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School University Teacher Education Partnership (SUTEP)

Western Carolina University’s School University Partnership (SUTEP) is recognized nationally as an exemplary partnership between the WCU College of Education and Allied Professions (CEAP) and western North Carolina public schools.

SUTEP was established in 1997, at the same time that 14 University School Teacher Education Partnerships were established in other North Carolina state-supported universities with teacher education programs. These partnerships are designed to strengthen school-university relationships, establish professional development partnerships, strengthen teacher preparation and continued development, connect practice with teaching and learning theory, and share resources.

SUTEP has partnerships with more than 100 schools in 18 school systems in the western region of North Carolina. Programs are comprehensive, collaboratively planned and implemented, and include:

  • Recruiting teacher education students
  • Placing students in schools
  • Providing professional development opportunities for teachers and school executives
  • Redesigning teacher education programs
  • Developing grant proposals
  • Working together on research projects

The mission of SUTEP is to support a seamless continuum for the ongoing development of professional educators. This mission is met through the initiatives of four standing committees: Recruitment, Pre-service, Induction, and Professional Development. To provide maximum impact, academic departments and centers in the College of Education and Allied Professions collaborate with SUTEP and have in their mission provision of services related to recruitment, preparation, induction, and professional development.

  • To support the development and implementation of the university Teacher Education Recruitment Plan outlined in UNC-Tomorrow
  • To provide college access opportunities to middle and high school students
  • To foster collaboration between university faculty and public school partners, provide services and professional development activities to prepare P-12 students to meet 21st century standards, and to look for solutions to identified needs
  • To provide support for faculty as they implement the Boyer Model of Scholarship and for students as they apply knowledge learned to the classroom (QEP)
  • To assess programs annually, apply research, and disseminate results

SUTEP achieves its mission through the work of standing committees co-chaired by university and public school members. 

The structure of the Western Carolina University School University Teacher Education Partnership consists of two committees: the Steering Committee and the Standing Committee.

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee establishes and monitors policy and direction for the partnership as well as annual and long-range goals. The Steering Committee is responsible for assuring adequate communication among partnership stakeholders and meets annually during spring semester. The membership of this committee consists of co-chairs of the Standing Committees, Dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions, Associate Dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions, and three at-large members. The SUTEP director is an ex-officio member.

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee is divided into four sub-committees and meets twice during the academic year. One co-chair is from the university and one is from a partnership school.

Recruitment: The Recruitment Committee promotes education as a career and conducts programs to recruit teachers and other professional educators.

Pre-service: The Pre-service Committee supports the preparation of teachers to meet 21st century standards. The

Induction: The Induction Committee provides support for new and initially licensed teachers and their mentors and administrators.

Professional Development: The Professional Development Committee provides professional development opportunities to career educators.

Programs of Support

CEAP values the critical role public schools play in the development of teachers who will empower and inspire their students to succeed in the 21st century. SUTEP collaborates with school partners to develop a comprehensive and seamless program of support for recruitment, pre-service, beginning teachers, and career support:

“Teachers touch the future” (McAuliffe) like no other professionals. The imprint that educators leave on our world is infinite. Quality teachers are in high demand not only across our nation, but also in the state of North Carolina. Western Carolina University’s partnership with public schools is integral in assisting to address the teacher shortage. 

North Carolina public schools will need more than 100,000 new teachers in the next 10 years. NC teacher education programs graduate approximately 3,000 teachers annually, meeting only 30% of the 10,000 teachers needed each year. The SUTEP Recruitment Committee is committed to supporting teaching as a profession and exploring creative recruitment initiatives. 

CEAP collaborates with Western North Carolina schools and other WCU programs to assist in recruiting teachers for P-12 schools. Recruitment initiatives include:

  • Hosting “Reach to Teach”  
  • Collaborating with the WCU Teacher Education Enrollment Plan Initiatives
  • Serving as a resource for high school guidance counselors and personnel directors in western North Carolina 
  • Facilitating a Speaker’s Bureau with guest speakers, resources, school visits, college access programs, and university student visits to promote teaching as a profession.
  • Promoting the teaching profession to middle school students, high school students, community college students, undeclared majors, and second career professionals through marketing and publicity.

Pre-service education focuses on all aspects of the teacher education program prior to graduation. WCU’s pre-service students have extensive early field experiences beginning with their first education course during their sophomore year. As they progress through the professional education sequence there are additional opportunities to observe and work with public school students in a variety of settings.

Pre-service students at Western also are required to complete a Diversity Experience Requirement. Workshops, seminars, and programs are designed for them to learn how to work with culturally diverse populations.

Each partnership school designates a faculty or staff member as liaison. Liaisons facilitate communication between CEAP and partnership schools. They also collaborate with the director of field experiences to place students for internship, student teaching, and field-based experiences.

The Office of Field Experiences and partnership liaisons work together to find the best student teaching and internship placements for our students. Cooperating teachers and university supervisors attend an orientation to the program to become familiar with the handbook and intern/student teacher expectations.

The College of Education and Allied Professions engages with public school teachers and administrators to ensure that teacher candidates are well prepared to meet the demands of 21st century schools.

The North Carolina Teacher Turnover Report confirms that teachers continue to leave the profession at an alarming rate. In the 2007-2008 academic year, the turnover rate was 13.85%, an increase over the previous year. SUTEP remains committed to providing support for beginning teachers. The Induction Committee, collaborates with Western’s Center for the Support of Beginning Teachers (CSBT) to develop a comprehensive induction program for new teachers in western North Carolina.

The SUTEP Induction Committee joins the CSBT and regional beginning teacher coordinators to offer the annual Western Carolina University Beginning Teacher Induction Symposium. This two-day event is held in August and fulfills two of the three orientation days required for beginning teachers. A similar symposium is held in January for teachers who were hired between August and January.

There is clear evidence that beginning teachers who receive intensive mentoring by master teachers are more likely to remain in the profession. SUTEP and CSBT co-sponsor mentor training and mentor refresher workshops to prepare career teachers for this role. These professional development sessions are based on the North Carolina Mentor Standards. “Instructionally-focused walk-through” training, a proven strategy for impacting new teachers’ practice, also is included in the program.

Lifelong learning is inherent to the role of a professional educator. Whether in the position of classroom teacher, specialist, or administrator, educators have an ongoing need for professional learning. The SUTEP Professional Development Committee addresses this need through multiple strategies including face-to-face workshops and conferences, school/university collaboration, leadership summits, and grant support for innovative school-based projects. The strategies selected are driven by the goals set by the Professional Development Committee, which is composed of educators from partnership schools, school district administrators, and WCU faculty and staff. The committee reviews the goals on an annual basis and revises or changes them based on the needs of regional educators or changes in state level policies, and as deemed appropriate by the members of the committee.

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