North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central education majors expand studies in high-need schools

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Contact: Ted Slowik, Director of PR and Media Relations, 630-637-5307,

Nov. 8, 2010—Education majors at North Central College are broadening their experience working with children in high-need schools.

This fall marks the first time a member of North Central’s education faculty is teaching a course to undergraduate students at a site off-campus. Dr. Maureen Kincaid, associate professor of education and chair of education at North Central, is teaching a course on children’s literature at N.A. Hermes Elementary School in East Aurora School District 131.

“We do our coursework in a classroom at the school, then our students go into classes and immediately apply what they’ve learned by reading aloud to kids and leading instruction in children’s literature,” Kincaid says. “Most of the students are also enrolled in a methods course with a practicum so they have the opportunity to teach several lessons making them more prepared for student teaching and eventually teaching.”

The course, “Using Children and Adolescent Literature In K-8 Classrooms,” helps elementary education majors become familiar with a wide range of literature styles. The future teachers learn about a variety of strategies that can be used to teach using literature across curriculum areas.

The course is one example of how North Central’s rigorous education program exceeds state requirements by requiring 150 hours of  classroom field study at all levels while the state requires just 100 hours.

“Our program is more rigorous than others. You have to become involved. You can’t just sit and observe,” says Colleen Burzynski of Elmwood Park, a senior majoring in elementary education and member of North Central’s conference champion women’s cross country team.

This fall’s pilot program at Hermes may be expanded to other courses and locations in the future, Kincaid says. North Central College is committed to preparing teachers and school leaders to serve in high-need schools. Teacher and leadership candidates conduct field projects and curriculum projects that increase cultural proficiency and awareness to better address achievement gaps often found in high-need schools.

“I’m pursuing a degree in education because I was inspired by one of my teachers,” says Courtney Olsen of Sugar Grove, a junior majoring in elementary education. “I’m doing my practicum in a high-need school.”

North Central College is a leader in education, offering undergraduate degrees in elementary education, secondary education, reading and English language learning, as well as art education, music education, health education and physical education. The College offers a master of arts degree in education, with emphasis in curriculum and instruction or educational leadership and administration.

North Central’s department of education is fully accredited by the Illinois State Board of Education, which uses National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards to assess the programs offered at North Central College.

Founded in 1861 and celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2011, 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 the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live”—North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. With more than 2,900 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.