The Schools Within the Context of Community Program is an immersive, 18-credit semester, which emphasizes that knowledge about the communities in which children are growing and learning is an essential ingredient to being a good teacher. As part of the semester, candidates complete a practicum assignment at a high need elementary school. When they are not in the school, the local community center is their classroom, where they develop relationships with children, families, members of the community, and community mentors through which they examine funds of knowledge within the community. With an emphasis on understanding the context in which children are growing and learning as a critical component to effective teaching, the project offers our candidates the opportunity to experience children's lives both in and outside formal schooling, and to examine the challenges and strengths inherent in the community. Through such relationships, students are charged with working with community partners to develop and implement strategies to support children and families. One such program is our unique MP3 program. Service learning in cooperation with members of the community is thus integrated into the semester, as our candidates work to further strategies which address community identified need. The program broadens the definition of "teacher educator" to include members of the community, whose cultural knowledge is a critical cognizance for our future teachers.
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