January 12, 2017

A Wider Impact

Teacher Candidates ham it up during my
drama workshop in December
Thank you to everyone who came out on a cold night to see the excellent documentary film The Empowerment Project.  It was the first big event that we held in our recently opened middle school building. It was electrifying to have a crowd of nearly 150 people at the movie, filling the halls and gym of our new campus.

A big thank you to Diane Hullet, Mike Fisher, Elizabeth Henna, Shelby Pawlina and Meg Hansen (and others) for their hard work in pulling off such a great event for the Boulder community.

Having so many people from the wider community, who do not attend our school, in our building reminded me of the greater purpose of our small private school.

As our parents well know, our elementary students are not only taught by a full-time professional teacher, we have eager teachers-in-training in each of our classrooms.  Our preschool classrooms welcome a teacher candidate for half a year.

While we host eight teacher candidates from our Teacher Preparation Program in our classrooms at Friends’, the majority of the graduate students in the program are at other schools.  There are 32 of them and they are working and learning in classrooms across the Boulder area, most of them in public schools, some others in private schools.

Math challenges during a TPP Friday seminar
Friends’ School started this alternative licensing program eleven years ago because there wasn't an option for a hands-on, residency teacher preparation program in Boulder for elementary school teachers.  (Teacher candidates in our program have the option of gaining their teacher license in either elementary or early childhood education.)

"It's a very full and rich experience," said program director Ed Walent. "We think it's the best way to train new teachers."

Under the residency model, teacher candidates spend four days a week in a classroom with a teacher mentor and the fifth day learning through seminars and workshops.

One of the strongest components of our program is connecting content to a practicum. These are inextricably intertwined. We teach teachers in the same way we teach children. Teacher candidates get the most out of their learning when they get to apply it. We give them hands-on, real-world experiences that help them make sense of what they’re learning.

As I was touring prospective graduate students around our South Campus this week, I asked current Kindergarten TC Annika Nygren her opinion of the program and what she’s learning.  She told the group, “I love it.  I was nervous at first because I had never worked with children in an academic setting.  But I have learned so much.  And watching my mentor Beth (Huennekens) every day, and learning from her, I have gained so much confidence. I know I’ll be ready to teach my own classroom next year.”

Our Teacher Preparation Program, this summer, will have graduated over 300 new teachers, most of whom are currently working in local public school classrooms, affecting the lives of thousands of young people.

It is an amazing opportunity.  The deadline for applications for next year’s class of Teacher Candidates is fast approaching – February 3.  If you, or anyone you know, is interested in learning more about the program, you may visit the TPP page on our website here. 

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