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King University News :: King College Education Students Experience Chicago Area School System

Members of King College’s Teacher Education Program returned from the Chicago, Ill., Oak Park School District with a new found appreciation for their chosen career field.  

The trip to Chicago was a true blessing,” said Matt Morenings, King junior Teacher Education student. “Not only did I get to develop an understanding of diverse learners and how important it is to differentiate instruction, but I also developed many friendships that will last a life time. 

Morenings along with nine teacher education students and faculty representatives Matt Roberts, associate dean of teaching and educational development, Gloria Oster, director of Teacher Education, both of King’s School of Education, and Ken Oster, adjunct professor of Spanish for King’s School of Arts and Sciences Department of Languages and Literatures, spent the week of June 11, 2012, working in the school district that bills itself as the “capital of diversity” in Chicago.  The Oak Park School District is split almost evenly among Asian, Caucasian, African American, and Hispanic ethnicities.  

“The Chicago trip was truly a wonderful experience for all those who participated--including the faculty,” said Roberts.  “It was wonderful to see our King students capably engage students of diversity in Chicago, and it was also good to see our students outside of the classroom in urban environments and situations that challenged their perspectives and beliefs. 

“I am so thankful to Deb Herman and Dan Salotti at Concordia University who helped make our teaching placements possible,” continued Roberts.  “I am also indebted to the principal at Elmwood School, Amy Lynn Vero, who was just wonderful.  She graciously accommodated our requests for both elementary and secondary placements.  Mrs. Vero remarked that her teachers were quite impressed with King College students in their level of politeness, initiative, and competence working with students at Elmwood.  We have really created strong ties in a relatively short amount of time with our friends in Chicago, and a foundation has been set for return trips.”

While in Chicago, students also experienced the Chicago Freedom School (CFS).  Mia Henry, former director of CFS and a former student of Professor Ken Oster when she attended Tennessee High School, assisted in arranging the visit to the Freedom School.  

The Chicago Freedom School provides a space where young people and adult allies can study the work of past movements, deepen their understanding of current social problems, build new coalitions and develop strategies for change.  CFS supports new generations of critical and independent thinking young people who use their unique experiences and power to create a just world. 

“[Visiting the Freedom School] was a great learning experience,” said Ashley Ruth, rising senior Teacher Education student at King.  “I was amazed at how much can be done if we just have the courage to do it.”

Erin Vermillion, a rising junior Teacher Education student at King commented, “I was proud to hear there were students who wanted to make a difference in Chicago, and I realized many of the problems that students face in schools in Chicago [students] also face in our schools in Tennessee.”

One distinctive for the education students was a panel discussion dealing with the topic of diversity with experienced educators from Chicago.  Panel participants included the Near-West Chicago superintendent, the former superintendent of Oak Park Schools, in addition to educators from elementary, secondary, and second career teachers.  

Students came away from the panel discussion with a simple realization – we all face challenges, but with an open mind and determination to work together, those challenges may be overcome.

Vermillion shared her impressions from the discussion saying, “The panel members inspired me to be more open-minded when I become a teacher.  Mia Garcia-Hills said, ‘Let go of judgment and expectations.  Everyone is different.’  I loved this quote.  She stated she hated the phrase ‘at risk’ when referring to students, and after listening to her explain her reasoning, I now agree.  All students are different and are going to struggle with different problems through school and life.  As educators, we must realize this and stop labeling students.  Dr. Michelle Morkert said, ‘We fear what we do not understand.’” 

Rising senior Teacher Education student, Taylor Pullen, commented, “The conversation was an extreme eye-opener, because it taught me to look for things in students I would have never considered before.” 

All teacher education programs evaluated by the State of Tennessee Board of Education require teacher candidates to be well-versed in teaching diverse populations.  “The Teacher Education Program set out to determine how to address the diversity standard in a proactive way, when the opportunities within our region are limited,” said Roberts.  “The impetus for taking the students to Chicago is for them to have an opportunity to get outside their bubble, experience education in a large urban setting that will develop their skill sets in the way they regard people of diverse backgrounds,” said Roberts.  “It is really a win – win situation. 

“Working in and among cultures to which we are not ordinarily exposed reinforces the idea of stewardship and service,” said Roberts.  “Part of the mission of King College and the School of Education is to be cultural transformers in Christ. When our students experience opportunities such as the Chicago trip, their life perspective develops a philosophy of ‘paying it forward.’” 

When asked about his experience in Chicago, Pullen said, “It was so much fun to help a student dig deep into his/her mind and find something new.  It was this type of experience that made me realize how different, but at the same time, how similar it is in Bristol.”  

Patrick Burcham, rising senior Teacher Education student at King summed up his experience, “The most important thing I took out of this trip was simply that we are all truly human in every aspect - a scary, but beautiful reality in my opinion.” 

“I would like to thank King College and the School of Education for providing this experience for us,” said Ruth.  “I am coming back as a different person.  I have gained so many new friends and experiences I will never forget.”

