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College Project Introduces Students to Real-World School-based Experiences

Release Date: 5/19/2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sylvia Blair
Executive Assistant to the President
Carroll Community College
410-386-8411

The Living Classroom Project at Carroll Community College Introduces Students to Real-World School-based Experiences

Westminster, Md., —The Carroll Community College (Carroll) Education Program, which educates the teachers of the future, has developed an innovative concept called the Living Classroom to give students the real-world, hands-on experiences to work in schools after degree completion.

“Early, real-world learning occurs through field experiences and co-curricular service-learning,” said Chair of the Education Department Susan Sies. “Students are given the opportunity to enter a classroom and work with a mentor from the onset of their education coursework. Faculty members pay special attention to how students are matched with mentor teachers. For example, students in ‘Introduction to Special Education’ are placed with mentors who understand the individual student’s teaching goals. As a result, students are carefully matched with mentor teachers in demanding special education settings.”

Students in ‘Child Growth and Development’ are placed in a local Head Start classroom as part of their required course assignments. “Experience with marginalized children gives students guided practice that will benefit them in their own classrooms,” said Sies. “Unlike exclusive college classroom learning and lectures, this program affords students opportunities with special education as well as with diverse ethnic and socio-economic populations. Students develop a level of comfort once they enter the workforce, which leads to better- prepared teachers.”

Instructor Carole Williamson said that Early Childhood Education students volunteered at Head Start “in a beautiful partnership” that helps enrolled children and that helps the students apply concepts much earlier in their academic careers. “In many four-year programs, students are not exposed to a classroom until their junior years. Carroll students who transfer to universities will already have experience with children in a classroom.”

The Living Classroom addresses a concern that students often express about the lack of experience they have when they first start working, which makes them feel ill-prepared to teach in the beginning. “The Living Classroom removes all preconceived notions, and allows students to experience the challenges and rewards of teaching which cannot be found in a textbook,” said Williamson. “Children in low-income schools who may be experiencing challenges such as poverty, hunger, or trauma, or may display difficult behaviors, need teachers who understand their special needs. The Living Classroom program provides this much-needed window into the worlds of these children.”

“Our teachers enjoy the partnership that exists between Carroll's Education Program and Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS),” said Jamie Weaver, coordinator of Teacher Induction, CCPS. “Having Carroll students in our classrooms is beneficial to each system. The relationship and placement process we've established with the Special Education courses has been fine-tuned to provide students with placements that hopefully encourage them to continue the path towards full certification as a special educator. We hope the experiences Carroll students have during their placements will bring them back to CCPS as prospective teaching candidates.”

“Our cutting-edge program has been nominated for a national award from the League for Innovation in the Community College,” said Sies. “We are very proud of our program and of the outstanding results we have achieved over the past year since we piloted the program in fall, 2013.”

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Note to the Media: For best response to your inquiries, please call Sylvia Blair at 410-386-8411 or e-mail sblair@carrollcc.edu.

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