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CWU forming new education advisory councils

The Central Washington University Kent and Des Moines campuses are in the process of forming individual advisory boards for their undergraduate teacher preparation programs.

CWU Kent offers a BAEd in elementary education and a mid-level science teaching minor while the Des Moines location offers a BAEd in early childhood education and elementary education, in addition to other programs.

Melanie Kingham, early childhood/elementary education program director, invited several education professionals from the surrounding school districts to the informational meeting last week.

"(The goal was) to initiate the forming of an interested group of school district and educational organizations who can give input to the education program so that we can forge better working relationships and target preparing those teachers to work in those districts," Kingham said.

Student representatives from both campuses discussed their reasons for choosing the CWU programs, the advantages of the cohort model and their overall experiences in and outside the classroom.

"We're more of a family," student Sarah Leopold said of the cohort model. "We're able to bounce ideas off each other."

Another aspect of the teaching programs at CWU is the fieldwork portion. Students are to complete 100 hours of work in the field prior to applying for the programs at CWU. Then, in their last two quarters of the teacher prep programs, students are able to enter the classroom once more to gain knowledge and experience.

"Our program requires a large amount of fieldwork both formal and informal," Kingham said. "Everything candidates learn is connected to real world classroom contexts."

The education advisory boards would be the first of their kind for the two locations.

Although Kingham says the programs at CWU already produce competitive professional educators, to keep up with the changing demographics of the region and wants of the various school districts, she adds that having the advisory boards in place will help strengthen their programs.

Now, all that's left is to continue networking with professionals in the area and building interest in joining the advisory boards.

"I thought the feedback was really wonderful," Kingham said. "I left the meeting feeling very confident."

Kingham hopes to have the first education advisory board meetings in early May.

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