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Winona State University Builds ‘Education Village’ for Clinical Practice

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The importance of clinical practice in teacher preparation is well known. Increasingly, preparation programs are getting teacher candidates into PK-12 settings earlier and more often to enhance their readiness to enter the field. At Minnesota’s Winona State University, that means building a clinical practice model supported by a state-of-the-art “Education Village” slated to open in spring 2018, pending final state funding.

According to James Schul of Winona State’s Education Studies department, the mission of the Education Village is to bring “busloads of children” to work closely with the university’s teacher candidates in various STEM-themed experiences (as well as in other subjects). This arrangement will give candidates valuable field experience while providing well-equipped centers and hands-on learning for the visiting PK-12 students.

To create the Education Village, the university and its partners aim to renovate and transform three old, adjacent buildings into a campus of high-tech classrooms, laboratories, “maker spaces,” and more. This plan will site Education Village in the heart of the community, near the university buildings and a retirement center; one of the buildings to be included already houses the university’s child-care center.

Partnerships with the community, surrounding PK-12 schools, and other stakeholders have been crucial to the creation of Education Village—as has persistence in appealing to the state for funding. “Support from the state legislature is key,” Schul said. Although funding was approved in 2014 for the planning phase of the project, the state legislature has not yet approved bonding for the building renovation phase. “The Education Village is mired in the midst of a larger political squabble,” Schul explained, although he says the project funds are not the cause of the controversy. “We are hopeful that the funding comes – if not through a special session called by Governor Dayton, then in the next legislative session.”

While the timeline moving forward is still being determined, the intended outcomes of the Education Village are clear. Schul said the project “will increase the number of high-quality teacher candidates produced through Winona State, will advance the programs offered through our College of Education, will cause a rise in the enrollment in our College of Education, and will create increased partnerships between the WSU College of Education and the local, state, national, and even global community.”

For more information, see this brief video:

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Abigail Mercadante

Media Relations Coordinator Intern