Barberton City Schools are very fortunate to have a unique collaborative learning experience for our students and for University of Akron education majors. The University of Akron’s LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education has allowed Distinguished Professor of English Education, Dr. Hal Foster, and award-winning Professor of Social Studies Education, Dr. Brad Maguth, to teach their methods classes within Barberton High School.
University of Akron education students do not meet at the U of A campus. Instead, they spend all of their class time, and more, at BHS. The professors begin each semester instructing their U of A students in our large-group instruction room at BHS. After a few weeks of learning best-practice instructional techniques, the U of A students venture out into an authentic learning environment; BHS tenth grade classrooms. Pre-service teachers work with BHS teachers to instruct small groups, then take over the whole class. The U of A student experiences all aspects of being a real teacher before their semester of student teaching.
Our high school students benefit as well. They have more individualized instruction and opportunities for both intervention and enrichment. Our high school teachers are always learning too, as Dr. Foster and Dr. Maguth work alongside our classroom teachers and share their advanced knowledge of curriculum and instruction. Plus, the U of A students often act as mentors to our BHS students. One student related that he didn’t plan to go to college, but was encouraged to take the ACT by a U of A student. The tenth grader scored a 27 on the ACT, and now has the confidence to apply for post-secondary learning.
Earlier this year Dr. Maguth, with help from Dr. Foster, applied for and was awarded the ODE Community Connectors Grant. This grant will enable a network of mentoring to be established between our tenth grade students, the U of A students and volunteers from an area church. We now have adults, adult pre-service teachers and high school students discussing career options and pathways. Mentors will also give social/emotional support to our children as they develop into adults. This collaboration has been a win-win for both institutions and both sets of learners!