FOR THE RECORD

Future Teachers Sign on the Dotted Line

Thursday, May 18th, 2017
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Graduates of the district’s Urban Teacher Academy signed “letters of intent” during a ceremony at Central Campus.

Not only elite high school athletes declare their collegiate intentions and specialties by signing letters of intent at public ceremonies.

“Not to take anything away from sports and athletes,” said Central Campus Urban Teacher Academy instructor Carole Henning, “but we thought students making a formal commitment to become teachers should be a big deal too.”

So Wednesday night at Central Campus, the academy’s Class of ‘17 hobnobbed with representatives from Iowa, UNI, ISU, Grand View, Simpson, Cornell, Iowa Central, and DMACC, schools where they’ll enroll as pre-service teachers.

“Urban Teacher Academy is a dual enrollment academic program in which juniors and seniors can take DMACC-credit education classes,” said Henning, who coordinated last night’s event, a pre-graduation graduation. “Dream to Teach is a related program that’s present in most of the middle and high schools to get kids interested in pursuing careers in education. It’s more like a club than academic.”

Think of D2T as a feeder program for the academy, where 38 students enrolled this year, hoping to follow their teachers’ examples.

“Ever since 3rd grade I knew I wanted to become a teacher,” said Alexis McDonald. A 3rd grade teacher if she has her way, like “Mrs. Anderson at Morris Elementary on the Southside. I wanted to be just like her.” And still does, almost a decade later.

Alexis is headed to Grand View next year and took academy fieldtrips there and to ISU. She also did a teaching practicum during second semester at Park Avenue Elementary, an experience that only served to reinforce her ambitions.

“I got to teach some lessons and even graded papers,” she said. She also works a part-time job in the Metro Kids program at Walnut Street School.

Kevin Ha is also bound for Grand View after completing both the Urban Teacher Academy and the Urban Leadership curricula at Central Campus. He is an accomplished spoken word poet in Movement 515 who narrowly missed qualifying for the district team that will compete this summer in the Brave New Voices Festival in San Francisco after racking up unanimous perfect ‘10s’ from the judges in the final round of the district poetry slam.

“I know I want to teach at the secondary level,” said Kevin, who attended King, Oak Park, Callanan and Hoover in addition to Central Campus. “I have been lucky to have teachers who inspired me.”

All of the academy students came to the celebration equipped with their portfolios and a “showcase dance card” that was to be signed by at least five guests with whom they discussed their experience so far and their plans for the future.

The grads got to pose for pics with the rep from their chosen college, a “grip and grin” opportunity to be welcomed aboard their new team just like the ones the best jocks are accustomed to.

The academy is a perfect segue to college and university teacher education programs. Last night’s award ceremony was another great demonstration that by the time students graduate from the 36 Advance Career Programs at Central Campus, they have both feet in the door of promising futures.

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