USF-Forest Park partnership benefits grade-schoolers, education students, economic development

Feb. 25, 2014 FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Call it a win-win-win.

Ten University of Saint Francis education students are meeting with 80 Forest Park Elementary School second-graders this semester to improve the elementary students’ reading skills and prepare them for third-grade success. That supports the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s Vision 2020 initiative to increase to 60 percent the number of Northeast Indiana residents with high-quality degrees or credentials.

On a flow chart, it looks like this: second-graders get reading help, USF education students get hands-on experience and northeast Indiana takes steps to develop a more educated workforce to drive economic development.

Under the supervision of their instructor and the elementary classroom teacher, USF students develop plans and work with second-graders who need additional reading support for 90 minutes a week, in small groups and in one-on-one sessions.

The USF teacher education program is distinctive because all elementary education graduates complete at least 250 hours of field work prior to student teaching. The 250 hours represent a robust pre-teaching experience model, exceeding time expected by the state of Indiana’s licensing rules.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to benefit our children and education majors at Saint Francis,” said Forest Park principal Robin Peterman. “Forest Park second-graders luck out with more one-on-one attention, and USF students get the opportunity to see if this is the direction their hearts take will them.”

The partnership between the two schools originated through the work of the 3rd Grade Reading Action Team of the Big Goal Collaborative. Established in 2012 and comprised of regional educators, community partners, businesses, civic leaders and others throughout northeast Indiana, the Big Goal Collaborative focuses on a priority set by Vision 2020—increasing the education base of northeast Indiana’s residents.

“More and more jobs are requiring some form of post-secondary education, and that percentage is predicted to reach 60 percent by 2020,” said Big Goal Collaborative Director Ryan Twiss. “Ensuring these children don’t fall behind early is critical to their success and directly impacts the region’s ability to develop the skilled workforce that area employers will need. Through this new partnership, Forest Park and the University of Saint Francis are taking a lead role in preparing students for the future.”

“Our pre-service teachers learn best practices and classroom management skills while assisting Fort Wayne Community Schools students to reach their full learning potential,” said USF assistant professor Brandi Prather-Leming. “Ninety percent of the USF students are from counties served by the Regional Partnership, so they have the unique opportunity to serve their community and learn classroom teacher skills.”

“As a Fort Wayne Community Schools graduate, it is exciting to be back in the district and able to make a difference,” said USF education major and Northrop High School graduate, Victoria Fries.

  The University of Saint Francis, founded in 1890 as a comprehensive university in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, offers more than 60 undergraduate and 14 graduate programs in five schools: The School of Health Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, School of Professional Studies and School of Creative Arts. More than 2,300 students from a broad geographic region attend USF for its academic excellence. The university has a regional campus in Crown Point, Ind.

Media Contacts

For all University-related matters, please contact:

Trois Hart
Associate Vice President of Marketing
T: 260.399.8050
C: 260.415.2401

Yvonne Schroeder
Director of Communication
T: 260.399.7700 ext. 6413

Sandie Phalen
Director of Marketing and Development
Crown Point
T: 219.488.8888 ext. 5421


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