Teacher Preparation Progress
The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread hosted an information session for Racine and Kenosha about progress made by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in redesigning its teacher preparation program.
Chancellor Debbie Ford, Provost Terry Brown and Assistant Vice Chancellor John Magerus each made presentations to more than 100 community members at the event held May 26. The session included a panel discussion and question-and-answer session with Brown, Magerus, Moreen Carvan (academic planner in the office of teacher preparation), Alan Harris (Racine Unified School District), and Vickie Brown-Gurley (Kenosha Unified School District).
The following are excerpts of reactions to the presentation.
Patricia Hoffman, assistant superintendent for the Burlington Area School District and member of the UW-Parkside Coordinating Council said she was "proud of what we accomplished in less than a year." Crediting Magerus and Carvan for their work in leading the process, Hoffman said, "without Deb Ford and Terry Brown, we wouldn't even be talking about this. This initiative - we will be able to support - and our districts will be able to support." While the Burlington School District is smaller when compared with Racine, Kenosha or Milwaukee, Hoffman says it has many of the same social and economic issues. "We want teacher candidates who are grounded in understanding the communities - and well-versed in best practices."
Maureen Bagg, public relations director at Corporate Images, Racine, Wis., believes teacher preparation is at the foundation of a key challenge facing southeastern Wisconsin - creating better-prepared students. She described meeting a teacher who graduated from the previous UW-Parkside education program. "Knowing that one of the finest first-year teachers at 21st Century Preparatory School came out of the UW-Parkside program, I knew the potential was there. I really respect Deb Ford for effectively dealing with the challenges of the program."
Kathleen Vafadari, principal at 21st Century Preparatory School, Racine, Wis., and a member UW-Parkside Coordinating Council, said it was "important for community partners to know that UW-Parkside is listening, and that the university is interested in the wants of the community." Creating a 21st century teacher preparation program, Vafadari said, requires innovative thinking. "What do we do for students that have a bachelor's or master's degree? They shouldn't have to go four years (to be certified); they should be able to take a different track. It's good to see that UW-Parkside is thinking outside the box."
Alan Harris, Racine Unified School District and a member of the UW-Parkside Coordinating Council, said his interest in the redesign process began a year ago when Chancellor Ford and Provost Brown talked about building from the ground up. "It's all about providing the best possible educational experience for our future teachers. That's where (the chancellor and provost) are coming from, it's not just lip service." Current and former Racine educators asked Harris how they could participate in the redesign process. "Their ideas are very different from common ideas of teacher preparation and the student-teacher relationship."
Read more on the teacher preparation progress the Kenosha News and Journal Times.