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From Student to Teacher: The Impact of Education Village at Winona State University 

Currently in her third year of teaching first grade at Cotter Schools, Jessica Houghton can clearly see the influence Winona State University’s Education Village had on her teaching career. 

The state-of-the-art mini-campus for the College of Education was finished in 2019 and included renovations to Helble Hall, Wabasha Recreation Center, and Cathedral Elementary School to create modernized classrooms and innovative spaces. Education Village is celebrating its five-year anniversary this April with an open house and community activities. 

Houghton was in her senior year when Education Village opened. She got to see first-hand the impact it had on her schooling, peers, and learning environment. 

In the new environment, Houghton noticed a newfound, strong sense of community between education majors. 

“It felt like one building that held one big team with the same passion and the same goals,” Houghton explained. “If I had a question about something or needed guidance on a project, assignment, or lesson plan, I didn’t have to look far.” 

Houghton said the modernized classrooms and courses at Education Village shaped her teaching philosophy by giving her the tools, structure, and tactics for managing any classroom. 

“We had multiple classes that really sparked my interest in thinking of ways to meet the diverse needs of all the students in the classrooms,” Houghton said. 

She felt encouraged by her professors to think deeply about teaching and focus on how to accommodate the learning styles and nature of each student. 

“I appreciated the opportunity to make lessons on my own and to be able to use my own creativity to best support the students I was working with,” she said. 

In addition to her classes, Houghton added more tools to her belt through hands-on teaching experience at the WSU Children’s Center — which is an early childhood education daycare facility for infants, toddlers, and pre-school age children within Education Village. Education students have the opportunity to work with children to gain practicum hours and hands-on experience. 

As part of her leadership role in the toddler room, Houghton led circle time, small group activities, and playtime, as well as offered assistance whenever she could. 

“I tell everyone, everywhere I go, that I learned almost all of my classroom management skills from my time working at the Children’s Center,” said Houghton. 

Her experience also taught her how to guide young students through challenging situations and help them work through strong emotions. 

“There are many breathing and calming activities as well as verbiage I use in my classroom today that come from the conscious discipline approach I learned from the lead teachers at the center,” Houghton said. 

Now, the experience has come full circle with Houghton utilizing the Children’s Center for her son, Archer, who loves the hands-on activities and outdoor adventures at the center. 

She trusts that his teachers, friends, and invigorating daily activities will nurture a lifelong passion for learning in her son. 

“Having worked alongside the lead teachers at the Children’s Center, I knew it would be a great fit for him,” Houghton said. “I am forever thankful for the Children’s Center being such a huge and important part of Archer’s life.” 

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