New Program Preps Future Educators

Daniel Kim

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Whitman’s new pre-education advising program held its first event on Tuesday, Feb. 19: a networking dinner designed to give students interested in education careers the opportunity to meet expert educators from the Walla Walla area.

Pre-education advising dinner, Feb. 19.  Photos by Halley McCormick.

Pre-education advising dinner, Feb. 19. Photos by Halley McCormick.

Over 15 local professionals were expected to attend the event. According to Associate Professor of Sociology Michelle Janning, one of the program’s advisers, there was a high amount of student interest in the dinner and the program in general.

“This was amazing,” she said, regarding the 80 students who signed up to attend. “It’s a dinner and so we have a limited number of spots, and so we used a registration system and the spots filled in a day or a day and a half, which showed me the need for students to know what the program is like.”

Language Learning Center Coordinator Jennifer Mouat, another of the program’s advisers, said the educators invited to the event were selected to represent a variety of backgrounds and career paths in the educational world.

“Dr. Linda Boggs, assistant superintendent for Walla Walla public schools, suggested panelists for the event, and we asked her to suggest educators from a diversity of disciplines and backgrounds to speak about their journeys into this field. We hope there will be something for everyone,” she said.

Pre-education advising panel, Tuesday, 2/19.

When the education minor at Whitman was removed in 2010-2011, Mouat, Janning and Assistant Director of Admission Robert Street discussed possible methods to continue the study of education at Whitman. The pre-education advising program started last year when Street, Mouat and Janning received an Innovation in Teaching and Learning Grant that began in late spring 2012. This is a competitive internal Whitman grant that is administered through the Provost and Dean of the Faculty Offices. Grant applications are reviewed by faculty members on the Center for Teaching and Learning Committee.

Michelle Janning, sociology professor and provost of faculty.

Michelle Janning, sociology professor and provost of faculty.

On top of applying for the grant, Janning also decided to apply for a separate piece of the grant to develop a new course about the sociology of education.

“I’ve spent the last year researching and writing and collaborating with colleagues here and internationally to develop that course. I spent a part of my sabbatical in Denmark to research international issues in education,” Janning said.

Street said he thinks the absence of the education minor has been mostly good for students and fits Whitman’s purpose as an institution.

“I think not having the education minor has been a good experience for students since they are able to major in an area that they are really interested and passionate about. From there, they are able to go into a teaching program that will then train them, after they had the broad education here at Whitman,” Street said. “I feel that teaching a teacher how to teach should come from a master’s program, and does not need to come from a place from Whitman.”

According to Street, the purpose for setting up a pre-education advising program was not to develop a credentialing program or be attached to a graduate program, but to help students who are interested in the curricular aspects of education be more aware of resources that are present on campus to help them pursue that path.

“I saw a need not necessarily for a minor or for students to get a pedagogical experience at Whitman, but more importantly to have an advising system in place [so] that students who are interested in education knew how to go about their different and unique interests,” Street said.

All three members of the advising team not only have strictly educational relations to the new program, which will be added to the 2013-2014 College Catalog, but also have personal reasons for their involvement. With it, from the beginning, the program shows great interests from students and educators with the amount received from their grant.

Pre-education advising panel, Tuesday, 2/19.

Erin Pahlke, professor of psychology

Erin Pahlke, professor of psychology

Pre-education advising panel, Tuesday, 2/19.

Jennifer Mouat runs the Language Learning Center at Whitman.

Jennifer Mouat runs the Language Learning Center at Whitman.

 

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