At summer school in the Savanna School District, both students and teachers are there to learn. Elementary students work on their literacy skills, and the teachers, who are credential candidates at Cal Poly Pomona, receive valuable classroom experience.
A win-win collaboration, the Savanna S.T.A.R.S. (Student Teachers Assisting Remedial Students) program has been lauded as an innovative model of a successful partnership between a school district and university. It recently received a prestigious Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association.
“Just this little bit of intervention really aids students’ progress in reading,” says education assistant professor Helen Rockett, who coordinated Savanna S.T.A.R.S. this past summer. “It’s also great for our credential students to get a better picture of what it’s like to be a full-time teacher.”
The partnership was a natural one – Savanna Superintendent Sue Johnson is a graduate of the College of Education & Integrative Studies, as well as the chair of the university’s Partners in Education.
Cal Poly Pomona’s 10 student teachers were each responsible for an entire classroom, from lesson planning to managing students to teaching the curriculum. In the afternoons, they held reading clinics for groups of three or four that needed intensive reading instruction. Each day, the student teachers learned how to improve their skills and methods from an experienced Savanna instructor who specializes in reading education.
Test scores show that the program makes a difference. In every grade level, Savanna students scored higher on standardized tests when they returned to school in September.
Credential student Analisa Manlic, who taught first- and fourth-graders, says she benefitted from planning her own lessons, managing a classroom and receiving feedback from the veteran teachers. She learned to adapt her lessons, adjust her teaching approach and address student concerns she hadn’t encountered before.
“I believe we all benefited from the experience. For the students, I was able to provide them with an educational experience that some of them were not used to,” Manlic says. “A lot of my lessons were active and hands-on. My students were able to experience education using all their senses. As for me, I gained so much valuable insight and have grown so much as an aspiring educator.”
(Photo caption: From left: Savanna Board Member Carol Sundman, Board Member Edward Erdtsieck, Superintendent Sue Johnson, College of Education & Integrative Studies Dean Peggy Kelly, Board Member Chris Brown and Helen Rockett, assistant professor in the education department.)