Celebrating 100 years of teacher education

As the university continues their centennial festivities, the teacher education program is recognized for its success

More stories from Scott Procter

UW-Eau Claires graduating student teachers pose to reenact the universitys first graduating class of teachers in 1917.

Photo by Submtted

UW-Eau Claire’s graduating student teachers pose to reenact the university’s first graduating class of teachers in 1917.

The perfect time to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of teachers everywhere is National Teacher Appreciation Week.

One of the aspects that makes UW-Eau Claire’s teacher education program different than others is its unique start. The program was established as a state normal school, founded to train teachers.

Carmen Manning, dean of Eau Claire’s College of Education and Human Sciences, says at the heart of the university is the concept of training teachers.

“What makes us strong and unique is that we have excellent partnerships with K-12 schools in the area,” Manning said. “We can’t teach people how to be a good teacher without having them in schools and practicing.”

Manning, in her 15th year at the university, said part of her work is to help promote teaching, build curriculum and work toward helping students be prepared for any classroom.

Look no further for the power of Eau Claire’s teacher education program than recent Blugold graduate, Joel Newman.

Newman is currently in Uruguay on a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship to serve as an English teaching assistant — one of four Americans working in the country. Newman credits the university’s teacher education program for providing him the experience to be competitive for such opportunities.

“I am so fortunate to have gotten the chance to work in local schools early and often during my years as a Blugold,” Newman said. “Plus, I traveled to Lima, Peru on behalf of the UWEC teacher education program to participate on a research project related to global learning.”

Getting students prepared for the classroom after college is what the program is all about, Manning said. Providing students with a myriad of opportunities to expand their professional and educational experience is what sets the university’s program apart from others.

During the 2016-17 academic year, 800 teacher education students were placed in more than 1,000 different schools, showcasing the program’s commitment to getting their students valuable experience.

Not only does the program provide ample opportunities to gain experience, the professors supply students with enough skills to be successful in their placement, said special education student Michelle Fuchs.

“UWEC’s teacher education program has greatly prepared me for my future,” said Fuchs, who graduates this spring. “Our program provided me with so many placements from freshman year all the way to the finish line. This allowed me to get into many different schools and learn from teachers who are well experienced, teaching different age groups and ability levels.”

From its conception, Eau Claire has focused on educating teachers. Due to the program’s rich tradition, Newman said he feels confident in entering the workplace upon his return.

“As a student and now as an alumnus, I’m incredibly proud of the UWEC teacher education program and rest easy knowing that when I get back to the United States, I’ll have no trouble getting a job thanks to my Blugold diploma,” Newman said.  “More importantly, I feel like the education I got at UWEC has prepared me to be able to make a positive impact on my students from day one.”

Newman said he doesn’t expect Eau Claire’s respected rep for educating future educators to change anytime soon, not even for another 100 years.