EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — More than a dozen student teachers are participating in a two-year pilot program made possible by a partnership between the University of Southern Indiana and Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp.
The program, called "Teach Now, Transform Tomorrow," places the student teachers in classrooms at two high-poverty, high-priority elementary schools with hopes of turning them around. It involves eight student teachers at Lodge Community School and seven student teachers at Lincoln Elementary School.
Both of the schools have received an F letter grade from the state for at least the past four years, and more than 90 percent of the students at each school qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Terri Branson is one of two University of Southern Indiana instructors who hold classes for student teachers during the week at Lodge Community School on the city's south side. She told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/1NnElwe ) that student teachers' course loads have been pared back so they can focus on their students.
"We have to try to make sure that their academic load is rigorous enough that it's actually college material but not so over burdensome that they can't do what they need to be doing here," Branson said.
In an effort to help students who are interested in participating in the program, advisers at the university also have been working to adjust their schedules so the five classes being taught during the program aren't the only classes they need by the time they reach their student year.
"I don't think we'll ever be able to completely do away with traditional student teachers because you have students that transfer," Branson said. "The only way this is really going to work is if they start as a freshman, and they follow the program through."
All of the student teachers were on hand before the first day of school at Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. to help teachers plan lessons, set up the classroom and decorate.
Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com