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Becoming a successful teacher includes academic preparation, a good amount of time as a student teacher and the standard classroom observation hours. However, one institution is raising the bar just a bit higher to better prepare future educators. Eastern Kentucky University’s Clinical Apprenticeship for Preparation of Teachers (CAPT) program is putting future teachers into the classroom earlier than traditional curriculum requires, building valuable educator confidence and experience.

Logan Hicks photoApproximately 22 students from EKU’s Education Program at the South Region Campus in Corbin participate in a specially designed initiative that allows them to become a part of the classroom and learn to master teaching techniques for three full semesters, better preparing them for their mandatory student teaching and future career.

CAPT is a mutually beneficial and successful clinical partnership between EKU’s Corbin Campus and Corbin Independent schools, designed to improve teacher quality and student learning. A hands-on learning experience for the teacher candidates while still in college, CAPT allows the EKU students to have up to a year of experience in the classroom before starting their normal, required student teaching requirements.

“The professors who are a part of the program are fantastic mentors to their students, and they go above and beyond to make sure that their teacher candidates are prepared,” said Logan Hicks, student teacher at Corbin Elementary. “The clinical experiences required with CAPT have prepared us teacher candidates as we have been assisting in classrooms, working with students, teaching lessons, and receiving feedback all prior to our student teaching experience.”

Supported by a grant from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, CAPT develops a unique partnership between teacher candidates, classroom teachers, EKU faculty and school administrators.

CAPT creates a three-semester apprenticeship housed in Corbin Intermediate, Corbin Middle and Corbin Elementary schools. EKU education faculty and Corbin teachers collaborate in leading teacher candidates through required coursework within the classroom and in extracurricular activities and professional development. The teacher candidates learn from their own teachers and from performing the roles of a teacher.

The connections the teacher candidates make with the students, faculty and administrators help shape them into successful teachers and could even lead to a future teaching position. Also, many elementary and middle school students benefit in the classroom because they receive extra help and support through CAPT.

 “(Teacher candidates) learn from teachers with all kinds of experience and from all different backgrounds,” said Liberty Roberts, Corbin Elementary teacher. “I think that, where it is daily, they feel comfortable enough to learn and to have those teachable moments, even for themselves, as teachers and as students.”

The integrated model provides a responsive support system that builds professional relationships between teacher candidates and members of the school system’s administration.

 “Our professors set up a technology training with Corbin Independent,” Hicks said. “Corbin’s technology integration specialist hosted the CAPT teacher candidates and reviewed some of the latest technology and apps that teachers could use to enhance learning. The CAPT grant has also provided technology for us to use anytime we needed.”

Working with districts that are already academically successful, such as Corbin Independent Schools, provides a strong foundation and excellent role models for the students. The successful placement of nearly all teacher candidates through CAPT is credited to its strong partnerships and transitioning power to the local schools for sustainability.

“I have been so impressed with the quality of teachers that the CAPT program at EKU has been producing,” one participating principal said. “The quality of the new teachers we have hired who have gone through the CAPT program are far advanced to other candidates that have gone through other programs. My plan for future years when we have openings at our school is to look for teachers who have gone through the CAPT program.”

All education majors at EKU’s Corbin campus are enrolled in the program the semester before their methods course. However, education major students from any EKU campus are welcome to join the program. CAPT attracts many students who attend the main campus until the semester before Methods and then want to be part of the program.

"The CAPT Program opened me up to education … I was in the know because I experienced it," said Taylor Stafford, graduate of EKU’s CAPT program. “I believe internships are the best thing for college students; it felt as if I already had my own classroom. I was challenged. I was pushed. I was successful."

Dr. Connie Hodge, co-director of CAPT, oversees many students in the CAPT program to provide quality education and works alongside administrators and instructors to ensure maximum benefit for all.

“Whenever our students graduate from this program, they are polished educators. I am always thrilled to see the quality of teachers CAPT is producing,” Hodge said. “Our candidates are ready to teach from day one. They know what to do, and they know how to do it effectively.”

For more information about the CAPT program, contact Hodge at the EKU Corbin Campus at 859-622-6776.

Inset Photo: Logan Hicks, CAPT student teacher, working with students at Corbin Elementary. 

— by Mikayla Estepp, EKU Regional Stewardship Public Relations Intern