A model program

The Department of Education accepted a national Models of Excellence Award in recognition of its approach to utilizing on- and off-campus partnerships as part of the Lake Forest College teacher preparation program.

Associate Professor of Education Rachel Ragland brought home a plaque commemorating the achievement from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education Annual Conference in Indianapolis last week. Lake Forest College was selected to be awarded the Models of Excellence award in the category of partnerships for 2013.

“Lake Forest College’s program focuses on teaching as an intellectual activity in which teachers take responsibility for their actions as individuals in the professional environment,” Ragland writes in the narrative she submitted for the award. By focusing on the integration of partnerships into the program, the importance of community and understanding the context of the community in which one teaches becomes apparent. Ragland described students’ experiences as a result of these partnership experiences as “transformative.”

The Lake Forest College teacher education program works closely with districts in Waukegan, Lake Bluff, and Lake Forest. Lake Forest College students complete field work in those schools—as observers, tutors, instructors, and researchers— throughout all levels of the program. The most intensive and extensive partnership is with a local high-needs district, Waukegan, IL District 60, which provides candidates with opportunities to apply the theories of multicultural, culturally-responsive and community-based education in a real world setting.

The College also hosts teachers from those schools as guest speakers, and collaborates with them on grants and other projects in a truly mutually beneficial partnership. The cycle continues as these well-prepared teachers later become mentor teachers for the students in their clinical placements. 

Ragland also cited the strong partnerships the Department of Education maintains on campus with Lake Forest College faculty from various departments and divisions, and the establishment of a policy-making body, the Educational Advisory Council.

“Faculty throughout the college are intimately involved in the development of our teacher candidates,” she writes.