ASU education students teach, learn in foreign settings

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Tommy Culkin

For the past 12 years, students of Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education have had the opportunity to take part in a unique experience – the ability to do a portion of their student teaching in another country.

William Peacock, the director of early field experiences, said the most rewarding aspect of the program is the global awareness that student teachers gain.

“This experience just enriches [the students] on an incredible level,” William said. “In fact, I think that the most important benefit is the personal growth that students gain from putting themselves in a challenging position for five weeks.”
Jean Peacock, the coordinator of the Office of Field Experience, said many students might be seeing poverty for the first time, which can be a rewarding experience.

“Maybe our students have been sheltered,” Jean Peacock said. “Then they see these little children that are orphans, or so poor. So they come back realizing that they may have students in their classroom who don’t have food. Those early teachers are going to be more empathetic, and they’re going to be more knowledgeable, all on a global level.”

Emily Johnson, a former Appalachian student who participated in the program last year teaching in Costa Rica, shared her personal growth via her blog.

“[Before I left] I worried a great deal about the things that might change while I was gone,” Johnson wrote. “What I didn’t count on was how much I would change.”

Appalachian currently has partnerships with schools in Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Costa Rica, South Africa and India.

To be chosen to participate in the program, students need to have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, as well as submit an essay and letters of recommendation from faculty members and personal references.

This year, 58 students applied to student-teach internationally, and 45 were accepted, which is the largest number to date, Jean said.

William said he thinks the program is what sets Appalachian’s college of education apart from that of other North Carolina universities.

“App is just a little different here,” William said. “This is a formal recognized part of our teacher preparation, and we have not found that to be the case at other institutions.”

Story: Thomas Culkin, News Reporter