Providing students with experiential learning opportunities on and off campus to prepare their future teachers for the classroom, Wittenberg’s Department of Education recently announced a new partnership with Covenant Children’s Academy (CCA) at Covenant Presbyterian Church in downtown Springfield.
Beginning this fall, Wittenberg and the CCA will formally partner in offering half-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs at the church, located at 201 N. Limestone Street.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Covenant Children’s Academy, which has a tradition of providing high-quality early childhood programming for preschoolers and kindergarteners in the Springfield area,” said Kristin Farley, assistant professor of education specializing in early childhood and elementary education at Wittenberg.
Discussions about this formal partnership between the CCA Board of Directors and Wittenberg’s Education Department began in the spring and into the summer with the hopes of helping both institutions thrive in an industry that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic.
“Wittenberg’s Education Department consistently partners with area K-12 schools to help prepare our pre-service teachers, and this particular collaboration expands the opportunities we can provide to our students,” said Farley, who has taught at Wittenberg since 2018 after spending 10 years as an early childhood educator. “Creating this more formalized partnership allows us to both educate our students and learn from CCA’s early childhood professionals in a purposeful way. Wittenberg’s Education Department has a long history of working with the academy.”
The CCA programs will offer preschool and kindergarten children play-based educational activities that build the foundational skills young children need for future school success. Wittenberg students enrolled in education courses will have the opportunity to engage with the children and teachers by preparing classroom materials, planning activities, and immersing themselves in the CCA classrooms. The partnership will begin this fall with the integration of one of its education classes, taught by Sally Brannan, associate professor of education, into the CCA building and classrooms.
“Our faculty will be able to truly integrate the course content and field placement by teaching some classes on-site at CCA and having the CCA early childhood professionals share their expertise with our students,” Farley added. “Since we are in the earliest stages of this partnership, we are still fleshing out specific roles. Because of my background and passion for early childhood education, we are exploring options that will allow me to continue teaching multiple courses at Wittenberg while also serving in some sort of advisory capacity for CCA. However, other faculty members in the education department will also be involved as we continue to develop this partnership.”
In addition, Wittenberg education faculty and CCA faculty will be able to come together to share relevant research around promising pedagogical practices. The program will start on Monday, Sept. 13. Children must enroll and be between the ages three to five.
“Ultimately, we hope that this partnership will have the greatest impact on the young children who attend CCA,” Farley said. “Research is clear about the importance of high-quality early educational experiences for preparing children for school, positive social and emotional outcomes, and general success beyond school. Both Wittenberg and CCA have long traditions of excellence and this partnership can simultaneously help reinvigorate both institutions as we continue to adjust from COVID. We envision that CCA will benefit from professional development opportunities our faculty can provide, as well as the energy and creative resources our students can bring to their classrooms. Wittenberg faculty will have the opportunity to learn from the CCA educators and engage in research with the CCA community, and students will benefit from a laboratory-like setting as they hear from faculty and CCA staff about child development, and then immerse themselves in the actual classrooms to gain first-hand experience.”
Wittenberg’s Education Department is in constant collaboration with area K-12 schools for regular field placements, and looks to continue and expand those regular partnerships with a vision of expanding its work into a fully functioning elementary laboratory school.
“The path to the greatest impact we can have on the education of young children and those that are charged with their learning and development is to collaborate with experts in the field,” Farley said. “We hope this partnership with CCA serves as an incubator for more extensive partnerships to benefit the development of educators to positively impact the education of the children and youth of Clark County.”
Pictured above is Michaela Malone teaching in Lori Culp's first-grade classroom at Enon Primary School in Enon.
Pictured below is Alexis Johnson teaching in Laura Wamsley's kindergarten classroom at Horace Mann Elementary School in Springfield.