North Central College - Naperville, IL

Education majors create, teach summer school program

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When a Chicago area elementary school canceled its summer school for low-achieving students, North Central College education majors stepped in to provide an alternative program.

Fifth-grade teacher Kate Smith Pereda at Lincoln Elementary School in Addison, Ill., was concerned for her students who would be impacted by the summer school's cancellation. A 2005 graduate of North Central College, Pereda contacted her former education professor Maureen Kincaid at North Central asking for help.

"Kate contacted me last spring wanting some help and came to campus to speak with our elementary education classes about the need at her school. Six students responded and together they developed a six-week mini summer school."

Addison's Lincoln Elementary School has a student population that's primarily from Spanish-speaking homes. Students in grades K-4 with low reading scores were invited to participate in this new summer program. They focused on reading and math skills three days a week and were pre- and post-tested to document their progress.

Sophomore Katie Selander taught the kindergarten class; 2010 graduate Jeannette Clark taught first grade; junior Rachael Wohlrab and Erin Sheehan (photo), who's seeking teacher certification, taught two second grade classes; senior Elisabeth Beeson taught third grade; and 2010 graduate Amanda Freeman taught fourth grade. The North Central student teachers earned one college credit for their work, which included testing and analyzing results, creating lesson plans, tutoring and teaching. Kincaid was on site throughout the summer assisting the teachers as needed.

The last day of summer school, parents and school administrators were invited to a Readers Theater performance where students read publicly and demonstrated their progress. Superintendent of Schools John Langton said, "The children of the Lincoln School community benefited from the hard work of North Central College education students with the generosity, resources and expertise of the College's staff. This collaborative effort allowed North Central future teachers to gain valuable experience in the elementary classroom while assisting our students to develop their literacy skills. ... We hope to continue working with North Central College on projects that mutually benefit both of our communities!"

Kincaid says she plans to expand the program next summer, involving more education students, and possibly setting up an internship and partnering with North Central's college-readiness program called Junior/Senior Scholars. "It was so worthwhile to do this. Everyone, including the children, commented how fast the six weeks flew by. That's great to hear."

North Central College's commitment to education is rooted in a long tradition of grooming educators to nurture inquisitive minds in both high-needs and high-performing elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools. Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in Naperville, Illinois, North Central College is just 28 minutes from Chicago's Loop. With more than 2,798 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes.