Highlights and Initiatives of the Teacher Education Program
NNER and SCNER
Since 1991, Furman University has been affiliated with the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER). John Goodlad and colleagues’ extensive research on schools and the institutions that prepare teachers formed the work of the NNER.
The NNER is a membership network dedicated to the simultaneous renewal of schools and the institutions that prepare our teachers. Our work is based on the four-part mission of providing equal access to quality learning for all students, promoting responsible stewardship of our schools and universities, improving teaching and learning through pedagogy that nurtures and challenges all learners, and providing students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to become fully engaged participants in our democratic society.
A primary strategy for educational renewal is school/university partnerships where currently enrolled P-12 students and future teachers receive quality educational experiences. Collaborative policies and practices between school districts and institutions of higher education are necessary to advance this work that we view as ongoing and never complete. Unlike reforms or projects that have a beginning and an end, the renewal work of the NNER assumes that we must question assumptions and continue to make changes as we see where improvements can be made and gaps in quality education exist.
Dr. Goodlad’s research also resulted in 20 Postulates that define the conditions necessary for quality teacher preparation. As an affiliate member of NNER, the Furman University Teacher Education Program strives to meet those rigorous conditions.
The South Carolina Network for Educational Renewal (SCNER) emerged as a collaboration among five higher education institutions and their partner schools and districts. Furman University is a charter member of SCNER, applying the work of simultaneous renewal in the state.
Adventure of the American Mind
At Furman since 2000, this project is federally funded and designed to introduce K-12 teachers to the pedagogical possibilities of the Internet and the digital archives of the Library of Congress. During Phase I, selected teachers from upstate schools learned to integrate digital technology into their existing content area curricula, giving special attention to the American Memory collection. Furman University offered participants a three-hour graduate course, ED 195: Integrating Technology into the Curriculum, team taught by an education faculty member and a modern languages faculty member.
Phase II of the project is now underway. Selected upstate teachers participate in intensive week-long summer institutes to research the archives and tell digital stories utilizing the resources of the Library of Congress. Using text, images, music, voice-over narrations and video, participants produce a 2-3 minute digital story and earn hours of professional development credit towards re-certification depending on the number of hours of direct participation in activities during the summer and the academic year following the summer institute. Summer institutes are team-taught by an education faculty member and a modern languages faculty member.
Faculty Development Grants
In spring, 2005, Furman University received funding from two sources, the internal Faculty Development Committee and the Adventure of the American Mind (Library of Congress), to offer multiple venues for teacher education faculty to prepare educators who are culturally responsive. “Challenges of Poverty: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for Students from Diverse Groups” will provide meaningful professional development for the faculties in the Departments of Education, Music, Health and Exercise Science, History, Modern Languages and Literatures, Latin, Mathematics, and Political Science, who will participate in an academic yearlong series designed to study the educational challenges of poverty and address, specifically, unequal funding for rural schools along the I-85 corridor in South Carolina.
The five primary faculty development activities for the 2005-06 academic year are:
- Book study groups – critical reading of literature on poverty; discussions and reflections on the documentary Corridor of Shame;
- Review of the Library of Congress archives, especially historical materials pertaining to the Brown v Board of Education decision;
- Conversations with three school administrators from South Carolina’s lowest performing districts (those with lawsuits filed against the State) and visits with community insiders to record their stories;
- Development of digital stories using PhotoStory, MovieMaker, Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements ;
- Attendance at the National Association of Multicultural Education (NAME) Conference in Atlanta; or attendance at the International Reading Association’s Urban Diversity Commission Academy in Columbia in October, featuring Dr. Gail L. Thompson, noted author and consultant on improving the schooling experiences of students from underrepresented groups; or participation in the seminar series sponsored by the Upstate Schools Consortium on differentiated instruction, teaching students of poverty, and successful practices for teaching in high-need schools.
