learned because of COVID,” Pitot said.

Unpredictable lessons equipping future teachers with tools no textbook provides.

“We never know what the future holds for us,” Kirking said.

Pitot understands her role in the future of education in the region.

“It’s an essential piece of the wheel,” she said.

Pitot builds that foundation, a foundation of support.

“After every class, she checks in on us,” Kirking said.

So, Dayna and Karlee can build one for children in their own classrooms.

“And then they start doing it and you’re like, ‘Yay they’re doing it,’” Pitot said.

Once Pitot’s students complete their student teaching period they get to apply for jobs. She said seeing her students’ faces when they land their first job, is one of the best moments for her.