Evangel joins other area colleges to impact high-poverty elementary schools
January 2, 2014 | Valorie Coleman
Imagine a high poverty school where students want to be in class. Imagine a school where the teachers feel called to be there. This is Weller Elementary in Springfield, Missouri.
Principal Marilyn Monroe, definitely a superstar in the eyes of her elementary students, has been cultivating this environment for 14 years.
“We believe every child can learn,” Monroe says. “That’s why these children believe in themselves. Our teachers choose to be at Weller, even though it is demanding. Title 1 is emotionally, physically, spiritually draining. It’s a calling to be here.”
For the past four years, her student teachers have come from Evangel University through a special partnership made possible through the Teacher Education Alliance (TEA) — a collaboration between Springfield Public Schools, Baptist Bible College, Drury University, Evangel University and Missouri State University.
“The colleges are all working together to meet the needs of high poverty students, and we are working together to improve our teacher education programs,” says Dr. Colleen Hardy, chair of the Education Department at Evangel.
“Our students from Evangel are placed for the entire year when they go to Weller. They do their practicums in the fall and student teaching in the spring. This way they are truly immersed in the culture of the school,” she says.
Monroe says the results have been impressive.
“I’m very impressed with the quality of the students from Evangel,” Monroe says. “If I could have 10 TEA students, I’d have them. They are committed.”
Jamie Miller, a 2011 graduate of Evangel, found this practical experience invaluable.
“This program has had a significant impact on my journey in becoming a teacher,” Miller says. “TEA gave me huge support as an Evangel student, including workshops, collaboration opportunities and constant evaluation and guidance from professors and educators.
“I met some incredible educators here at Weller Elementary because of the program, and now, I am teaching alongside them as a first grade teacher.”