Dr. Jordan Thibodeaux
The College of Arts and Humanities at Arkansas Tech University has developed an outreach program, the K-12 Initiative, whose purpose is to partner with interested public schools. The primary goal of the K-12 Initiative is to provide intensive content coverage to the public schools upon their request. The content areas of the K-12 Initiative include English, History, Political Science, Art, Music, Geography, Literature, Sociology, and Philosophy. The K-12 Initiative is not an educational pedagogical program which emphasizes enhanced methods for classroom delivery of materials, but rather a content-oriented program whose aim is to increase and enhance the level of partnership between higher education and the public schools while improving student learning, comprehension, and written expression at all levels of the educational experience.
All K-12 Initiative videos are now viewable online by clicking on the Subject links located to the right.
By developing this content oriented outreach program, the College of Arts and Humanities at Arkansas Tech hopes to develop closer ties with our colleagues working in the public schools. This increased collegial relationship will be a great benefit to both the public school and college faculties by fostering a greater understanding of each other's educational expertise, by further enriching the content depth of the course offerings, and by fostering expanded opportunities for student learning. In short, we want to expand our services to our fellow educators working within the public schools and build a bridge of educational partnership in order to better achieve our reciprocal goals.
The first part involves a simple request for a faculty member from Tech's College of Arts and Humanities to create a video on a particular topic as requested by the public school teacher. Once created, the video will be posted on the K-12 Initiative website for use by classroom teachers. Some examples of possible topics include a discussion of the Red Scares of 1919-1920 and 1950-1954, or America's involvement in Vietnam, or a lecture on English poets, or a presentation on a particular genre of art. These are simply examples. These presentations could come from any of the subject disciplines within Arkansas Tech's College of Arts and Humanities.
The purpose of these coordinated presentations would primarily be enrichment of the subjects being covered in the public school classrooms. The classroom teacher would simply request a presentation on a particular subject, note the time frame allowed, offer a reasonable range of possible dates, and send the request to the K-12 Liaison several weeks in advance. The K-12 Liaison would coordinate the implementation of the presentation between an appropriate faculty member from Tech's College of Arts and Humanities and the public school classroom teacher. It is hoped that this level of coordination between higher education faculty and secondary faculty would benefit both in a greater appreciation of their professional efforts as well as assist in enhancing the educational environment for all concerned and further student interest and learning opportunities.
The second part of the K-12 Initiative involves a summer program open to all interested public school classroom teachers. The entire College of Arts and Humanities K-12 Summer Institute will last for three to five days over a one week period in either late-June or early-July. Each day of this Summer Institute will focus on content area only. Each day's sessions will provide for subject content delivery and presentations. Every effort will be made to see to it that the content element can "work with" the Common Core or be a designated portion of the curriculum demands from the Common Core.
A classroom teacher may choose to attend as many of the Summer Institute's day long workshops as they wish OR they may choose to attend the entire Institute. Professional Development credit will be offered for each one-hour session attended.
For a public school classroom teacher or employees of a public school to participate in the K-12 Initiative, both Part One and/or portions of Part Two, there is zero monetary costs. The cost of these programs will be paid by the College of Arts and Humanities of Arkansas Tech University through a generous donation that was made to the ATU Foundation. The participants' time, interest, and desire to be involved in this program is their only cost. The public school system will incur zero costs for their involvement. The only costs to the participant or his school will occur should the participant enroll in the entire ten days of the Summer Institute and wish to earn graduate credit for so doing. There will be a tuition cost payable to Arkansas Tech University by these classroom teacher participants (which may possibly be reimbursed by their school district based on the personnel policies of their respective schools) for the granting of graduate Humanities credit IF they attend the entire ten days of the Summer Institute. There will be zero costs for the Professional Development credit.
For decades there has existed a growing gap between the professional educators of public schools and higher education. This distance is detrimental to all concerned with education and learning. Both the public schools and higher educational institutions serve many of the same students during the course of their matriculation. If higher education can assist overly burdened public school personnel in highlighting specific content in order to enhance the overall educational milieu and thus help with the delivery of public school programs, it not only helps the public schools and their students, but it also helps the higher education institution as well by having slightly better prepared students who have at least been introduced to a somewhat enriched content of subject. The K-12 Initiative helps everyone more effectively do their jobs as educators. By doing so, as partners in education the public school educators and their higher education partners working together toward an enriched course content can improve overall student learning, educational attainment, and educational performance at all levels.
If this program can be tailored so as to allow overly burdened public school teachers who have little free time during their ever constrained summer vacation to participate in a meaningful Summer Institute for which they received Professional Development credit or possibly plus 3 hours of Graduate credit, then the K-12 Initiative is functioning within the contemporary real world of public education in a useful and manageable manner. Furthermore, by developing a true partnership between public school and college faculty members bridged by their mutual interest in a content area plus their desire to further student learning the greater educational objectives of all parties can be advanced.
The College of Arts and Humanities K-12 Initiative is based on the firm conviction that faculty members working in public schools and college can work together as partners to advance student learning. The approach does not mandate what content will be presented because this Initiative must be a truly equitable partnership. The public school classroom teacher will articulate his content needs and the college faculty will endeavor to delivery that which has been requested. As much as is possible the details of time and place will be made mutually beneficial. Furthermore, this Initiative does not involve excessive paperwork, red tape or costs for the public school to participate in this Initiative. A simple, direct, streamline approach is the model for content delivery and partnership and the service is free to the public schools and their participating educators.
The College of Arts and Humanities of Arkansas Tech University wants to deliver a useful, student learning multiplier Initiative based on subject matter content which will develop a professional working relationship with our colleagues in the public schools. This approach can assist public school teachers and administrators, public schools, and public school students as well as ultimately assisting college faculty, colleges, and college students. Therefore, we believe that an equitable educational partnership between the College of Arts and Humanities of Arkansas Tech University and the public schools and their teachers and administrators offers a desirable "win win" for all parties. We hope you agree and will join with us in making the K-12 Initiative a part of your approach in the upcoming year. We are here and ready and anxious to work with you as equal educational partnership.