Millersville University Held July 23-29, 2023

The overall purpose of the Future Educator Academy (FEA) aims to provide rising high school juniors interested in becoming an educator with a residential college experience. The ultimate goal is to recruit more students, especially students of color and first-generation students, into the field of education. The Future Educator Academy is an integral part of the Future Educator Pathway offered to School District of Lancaster students which includes the Color of Teaching Mentoring Program and four dual enrollment courses. Three of the School District of Lancaster Scholars will also be taking the UNIV 103 Introduction to Careers in Education and Human Services this fall. 

Future Educators Academy is one component of a comprehensive approach that Millersville University is undertaking to combat the PK-12 educator shortage in Pennsylvania. This fall, Millersville is collaborating with the School District of Lancaster (SDL), and potentially other districts next year, to offer an Early College opportunity for rising juniors.  Qualified 11th-grade students from SDL will have an opportunity to enroll in two Millersville University courses taught at JP McCaskey High School by Millersville University faculty.  During the SDL students’ senior year, they will have an opportunity to enroll in two additional cohort-style courses that will meet at Millersville and earn a total of 12 credits before graduating high school.  Historically, these types of Early College programs in education are called Grow-Your-Own or pipeline programs because they increase student awareness and demystify the college experience.  They also create enthusiasm for education as a career choice because of the possibility of returning to the student’s home community for employment following college.

14 Scholars from 5 school districts (School District of Lancaster, York City, Penn Manor, Manheim Township, and Ephrata) participated. This was the first year that the opportunity was offered to students outside of the School District of Lancaster.

The first night we all participated in the low ropes course team-building activities that focused on good communication and problem-solving. It was nice to see how much the Scholars bonded as evidenced by their thoughtful comments at the closing ceremony. 

Scholars were able to support teachers and work with young children who were attending the Reading Camp on campus coordinated by Dr. Aileen Hower. Scholars attended "classes" offered by various MU faculty, such as: Examining Expertise: Identity, Education and Your Impact on the Field (Dr. Primus), Social Workers for Today's Schools (Dr. Rice), Digital Citizenship (Dr. Ibrahim), Becoming a Social Studies Teacher (Dr. Burke), School Counseling (Dr. Behun), School Psychologists (Georgia Jones, SDOL), Watershed Education Training Institute (Drs. Dietrich and Ligocki), Integrated STEM (Dr. Egresitz), Scientific Thinking (Dr. Petula), Learning to Thrive (Dr. Wimer), and Growth Mindset (Dr. Witmer). Scholars also learned about Financial Aid (Emi Alvaraz), the Pre-Scholar Summer Institute (Dar Newman and Dr. Williams), and College Admissions (Josh Belice). In addition, all Scholars received “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens” and the MU student mentors taught interactive lessons about the book. We were also fortunate to have the new Superintendent of the School District of Lancaster, Dr. Keith Miles, SDOL Central office administrator, Jassinya Alvarado-Padilla, school social worker Maylin Vazquez, and elementary school teacher Miss Markisha Peace serve as panelists who told their educational journey stories and answered questions posed by the attendees. Jassinya, Maylin, and Markisha are all graduates of MU and the Color of Teaching Mentoring Program (https://www.millersville.edu/edfoundations/coloroft/ ).

“7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” is written by Sean Covey.  Reading this book and having group discussions about its content promoted a deeper sense of purpose and a sense of community for the scholars. 

I want to thank Dr. Wimer for helping to create the FEA, and Amanda Amspacher and Kelly Davis for their administrative support. From recruitment to the closing ceremony, it takes a lot of people to make this whole experience happen for the Scholars. My faculty colleagues give up their time off to offer the classes. I was fortunate enough to hire four great college student mentors who were with the Scholars 24/7. This program would not be possible without the help of the MU student mentors who served as resident assistants for the week- Julia Fallows Secondary English Education major and Color of Teaching President), Jordan Plemple (Art Education major), Anjila Karki (Art Education major) and Estir Gries (Elementary Education/Special Education major). Anjila and Estir, both MU seniors who participated in the program when they were in high school, returned to support the next cohort of future educators.

Scholars had an opportunity to teach mini lessons for elementary students attending a reading improvement camp where they served as teacher assistants for local certified teachers who were also receiving instruction and graduate credit.  Microteaching is an important developmentally appropriate strategy because it encourages students to envision themselves as future educators.  The scholars at FEA were introduced to the language of teaching such as instructional scaffolding and teacher planning.  Research suggests that microteaching opportunities early in a student’s educational program promote efficacy for teaching as a potential future career.   

Millersville University, formerly Millersville Normal School, has a stellar reputation for preparing excellent teachers so we are keeping that tradition alive by offering programs like FEA. In the past, Millersville University hosted the PA Governor's School for Teaching, and we are trying to bring back that opportunity by offering FEA in a similar format. Pennsylvania is experiencing a teacher shortage crisis right now too, so FEA can be one part of the solution by recruiting future teachers while they are still in high school.

My research agenda at Millersville University focuses broadly on questions of Prevention—an interdisciplinary field that draws from Health Promotion, Education, and other professions. Prevention work seeks to decrease risk factors and increase protective behaviors for individuals and communities.  As Benjamin Franklin famously advised his fellow Philadelphians in the early 1700s, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Because it is easier to prevent problems than to fix them after they have started. 

Although the teacher shortage is far from over, and fixing it is slowly taking shape, the Future Educator Academy is supporting high school students by bolstering their career preparation and readiness for college.  For example, the opportunity to perform microteaching and receive faculty feedback encourages student interests and career congruence—a protective factor.  Similarly, learning through book discussions and lessons taught by mentors about the issues that derail students from reaching their goals such as misusing alcohol and other drugs, or other risk factors, equips students with the practical tools and skills they need to navigate life’s challenges.  Because prevention activities are incorporated throughout the Future Educator Academy, scholars learn not only about the importance of well-being but also what it means to thrive.   

Scholars have the opportunity to see what college life is like. They also did a lot of self-reflection and learned about careers in education, so we hope they are motivated to pursue a college degree and consider becoming an educator. Scholars from different schools were able to bond so new friendships were made. 

I want to thank Dean Willox for her support of the program and Dr. Jeffrey Wimer for his continued assistance. I am thrilled to see FEA offered to a variety of school district students this year. I envision an increase in participants next year and the application process will be more rigorous. Millersville University wants to be the destination university for future educators.