With the teacher shortage in our state, NEIU decided to help the College of Education grow. This fall, NEIU partnered with Ridgewood High School to start the Career Pathways and Education, also known as a dual enrollment program. The program is a way of helping students become more motivated, gain more experience and learn leadership before entering college. While continuing to focus on their high school classes, six students have decided to take part in this program to get one step ahead. Interim Chair of the Department of Educational Inquiry and Curriculum Development Eleni Makris and Special Assistant to the Provost Sandra Beyda- Lorie, along with the six students, gave more information about the program and how it has been this school year.
The program itself is very new, with Illinois and a few other states allowing high school students to take college courses while still in high school. Beyda-Lorie explained how NEIU first got involved with this dual partnership. “The state of Illinois has been starting to do what other states have already done,” Beyda-Lorie explained, “and that is to create some kind of seamless pathways from high schools to either a community college or a four-year institution for various programs.” Beyda-Lorie also described how NEIU was one of the very first schools to create an education pathway with high schools.
Students Abriela Karemanaj, Yilyanny Barreto-Rodriguez, and David Berry responded to why they took part in this program and how it benefits them. “I was approached by my school counselor about the new pathway in education that Ridgewood established with NEIU,” Karemanaj stated. Barreto also said that being a part of the program makes her feel more prepared to go into college and that the program allows her to “get ahead of the game and secure her future.” Berry also added that being part of this program gives him college credit, and allows him career advancement.
Beyda-Lorie also reported how Ridgewood approached the College of Education and helped form the dual partnership between the two schools: “When Ridgewood approached us,” she said, “They didn’t necessarily want a one size fits all approach.” Instead, she continued, the high school asked, “if they were going to help prepare a good teacher, what would the courses be like, but also what would the clinical experiences that the students took at the high school look like.” Beyda-Lorie also included some of the experiences that the students have: “The students do kind of pre-clinical experiences or field experiences over at the high school with younger kids.”
Another student, Julie Clark, explained how her experience has been so far: “ At first, taking the Foundations in Education course at NEIU was challenging. But, after a few weeks, we all learned how to manage our time.”
Beyda-Lorie also included what she wants the students to know about how being in the program helps them with their career: “For the education foundation courses, we want them to understand what the curriculum of schooling is all about, that this school is more than just being a teacher. It’s a profession and it is about being a change agent in your school and in the community.”
Another student, Domenica Ferdinardo, mentioned how that being in this program also gives her a chance to earn some college credit. Beyda-Lorie also added that “students are getting a flavor” about what it means to become a teacher, and how they are taught to “advocate for kids and advocate better conditions for the community.”
For the NEIU college students that get to share their experiences with these six students, Chairwoman Makris explained how they can also learn from seeing others take part in this experience: “It provides college students the opportunity to be able to see that there are people interested in education at younger levels.” She also added that NEIU students can see how this program and experiences help to decide what major a student chooses. Ivy Huynh, another student in the program, explained how this helped them decide what they will possibly major in. Huynh mentioned how she plans on majoring in psychology and how taking these courses can help her make her decision. Ferdinardo, who also finds a benefit in taking educational psychology, mentions how the class will help her with her “interest with educational policy.”
Makris also added how this program is headed toward other colleges in our school. “Not only are we planning to expand it, but the university as a whole sees the importance of expanding partnerships and dual enrollment.”