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Best Preparation is Early Immersion

Queens adult student Marla Blackwood has been student teaching in a kindergarten classroom at Myers Park Traditional School this year. "My goal is to teach them to love school," she says.  Marla was drawn to the early immersion philosophy at Queens.  "My first class, first semester, I was in a classroom observing.  When it came time for me to start student teaching, I wasn't a fish out of water."

The curriculum at Queens' Cato School of Education is unique in that the very first education course puts students into real classrooms to observe.  "In their first education class they have 10 hours of clinical experience.  In that first ten hours they go into all different types of schools and see what's out there," says Dr. Patrice D. Petroff, associate professor of education at Queens. 

Early immersion gives Queens students the ability to draw on real experiences as they learn.  "Throughout their student teaching experience, they are reflecting on their instruction and lesson plans," says Dr. Petroff.  "Then, in the Queens classroom we focus on providing activities.  We develop skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and digital literacy."

Marla says this approach directly supports her in the classroom.  "At Queens, we have discussions about behavior management and how to accommodate different learning styles.  I use this with my kindergarteners in working with them on socialization."

Dr. Petroff says a benefit of early immersion is that it gives optimal time for diverse exposure. "Our students have ample opportunities to discover the grade level, content area and environment that is best suited for them.  They are prepared to be leaders in the classroom and leaders with their peers."

Local teachers and principals are taking notice.  Queens student Missy Olson received the ultimate compliment from the school where she student taught -- she was hired. Missy graduated in May of 2012 and is now teaching 11th grade at Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Northwest School of the Arts.   She attributes her success to the early immersion philosophy.  "Within the second week at Queens, you're in the classroom.  I got tons of resources and experience being in front of the classroom, so I just feel like it prepared me the best."

Rebecca Doran has been a teacher for nine years, six of those at Myers Park Traditional School where she regularly interacts with Queens education students like Marla.  "Queens students are better than others," says Ms. Doran.  "They are organized, hard-working, well-prepared and I know what I can consistently expect from them."

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