EKU, Corbin Schools Partner to Enhance Preparation of Middle Grade Teachers

file photo of student teacher

A new partnership between Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Education and Corbin Independent Schools to enhance the preparation of middle grade teachers represents “an opportunity for all of us to get better together,” said Dr. Kim Naugle.

Naugle, associate dean of EKU’s College of Education, was leader of the team who authored the partnership proposal, which recently received $500,000 in funding from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). EKU’s proposal was one of three university-school system partnership proposals funded to further the implementation of Senate Bill 1 from 2009. Each partnership focuses on developing clinical models that aim to improve P-12 student and teacher education candidate learning, facilitate the placement of teacher candidates in model P-12 settings, and provide professional development for pre-service and practicing teachers.

The Clinical Apprenticeship for Preparing Teachers (CAPT) initiative, a three-year project, will enable EKU and Corbin Independent Schools to “intensively develop, implement and refine a model for clinical teacher preparation that will become self-sustaining and serve as a model for the region and beyond,” Naugle said.

Beginning this coming academic year, approximately 20-30 EKU junior and seniors preparing to become teachers will join College of Education faculty and teachers at Corbin Intermediate School (grades 5-6) and Corbin Middle School (grades 7-8) in a “true immersion program” at the two Corbin schools, selected for the project because of their outstanding performance, according to Naugle.  

“EKU students will be learning instructional strategies for content teaching in inclusive classrooms, will observe these instructional strategies being taught by university instructors and/or middle school teachers, and then practice the techniques themselves in the classroom and come back to the class to de-brief,” Naugle said. “They’ll be able to observe skilled teachers and gain confidence in their own abilities to do the same.”

Throughout the three-semester experience for the students, which incorporates the student-teaching experience, pre-service teacher candidates, the Corbin teachers and EKU faculty will co-plan and co-teach classes at both the school and University level.

Consequently, Naugle added, graduates will be “better prepared and more capable of excelling in the delivery of instruction.”

Many of those students will come from Corbin or surrounding communities and desire to return to their hometowns to teach. For those students, the EKU-Corbin Schools partnership might mean even more.

“The Corbin Independent School District will reap the benefit of being able to observe, assess and select the best candidates,” Naugle said. “Basically, it’s a job trial.”

The presence of the EKU students will also mean additional mentoring support and instructional assistance in the Corbin Intermediate and Corbin Middle classrooms, including extra help for students with disabilities.

Another plus for teachers and students alike will be the establishment of professional learning communities.

“The Corbin Independent School District is very excited to be part of this project,” said Mark Daniels, director of instructional support for the District. “Teacher effectiveness will be strengthened with those entering the profession going beyond the traditional student-teaching model. EKU and Corbin have always had a strong partnership in teacher effectiveness programs, and we look forward to the innovative and evidence-based methods that will be developed.”

Although CAPT is funded for only three years, Naugle said: “We consider this seed money to start a new way of doing teacher preparation. It is hoped that as we go through this, we will refine the process and expand the model to other districts and to our preparation of elementary and secondary teacher candidates.”

Dr. Aaron Thompson, senior vice president for the CPE, said, “Investing in Kentucky’s future and current teachers is one of the best investments we can make to move the education needle.”

Published on May 21, 2013