EDMOND — University of Central Oklahoma child psychology professor Genia James always has believed in the power of education and the value of real-world experience.
As a professor training young adults to enter the field of teaching, she hoped to give students a chance to learn from professionals firsthand.
She didn't know how to achieve that goal until August.
“I always hoped I'd have the chance to put teacher candidates in a classroom so they could observe teachers in action,” James said.
During the fall semester, UCO administrators hoping to fund an academic program that would benefit students offered faculty the chance to apply for a grant.
James applied for the grant and was awarded $5,000.
This spring, the grant allows for James' 11 child psychology students to shadow Linwood Elementary School teachers in the Oklahoma City School District as they teach students in prekindergarten through sixth grade a wide range of subjects.
From 1 to 3 p.m. each Thursday, the UCO students watch and assist Linwood teachers with their daily activities, then gather for an hour in the library to reflect on their observations and experiences.
“Their main goal is to interact with students and learn about the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of children,” James said.
Linwood Principal Susan Combs said the program is mutually beneficial to her teachers, who get a helping hand in the classroom, and to the UCO education majors, who get to apply what they are learning in a real-world setting.
“Nothing can better prepare students for jobs in teaching than actually being in a classroom and seeing how teachers work and engage with students,” Combs said.
“This program provides students with priceless opportunities.”
UCO education major Chelsie Roberts said the program helped validate her decision to teach kindergarten.