Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Students Visit Innovative Schools in St. Louis Over Spring Break

Monday, March 06, 2017

Fifteen Watson College students and three faculty-staff members spent spring break touring innovative urban schools in St. Louis, MO. WCE associate dean Carol McNulty and international programs coordinator Susan Catapano planned the field experience to immerse students in diverse schooling experiences unlike anything found in the immediate Wilmington area, and to expand UNCW teacher candidates’ global perspectives through an intimate educational experience with refugee students new to the United States.

Students visited Nahed Chapman New American Academy, where they talked with teachers and observed culturally responsive teaching practices used to engage refugee children and families. NCNAA was established in 2009 as an International Welcome School to provide newcomers a safe and nurturing environment in which to thrive. The K-8 school serves approximately 300 students from 23 countries for up to two years, providing English training and content exposure, as well as an introduction to American culture and education before they transition into St. Louis public schools.

The following day, students met with educators from the St. Louis Public School System to learn strategies teachers employ to help refugee students integrate into their permanent schools. SLPS serves a diverse population of 30,000 students that includes more than 2,600 English-language learners who come from 53 countries and collectively speak 46 different languages. Students visited an urban public school, shadowed a teacher for a day and participated in a panel discussion with the teachers at the conclusion of the day.

Students visited other innovative schools such as the New City School, a private elementary school that employs an integrated Multiple Intelligences curriculum; The College School, a P-8 school that uses the Reggio Emilia approach to experiential education through project-based learning; and the Waldorf School of St. Louis, which is a progressive curriculum that integrates arts and academics to cultivate enthusiasm for learning. Additionally, they visited the Susan Blow Kindergarten Museum. Blow is considered the “Mother of Kindergarten” because she studied the work of Friedrich Froebel in the 1870s and brought the concept of early childhood education to the United States.

“The Watson College has emphasized traveling internationally to increase global perspectives, but not all university students are afforded the opportunity to do this,” McNulty said. “The St. Louis trip was an effort to ‘bring the world’ to American teacher candidates in such a way that their experiences can be directly translated in the classroom. Students saw a variety of schools all in one metropolitan region. The trip was designed to create and expand the lens from which participants view the world. For many students, the trip was their first opportunity to stretch their thinking beyond southeastern North Carolina.”

Melissa Newcity also participated in the St. Louis field experience. She planned logistics of the trip and created a mini-documentary about the group’s experiences. Newcity is an administrative associate in WCE’s office of Student Advising and Integrated Leadership.

McNulty and Catapano plan to share findings from the trip with faculty and staff at the Watson College and in conference presentations. She hopes it will be one of the first of many domestic field experiences offered to students as a means of increasing global perspectives.

A Global Scholars grant supported the project.