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Jepsen International Scholars: Strengthening the College of Education undergraduate teacher education international experiences in urban settings

(March 28, 2008) In 2007 a generous gift from Keith Jepsen and Kathleen Dore enabled the College of Education to deepen and expand undergraduate teacher education candidates’ international experiences in urban settings. Through the gift, experiences in Mexico and England have been made available.

Mexico/Little Village (Chicago) Pilot Project: Summer 2007
The purpose of the project is to allow Professional Development School (PDS) interns assigned to work in Little Village to acclimate themselves with the culture in which they will be teaching. The majority of the residents in Little Village are emigrants from south-central Mexico. This experience is designed to promote cultural understanding, relevance, and linguistics with the intention that the PDS interns will have a much richer, valuable, and impactful PDS year. It is anticipated that such an experience should help PDS interns connect and better relate to the Chicago public school students that they will serve.

  • Who: Six PDS interns that were awarded Jepsen International Scholarships
  • What: A month long pilot project that sent six ISU preservice teachers to Little Village in Chicago and Mexico for the summer prior to their PDS year in Little Village.
  • About the project: The Jepsen International Scholars spent two weeks living in Little Village taking courses in Educational Foundations and Spanish.  While there, Jepsen Scholars also engaged in service-learning at Cardenas Elementary school, a Chicago Public School (CPS). This enabled them to make deliberate connections between their Little Village residency and their time in Mexico, as well as make relevant connections when they began their yearlong PDS experience in Little Village in August 2007. The Jepsen International Scholars traveled to three states, Mexico (Mexico City), Michoacán (Patzcuaro), and Guerrero in south-central Mexico.

Mexico/Little Village Project: Summer 2008

  • Looking Ahead: In summer 2008 the second crop of Jepsen International Scholars will spend time in both Little Village and Mexico for a month long experience from June 6 to July 7.
  • Program Changes: This year the project will include both PDS students and other ISU undergraduate teacher education majors. The students will spend one week in Little Village, and three weeks traveling throughout Mexico. While in Chicago, students will visit schools in the Little Village area and learn about Latino issues in education. While in Mexico, students will be enrolled at a Spanish language school, live with a local family, tour local communities, and visit local schools. The program focuses upon the Mexican educational system and potential issues facing immigrant families in the United States. Students will get to hear about the lives and perspectives of Mexican teachers and administrators along with an international perspective on K-12 schooling.

London, King’s College Urban Education Pilot Project: Summer 2008
The purpose of the project is to provide a comparative perspective for Illinois State University undergraduates in how educators in another English-speaking country grapple with growing numbers of learners whose first language is not English; the plethora of religious practices and observances associated with Islam, Orthodox Christianity, and Hinduism; and special education populations. The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 coupled with the flood of immigrants from behind the Iron Curtain associated with the expansion of the European Union has resulted in the Babel of languages and religious practices in countries including the United Kingdom (UK). In the UK specifically, the overwhelming majority of the one million immigrants from Eastern European countries in the last decade have settled in metropolitan London. Given the ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity in London associated with immigration, we believe that a two-week London-based urban education experience in London schools would be a valuable addition for our undergraduate teacher educators who would participate as Jepsen International Scholars.

  • Who: Five to 10 Illinois State University undergraduate teacher education candidates who were awarded Jepsen International Scholarships
  • What: From May 18-31, 2008, students will work with our partners in Kings College, London. The experience should provide a comparative perspective in how educators in another English-speaking country grapple with an increase in language and religious diversity.
  • About the project: Jepsen Scholars will earn three credit hours, which includes pre- and post-London assignments. Students will visit numerous Central City London schools, participate in six to eight topical seminars led by British academicians, and write reflections regarding the educational experience.

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