Peabody-Burns, Tabor forge ‘future teacher’ relationship


Tabor College photo by Vance Frick (Standing, from left) Rex Watson, superintendent of USD 398 and (seated at left) Cathy Silvers, instructor of family and consumer sciences, represented the USD 398 Peabody-Burns School District at the signing ceremony June 10 at Tabor College to create the new Teacher Prep Pathways Program. Representing Tabor College were (standing at right) Provost Lawrence Ressler, (standing center) Linda Cantwell, vice president of enrollment management and marketing, and (seated at right) Donna Bagley, chair of the Education Department.

The USD 398 Peabody-Burns School District and Tabor College have announced the creation of a cooperative Teacher Prep Pathways Program.

The program is intended to encourage Peabody-Burns students to pursue teaching as an early career path.

Students choosing to attend Tabor College after completing the program will be granted a waiver, reducing the amount of field experience required to receive an education degree.

The new vocational education program, created by Cathy Silvers, family and consumer sciences instructor at Peabody-Burns Jr.-Sr. High School, recently was approved for state funding by the Kansas State Board of Education.

Students will be eligible to enter the program this fall.

?The Teacher Prep Pathway Program will give our students an early opportunity to learn what it is going to take to be a teacher, and to learn some of the basic skills before they enter college,? Silvers said.

?Students who know they want to become teachers tomorrow can start making plans for the future now, and that makes their classes more real and relevant to them.?

Under the terms of a broadly written articulation agreement signed June 10, the school district will provide course work and supervised mentoring and tutoring experiences for interested students.

Tabor will collaborate with the school district in the program delivery and with the internship experiences.

Students who successfully complete both the course work and the internship will have one of their early field experiences waived if they enroll in Tabor College?s teacher education programs.

The Teacher Prep Pathway Program is exactly the kind of teacher-preparation program needed to help alleviate the severe shortage of teachers in rural Kansas, according to Donna Bagley, chair of the Education Department at Tabor.

?I am extremely excited about this opportunity to encourage high school students to consider teaching as a profession,? Bagley said. ?There?s such a critical shortage of teachers in rural Kansas. This is really a way to grow your own rural teacher. Because these students come from a rural community, they should be especially effective in rural communities, where the teacher shortage is the greatest.

?Cathy is a very capable teacher and this is a really well-thought-out program,? Bagley added. ?I think it?s a feather in the cap of the Peabody-Burns school district to create a new program at a time when schools everywhere are facing budget cuts. I think it speaks highly of their commitment.?

According to Rex Watson, superintendent of USD 398, programs such as Teacher Prep Pathways represent an emerging trend in high school curricula in which students are encouraged to choose a four-year ?Career Pathway Plan of Study? containing rigorous academic coursework and electives based on their desired careers.

Teacher Prep Pathways electives at Peabody-Burns will include courses such as Human Growth and Development, Parenting and Exploring Teaching as a Career.

?I think the program represents a huge advantage, not only for our kids, but for our programs and for the teaching profession as a whole,? Watson said. ?And it opens new doors for potential students to come to Tabor College, to fill up an outstanding education program. It allows us to dovetail what we do into a seamless transition to the education program there. ?

The Tabor College Education Department has enjoyed a good working relationship with the faculty and administrators of the Peabody-Burns School District for many years. This past school year, the district hosted two student teachers from Tabor and more than 15 students were assigned to the district for pre-student-teaching field experiences.

?We?re very pleased with our relationship with Tabor College and the students they send us to student teach,? said Watson, who spoke as a guest lecturer to the college?s Introduction to Education class in January.

Attracting new students to Tabor College who?ve already demonstrated a desire to serve in tomorrow?s classrooms excites Linda Cantwell, vice president for enrollment management and marketing.

?Research would tell us that this generation of students is interested in giving back to the world; they want to be of service to the world, so this is exciting to me,? Cantwell said.

?This program will attract a certain kind of student to Tabor that I think fits well with our mission statement, to prepare people for a life of learning, work and service, for Christ and his kingdom. And, to have a program like this be so close to home is incredible.?

According to Provost Lawrence Ressler, programs such as the Teacher Prep Pathways Program could help solve the teacher shortage plaguing rural America.

?Education is critical for the future of Marion County, the state and the nation,? Ressler said. ?This is one of those efforts to have a seamless connection between the high school and the college which is going to be critical for the future.?

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