Understanding where your students come from
Students in the Department of Education Studies don’t just spend time in the classroom. They understand that being successful educators means being actively engaged in the communities where they teach. Our future educators are constantly giving back to the Nacogdoches community through diverse and inclusive university programming.
Check out some of the amazing community outreach programs you can get involved in during your time as an education studies student!
Barrio Writers is a summer writing workshop for youth ages 13-21 who come from underserved communities. The SFA/Nacogdoches Barrio Writers chapter was founded in 2015 by Education Studies professor Dr. Heather K. Olson Beal. The group focuses on reading the works of authors and scholars of color, and on creative writing as a tool youth can use to advocate for changes they want to see in their communities.
From 2008 to 2018, the students’ creative writing was published in an annual anthology that is sometimes used as a text in Perkins College of Education teacher education courses. In April 2020, the chapter published an online journal on the SFA ScholarWorks site.
In fall 2020, Perkins College of Education students began creating activities for writing prompts to accompany each participant’s creative writing piece.
To help develop these young writers, email email@example.com.
Bugs, Bees, Butterflies and Blossoms
SFA hosts this event on campus to bring thousands of children to campus for a day of adventure and learning taught by SFA students. The annual event guides students from kindergarten through third grade in exploring forest habitats, plant and animal adaptations, and the world of pollinators through learning stations.
Bugs, Bees, Butterflies and Blossoms helps SFA teacher candidates learn how to access community resources and integrate a deep knowledge of the local environment for teaching science in a real-life, inquiry-based manner. This training also helps future teachers learn how to facilitate environmental education lessons in an early elementary classroom.
Dr. Alan Sowards, now a professor emeritus of elementary education at SFA, created and implemented Bugs, Bees, Butterflies and Blossoms in 1998. The program represents a partnership between the Department of Education Studies, the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, SFA Gardens, SFA’s Mast Arboretum and SFA’s Pineywoods Native Plant Center.
Learn how to get involved in Bugs, Bees, Butterflies and Blossoms by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Math Career Carnival
The Math Career Carnival introduces local fourth- and fifth-grade students to the different careers that use mathematics. The Department of Education Studies created this project as a way to engage online teacher candidates in a real-world teaching experience.
SFA students develop carnival booths that highlight mathematics skills. Each booth offers games and interactive stations to help elementary school students practice mathematics skills and connect those skills to a wide range of careers – from professional athlete to bakery owner, aerospace engineer to architect, librarian to contractor, banker to zookeeper, and more. The goal behind the carnival is to show young students that math is, in fact, relevant to real life and can be fun and entertaining!
Find out more by contacting Mark Montgomery at email@example.com.
The Community Responsiveness and Engaged Advocacy in Teacher Education program, or C.R.E.A.T.E., is designed to complement and deepen the educator preparation experiences at SFA by adding community-based mentorships with families who have children in kindergarten through 12th grade. In return, teacher candidates try to give back to those families through activities such as the online lessons they provided during spring 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schoolchildren across the nation to shelter in their homes.
Teacher candidates in C.R.E.A.T.E. participate in critical conversations about issues impacting social justice and in service-learning work with local community organizations, including C&R KuttBottle and the Nacogdoches Public Library.
C.R.E.A.T.E. layers these meaningful community-based partnerships into the pre-existing expectations of teacher candidates’ coursework and school-based field experiences to include local families and other community members invested in improving the knowledge and skills needed for teachers to be culturally responsive within racially, culturally and linguistically diverse school settings.
With professional development and conference presentation opportunities made possible throughout the program, C.R.E.A.T.E. remains part of a network of educators committed to education and advocacy work in the classroom and beyond.
Learn more by contacting Lauren Burrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Established in 2023, Project Raices is the short-hand name for the Reaching All Individuals and Communities to Establish Success in Language Learning Grant. Raíces means roots in Spanish. Much like roots, the name was intentionally chosen to highlight the interconnectedness of language, culture and family networks that are needed to grow successful academic achievement, language acquisition and school-community partnerships.
This grant team is guided in its choices by anti-racist, anti-bias philosophies and an asset-based framework specific to language acquisition, literacy development, culture and community. The grant goals are aligned with these values, and it is expected that the participants, speakers and other associates involved in the grant work also share these beliefs. The grant prioritizes play-based and cultural appreciation practices, promotes shared knowledge, and strives to achieve power equality in the acceptance and celebration of community and caregiver expertise.
Wild About Science
Each year, SFA students host a learning excursion to engage young students in science activities. They welcome hundreds of local fourth-graders to SFA’s Pineywoods Native Plant Center in the fall to investigate ecosystems, soil particles and tree functions. Wild About Science features stations where fourth-graders create a food web, observe and collect data from soil particles, and learn about the structure, function and adaptations of trees.
This is also an amazing opportunity for pre-service teachers to co-teach in groups to develop collaborative skills and flexibility. SFA students earn field experience to apply to their classes, as well as professional development credit they can list in their portfolios when applying for jobs.
Wild About Science is a collaboration between SFA’s Department of Education Studies, SFA Gardens, the Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Project Learning Tree.
For more information on Wild About Science, email SFA Gardens education at email@example.com.