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A UAFS School of Education teacher gets hands-on experience in a local classroom

A UAFS School of Education teacher gets hands-on experience in a local classroom

Featured | Health Education and Human SciencesApril 12, 2024

Teaching the Educators of the Future

Shortly after the turn of the century, when Westark College became the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, the College of Education, now the School of Education, got its start. Since the beginning, four-year degrees in teacher licensures have been offered to students interested in having a hand in the education of future generations.

UAFS students then – and now – could earn a degree in Early Childhood Education, Middle-Level Education, or Secondary Education.

However, studying education has been offered at UAFS and the university’s other iterations longer than the last 22 years. Dr. Shelli Henehan, professor, assessment coordinator, and Director of Early Childhood Education, is an example of proof in the pudding, sharing her experience as both a student and educator of the program.

“As a student of the Westark (Community College) education program, I can see just how far we have come since the 1980s,” she said. “As a professor of preschool, I am proud to say that we are on the cutting edge of evidence-based practices.”

Most of which are on display at the Little Lions Child Development Center. The center doubles as a safe and educational place for parents to send their child(ren) from birth through 4 years old and a living lab for the staff who are simultaneously working while getting first-hand experience of putting what they learned from professors into action.

Having gone through the education program herself, Henehan embodies the School of Education’s mission: to ensure every teacher candidate is “Day One Ready” so all learners achieve their greatest potential.

This mission has been implemented recently as School of Education students have moved from the UAFS campus into partnering districts for hands-on learning. Each semester, students can be found in different school districts, taking classes in classrooms and immediately applying the content learned to their field experiences.

“I think (the School of Education) is one of the most critical programs on this campus,” said Dr. April Evans, Interim Executive Director and Assistant Professor for the College of Health, Education, and Human Sciences. “Everything is based on education. It’s the foundation for everything that there is.”

Echoing Evans, assistant professor of education Janet Jahn said, “Education is the pathway to all other careers. It provides a foundation that enables every learner to reach their full potential.”

Ensuring teaching candidates are “Day One Ready” also meets the diverse needs of their future students. As technology and accessibility improve, a future student will need a teacher who can meet them where their needs are. UAFS is doing that day in and day out.

Whether it's building a foundation of learning for the children of the Little Lions Child Development Center or giving a lesson on the history of the Roman Empire to middle schoolers, the students enrolled in the UAFS School of Education are shaping and molding a brighter tomorrow through education.

“Education is a vital part of society. From the moment a child steps into a classroom, educators are shaping the future of our society, country, and world,” explained Camille Wheeler, Assistant Professor. “Every career begins with some type of education, and having quality educators is so important.”

Faculty members like Henehan, Evans, Jahn, and Wheeler continue to guide the School of Education and its leaders into the future.

“We provide educator education for the entire continuum of the Pre-K through 12th grad spectrum,” Henehan said. “The future looks bright for the UAFS School of Education. We are recognized by the state as being a high-quality program.”

“At the UAFS School of Education, we strive to ensure that we have qualified educators who are ready, from the first day they step into a classroom, to ensure that their students are getting the best possible education to prepare them for their future goals,” said Wheeler.

  • Tags:
  • School of Education
  • Day of Giving
  • College of Health Education and Human Sciences
  • Teacher Licensure

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

  • Director of Strategic Communications
  • 479-788-7132
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