Monday, September 21, 2009

K-8 @ the U?

The headline above, disciphered into plain English any school kid could understand, refers to a proposed partnership between UNC Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to open a new elementary school on the university’s campus.

The idea is analgous to a "teaching hospital," with a mission to prepare the next generation of professionals. The proposal would provide College of Education students with more professional development training, and for CMS it would mean a new K-8 school with close ties to the university’s College of Education. That's important when you consider than UNC Charlotte graduated the second highest number of new school teachers of any university in North Carolina -- more than 630 new teachers in 2008. The more opportunities aspiring teachers get to work in direct contact with school children in classroom experiences, the better prepared they'll be to teach full time. And, “There’s a great need for additional schools in this part of Mecklenburg County,” Calhoun told the board.

The proposal is in the early stages and if approved by all parties the new school would open its doors in 2017, she said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is the top employer of UNC Charlotte College of Education graduates and nearly 2,000 graduates of the college are working in the state’s largest school district. The university currently has professional development partnerships with several CMS, Cabarrus County, and city of Kannapolis schools.

If approved, the new school would be located on the UNC Charlotte campus in a shared-space agreement that allows for K-8 school-based professional preparation for education majors. The plans call for a K-8 facility with an enrollment of 1,000 students, who will come from surrounding neighborhoods.

The 54-classroom school would offer the university a campus location for faculty to observe, collaborate, research, implement and evaluate best practices in an on-site, urban public school.

The new school also would serve as a recruitment tool for future educators. And it will symbolize the university’s role as a public education partner with CMS. Calhoun said the next step will be to make sure the proposal is included in CMS’s new master construction plan in November.

With this initiative the Collge of Education is once again staking its claim to leadership in the training of new teachers.

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