A high school teacher shortage persists in the United States and due to this, NMU students in the education department have been working with Alcovy High School students in Georgia to encourage more students to pursue an educational career path.
The relationship between NMU and Alcovy has been effective for two semesters. The idea for the collaboration came from a two-way discussion between Dr. Joe Lubig, associate dean of the NMU education department, and Richard Cormier, who is a teacher in Alcovy as well as a NMU alumni.
The program works by connecting students from ED 201: Introduction to Education and ED 301: Dimensions of American Education with Alcovy high school students through video conferences and online chat rooms. NMU students can ask questions about what a good teacher should be or what works for the students and what doesn’t.
In return Alcovy students can ask questions about what college is like or questions about NMU’s Education Department.
The program aims to help NMU education students get connected with other high schools outside of Marquette.
“I like to see NMU graduates expand their ideas of what education is like in other parts of the country. By getting early educators out and into new teaching settings, it helps NMU students be able to teach a wide variety of areas,” Cormier said.
Cormier said high school students benefit in particular by getting an early introduction into the learning field of education. This helps the students decide on whether or not the teaching field is good for them before they go to college.
Jessica Betz, a graduate assistant in the educational department, said the program has attracted students who may not have thought teaching was right for them, so Alcovy students are not the only ones that it benefits. The goal of this program is to provide a positive light on teaching by connecting local high school students and NMU education majors, Betz said.
She hopes that through the program, it gives NMU students a high school student’s perspective or helps them get an idea about what students are thinking.
“It’s one thing to read about creating trust, learning diversity and classroom struggles, but through the Alcovy program, NMU students can learn firsthand about these issues by connecting with the students,” Betz said.
The program helps to build a foundation between those in the education field at NMU along with those just getting exposed to teaching at Alcovy. A lot of students at Alcovy High School have shown an interest in the education program here at NMU due to this connection, Betz said.
As part of the program students from Alcovy will be touring NMU and the Marquette community in May to explore the campus and decide if they want to attend NMU to pursue a teaching degree.
Cormier said he hopes the program will continue to expand and help the university open up to some more areas for NMU students to teach and provide other alternatives to give students an edge at learning what other schools may offer.