Northeastern State University education majors study in Vienna

(Tahlequah, Okla.)—For the third consecutive semester, education majors at Northeastern State University met part of their requirements for Pre-Internship II with a trip abroad.

Students visited Austria from May 13-26 and were pre-interns at the Vienna International School from May 16-20, where they received an intensive five-day immersion in teaching techniques.

“In our continual efforts to improve teacher preparation, we look for transformational activities that engage our candidates and expand their perspective,” said Dr. Kay Grant, dean of NSU’s College of Education.

“International travel, visiting schools in other countries and interacting with teachers in other cultures accomplishes this. One cannot go abroad without becoming more aware of our own country, culture and ways of schooling.”

The Vienna International School trip is an option to which students enrolling for their second pre-internship can apply. The students in Austria fulfill half their pre-internship requirement. Remaining pre-internship days are served in Oklahoma.

Cindi Fries, instructor for Educational Foundations and Leadership at NSU-Broken Arrow was instrumental in developing the international option for the Pre-Internship II course.

“It really stems from my connections,” Fries said. “My husband’s family is Austrian. A good friend of his family got a job teaching at the Vienna International School in the 2008-09 school year. When we were visiting relatives, I would ask to go to observe and to teach. When I went there, I knew it would be a great opportunity for our students.”

The Vienna International School, founded in 1978, teaches children mostly from the city’s United Nations and diplomatic missions. It also accepts students from the international business community and Austrian families. Enrollment is about 1,400.

“Partnering with the Vienna International School provides an excellent opportunity for our candidates to see the schooling of children from all over the world – how diversity is celebrated and incorporated into the curriculum,” Grant said. "Classes are conducted in English so our candidates are able to interact with teachers and students."

Dr. Martin Tadlock, NSU president, said living abroad greatly affected his world view and that sending students to study overseas is consistent with NSU’s mission to empower students to be socially responsible global citizens.

“Those who have lived or studied in other countries gain insight and understanding into what people are like elsewhere,” he said. “Teachers can apply that insight to their curricula. They can connect their students to students in the country visited. They can show how the people of the world are interconnected.”

The internship program was created after the administrations of VIS and NSU expressed mutual interest. Fries worked with assistant professor Stan Sanders to create a curriculum meeting NSU’s requirements. A memorandum of understanding was signed by the two institutions.

“VIS receives multiple requests from other schools seeking student teacher placement,” Sanders said. “To date, NSU is the only institution that is allowed to bring teacher candidates to the VIS campus. That is because the arrangement and planning of our pre-internship visits has been so well received.”

Sanders added that the next trip to Austria will be expanded.

“Through our first three visits, we’ve brought a total of 19 Pre-Internship II students and they have all been elementary education majors,” he said. “In December we plan to take 15 students of which four will be secondary education majors.”

The application process selected eight students for the trip: Talisha Burton of Oologah, Ashley Gabel of Broken Arrow, Erin Hirsch of Fayetteville, Ark., Nicole Keenum of Jenks and Kacey Hovarter, Jamie Rochester and Raeanne Ross of Tulsa.

NSU College of Education students are required to complete three internships while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Pre-Internship I involves a student assisting a faculty member at a participating school while Pre-Internship II requires the assembling and teaching of lessons. The third internship is fully immersive in which a student teaches a course for a semester. 

Published: 7/28/2011 3:03:14 PM

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