Making Connections with UNK

Making Connections with UNK  

October 24, 2016

The ESU 10 Teaching and Learning Department has created new partnerships and networks of support with the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Dr. Sheryl Feinstein, Dean of the College of Education at UNK, met with Dr. Bell and ESU 10 directors last spring. She inquired on how UNK and ESU 10 could partner to support the field of education. From those conversations, three exciting partnerships have been formed.

Jami Schaffnitt and Kelly Clapp organized and facilitated the ESU 10 New Teacher Academy for teachers in their first or second year of teaching. On August 3-4, 74 new teachers attended sessions to help prepare them for their first days of school. Participants will return in October and January for follow-up sessions. One unique feature to this year’s academy was the addition of participants from the UNK Transitional Certification Program. 

The Transitional Certification Program (TCP) at UNK is an alternative teacher certification pathway for individuals with a baccalaureate degree or higher who wish to earn an Initial Teaching Certificate issued by the Nebraska Department of Education. Students who meet the qualifications to start the TCP are also eligible to be hired by a Nebraska public school to start teaching in their endorsement area.

Wendy McCarty, Director of UNK Transitional Certification Program, met with Jami and Kelly to coordinate the inclusion of these teachers in our New Teacher Academy. These new teachers will be taking education courses while beginning their first teaching job. We felt it was essential to equip these teachers with practical classroom management strategies and first day of school tips to make sure their school year started off well. 

Vic Young, UNK Director Network of Partner Schools, has met with me multiple times to coordinate having UNK Teacher Education 100 students come to ESU 10 to learn how we support local school districts. All of the UNK TE 100 classes will meet at ESU 10 for one class session during the month of September. ESU 10 Department Directors will take the students on a tour of our facilities, provide an overview of our department services, and discuss the role of ESUs in the Nebraska Education System. We are excited to expose these students to the work of ESUs and encourage them to utilize our services in the future.

In June, Dr. Feinstein and Dr. Chris Knoell, UNK Department Chair of Teacher Education, discussed an opportunity to partner with ESU 10 schools to offer a Dual Credit Teacher Education course for high school juniors and seniors. I have been working with Dr. Feinstein and Dr. Knoell to determine the level of interest and the potential to have multiple schools work together to offer the class via distance learning. Kearney Public Schools will be offering this course on-site during the 2016-2017 school year. ESU 10 has ten additional school districts that are interested in offering this dual credit class during the 2017-2018 school year. Our hope is that exposing high school juniors and seniors to the field of education will result in increased teacher education enrollment at our state colleges. 

The Teaching and Learning Department’s purpose is to provide expertise, leadership, and support to all stakeholders in order to continuously improve teaching and learning. Our department is excited about these new, collaborative partnerships with UNK. We continue to seek out new possibilities to work with higher education, the Nebraska Department of Education, and our local school districts.

-by Denise O'Brien, Teaching and Learning Director