Opportunities to earn college credit for general education courses in high school classrooms have been around for many years.
Missouri State University’s College of Education (COE) and Springfield Public Schools (SPS) recently partnered to give high school students college credit for classes and experiences to prepare them to be teachers.
“Students are able to explore the field of education through the regular classroom setting, guest speakers, field trips and practicum placements,” said Katie Kensinger, coordinator of college and career readiness at SPS.
“The Teacher Pathways program allows high school students to understand much more about the profession. This is essential for them to truly know if teaching is what they want to pursue after graduation.”
In the classroom
Students enrolled in dual credit courses take the classes at their high school.
The high school teachers offering the courses work with Dr. Denise Cunningham, head of the childhood education and family studies department, and the dual credit office to make sure their syllabi align with MSU course requirements.
“I worked on aligning the coursework that they are offering with the standards required by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE),” Cunningham noted.
“Now, each program has its own introductory course – early childhood, elementary, and combined middle and secondary.”
High school students can take up to two courses in education at a reduced fee per credit hour. Students who qualify for free and reduced lunches can earn dual credit free of charge. All credits transfer into an MSU education program.
“Partnering with MSU strengthens our SPS curriculum and ensures it is more relevant,” Kensinger remarked.
“Beginning college with a clear vision and applicable credits may help some students graduate within four years.”
The future of teaching
Teacher Pathways can help high school students finalize their decision about wanting to pursue teaching as a career.
“I’ve learned how to write a proper lesson plan and introduce lessons to students in an engaging way,” said Michelle Dobre, a senior at Hillcrest High School. “The practicum gave me an opportunity to see what it’s actually like being a teacher.”
Cunningham explained that an early practicum gives high school students a peek into a profession that has so many rewarding qualities, even when there are tough times.
“We need our best and brightest to become teachers. They’re the ones who can inspire the lives of everyone else.”