The School of Education launched a dual enrollment program this summer, giving eight D.C. Public School seniors the opportunity to take two SOE college courses at AU tuition-free.
SOE Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy said that the dual enrollment is a “teacher pipeline program,” which focuses on creating teachers who will return to work in the school district they attended as students. The program is designed to help combat the teacher shortage and lack of teacher diversity in DCPS.
Holcomb-McCoy and University President Sylvia Burwell worked with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and interim DCPS Chancellor Amanda Alexander in a collaborative effort between the university and the local school district. The organizers said the goal of the dual enrollment program is to essentially “grow your own” teachers with local students attending AU and remaining local as educators in their community.
“At DCPS one of our priorities is to recruit, develop and retain a talented, caring, and diverse team,” said Erin Ward Bibo, deputy chief of College & Career for DCPS. “This partnership with American allows us to empower DCPS graduates to come back to our classrooms to teach in and lead our schools.”
Over 70 DCPS students from Woodrow Wilson High School, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Theodore Roosevelt High School and Cardozo Education Campus applied for the program and ten were accepted. Two were unable to attend the program, and the other eight are currently enrolled.
Each student takes two classes for a total of six credits, which are valid for course credit only at AU. The first course offered during the fall semester is called Schools and Society. The second, Social Justice in Education, is offered in the spring. Both courses are taught by Traci Dennis, a professor in SOE.
“It’s amazing because the Schools in Society class really focuses on K-12 education in American schools and because our dual enrollment students are still in K-12 environments, they’re able to engage meaningfully in the conversations and provide personal experiences,” Dennis said. “They’re basically living what we’re talking about.”
If a student decides to complete their education degree at AU, they will be offered part-time jobs in the D.C. school district while they are attending school to get a feel for the profession. After they graduate, they are guaranteed a job as a teacher in the school district and must remain there for five years. During that time, they will be mentored by SOE faculty.
Olatokunbo Fashola, a researcher-in-residence in SOE, is the coordinator for the dual enrollment program. Her job is to help the high school students who are part of the dual enrollment program adjust to a college classroom and encourage them to participate in class.
“From what I have seen in the classroom, unless I am there to say, ‘I want to speak to my students,’ nobody even treats them as though they are high school students. As far as they are concerned, they’re college students,” Fashola said.
Holcomb-McCoy said the program is good for education as a whole. The program is planned to continue next summer with new students.
“To prepare for the next age of scientists and new age thinkers, we need good teachers,” she said.