Program Offers Internships Worldwide

For nearly a decade, Truman has given Master of Arts in Education students the chance to fulfill their internship requirements at one of several locations throughout the world.
A partnership with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) allows MAE students to complete their internships by teaching children of service men and women on military bases.

DoDEA operates a worldwide school system known as the Department of Defense Dependents School, or DoDDS. In addition to stateside schools, DoDDS operates schools in Spain, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Turkey, Korea, Guam, Cuba and Japan.

Truman students who intern with DoDDS are afforded a unique study abroad opportunity.

“Interns are still able to work with American children in a classroom setting very similar to what they would find in the states,” said Laura E. Nickelson, director of field experiences for the Truman Department of Education. “Additionally, they are exposed to dealing and working with interesting dynamics and challenges of deployment, governmental accountability, politics and a variety of other social and cultural issues.”

Andrew Dager (’06) interned at Sembach, Germany, a small annex of Ramstein Air Base.

“It was certainly a change in environment, but I really enjoyed living on base,” he said.

At Sembach, Dager lived within walking distance of the base commissary, restaurants, the library, a gym and the middle school where he did his internship. He also credits the men and women in the military with making the transition easy for him.

“The people on base were exceptional to newcomers. Being in the military, they really seem to understand how it feels to travel so far from family and friends,” he said.

During the week, Dager’s experience was like any other MAE intern. He was responsible for teaching courses, processing paperwork, communicating with parents of students and planning for upcoming classes. On the weekends, however, he was able to take a train to various locations throughout Europe such as Paris and other bases hosting DoDDS interns.

Regardless of where MAE students do their DoDDS internships, they remain in contact with Truman faculty.

“Students participating in this internship are still provided with intensive faculty support from the University in many avenues, including site supervision throughout the experience in order to monitor their progress and growth as an educator,” Nickelson said.

During the semester-long internship, students receive a minimum of three site visits from Truman faculty members. That commitment to education has earned the University a reputation and is one reason why several schools in the DoDDS program will accept only Truman interns.

In addition to receiving Truman support, interns also make connections with teachers already on base. Dager credits his host teacher and school principal for making the experience especially rewarding.

“Not only did my host teacher ensure I had everything needed to succeed, she made sure I got the opportunity to learn all of the skills I would need to be a first-year teacher,” Dager said.

In fact, Dager is still in contact with his host teacher and principal and recently accepted a full-time position with the DoDEA. He is again teaching in Germany, this time in the Kaiserslautern District.

“The faculty, administration, facilities and professional support of the DoDEA are all top-notch,” he said. “The experience of being a teacher just like you would in the states, but living in the middle of a foreign country, was just too exceptional to turn down.”

The DoDDS internship was implemented at Truman about 10 years ago by Sam Minner, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Education, and Jeff Gall, MAE social science faculty member. Since the first group of three students completed their DoDDS internship in Fall 2001, Truman has seen 98 students participate, with placements in locations including Italy, Japan and Germany. Internships are offered both in the fall and spring semesters, and Truman usually sends 8-12 students to the DoDDS program in an academic year.

While there is not a cap on the number of students who are accepted for DoDDS internships, there is a formal application, interview and preparation process before a student can be accepted into the program. Students do not need to know a foreign language to apply.

The application process occurs approximately a year in advance of the actual internship experience. Applications for Fall 2011 are due Jan. 15. Students interested in interning in Spring 2012 should have applications turned in by April 15. Applications can be picked up in Violette Hall 2316.

DoDDS informational meetings take place each semester. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Nickelson at or 785.4399, or by visiting the Field Experience Office located in Violette Hall 2310.

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