Jacklynn Campos and Hailey Lucas, both members of the College of Education and Human Development's Class of 2022, know exactly what lies ahead as they embark on their careers. Just prior to graduation, they both secured teaching contracts with the School District of Philadelphia at J. Hampton Moore Elementary School. They credit their unique Temple senior year experience with giving them confidence as they begin their professional careers.
The recent graduates, both Elementary Education and Special Education majors, spent their full senior year in teacher training at Moore. The full-year field experience, in which all Elementary Education students participate, includes one semester of practicum and one semester of student teaching, all within one classroom in one school.
"This is something I've wanted to see for years," said Moore Principal Tim Glynn. "College students need to be in this environment for a full year to get a sense of the real experience. It really helps the college students get more out of student teaching."
Campos, who came to Temple from Trevose, PA, and chose Temple because of its urban location and social justice mission, likened the experience to a year-long interview. "I have friends and family who studied education and didn't get the luxury of a full year like this," she said, noting that others may complete observations in one school and then student teach in another. "The full year allows me to see my own progression throughout the year - how I have changed as a person, how my teaching has changed, how effective a teacher I became."
Lucas, from Warrington, PA, added that the year-long experience helped foster meaningful relationships. "It was so awesome to see the students' progress over the course of the year," she said. "You can also get close with your mentor teacher and become familiar with the school."
"I felt like we were a team from the start," Campos added. "I got along well with my mentor teacher and there was strong administrative support. I always remembered this was a learning process - it was okay to make mistakes because there was a great team to support me."
That team includes the mentor teacher, school administrators and a coach from Temple, among others.
"The coach doesn't push too much or rush you," said Lucas. "It was a very challenging, but manageable process that led me to feeling really comfortable."
Campos and Lucas were partnered with university coach and clinical instructor Cindy Cupitt, who used her own experiences from many years of teaching to support and guide their development over the course of the year.
"Student teaching is an exciting, yet nerve-wracking, experience for seniors," Cupitt said. "Using a two-semester model better prepares our Temple seniors to both student teach and take on their own classroom after graduation."
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted typical classroom experiences for Campos and Lucas; both were a bit nervous heading into the classroom as seniors. The program's "gradual release" framework incorporates monthly guidelines, transferring increasing responsibility to the seniors over the course of the full year.
"I gradually took over everything," said Lucas. "Planning, teaching, talking with families. The gradual release framework really sets us up for success. I always had the support of my mentor teacher. We stay in touch now and I'm thrilled to have her as a resource as I begin my professional career."
"As a student teacher, I could really envision myself as a lead teacher," said Campos. While she studied a lot of theory and principles in earlier classes at Temple, the hands-on experience was critical, she said. "You don't always know how you'll handle a particular situation until you're in it. I was able to follow my instinct and learned to trust my gut. Then, I'd receive feedback from my mentor and use that to further develop as a teacher."
Kim Speed is the school-based teacher leader at Moore who identifies mentor teachers for pairing with Temple seniors. She pointed to the foundational knowledge and experience Campos and Lucas obtained at Temple that "prepared them very realistically for what they were going to do. They had the tools and initiative, and they were prepared to use them."
Temple's Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator and Professor Annemarie Hindman said the college is committed to preparing teachers for urban settings and places many students in the School District of Philadelphia. "What they do in the field and how we help them make sense of it back at Temple [in senior seminar discussions] is some of the most useful learning that happens," she said.
"Our job at Temple is to prepare students for success in the real world. We owe it to the school district to deliver on this. It demonstrates the importance of the relationship between the district and the university," said Hindman.
Moore administrators said these partnerships are important to the future of education. "I challenged our teachers to prepare the Temple students so they were ready to be hired upon completion of the program," said Glynn. "It's our responsibility to give them the right opportunity to grow and learn."
"This is your test for real life," added Speed. The student teachers get to see the best and worst and everything in between, which is a great learning experience."
Through it all, Campos and Lucas stood out.
Assistant Principal Candice Lord, EDU '08, said Campos and Lucas adopted the #BeMoore mantra. "Jacklynn and Hailey stuck out as 'becoming us,'" Lord said. "They immersed themselves in our community. They participated in spirit days, were active in the school, showed up when they didn't have to. We saw them and they saw us every single day, so when they said they wanted to be here, we knew they meant it.
After working as part of the leadership team at the Doylestown YMCA Summer Camp program, Lucas will begin serving as a first-grade teacher at Moore in August. She has interest in eventually continuing her education in educational leadership.
Campos is excited to join Moore as a kindergarten teacher for the 2022-23 school year. Her advice to other Owls: "You never know who is watching and when they're watching. Stand out by doing small things. And do everything."