DIRECTORY | SUPPORT MCLA   

These teens from Pittsfield, who aspire to teaching careers, recently visited MCLA as part of the “Greylock Teach Fellows” program.

Program Inspires Teens to Education Careers

12/03/15

Since our inception in 1894 as a Normal School, MCLA has been a leading force in preparing Berkshire County’s teachers. This year, some teens who aspire to teaching careers are getting an early launch to their college careers as they work with mentor-teachers as teaching assistants in area classrooms, serve as mentors themselves to younger students, and even earn college credits.

Aimed at high school juniors and seniors in Pittsfield’s two high schools who are interested in teaching at public elementary, middle and high schools, “Greylock Teach Fellows” organizers hope they’ll want to stay in the Berkshires.

After a successful pilot year, the second round of the Greylock Teach Fellows program garnered more applications than there was space, according to Howard “Jake” Eberwein III, Ed.D., MCLA’s dean of graduate and continuing education.

The program, run as a partnership between MCLA, Pittsfield Public Schools and Greylock Credit Union, also generated some great feedback from its first participants, which led to the implementation of some new elements.

The goal is to identify students who are interested in working as educators in Berkshire County.

“We’re very interested in getting students into the program who reflect the diversity that’s present in the County, and also students who are interested in high-need fields such as STEM education,” Eberwein said.

Participating students take an “Education and Society” class – which is MCLA’s foundation education course. It not only provides the students with some earned college credits, it’s an introduction to the world of education theory.

In addition, program organizers wanted to provide students with opportunities to experience education in action.

“They will be matched up with a mentor teacher and do some teaching assistant work in classes at other schools,” Eberwein said. “What does it feel like to be a teacher? How do they prepare and interact with students? How do they organize their classrooms?

“They’re the kinds of things you can certainly read about in a textbook or watch in a video, but you really don’t know until you step into the space and begin to work with someone who’s actually doing the work,” he said.

The 20 high school students taking part in Greylock Teach Fellows also will have the opportunity to be mentors themselves, as they have aspiration-building conversations with their younger peers – whether that’s during lunch or other school breaks, or after school.

Another new feature of the program is participation in a national education club, “Educators Rising.”

During a recent visit to MCLA, the students were given a tour of the campus, and met some of its administrators, including Interim President James Clemmer. They also talked with MCLA students to discuss their college experience and what the transition from high school to college was like for them, sat in on an education class, and spent time in a Mursion virtual teaching simulator.

Comparable to NASA’s space simulators, Mursion’s simulated classroom offers budding educators the chance to teach a group of “students,” or middle school avatars.

“We’re not only supporting the pipeline to a career in education, but also a pipeline to college,” Eberwein said. “We’re giving students experiences that will help them to navigate their search for a college, the application process, the financial aid process, and also the transition that’s got to happen when you encounter all of those things that are part of moving from a high school setting and living at home to living on a campus.”

He added, “We think that this is a real model program and also exemplifies what you can accomplish when you link arms with a community partnership between a school system, a college and a private foundation.”