Furman University has sponsored three Holocaust Institutes for K-12 educators during the summers of 2001, 2003, and 2005. Funded by grants from the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust, each of these institutes enrolled approximately twenty-five teachers; they met for six hours per day for two weeks. The objective of the institutes was to give participants the opportunity to study the Holocaust as both an historical reality (one that affected millions of people from varying economic, religious, and social groups) and as a vehicle for exploring larger social issues (for example, tolerance and cultural pluralism).Institutes addressed these topics through readings, lectures, guest speakers, and films. Participants were encouraged to incorporate the Holocaust into their understanding of European history and their curricula, as demonstrated by completion of a final project. Participants who successfully met the Institute's requirements earned three hours of graduate credit. All three institutes were taught by Dr. Scott Henderson (Education) and Dr. Ronald Granieri (History).
W.K. Kellogg Learning-in-Deed Initiative
In 1999, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation launched Learning-in-Deed, a national initiative aimed at making service to others an integral part of classroom learning in every school district in America. South Carolina was one of five states selected to participate in the initiative. The South Carolina project, PRAISE (Plan for Reaching and Articulating Institutionalization of Service Experiences), pairs districts with institutions of higher education to assess the effectiveness of service learning; to address strategies to lower barriers to integrating service-learning into policy; and to promote the infusion of service learning into all curriculum areas. Furman University was selected by the School District of Pickens County (SDPC) to be its partner in the initiative. Through Furman, courses in applied service-learning methodology and the integration of service-learning into content areas have been offered to area teachers. SDPC and Furman are re-applying for continuing grant funds for 2006-2007. Continuing education courses in applied service-learning are planned through the collaborative.
Northwest Crescent Center
Another initiative has been the creation of the Northwest Crescent Center
made possible through funding by The Duke Endowment. Furman University and three other partners, The School District of Greenville County, the Children's Hospital, and United Way's Success by 6, initiated the concept. The Center, now in its sixth year of operation, is located two miles from the campus and serves the surrounding mill communities. It provides 3K, 4K, Head Start, preschool special education, Family Literacy, Parents as Teachers, ESL, GED, Senior Choice Services, Greenville Literacy, and family health services through collaboration by the Hospital System, St. Francis Hospital, the Free Medical Clinic, RedCross, and the Health Department. The major emphasis is to offer multicultural opportunities in the various programs and community. The site is used for observation, field experiences and service learning not only for teacher candidates but also Furman University students in other disciplines.
Physics for Elementary Teachers
During 2003-2005, Dr. Michael Svec (education) and Dr. Susan D'Amato (physics) were research associates in the Physics for Elementary Teachers (PET) project. PET was developed as a new one-semester curriculum for teachers by San Diego State University, Tennessee Technological University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder, with partial support from the National Science Foundation. Furman participated in the evaluation of the materials and offered two graduate courses for in service teachers with additional funding from the South Carolina Department of Education. Although funding has since ended, Furman continues to implement the program with a graduate course "Physics for Teachers." In addition, Drs. Svec and D'Amato are planning an undergraduate version of the class.
South Carolina Teaching Fellows Program
Furman University was selected as one of nine original recipients of a Teaching Fellows Program through the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention & Advancement (CERRA). The Campus Director of the Teaching Fellows mentors four cohorts of Teaching Fellows, with a total of 40 teacher candidates. Active participation in weekly seminars and special activities designed for aspiring teachers is required. Fellows engage in a rigorous application and interview process in order to be selected to receive four years of scholarship funding. The scholarship carries the stipulation that for every year of funding, the Fellow must teach in South Carolina for one year. The Furman University Teaching Fellows Program is guided by an Advisory Council comprised of faculty, staff, teachers, district personnel, and community members.
Upstate Schools Consortium
The Upstate Schools Consortium
, created in 1986,is currently comprised of 20 school districts, one private school, and Furman University. Its purpose is to provide professional development seminars for school administrators, teachers, instructional coaches, and district office personnel. The Consortium has six professional development seminars each year for its members.