Ashley Teipel discovered she wanted to become a teacher while working for the Peace Corps in Moldova. She was teaching health education in Romanian and realized that, after returning to the states, she wanted to pursue her passion for educating children.
Teipel returned to the US and started looking for a teacher education program where she could earn a master in education. “I wanted to go straight back to the classroom and teach children,” Teipel says, “and Western State Colorado University’s teacher education program stood out as a great opportunity to do just that.”
This week, Teipel and more than 140 other future teachers and administrators are meeting on Western’s campus in Gunnison undergoing an intensive week of in person sessions with professors. The annual summer session brings Western’s education students together so they can collaborate on projects and see their professors face to face before heading back out into the classroom for the school year to complete their degrees.
Western’s Education Program offers both graduate degrees and initial licensure programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for future educators. While many students live in Gunnison and are traditional resident students, Western offers popular on-line courses for experienced educators and professionals looking to make a career change. Western also works with school districts across the country and internationally to place student teachers in real classrooms, where Western students spend an entire academic year working as clinical-based Residents or Interns.
“I loved working in the classroom from day one,” says master’s degree candidate Ashley Teipel. Teipel was placed in a school in Denver working with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders. “Even though I was in Denver and my professors were in Gunnison, the on-line curriculum and regular interactions meant that my professors knew me on a first name basis. I have had so much support, and I never felt like I was in over my head.”
Dr. Gaye Jenkins, who has worked with all levels of in-service educators across the country for fifteen years in a national education program, is now Director of Education at Western. “Effective education has to prioritize the ‘human factor’. Modeling close, collaborative relationships helps candidates feel supported and it builds their confidence to become leaders in their schools very quickly. Traditional online programs miss out. Many of our students have made a point to tell me how much they appreciate the face-to-face component of our Summer Session, as they then develop deeper collaborations and discussions online afterwards.”
“Professors here really want to see students succeed,” says Western alum and master’s degree candidate Carolyn Holmes. “The week we spend together here in Gunnison creates an incredible partnership that really enriches the educational experience for the rest of the year as we head back to the classroom as student teachers.”
Holmes, who graduated from Western in 2010 and worked in Maryland for a year as a PE teacher, is headed to Leadville, Colorado for her year as a student teacher. “Western’s teacher education program provides phenomenal scaffolding to work from. When I graduate, I know I’ll have the confidence and skillset to be a great teacher.”