Colorado State University thinks the best way to prepare future teachers is to send them back to high school.
This idea won recognition when a partnership between Colorado State and Rocky Mountain High School was named one of the top teacher preparation programs in the country at the annual meeting of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The two schools were recognized earlier this month for the collaborative teacher preparation program, called the Professional Development School.
Through the program, students in Colorado State’s School of Education go to area high schools to attend their college classes and to work alongside high school teachers. Relocating college classes to area high schools allows future teachers to apply skills as they learn.
"The program is a critical bridge between theory and practice," said Corinne Mantle-Bromley, associate professor in the School of Education. "The students who complete it are much better prepared for the required semester of student teaching and for teaching careers. When research showed that the Professional Development School program was a better way to prepare teachers, the School of Education adopted it for their entire undergraduate program. Now every student going through undergraduate teacher licensure at Colorado State participates in at least one Professional Development School semester."
In addition to the site at Rocky Mountain High School, Colorado State is currently working with Fort Collins High School, Poudre High School and Centennial School in Fort Collins, and Thompson Valley High School in Loveland.
"Not only do college students learn from the program, but high school teachers and university faculty members benefit also," said Karen Dixon, Principal of Rocky Mountain High School. "The program allows teachers at Rocky to exchange ideas and methods with the Colorado State faculty, and the Colorado State faculty has a great opportunity to make certain course material as relevant as possible to today’s public schools. Ultimately, the program helps provide a better quality education for public school children."
The Professional Development School concept is growing in popularity, with more than 100 sites across the country using the program instead of traditional campus-based student licensure programs.
L. Sharon Blocker, assistant professor in the School of Education at Colorado State until her death in October 1997, was instrumental in developing and implementing the Professional Development School program at Colorado State. Blocker was the first Colorado State faculty member to move a teacher licensure class onto a high school site.
"It is a tribute to Sharon and to the design of the program that the model has been adopted by Colorado State and has received national recognition," said Nancy Hartley, dean of the College of Applied Human Sciences.
A scholarship fund for students pursuing a teaching career has been established in Blocker’s memory. Contributions can be sent to the Colorado State University Foundation in care of the L. Sharon Blocker Scholarship Fund. For more information, call Mantle-Bromley at (970) 491-1498.