The SAU College of Education forges bond with Union Elementary

Union elementary students using a microscopeThe College of Education at SAU has developed the trust of a lifelong educator in Thema Forte, principal of Union Elementary in Texarkana, and an important bond with her school.

Forte was a keynote speaker November 11, 2013, for the induction ceremony for the SAU chapter of Kappa Delta Pi – the international honor society in the field of education. She assured the 27 undergraduate and seven graduate inductees that they were getting the proper training to be effective teachers.

“The last four teachers I have hired have been from SAU,” said Forte. “It has been an awesome thing hiring teachers from SAU. All I have to do is give them a Promethean pen and tell them to get the job done. Kudos to the College of Education at SAU. You’re doing an awesome job.”

Juanita Harris, who joined Forte to present to the Kappa Delta Pi initiates, is a shining example of her boss’ sentiments. Harris, ’10 B.S.E grad and ’13 M.E.D alum, earned Teacher of the Year honors for the 2012-13 school year at Union Elementary – a communication arts magnet school in Texarkana, Ark.

“I want to enhance the lives of children. I have always been taught that although many things in life can be taken from you, your education cannot. As an educator, my goal is to equip my students with what they need to be successful learners, but great citizens as well,” said Harris.

Forte bases her judgment not only on Harris and her other SAU alum hires, but also on the student teachers she has welcomed onto her campus. She has also for the past three years allowed third and fourth grade students to visit SAU each fall for the Teaching and Learning Fair.

“SAU has partnered with Union Elementary to offer actual classroom experience prior to the student teaching semester. The partnership includes activities such as providing all-day instruction to the school’s students, both at Union Elementary and on campus,” said Dr. Misty LaCour, interim chair of the Department of Teacher Education. “This experience is invaluable. Candidates are able to obtain feedback immediately from faculty to hone their skills as future teachers.”

This fall’s Teaching and Learning Fair welcomed more than 70 children from Union. Block I SAU students taught lessons in the first floor of Magale Library. Block III students taught microscope introduction exercises in the STEM Center at SAU. This was the first year the STEM Center was used during the Fair. Susan Johnson, science specialist at the Center, spoke highly of the SAU/Union partnership.

“Ms. Forte encourages SAU students to come and wants to promote college education.

Everything is about learning at Union. When students are waiting on a bus or in the

cafeteria, they have their books open and are reading because that is what they do at 

Union,” said Johnson.

LaCour said that the SAU College of Education will begin offering the B.S.E. in Early Childhood Education in Texarkana in Fall 2014. She feels confident that the SAU B.S.E.
will be a popular option there, as the SAU program is becoming known as a caring program where students are worked with individually.

“Faculty in the program, all previous classroom teachers, work closely with the candidates to provide them with the tools they need to be successful teachers in the classroom,” said
LaCour.