By Ryan Connelly
Rider is helping high school students get a head start with their education. With Tomorrow’s Teachers program, students in select high schools can choose do an introduction course at Rider.
“My goal is to expose them to the profession and get them to challenge their prior conceptions about teaching and learning,” said education professor Tracey Garrett.
Rider started a partnership with Tomorrow’s Teachers program in 2013. Students that are enrolled in the program can earn three college credits by completing the introduction to education course requirements and the Tomorrow’s Teachers class. The class is listed as IND-101, and college students are unable to enroll in the course.
In order for instructors to teach the course, they must be trained. According to the State of New Jersey Department of Education, about 160 New Jersey teachers have participated in Tomorrow’s Teachers training since 2007. The course is offered in 38 states across the country. In New Jersey, there are four universities that offer college credits who complete the course elective. The price of the program is $560, but the participating high schools will pay the cost.
“If the student’s high school is participating in the program, they can opt for the option of completing additional work for Rider and earning college credit,” said Garrett. “The program is in its 6th year [at Rider], and we have had over 500 students participate.”
The class is taught every year from November to June. Garret stated she was the only one that will be teaching this course at Rider. Even though this is offered to high school students, only high school juniors and seniors qualify for the program.
“I took my experience teaching our foundations of education courses that we offer here at Rider,” said Garrett. “I thought, ‘What would I want those students to know coming into these classes? What could I give them that would help them explore the profession and be helpful so that they have some prior knowledge of the teaching profession from the teacher perspective before they become students in pre-service programs?’
“I thought we could give students a chance to connect with other high school students around the state and explore these different topics,” Garrett said.
Some of the course material contains online discussions of various topics such as TED Talks, journals and blog posts. They also look at certain problems within the education field. Much like a course offered at Rider, the students are required to respond twice to the discussion, once with their own thoughts, and second, feedback on another student’s thoughts.
“The earlier students become immersed in the classroom, the better,” said senior elementary education major Heather Lesinski. “If this was offered [in my high school] I would have taken advantage of it, I would have entered college knowing more than I originally did.”