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K-State Today

July 20, 2011

Award-winning learning: K-State's College of Education maintains strong presence in Kansas classrooms

Submitted by Julie Fosberg

The hot summer weather may make it hard to believe that back-to-school season is just around the corner.

But as Kansas students prepare to trade in swimsuits and sunglasses for backpacks and schoolbooks, they're likely to see a Kansas State University College of Education graduate in their classroom this fall. That's because during each school day nearly 6,000 K-State graduates are practicing, licensed teachers and school administrators and lead more than 150,000 students.

"The College of Education at K-State has been an innovator in preparing new teachers by providing early and intensive school-based experience," said Michael Holen, dean of the college. "Our graduates are in high demand by schools across the state in large measure because they are so well prepared for student teaching; they leave K-State as exceptionally qualified beginning teachers."

Through its three departments -- special education, counseling and student affairs; educational leadership; and curriculum and instruction -- the College of Education strongly affects public education in Kansas. Almost 90 percent of the college's graduates stay and work in Kansas.

"In what is a pretty competitive job market, our college's new teacher education graduates seeking their first teaching position are so well regarded by school districts that they enjoy an employment rate of nearly 85 percent," Holen said.

Prominent national education associations have noticed K-State's excellence, too, especially in the areas of teacher preparation and elementary education. Most recently, K-State's signature undergraduate teacher preparation program received the National Association for Professional Development Schools' 2011 Award for Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement. In 2010 the college's elementary education program received the Distinguished Program in Teacher Education Award from the Association of Teacher Educators.

The K-State education program is known for its strength in field-based experience and professional development. The list of recognition goes on as the college has received numerous awards and recognition for its success in a variety of areas, including academic advising, adult education and military education.

Some of these recognitions for the college include:

* The 2+2 partnership program received the Great Plains Region of the Association for Continuing Higher Education Outstanding Credit Program award for 2011. The partnerships are a joint effort between K-State and community colleges and help students maintain their educational goals by completing an associate degree at a community college and then earning a K-State bachelor's degree through distance education.

* The Extending College Education for Lifelong Learning, or EXCELL, program was chosen by the Association for Continuing Higher Education as the 2011 Outstanding Noncredit program. It also won the Innovative Program Award. The EXCELL program offers five-week on-campus classes to young adults with disabilities who might not otherwise be able to experience a college environment.

* The academic advising certificate program won the 2010 Mature Credit Program Award from the Central Region of the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. The certificate program prepares students for positions as college academic advisers.

* The AccessUS Elementary Teacher Education program in southwest Kansas was recognized with the Association for Continuing Higher Education's 2010 Award for Underserved Populations. The program is a 2+2 program that was created for nontraditional Latino and Latina students who want to teach in southwest Kansas. "The college created high quality and scalable programming to prepare practicing teachers to meet the needs of our state's rapidly growing populations of students whose first language is not English," Holen said. "Success with these students is a key economic development imperative for communities across Kansas."

* K-State's Brigade Command Team Spouse Development Program at Fort Leavenworth was selected by the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education for the 2010 Malcolm Knowles Outstanding Adult Learner Program of the Year. The brigade command program involves spouses of Army officers who are about to assume brigade command.

College of Education faculty and staff have been recognized for their efforts as well. Some faculty members who have recently received individual awards include:

* Holen received the 2011 Community of Practice Faculty Service Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

* Jeffrey Zacharakis, associate professor of educational leadership, received the 2010 Humanitarian Awareness Award from the Kansas Adult Education Association.

* Royce Ann Collins, assistant professor of educational leadership, received the 2011 Research and Scholarship Award from the national University Professional and Continuing Education Association.

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