UofL freshman Megan Baskerville was in middle school when she decided she wanted to be a teacher.
She endured a tumultuous childhood, peppered with uncertainty as her father struggled to make ends meet and moved frequently, often causing Megan and her sister to switch schools.
“I thought, ‘I love going to school,’” said Baskerville. “It was the only thing stable in my life. It was a place I could be a productive member of society just like everyone wants to be. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do.”
Baskerville’s journey to become a teacher comes at a good time: the College of Education and Human Development has kicked off a new program that helps aspiring teachers by giving them access to experienced educators and opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school.
The Teaching and Learning Career Pathway Program is a collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Education.
For the fall 2017 semester, the college has signed memorandums of understanding with three Kentucky school districts — Jefferson, Bullitt and Gallatin counties — and expects to sign agreements with more districts soon. The contracts leverage the Kentucky Dual Scholarship Program, a statewide initiative administered by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority that funds college-level courses for high school students.
Although Baskerville embarked on her academic journey before the program was “officially” off the ground, she was able to use college credits earned at Atherton High School toward her UofL degree in elementary education. She said the program at Atherton was demanding.
“By your senior year, you could be teaching several hours a day,” Baskerville said. “You are expected to develop lesson plans, build a portfolio and are graded on your performance.”
Amy Lingo, the CEHD’s associate dean for academic affairs and unit effectiveness who worked closely with the school districts to solidify the agreements, is thrilled to find students like Baskerville.
“When a high school student expresses an interest in teaching, we want to do our part to help and inspire that student,” said Lingo. “Those who earn college credits during high school have a big leg-up because they have already saved time and money and are better prepared for the academic rigors of college.”
Dean Ann Larson said the partnerships with the schools dovetail nicely with the college’s focus on learning by doing, recruiting, and supporting high school students into a teaching pipeline to jump-start their education career.
“These agreements represent the best of both worlds,” Larson said. “They combine traditional education with a strong mentoring component. We’ve learned that when an aspiring teacher, beginning at the high school level with earned college credits, actually walks in the shoes of a seasoned teacher, it’s a powerful and inspiring theory-to-practice learning tool.”
University officials expect about 100 students to take part in the teacher education-focused curriculum during the 2017-2018 academic year. High school students will enter the pathway as freshman with a sequence of courses that include The Teaching Profession, Foundations of Instruction and Building Learning Communities.
UofL is one of four institutions participating in the pilot program. The other universities are Murray State, Northern Kentucky and Kentucky State.