African-American Read In Day
The University of Charleston’s (UC) Education Program partners with local elementary schools to celebrate African-American Read In Day. UC’s education majors select African-American literature and read aloud to students in grades kindergarten through 5th. Reading activities are implemented in order to deepen students’ understanding of concepts and topics shared during the read aloud. Elementary students are always enthusiastic and actively participate in all facets of the celebration. This was evident in 2008 when one education major read Follow the Drinking Gourd and sang the words to the song. The students kept saying, “Sing it again, sing it again!”
Commitment to Diversity
All teacher candidate lesson plans must address the elements of diversity and inclusion. Integration of knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to diversity occurs throughout courses, experiences, and assessments and is demonstrated by stated objectives and assignments in course syllabi, through clinical placements in diverse school settings, and through two courses specifically focused on special needs students (EDUC 203, Survey of Students with Exceptionalities and EDUC 204, The Inclusive Classroom). In EDUC 250, Technology in the Schools, candidates construct a multi-cultural webquest; in EDUC 311, Assessment and Diagnosis, they examine equity issues associated with No Child Left Behind. Two faculty members have had training with Ruby Payne and one was involved in developing training modules with the State Department of Education.
Teacher candidates participate in learning events at inner city schools, attend the International Student World Fest events on campus, and instruct UC’s English Language Learners (ELL) while taking professional core education courses. Additionally, principals with diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences are invited to speak to classes, and an effort is made to place student teachers with qualified minority cooperating teachers for their field studies and clinical practice.
Commitment to Technology
The unit ensures the integration of knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to educational and information technology throughout courses, but more specifically in EDUC 250. The Education classroom where most courses are taught is a “Smart” classroom with a Sympodium multi-media system including a Smart Board. Computer labs and a wireless laptop mobile lab are available for faculty use; most of the campus has wireless internet capability. Faculty may attend workshops supporting technology instruction sponsored by the Faculty Center and have had Smart Board training. Full time and adjunct faculty must use Campus Cruiser as a coursework management system.
Commitment to Community
UC partners with local schools to provide teacher candidates with professional experiences in culturally diverse settings. In addition, faculty members serve on a variety of committees such as West Virginia Young Writers Steering Committee and a Local School Improvement Council. There is also a strong relationship with Mountaineer Montessori School which rents a building owned by UC. Not only are field experiences conducted there, but UC and Mountaineer Montessori collaborate on professional development offerings.