Members of King College’s Teacher Education Program returned from the Chicago, Ill., Oak Park School District with a new found appreciation for their chosen career field.  

The trip to Chicago was a true blessing,” said Matt Morenings, King junior Teacher Education student. “Not only did I get to develop an understanding of diverse learners and how important it is to differentiate instruction, but I also developed many friendships that will last a life time. 

Morenings along with nine teacher education students and faculty representatives Matt Roberts, associate dean of teaching and educational development, Gloria Oster, director of Teacher Education, both of King’s School of Education, and Ken Oster, adjunct professor of Spanish for King’s School of Arts and Sciences Department of Languages and Literatures, spent the week of June 11, 2012, working in the school district that bills itself as the “capital of diversity” in Chicago.  The Oak Park School District is split almost evenly among Asian, Caucasian, African American, and Hispanic ethnicities.  

“The Chicago trip was truly a wonderful experience for all those who participated--including the faculty,” said Roberts.  “It was wonderful to see our King students capably engage students of diversity in Chicago, and it was also good to see our students outside of the classroom in urban environments and situations that challenged their perspectives and beliefs. 

“I am so thankful to Deb Herman and Dan Salotti at Concordia University who helped make our teaching placements possible,” continued Roberts.  “I am also indebted to the principal at Elmwood School, Amy Lynn Vero, who was just wonderful.  She graciously accommodated our requests for both elementary and secondary placements.  Mrs. Vero remarked that her teachers were quite impressed with King College students in their level of politeness, initiative, and competence working with students at Elmwood.  We have really created strong ties in a relatively short amount of time with our friends in Chicago, and a foundation has been set for return trips.”

While in Chicago, students also experienced the Chicago Freedom School (CFS).  Mia Henry, former director of CFS and a former student of Professor Ken Oster when she attended Tennessee High School, assisted in arranging the visit to the Freedom School.  

The Chicago Freedom School provides a space where young people and adult allies can study the work of past movements, deepen their understanding of current social problems, build new coalitions and develop strategies for change.  CFS supports new generations of critical and independent thinking young people who use their unique experiences and power to create a just world. 

“[Visiting the Freedom School] was a great learning experience,” said Ashley Ruth, rising senior Teacher Education student at King.  “I was amazed at how much can be done if we just have the courage to do it.”

Erin Vermillion, a rising junior Teacher Education student at King commented, “I was proud to hear there were students who wanted to make a difference in Chicago, and I realized many of the problems that students face in schools in Chicago [students] also face in our schools in Tennessee.”

One distinctive for the education students was a panel discussion dealing with the topic of diversity with experienced educators from Chicago.  Panel participants included the Near-West Chicago superintendent, the former superintendent of Oak Park Schools, in addition to educators from elementary, secondary, and second career teachers.  

Students came away from the panel discussion with a simple realization – we all face challenges, but with an open mind and determination to work together, those challenges may be overcome.

Vermillion shared her impressions from the discussion saying, “The panel members inspired me to be more open-minded when I become a teacher.  Mia Garcia-Hills said, ‘Let go of judgment and expectations.  Everyone is different.’  I loved this quote.  She stated she hated the phrase ‘at risk’ when referring to students, and after listening to her explain her reasoning, I now agree.  All students are different and are going to struggle with different problems through school and life.  As educators, we must realize this and stop labeling students.  Dr. Michelle Morkert said, ‘We fear what we do not understand.’” 

Rising senior Teacher Education student, Taylor Pullen, commented, “The conversation was an extreme eye-opener, because it taught me to look for things in students I would have never considered before.” 

All teacher education programs evaluated by the State of Tennessee Board of Education require teacher candidates to be well-versed in teaching diverse populations.  “The Teacher Education Program set out to determine how to address the diversity standard in a proactive way, when the opportunities within our region are limited,” said Roberts.  “The impetus for taking the students to Chicago is for them to have an opportunity to get outside their bubble, experience education in a large urban setting that will develop their skill sets in the way they regard people of diverse backgrounds,” said Roberts.  “It is really a win – win situation. 

“Working in and among cultures to which we are not ordinarily exposed reinforces the idea of stewardship and service,” said Roberts.  “Part of the mission of King College and the School of Education is to be cultural transformers in Christ. When our students experience opportunities such as the Chicago trip, their life perspective develops a philosophy of ‘paying it forward.’” 

When asked about his experience in Chicago, Pullen said, “It was so much fun to help a student dig deep into his/her mind and find something new.  It was this type of experience that made me realize how different, but at the same time, how similar it is in Bristol.”  

Patrick Burcham, rising senior Teacher Education student at King summed up his experience, “The most important thing I took out of this trip was simply that we are all truly human in every aspect - a scary, but beautiful reality in my opinion.” 

“I would like to thank King College and the School of Education for providing this experience for us,” said Ruth.  “I am coming back as a different person.  I have gained so many new friends and experiences I will never forget.”