NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Through a new pilot program, Stephen F. Austin State University is going back to its roots as a teachers college in an effort to deepen students’ teacher preparation experiences.
The community responsiveness and engaged advocacy in teacher education or C.R.E.A.T.E. program is designed to provide a meaningful connection among SFA students who are teacher candidates, the community, school districts, and students and their families.
SFA students will have the opportunity to participate in community-based mentorships, critical conversations and service-learning work in order to learn how to be more culturally responsive within the racially, culturally and linguistically diverse school settings.
From the James I. Perkins College of Education, Associate Professors Drs. Lauren Burrow in the Department of Elementary Education and Heather Olson Beal in the Department of Secondary Education and Educational Leadership are leading this endeavor. Olson Beal and Burrow will co-teach the program and said many course meetings will take place in the community with community members.
“We will be trying out a variety of new experiences, community partnerships, and curriculum based on extensive research and professional development,” Burrow said. “We look forward to working with our pilot group to refine and develop the program’s experiences to match both community and teacher candidate needs.”
This program is designed to complement and extend existing SFA teacher preparation experiences. C.R.E.A.T.E. experiences include urban-based field trips, small sessions with guest speakers, access to professional development and résumé-building opportunities.
To connect teacher candidates to their students’ lives outside of school, SFA students will partner with family mentors from the Nacogdoches Independent School District.
“We are most excited about developing more authentic relationships with local families of school-aged children,” Olson Beal said. “We feel this connection is an essential component of teacher success that many teacher candidates do not usually get access to before they begin their teaching careers.”
C.R.E.A.T.E. brings early childhood through sixth grade and secondary education teacher candidates together in one course and offers a complete early childhood through 12th grade education knowledge base.
Students interested in C.R.E.A.T.E. should minor or major in early childhood through sixth grade or secondary education or be a certification-seeking student. Also, students need to be admitted into SFA’s educator preparation program and be committed to completing all field-based experiences and student teaching within Nacogdoches ISD.