ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Five education courses at Ouachita Baptist University offered the opportunity for teaching education candidates to participate in all-day field experiences throughout the month of October.

 
Ouachita teacher education candidates were assigned to their all-day field experiences based on their declared major, teaching level and personal preference.
 
“We wanted our students to get as much experience and exposure to the specific areas they hope to teach in the future in order to help solidify their desire for education,” said Rachel Pool, an instructor of education at Ouachita.
 
“These field experiences reinforced the fact that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” said Lorna Kirkpatrick, a junior early childhood education major from Little Rock, Ark. “When you do these things, you learn for sure whether this is for you or not.”
 
“Because of these unique and meaningful partnerships with schools across Arkansas,” Pool said, “Ouachita teacher education candidates are able to begin their journey of building the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to become competent, caring, culturally sensitive, student-centered teachers like the Master.”
 
Students enrolled in Freshman Seminar visited the Arkansas Capitol and the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum to reflect on the role of government in education. The group was guided by Dr. Paul and Mary Root, retired longtime faculty and staff members at Ouachita. Dr. Paul Root is professor emeritus of education, and Mary Root is retired academic coordinator of Student Support Services.
 
Secondary Methods, Middle School Methods and Methods of Secondary Mathematics students observed educators in Bryant Middle School and Bryant 9th Grade Academy. Ouachita’s teaching education candidates observed the following content areas: choir, band, theatre, physical education, English, social studies, mathematics and science.
 
The Child and Adolescent Development and Foundations of Education courses visited three schools across Central Arkansas: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Interdistrict Magnet Elementary School, Little Rock Central High School and Benton Middle School. The teacher education candidates who went King Interdistrict Magnet Elementary observed in classes from pre-K to 5th grade. They also spoke with teachers and Principal Karen Carter concerning issues in education such as data collection and its use for charting student learning.
 
At Little Rock Central High School, teaching education candidates interviewed Nacy Rousseau, principal; Lequieta Grayson, head counselor; and Nicole Smith, English teacher.
 
“These educators,” Pool said, “provided tremendous insight and advice regarding high expectations, strong classroom management and servant leadership.”
 
The Ouachita students who went to MLK Jr. Magnet School and Little Rock Central High School also visited the National Historic Museum where National Park Rangers spoke about the 1957 desegregation crisis. Driving the experience home, teacher education candidates planning to teach in high school were able to walk in the same footsteps as the Little Rock 9 walked 55 years ago last September.
 
Benton Middle School hosted Ouachita teaching education candidates who were able to visit Ouachita graduates at work. “A special thanks to Ouachita alumni Sue Shults, principal, and Jenna Nissen, first year teacher,” said Pool, speaking about the all-day field experience in Benton, “for hosting our OBU teacher education candidates and for providing refreshments.”
 
These all-day field experiences mark the beginning stages of a demanding career path. Ouachita teacher education candidates are required to accumulate 90 to 110 hours of field experience before they are allowed to student-teach. The hard work pays off, however, as teacher education candidates gain practical knowledge for their future occupation.
 
“Field experiences provide the opportunity to wed theory and practice,” said Dr. Merribeth Bruning, dean of the Huckabee School of Education.
 
Ouachita teacher education candidates put teaching theories into practice with lab work in education methods and early childhood courses, as well. Shorter trips to local schools in Arkadelphia give teacher education candidates in these courses the opportunity to make lesson plans, work with their peers and execute teaching methods on a regular basis.
 
Bruning noted that instructors Kathy Collins and Carrie Sharp both helped “supervise field experience at local schools so that all our students can get a glimpse of real world experience. The Education Department faculty work together as wonderful colleagues and as exemplary role models for our future teachers.”
 
For more information, contact Dr. Merribeth Bruning at bruningm@obu.edu or (870) 245-5154.

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