College of Education students find passion, community at Baltimore City Public Schools

By Rebecca Kirkman on September 23, 2019

A look inside a “life-changing” urban internship opportunity for early childhood education students

Early childhood education student intern teaches first grade at Mary Ann Winterling Elementary
Towson University early childhood education student Bryn Hubbard teaches first grade at Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School.

Surrounded by about 15 first graders sitting cross-legged and clutching whiteboards and markers, Bryn Hubbard stands in front of a classroom bulletin board, leading the students as they practice writing letters.

A senior early childhood education major at Towson University, Hubbard is just two weeks into her full-time teaching internship at Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School where she’s been paired with mentor teacher Amanda Coleman. During the lesson, Coleman sits at a desk just behind the group of students and observes, jumping in when she sees an opportunity to mentor.

This is Hubbard’s third semester working directly in classrooms at Mary Ann Winterling, one of nine Baltimore City Public Schools with TU teacher interns. Like all COE students, by graduation this winter she will have logged more than 850 hours of classroom instruction time through internships and other classroom-based experiences.

“The classroom experience has been most beneficial in emphasizing how important classroom management is when teaching,” Hubbard says. “If there is no classroom management, then the learning aspect is lost.”

Getting real-world experience

Students begin by interning one day a week in the second semester of their junior year, then move to two days per week in their senior year. By their last semester, they are teaching full time.

“We give them experience that gradually builds over time,” says Early Childhood Education Chair Janese Daniels from the Ben Carson Reading Room at Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School. “They start by learning how to become part of the school culture, what it means to interact with children and families, and they begin to build their confidence.”

On a Thursday morning in September, Daniels joined leadership from TU and Baltimore City Public Schools at Mary Ann Winterling to discuss their partnership, now in its fifth year.

With 120 professional development school partnerships in 11 counties, College of Education students are interning at schools across the state. Within that network, there’s a commitment to strengthening relationships with Baltimore City Public Schools.

“This partnership really illustrates our university, our college and our department’s commitment to preparing our candidates to be ready to work in diverse and inclusive learning environments with all types of children,” Daniels says. “It illustrates our commitment to letting our students know there are great things going on in many places around the state, including here in Baltimore City Public Schools.”

Nikia Carter, principal of Mary Ann Winterling and a TU alumna, is passionate about hosting interns. “Providing that opportunity for people who want to become teachers, and giving them real-life experiences here in the city, is something I’ve always wanted to do,” she says. “I want to do my part to ensure the next generation [of teachers] are set up to succeed.”

Committing to urban education

Both early childhood education cohorts graduating this winter are interning in city schools, so faculty have tailored their curriculum to the setting.

“We did a lot of readings on the unique characteristics and strengths in urban environments,” says Lea Ann Christenson, associate professor of early childhood education and professional development supervisor for Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School. “That’s one thing, but then to be in the environment while doing those readings—there’s no substitute.”

The internship provides valuable opportunities to learn from an experienced teacher in the field. Plus, students say putting everything they've learned into practice comes with its own rewards.

“My mentor teacher stays up late working on lesson plans and sends them to me so that I’m engaged and I’m learning,” says Hubbard. “Seeing the kids learning something and grateful that you’re there, it makes it worth it, hands-down. I would tell [other students to] jump on the chance for this internship because it’s definitely life-changing.”

The hope is that student interns accept jobs in city schools after graduation.

“The more we can convert the teacher candidates who have worked with our students in city schools to accept a permanent teaching position, the better we are,” says Baltimore City Public Schools Professional Development Schools Coordinator Tiffany Adams. She received her master’s in human resource development from TU in 2010, with a focus in educational leadership. “They are with our students every day, and the goal is really to get them to stay in city schools.”

The high-quality curriculum paired with real-world experience makes TU graduates ideal candidates.

“They got snapped up,” Christenson says. “By the time you get to this point in the year, almost all of them are working hard and hustling to get a job, and they do.”

Urban Educators Alumni Panel

Towson Graduates Panel Discussion
Oct. 7, 7 p.m.
Hawkins Hall 0017 & 0018

The TU Future Urban Educators Club presents a panel discussion with TU graduates teaching in Baltimore City. Sponsored by the Department of Early Childhood Education and the College of Education.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: BTU-Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore.