Student Profiles - Johnny Guignet

Student Profile for Johnny Guignet

Johnny Guignet

Class: December 2014
Dual Major: Early Childhood and Special Education with a minor in Theatre

What are you teaching in Africa?
I am teaching first grade at Wynberg Boys’ Junior School.  It is a public primary school for boys from Kindergarten to seventh grade.  If you follow this link you can learn more about the school itself. 

How long are you student teaching?
I have been student teaching since the start of the 2014 fall semester.  I completed the first half of my student teaching placement in a supplemental learning support classroom at Annville Elementary School.  This was my special education placement and consisted of eight full weeks in the classroom. The second half of my placement, which is for general education, is in a first grade classroom at Wynberg Boys’ Junior School. Ihave been here since Oct. 20, 2014 and will depart on Dec.10, 2014.  

Why did you want to student teach in Africa?
Life is about trying new things and going on new adventures.  My goal is not to fit in, but to stand out.  Every teacher is different when it comes to the goals they wish to meet.  As an educator, I want younger learners across the world to create my goal for me.  Although I will teach my students a great amount of knowledge, I expect to learn more from my students than they will learn from me. Teaching abroad allows me to view education from a different standpoint.  I am eager to see how the education system, students and school environment is compared to that of the United States.  Another reason why I decided to student teach in Cape Town, South Africa was because it was set up through VAC (Volunteer Adventure Corps).  VAC was able to provide me with a student teaching placement, housing and fun-filled activities throughout my stay in South Africa.  I felt very safe entering this journey through a well-trusted and extremely reliable program.  

How has your experience been so far?
My experience here in South Africa has been indescribable.  There is not a single moment in the day when I am bored or looking for something to do to entertain myself.  The beautiful country of South Africa has so much to offer. I am constantly on my feet and eager to try something new each day.  The community is very friendly, which makes me feel extremely comfortable as a visitor.  My experience at the Wynberg Boys’ Junior School has been phenomenal.  The entire faculty and staff at the school are very welcoming and approachable.  They are more than happy to answer my questions to help me grow as a teacher.  My cooperating teacher is incredible.  She allows me to use my creativity and love for the arts, which enables me to express myself and reach my full potential when teaching the class. 

Would you recommend this experience to any one else?
If you are willing to travel 10,000 miles away from home, then yes.  I am coming up on my fifth week here and I don’t have any complaints.  This experience has been life changing.  I am extremely fortunate to have such amazing family, friends, and support system that accept and encourage what I am doing here in South Africa.  At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for you.  If you want to be adventurous, travel the world, learn more about another country and most importantly about yourself, then do it.  While waiting in line to jump off the world’s largest bungy jump, I came across this quote.  “Fear is temporary, regret is permanent.”  You are never going to find out if something is for you, unless you test the waters and try it out yourself!    

What have you learned so far from this experience?
I have learned so much from this experience.  Besides college, this has been the longest time away from my family.  I traveled across the country prior to coming to South Africa, but this is the first time traveling outside of America independently.  I would say that entering a new country completely on my own has definitely taught me a lot about myself.  I am learning who I am as a person, teacher and visitor to another country.  I can be riding on the train, interacting with members of the South African society, or observing/teaching at school and manage to finish my day with a handful of knowledge that I didn’t have prior to the start of my day.  Life is a learning experience itself.  Living life in and through the eyes of another country is an experience that is never ending, unforgettable, and always leaving you with more and more questions.  I am anxious to see what the next three weeks have in store for me.

How are you able to student teach in Africa without having your professor observe you?
It is quite simple actually.  Each student teacher is assigned a supervisor for their specific student teaching placement.  For instance, I was provided a supervisor for my special education placement that advised and observed me throughout my first eight weeks of student teaching.  Due to the fact that I am in another country it wasn’t possible for Millersville to send a supervisor to South Africa, although I had a few professors who were very willing!  My supervisor is the assistant head master (assistant principal) of the school.  At the end of my placement, my cooperating teacher and supervisor will complete the same evaluation forms that all student teachers are required to have filled out and submitted after the completion of each student teaching placement. 

Is this opportunity open to other students?
Yes.  If you are interested in student teaching abroad I would highly recommend meeting with the Office of Global Education and Partnerships at least a year prior to student teaching.  The office is located inside the Cumberland House.  I was provided with a list of places I could teach in the world.  The list shows you available student teaching placements according to your major.  For instance, I was able to apply to student teach at any of the primary schools that were offered on the list. 

What are your plans after graduation?
I’m going to Disney World!  Ever since I was a young boy I dreamed about working for the big mouse himself.  I applied to work at Walt Disney World and was accepted to work at the Attractions.  I am thrilled for this opportunity and am very fortunate to be pursing one of my life long dreams.  After the completion of my work at Walt Disney World in May, I plan on applying for international teaching positions.  This experience has taught me that teaching abroad is what I am meant to do and I am not stopping now.

What is your favorite subject to teach?
It is difficult for me to choose a favorite subject.  It honestly all depends on the material that is being taught to the students.  I always try to go off of my students’ interests as well as creating engaging activities or songs to make learning fun for them. 

Anything else that you think would be important to know about your student teaching experience.
It is an opportunity of a lifetime.  If you are able to, seize the opportunity and student teach abroad!   Please feel free to contact me at for information pertaining to student teaching abroad or traveling abroad in general. I have also created a blog for my time student teaching abroad in Cape Town.  On my blog you will be able to stay up to date with my adventures in first grade and throughout the stunning country of South Africa.  Click here to view my blog.  Enjoy!