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Elementary education rises to the top

June 29, 2017

 

Elementary education students attend the Dogs With A Cause TEaM model clinical residency service project. – Photo courtesy of Amy Vessel

KACIE KAUFMAN
News Editor | kjk019@ latech.edu

 

Once again, Louisiana Tech has received recognition at both the national and state level.

 

College Choice, an independent online publication, recently named Tech’s elementary education program as No. 1 in Louisiana and No. 4 in the country in its ranking of the “35 Best Elementary Education Degrees for 2017.” It was selected based on criteria such as program ratings and reputation scores calculated from other rankings.

 

Amy Vessel, director of clinical and field experiences in the College of Education, said the ranking was a welcome exhibition for the hard work done in the elementary education field.

 

“We know that we have a strong program, (and) we’re very proud of our program as a faculty,” she said. “But to have someone else acknowledge that from outside the walls of Woodard Hall, it’s humbling and it’s rewarding. It validates all the hard work that we’re doing.”

 

Vessel said Tech recently implemented a method called the Teacher Educators and Mentors (TEaM) model, which provided the chance for senior elementary education majors to spend the fourth year of his or her education in a classroom, not just a portion of the year, as is often seen in traditional student teaching.

 

“At Louisiana Tech, we’ve been doing clinical residencies longer than any other university in the state,” she said.

 

Vessel said the TEaM model was just one of the innovations made at Tech, and other efforts, such as the Dogs with A Cause service project and a new inclusive elementary program which prepares elementary majors to meet the needs of all students with a double certification in elementary and special education, are being included in the curriculum.

 

Kristen Seal, a senior elementary education major, said she believes the clinical residency program distinguishes Tech from others. She has experienced the program firsthand as a resident in a fourth-grade classroom at Ruston Elementary School.

 

“I have spent over 1,000 hours not only learning about what it is like to be a full-time teacher but experiencing it,” she said. “My mentor, Kathryn Martin, has created a co-teaching classroom that allows me to plan, teach and fill the role of a professional teacher.”

 

Seal said she feels Tech’s success stems from the high expectations for those in the program.

 

“I feel that this distinguished honor is a result of the high standards that are set for the Louisiana Tech education program and how the teacher candidates continuously rise above and beyond those standards, becoming not only the best teacher candidates but exemplary teachers,” she said.

 

Seal said she chose Tech because she felt the staff was highly invested in the program.

 

“I chose to pursue my dream of teaching at Louisiana Tech University because the passion that the professors presented their education program with was palpable,” she said. “I knew that I would call Woodard Hall home for the next four years because I could tell that the professors and staff truly did care about what it would take for me to excel at Louisiana Tech and in the field of education.”   

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