Education department joins local school district

Abbie Barth

A new education program offers students a real-life education.

This semester, the education department began a professional development school partnership with the Seaman School District in Topeka. The department hopes that it will blossom into partnerships with districts throughout Topeka within the coming years.

The professional development school is located at Logan Elementary, one of the many elementary schools within Seaman School District. At Logan, lecturer of education, Tracie Lutz, has her own classroom where she can teach her students the content of the program. It is called Teachers developing teachers, and would normally be taught in Carnegie Hall on campus.

“It is just a shift of where class is held, but that shift enables them to have the total experience of learning about being a teacher in the school setting,” said Lutz. “This is a hands-on experience. It’s about experiencing the pieces of the puzzle that make up an elementary school.”

The purpose of the professional development school is for education students to experience what they are learning, while they are learning it.

“For example, I teach them all the content/pedagogy that I need to teach, but all of a sudden the fire alarm goes off. So, you have to go through the process that a teacher would go through. You have to get your class list, make sure you shut your door. So, I’m able to train them as teachers when things like that happen,” said Lutz.

The students of the class also do their practicum at Logan. Practicum is when the student works with a teacher in a real school setting to create lesson plans, observe the classroom or teach a class. The Washburn students were invited to go with the elementary students on their field trip to a Topeka Pilots hockey game.

“We were able to split the kids up and they were able to help the teachers with all the kids that were at the ice hockey game,” said Lutz. “They are going to learn more from making sure that those kids go to the restroom safely, get off the bus safely, are in their seats [than in the classroom]. They were immersed in that setting.”

Lutz wasn’t the only person that helped get this program started. Craig Carter, education director of student field experience and lecturer, and Cherry Steffen, education department chair, played an integral role in creating this partnership.

“It was Dr. Carter’s brainchild, but it was the support of Dr. Steffen, who is always encouraging us to think outside the box, be brave, be bold and try innovative things. She is so supportive,” said Lutz.

Carter sees this partnership as a way for both schools to benefit.

“From our standpoint as an education department, because we’re in the building we see different things that they’re trying to implement in the schools, and it gives us the opportunity then of sharing that with all of the students at the University,” said Carter. “Whether it’s technology or a new curriculum, it gives us the opportunity of sharing with them what’s really going on in schools.”

Seaman was chosen for this partnership because Carter is on Logan Elementary site council and he was able to get in touch with their director of curriculum.

“This is a pilot program. Dr. Steffen doesn’t want other school districts thinking that this was the only place where we would have a professional development school,” said Carter. “We’re open to having these relationships with any school district and could for any reason.”

The department welcomes getting partnerships with other districts and they hope to look into doing a professional development school with those districts.

“We really wanted to have an opportunity to try it out and see if it’s going to work for us and for the schools,” said Steffen.

The education department hopes that this program can expand to the middle school and high school practicums.

Edited by Adam White, Jason Morrison