Grant gets future teachers in the classroom sooner

Katherine Sproles

Education students will be able to get into the classroom and teach sooner thanks to a grant from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

The CPE awarded a $500,000 grant in April to the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and Potter College of Arts for a new teacher preparation program, which started this semester.

The Clinical Experiences and Practice in Teaching, or CEPT, was one of three programs to receive a grant. In this program, education students begin to teach in a classroom at Bowling Green High School or Franklin Simpson High School for two semesters before they would normally student teach.

“This collaborative project between the School of Teacher Education, Potter College of Arts and Letters, Bowling Green High School and Franklin Simpson High School will allow WKU English and social studies teachers to better prepare students in Common Core State Standards and to be college and career ready,” according to the program press release.

Rebecca Stobaugh, an assistant professor, teaches one of the CEPT classes.

“We have always had a strong teacher education program at WKU,” Stobaugh said. “However, this program is challenging our teacher candidates to engage with P-12 students earlier and teach in P-12 classrooms more times before student teaching.”

Stobaugh said CEPT classes are connecting their content directly to work going on at Bowling Green High School.

“Our CEPT students see the immediate applications of our teaching in their BGHS classroom,” she said. “We are spending more time watching them teach and giving them feedback.”

New teaching technology is being introduced to education students through the program.

“All CEPT students have iPads, and we are using those to video their teaching performance and utilize the apps for instruction in the BGHS classrooms,” Stobaugh said.

CEPT is also making sure that new teachers are informed about the 2010 introduction of Common Core Standards in Kentucky.

“We designed the curriculum around new Kentucky teaching standards, challenging teachers to higher levels of performance,” Stobaugh said. “We have intentionally planned for the CEPT teacher candidates to meet and exceed these standards and thus raise the quality teaching in our schools.”

Somerset junior Kayla Sweeney said while the CEPT program is rigorous, the teaching experience she has had through the program is better preparing her for the classroom.

“I love working one-on-one with a classroom of teachers and learning from their styles and from the feedback they give me,” Sweeney said.

One unique trait of CEPT is the hands-on interaction the teaching students receive with high school students.

“It’s been so neat to see how you can build relationships with them in a short amount of time and how much that affects how they learn in the classroom,” Sweeney said. “They are so great, and I don’t think I would have the chance to interact this fully with them without CEPT.”

Sweeney also enjoys time spent collaborating with other teachers.

“It’s been fun to see how we are so different, but we use those quirky and awesome differences to create our own unique styles of teaching,” Sweeney said. “I’ve had more fun getting to know and interacting with these classmates than any college course I’ve ever had.”

Since the program is in its infancy, Sweeney is excited to see what it will become over the next years.

“CEPT has had some bumpy moments at times, but I think that is simply because it is in its first semester and kinks are still being worked out,” she said.