Spring Break: So Many Options!
The recent spring break afforded many Wheaton students opportunities for experiences that support academic and extra curricular pursuits. Students participated in Break-a-Way ministry trips throughout the United States, international mission trips, and athletic competitions. Besides these activities, some education majors completed a middle grade practicum, as part of earning an endorsement for teaching in a Middle School. Many students traveled with friends to a warmer climate, which is not surprising after the intense winter experienced here in February. Of course, going home and chilling out in the midst of an intense semester is usually an attractive alternative. Whatever was enjoyed over spring break, welcome back to the last two months of the 2014-15 academic year, culminating with graduation on May 10.
Mentoring to Alumni Research: An Encouraging Word
The Faculty Student Mentoring Initiative at Wheaton College has allowed professors in departments funded by the mentoring initiative to form small cohorts of students and partner with them in projects, initiatives and research. Each year, Dr. Eckert forms a research group with undergraduate students to track recent alumni of the Wheaton Teacher Education Program (WheTEP) to learn about the influence Wheaton College had on these graduates and to find out what they do after graduation. According to McKenna Fitzharris '17, "we met weekly as a group where we pray for graduates we regularly correspond with and analyze data from the annual survey we sent out." The data obtained, with a 90% response rate, results in the information available on the WheTEACH website, which is maintained by the students involved in this mentoring group.
As is evident in the graph, about 90% of recent graduates were employed in education that first year after graduation, in public, private and international settings. Graduates also appear to value the strong liberal arts preparation they have experienced at Wheaton College, too. More information about these and other alumni responses are available on the WheTEACH website. McKenna also notes that they research and maintain the licensure and teaching requirements for all fifty states in the U.S., so very practical information is tabulated for those conducting a job search. Overall, this particular mentoring initiative encourages both the undergraduates connecting with alumni, as well as the alumni reporting back to the next generation of educators.
Wheaton Teacher Education Program Completes Accreditation Review
From Nov. 9 through Nov. 11, 2014, four outside evaluators from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) carefully viewed documents and interviewed scores of people to determine if WheTEP met the six standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). This was their first visit to campus since 2006, when Wheaton’s teacher education program was last granted this national recognition.
As part of this process, evaluators interviewed elementary and secondary education faculty, senior college administrators, current student teachers, past and present cooperating teachers, K-12 school administrators, and community members. As part of the itinerary, they visited Grover Cleveland Elementary School in Chicago, Hubble Middle School in Warrenville, and Wheaton North High School in Wheaton.
In the exit meeting with President Ryken, Provost Jones, Dean Chappell, and Chair Lederhouse, the accreditation team chair concluded that Wheaton College has a strong program and appears to meet all six national standards. Final and official approval is expected after the CAEP board reviews the final report and votes on it in the spring of 2015. In an congratulatory email, President Ryken expressed his gratitude “for the exemplary work Wheaton does in preparing teachers.” Similarly, Provost Jones noted that “this is the culmination of a huge amount of work, and the result is terrific for the program and the college.”
Dr. Chappell, the Dean of Natural and Social Sciences, was particularly pleased that the program and institutional mission was clearly articulated. She observed the department displayed “a remarkable testimony of competence, professionalism, and the Lord’s work through education.” The evaluators remarked on the quality of Wheaton’s teacher candidates based on formal and informal interactions. A number of education students assisted before and during the site visit by organizing materials, transporting people and supplies, and by guiding the evaluators to meetings in various buildings on campus. We are grateful for the hard work of so many people in preparation for this thorough program evaluation.
Special Education Endorsement to be Added
The Wheaton Teacher Education program plans to offer the courses leading to a special education endorsement that can be added to an Illinois teaching license. This may be easier for elementary education teacher candidates to complete than secondary education teacher candidates, as special education could be chosen as an elementary education concentration. The department is conducting a national search for a special education instructor during the 2014-15 academic year with the hope of offering the added special education courses beginning in 2015-16.