New summer program from the College of Education and Baltimore County Public Schools aims to foster interest in teaching, offer glimpse at college life
On Tuesday morning, 23 high school students from Baltimore County Public Schools immersed themselves in a classroom at Towson University’s Childcare Center.
In small groups, the high school students worked with 4-year-olds to build “things that go.”
Working with the Childcare Center students is just one activity in the College of Education’s inaugural TU Teacher Scholars Summer Institute, a four-day, on-campus academic session for high school students to experience TU resources and learn about careers in teaching.
The program grew out the College of Education’s desire to address the need for more teachers on a national scale and to work more closely with schools involved in the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) program.
“There’s a national teacher shortage, so we were researching different ways to increase our enrollment,” explains College of Education Assistant Dean Gilda Martinez-Alba. “So we connected with Baltimore County, who was very enthusiastic about growing their own teachers, and in particular underrepresented teachers.”
After a year of preparation and planning, TU welcomed 23 students from Eastern Technical, Catonsville, Parkville, Pikesville and Loch Raven high schools in its first class of the TU Teacher Scholars Summer Institute, led by College of Education Lecturer Hannah Cawley.
“If all 23 students decide to come to TU and want to be a teacher, that's a whole cohort,” Martinez-Alba says of the program’s potential to increase College of Education enrollment and produce teachers.
The model for the program grew out of Cawley’s class Exploring Careers in Education. “In it, we expose students to the rigors, realities, trials and tribulations of teaching, and teaching in the classroom and beyond,” Cawley explains.
Some participants will receive high school or college credit for completing the Exploring Careers in Education course during the summer program.
The program offers a well-rounded look at teaching and college life. On Monday, students met with the Career Center to learn about services targeted to education majors, toured Newell Hall dorms and learned the truth about common teaching myths.
On Wednesday, activities include lunch with TU students in the Educators Rising program, where they will be matched up for mentorships that will continue into the school year.
The program wraps up with a family evening to showcase student work and hear presentations by university admissions and financial aid.
Martinez-Alba says the College of Education hopes to expand this program beyond Baltimore County next year.
Back at the Childcare Center, Cawley observes as the high school students enthusiastically engage with the children, putting together models with Keva Connect Planks at one table and rolling balls down wooden ramps at another.
“I’m so impressed by the high school students,” Cawley says. “They are incredibly prepared, eager and enthusiastic.”
The praise goes both ways. “I asked the students this morning what they expected compared to what we’re doing, and they said they thought we’d be sitting in the classroom,” Cawley adds with a laugh. “So this is a lot better.”
Asia Lee, who will enter 11th grade at Eastern Technical High School this fall, applied to the program to get hands-on experience.
“I want to be a teacher, and I thought this would be good because I would get to work with children,” Lee says.
As she helps the children make boats out of aluminum foil and straws, she reflects on her favorite experiences at TU so far—exploring the College of Education’s Sandbox makerspace and experiencing life on a college campus.
“Towson is one of the colleges I want to go to, and it was kind of like a day in the life of a college student,” Lee says. “So I thought that was cool.”
A leader in education for 150 years, Towson University prepares you to succeed in the rapidly changing, diverse and challenging field of education. Engaging academic courses and clinical experiences allow you to meet and respond creatively to the critical education challenges of the 21st century.
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.