14:43 PM

Secondary Ed Program Gets Real, Real Fast

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Class is now in session for Bellevue University’s first group of Secondary Teacher Education students.

The inaugural class consisting of four local students and two from out of state began their studies in late August. According to Professor Erin McDonnell Jones, all six are already receiving a dose of Bellevue University’s unique brand of real learning for real life. “In the very first class of the semester,” she said, “we were letting them see and observe and discuss and ask questions. It’s a method that’s really appealing to me, too, because that’s how you want to teach.”

SONY DSCThe exposure to a real classroom setting helps students determine early on if teaching is the right path for them.

“I do think that it is cool that we’re able to get out and do observations in the classroom,” said Jessica Lamkins, a Bellevue native. “I know other friends that I have that are juniors in college. They’re just now doing it.  I feel like that really helps to navigate if this is the direction you want to go. I think it is a really good opportunity.”

Morgan Sheard, who hails from Papillion, was already being recruited by women Head Soccer Coach Andy Nicolarsen when the Secondary Education program was added, and sealed the deal. “I always wanted to go into education. I took classes in high school,” she said.

Dana Peterson also counts teaching as a longtime professional goal. While Petersen hails from Wyoming, he did have some insight into what Bellevue University was all about. “I heard about Bellevue through my dad. He’s stationed here with the Air Force,” he said.

With their Introduction to Teaching course already completed, the students are now enrolled in Instructional Technology for Teachers and Foundations of Education.

McDonnell-Jones is pleased with the progress of the group.

“I think it’s going well. They’re a really nice group,” she said. “They’re bonding very well. They’re enjoying being together -- getting out there and observing.”

The small group learning is working for Petersen, as well.

“I like a small group because it lends itself to better discussions. Not just with the professor, but with the class in general,” he said.

Bellevue University’s Secondary Education program is the first new program of its kind in the state in the last 17 years. Debbie Galusha, the director of the program, said the program will meet a need in the state and the country.

“There’s a shortage of teachers in almost every area,” she said. “This shortage applies particularly to secondary education and specialty areas.”

The Nebraska Department of Education will be on campus in March to check on the progress of the program.

“We have at least one and probably two more years of visits from the state,” Galusha said.  “They just want to make sure that the classes that we’re offering are meeting their requirements. The Nebraska Department of Education is very eager and supportive of this program because of the shortage of secondary ed teachers.”

One new thing those visitors might see is a synchronous classroom environment where online students can mix with their in-class contemporaries.

“Blackboard has a new function called Collaborate,” Galsusha said. “It allows a student to login and participate live. It’s something that we’re very interested in experimenting with the possibilities.”