South Bend — SOUTH BEND — Jeremy Williams isn’t your traditional college student. He’s a little older and the parent of four children of his own. But he says he felt called back to school to begin a new career in the classroom.
"I just felt like there's more,” he said. “These kids need to be motivated more, they needed to be excited more, because I didn't see it in the classroom. So that got me excited and fired up, and this is something I need to do.”
So he’s taking education classes at IU-South Bend, but not all of them take place on campus. Williams is among nearly 40 education students who are learning on location at Coquillard Primary Center in South Bend.
“It makes so much sense to me,” said Dr. Marilyn Nash with the IU South Bend School of Education. “We teach theory and they go out and do the practice. It’s directly connected.”
Nash and other college instructors teach their students math and reading/language arts methodology at Coquillard, then each student puts what they’ve learned into place with small groups of third and fourth-graders at Coquillard.
“It’s nice to take what we're learning and immediately be able to apply it with our students - with our younger students," said IU South Bend student Thea Jacobs.
“They're light years beyond what I now call ‘old-school teaching,’ where we're over on campus and we send them out another day of the week to go [into the] field. It's instantaneous and it's just amazing," Nash said.
Coquillard fourth-grade teacher Bryon Scoggin helped Nash organize the partnership.
He said it doesn’t just help prepare college students for a full-time student-teaching semester; it also helps his own students right now.
"The question for me as a teacher is 'how do I get more support?' Here's a great way to bring additional resources in. Now my class of 20 can be pared down to nine groups of two. That's excellent. Excellent!” Scroggin said.
Scroggin said the partnership began last fall with 23 IU South Bend students and 45 fourth-graders. This year, 40 IU South Bend students are involved along with 80 third and fourth-graders. Each college student works with a two elementary students.
“It's about making us better teachers so that we are not thrown in. Immediately after we graduate we know what we're doing and we're better able to assist our students,” said Jacobs.
“Today's kids, with technology and everything that's surrounding them, it's a different type of kids, different type of classroom,” Williams said. “So we need to prepare teachers for this new kind of classroom, these new kinds of kids, how to reach them, how to motivate and inspire them.”