Unique Student Teaching Model Extends to Suburb
National Louis University's education students are getting a head start on their student teaching, as part of a new program that allows NLU education students to partner with suburban schools throughout the entire school year.
The Suburban Schools Teacher Education Partnership (SSTEP) is part of a teacher preparation program that provides NLU students, who are studying to be K-12 teachers, with hands-on experience working with classroom teachers and teaching students in suburban schools, before they begin their student teaching during the Spring Term.
The program, in its first year, is partnering with Evanston Township High School Maine West High School (Des Plaines), Maine East High School (Park Ridge) and Niles North High School.
"The one-year program is unique because it is structured as an internship — it's very hands on and begins prior to the formal 10-week student teaching experience. SSTEP scholars, who are National Louis graduate students focused on teaching Math, Science, Social studies, World Languages and English/Language Arts, each work directly with one or two teacher mentors at partner high schools for 100 hours (unpaid) before they begin their student teaching," explains Dr. Jack Denny, assistant professor of secondary education and content area specialist for world languages at National Louis University.
The NLU students in SSTEP are in the Master of Art in Teaching program, which is for students with a bachelor's degree in a field other than education, who are now earning a teaching certificate. The additional classroom experience they gain through SSTEP is extremely beneficial to them as they transition to teaching.
At Maine East High School in Park Ridge, NLU student Scott Metzger is preparing to enter the spring term as a student teacher – with a big advantage. He has spent the last several months getting to know the school, faculty and students in his sophomore and senior English composition classes as part of the SSTEP program.
"Being part of SSTEP allowed me to experience how an English department and classroom runs," said Metzger. "This is a tremendous benefit, for when I start my student teaching in the spring the students and I will be comfortable with each other and I can lead the classroom without interruption. I've also made professional contacts, which have led to a few job interviews, before I've even started my student teaching. SSTEP has given me the opportunity to take advantage of projects I wouldn't normally have access to as a student teacher, such as helping coach the Speech Team or getting involved with the Poetry Out Loud program and Shakespeare Recitation Contest at Maine East."
The application process for the SSTEP program is rigorous, requiring written application, personal recommendations and interviews with National Louis faculty and school leaders. Through SSTEP, National Louis students are able to apply the theory they learn in the classroom to an actual classroom environment, with the supervision of an expert mentor teacher, prior to their student teaching experience.
SSTEP scholars are required to complete the program with a documented set of accomplishments that will set them apart from their peers when applying for teaching positions, such as developing a service learning program. Metzger and teacher Rachel Samlan are developing anti-bullying awareness campaign with their sophomore English students, taking what the students learned about bullying and violence in Lord of the Flies.