UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Some of the most influential experiences students can have in their college careers happen through practical learning. Participating in internships, professional development and teaching outside of central Pennsylvania combine to give students in the College of Education unique perspectives that they may not otherwise obtain. However, those experiences do not come without cost, and not all students are able to participate without financial assistance.
#GivingTuesday event to raise funds for student scholarships
Participants have the opportunity to help students have impactful, out-of-classroom experiences
In an effort to help as many students as possible participate in these valuable educational experiences, the College of Education’s participation in #GivingTuesday this year will target the college’s general scholarship fund, which is used to help students who need financial assistance to be able to participate in these impactful, out-of-classroom experiences.
On Nov. 27, people around the country will celebrate #GivingTuesday by showing support for the issues and ideas they care about. Penn State will be starting its #GivingTuesday campaign a little early, at 6:55 p.m. EST Nov. 26. For more information and to participate, visit https://giveto.psu.edu/givingtuesday online.
Some of the programs that the College of Education’s general scholarship fund supports are:
Internships in RHS and EPP
Internships in the Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) and Education and Public Policy (EPP) programs assist with career development by providing real work experiences that offer students opportunities to explore their interests and develop professional skills and competencies. During this experience, students will be able to apply what they learned in classes to actual practice. It is expected that students also will be challenged to examine how their attitudes, beliefs and values influence the helping process.
The major focus of internships for RHS students is on learning professional skills, abilities and activities practiced in RHS settings. Students will be involved in as many aspects of the RHS process as their academic training and variations in agency/facility functions and services permit.
The Education and Public Policy (EPP) Program internship experience provides students with on-the-job experience in a field of their choice. Students apply the skills and content learned in their coursework into actual policy problems and educational environments. “The EPP internship is the keystone in the degree,” according to Dana Mitra, professor of education (educational theory and policy).
Short-term student teaching abroad
The short-term, student teaching abroad program allows students majoring in elementary and early childhood education or secondary education to travel overseas for five to eight weeks after a 12-week student teaching placement in Pennsylvania. Short-term student teaching abroad placements are available in Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, Spain and Turkey.
In this program, students live and student teach in one of 16 countries for a semester, experiencing the culture and the diversity of a host country. In addition, they gain valuable insight into the education systems and the schools of that country.
Students who have participated in teaching abroad often share that employers have asked about their experiences overseas and were interested in hearing how it shaped them as educators. By student-teaching abroad, students are able to offer diversity and depth to many classrooms.
“It influenced who I am as a teacher today,” said Gina Thompson, an alumna who studied abroad in Sweden in fall 2006. “Going abroad has allowed me to see the world on a smaller scale, and it helped when I was interviewing.”
Culture and Disability (summer course)
People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world, making up 15 percent of the world’s population. Many people with disabilities often face discrimination, stigma, lower socioeconomic status and decreased life expectancy. Disability not only spans many professional boundaries (such as policymakers, doctors, engineers, human service providers and teachers) but is a human rights issue as well.
Students in this program will learn about different aspects of culture and disability through meeting with various service agencies in Ireland that provide resources for people with disabilities; advocacy and assistance to people with many different types of disabilities; and visits to various sites and guest speakers including experts from Trinity College Dublin and the National University of Ireland Galway.
Immersion in Ecuador
The English as a Second Language certificate now can be completed with a field teaching experience abroad. The immersion program includes courses at Penn State University Park and at one of two universities in Ecuador, Universidad de Loja and Universidad de Cuenca, for a summer intensive study experience. The program is completed in one calendar year, beginning in January and ending in August. Upon completion of the program, teachers can add the Teaching ESL Program Specialist endorsement to their professional teaching credential.
Professional Development School
The College of Education and the State College Area School District for 20 years running have combined to support the educational needs of the district’s K-12 students and the University’s teacher candidates through its Professional Development School (PDS), a teacher preparation program designed for Penn State students to serve as interns in nine State College Area elementary schools as well as the secondary English program in the high school for an entire academic year.
The opportunity to co-teach with a mentor teacher for that 10-month span is a benefit to the interns, who learn how to manage a classroom from the outset, and for the district’s students, many of whom end up with two teachers in a classroom.
Urban Education Seminar
The Urban Education Seminar can help students apply what they have learned in their Penn State courses to any public school environment.
The Urban Education Seminar is a two-week practicum where “participants work directly with children and teachers in Philadelphia public school classrooms,” said Jeanine Staples, associate professor of education (language and literacy education) and African-American Studies, who is in charge of the course. “Students also have the opportunity to participate in lectures and workshops from leading urban educators and researchers.”
Other valuable aspects of the seminar include community service in area neighborhoods and cultural events in the city.
D.C. Social Justice Program
The D.C. Social Justice Fellowship is a course that infuses diversity issues, topics and perspectives into the learning experience and enables undergraduate students to work with diverse underserved communities in the District of Columbia.
Students are drawn into the lesson by an approach that allows high school students’ lived experiences to serve as the catalyst for learning. Penn State student teachers are able to work with high school students who have encountered institutional barriers, and are encouraged to skillfully tease out substantive issues in society and policies to help students to propose policy solutions including suggested laws or community initiatives that address the challenges they have encountered.
Students interact with the youth in the District of Columbia high schools, with the focus on the intersection of social justice identities, institutional inequities and how to move toward a more just society.
Through academic discourse, community-embedded experience, action research, workshops, mentor conferences and stakeholder meetings, students learn to critically examine issues in education, law, policy and social structures toward the goal of formulating cooperative solutions.