SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Twenty Slippery Rock University freshmen selected for the College of Education's inaugural Professor Protégé's Program received iPads Thursday to help them link their scholarship and service projects with faculty mentors.
The students were selected through a competitive application process open to all incoming fall semester freshmen, said Keith Dils, dean of SRU's College of Education.
The new program is designed to enhance student's professional development opportunities as they begin their college careers. It is open to freshmen enrolled in all majors across the college, including early childhood development, special education, secondary education, counseling and development and physical and health education.
Funds for the iPads were garnered through fundraising efforts by the College of Education.
"The freshman protégé's are going to use the iPads to conduct their scholarship/service project with their faculty mentors and will take them to field experiences related to their preparation for becoming teachers," he said. The selected students will work closely with faculty, learning to use technology and apply it to real-world situations.
"This is a program that will allow us to continue to recruit quality freshmen interested in pursuing careers as teachers and educators," Dils has said. "We also believe that as students work closer with faculty, they will become even more engaged in the college, the University and their studies, which will continue to boost our retention rate."
Joanne Leight, associate professor of physical and health education, met with the students to distribute the iPads and provide hands-on training demonstrating how the students can use the devices as a tool to help them perform well on their scholarship/service projects.
Each student is working with a faculty mentor on a specific service project.
The students were also shown how to use technology they will use when they enter a school to begin applying pedagogical theory to the actual act of teaching students. Most of the students will begin such work as sophomores.
The program is expected to provide additional benefits to teacher education students by providing additional mentoring and the chance to work on research projects, according to Randall Nichols, associate professor in physical and health education and protégé's program organizer.
A key focus of the program is to identify quality students and then invest in their education through intense mentoring and involvement in education research projects, Nichols said.
The program, which gives the selected students a paying job allows them to work with such programs as Kids in Action, writing for the health and physical education department's Web page, serving as a health education advocacy assistants, serving in an elementary science laboratory, serving as a secondary methods service learning assistant, serving as a tutoring assistant at Emily Brittain Elementary School in Butler, working with SRU's "Moving Concepts" program for elementary school-age children and a host of others jobs.
The thrust involves getting the students both hands-on and practical experience by working closely with faculty, Nichols said. Additional benefits are helping students to learn such skills as team building.
"We think the program will make coming to SRU even more attractive and provides the big picture of both faculty scholarship and service to benefit students," he said.
Students interested in the program had to apply by the final day of orientation and submit two letters of recommendation.
At the end of the year, participants must present their work, including what work they undertook, what they learned and how it benefitted others, Nichols said.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.