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The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has selected the "Schools within the Context of Community" (SCC) program at Ball State University to receive the 2016 Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award. The award will be recognized at the AACTE Annual Meeting in March 2017. Launched in 2009 as a partnership between Ball State University's Department of Elementary Education and the Whitely neighborhood of Muncie, the SCC program takes a unique approach to teacher education. It immerses preservice teacher candidates in a low-income, African-American community where they are carefully matched with community mentors who serve as cultural ambassadors and impart the strengths and values of the community. Alongside these mentors, candidates authentically participate in the life of the community through their attendance at church, community events, and family gatherings and through their joint participation in mobilization with the local community council. Simultaneously, candidates participate in 18 credit hours of integrated course work with interdisciplinary faculty who work together to plan and deliver a responsive plan of study that is directly relevant to candidates' experiences. Ushered by a program faculty through intentional exercises of reflection, candidates are challenged to incorporate their learning into their teaching in order to develop culturally responsive experiences for the children with whom they work.
SCC is a young program that has already shown itself to be a positive impact on elementary students, in their neighborhood, and the community. During the program's 7-year tenure in the Whitely neighborhood, the elementary school with which Ball State works has transitioned from an "F" school to an "A" school, and scores on the state standardized test have increased from 30% to 71%. In turn, the elementary teachers who participate in this program are better prepared to be effective in the classroom and to be of greater service to their students and communities. Notably, 70% of SCC program graduates are currently teaching in racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse communities. And the university's relationship with the community is strengthened and authentic. To learn more about SCC, please visit this website. Other recognition include a second-place award in 2012 for the AACTE-Southern Poverty Law Center Award for Exemplary Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparation.
The Alliance for Community-Engaged Teacher Preparation is a research hub, innovative teacher preparation space, and national teacher education training site. We provide research, consultation, and training to universities, schools, and communities that seek to develop or refine their programs of teacher preparation. The Alliance is a home for innovation in community-engaged teacher preparation—a place where knowledge is constructed, curated, and communicated.
The Alliance is a research hub where faculty experiment with culturally responsive practices that will improve educational outcomes for children locally and nationally. This hub is derived from careful and thoughtful experimentation with community-engaged teacher preparation, the research from which is nationally disseminated. The Alliance also serves as a national research distribution network—collecting, showcasing, and sharing best practices in community-engaged teacher preparation from colleges and universities throughout the country.
As a hybrid, experimental initiative, the Alliance provides space for Ball State teacher candidates, faculty, and community members to collaboratively develop and implement research-based, culturally-responsive practices that improve educational outcomes for children. The Alliance is a natural extension of a long-term, existing initiative within the Department of Elementary Education. Started in 2009, the Schools Within the Context of Community (SCC) program is a unique approach to teacher preparation. SCC has been receiving national attention for its efforts to prepare culturally responsive, community-engaged teachers. A partnership between Ball State and the Whitely Neighborhood of Muncie, Indiana, SCC has been recognized by the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a model of Exemplary Culturally Responsive Teacher Education. The program has also been lauded in Rethinking Field Experiences in Preservice Teacher Preparation (Hollins, 2015) and is profiled in the book Transforming Teacher Preparation for Social Justice (Zygmunt & Clark, 2015). The program has additionally generated significant scholarship on the part of program faculty, with 25 combined papers and presentations, and over $2 million in grant funding. In 2016, the American Educational Research Association bestowed SCC with the Innovations in Research on Diversity in Teacher Education Award.
The Alliance is a national training site that offers customizable experiences for universities, schools, and community partners who seek to better prepare community-engaged teachers who can implement culturally relevant instruction to help lessen the achievement gap and improve educational equity for children.
An annual Institute on Community Engaged, Culturally-Responsive Teacher Preparation is held each summer, during which teacher educators and their school and community partners attend training conducted by Ball State faculty, other prominent national scholars in the field of community-engaged teacher education, and our community partners. Faculty in teacher education at Ball State are recruited and mentored through the Alliance Faculty Fellows Program in order to expand the pool of community-engaged teacher educators campuswide. For those outside the Ball State community, we host semi-annual “Boot Camps” on community-engaged teacher preparation, where scholars and their school and community partners learn on-the-ground strategies for transforming their programs of teacher preparation.
We invite others into our space to share with us what they are currently doing, and we mentor them in their journey to become more effective in their community-engaged teacher preparation efforts in their own communities and universities. As we connect, mentor, and learn from each other, we are creating a national community of scholars and scholarship around community-engaged teacher preparation.
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