Meade County High School
Partnering with Western Kentucky University (WKU)’s Dual Credit Program, Meade County High School is creating a pipeline of well-prepared teachers working to produce the best student outcomes for current students as well as future students. Meade County High School in Brandenburg, Kentucky is taking advantage of its concurrent enrollment course, Introduction to Teacher Education, to allow high school students to explore a career in teaching and is possibly the best teacher recruiting tool the district has.
About 10 years ago, assistant principal Scott Bogard had the idea to look for a higher education partner that could offer an Introduction to Teacher Education class at the high school. The school district is the biggest employer in the county with many students pursuing teaching careers. Darlah Zweifel, the high school teacher credentialed as an instructor at WKU to teach the concurrent enrollment course, estimates that roughly a third of the students go into education majors in college. Ms. Zweifel reports that she receives great feedback from teachers who work with her students. She notes, “They say that they are enthusiastic and the younger students really enjoy working with them.” For those students who are considering teaching careers, taking this introductory teaching course while they are still in high school provides a critical connection that propels them to pursue further college studies toward teaching degrees and certificates.
Student engagement is evident at after school activities and the fall festival where many students volunteer. The course allows students to gain hands-on experience in front of the classroom and during job shadowing. Not only do students have the opportunity to discover their interest in becoming future educators, but they also learn the joys and responsibilities that come with it. Several concurrent enrollment students have returned to the Meade County School District after completing college degrees. The tightly knit community draws students back to the area to raise their families.
When questioned about how both she and the school try to make this unique opportunity known to parents, Zweifel offers that word of mouth is the best tool. The school has an information session to help parents understand the concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement options available to students. Zweifel also notes that once students enroll in the Introduction to Teacher Education course, there is a change in their motivation. “They seem to value the class because they see the reason for it and the real life application of working with students and teachers and learning about education careers.” This year, Zweifel has the biggest class she’s ever had with 24 students taking the class for WKU credit. The WKU Dual Credit Program serves 27 high schools through traditional face-to-face concurrent enrollment courses and provides home-schooled students with small-group online coursework. Dewayne Neeley, WKU Dual Credit Program Coordinator, shared that fall 2012 resulted in 1,410 students taking 2,056 courses with 55 instructors serving as WKU Dual Credit Program instructors.
For schools or administrators learning about concurrent enrollment Zweifel states, “There is nothing to be wary about. The kids love the experience of working with teachers and kids…they grow attached to the kids and those that do not think that teaching is for them, usually have a different view of education after learning all aspects of the teaching career.”