Last modified: Wednesday, April 23, 2003
IU School of Education program teams up to help middle school students
Indiana University reaches out to minority students through a number of different programs. One program, Project TEAM, introduces middle school students to college while at the same time preparing IU students for teaching careers.
"Project TEAM has been a wonderful program," said TEAM member and IU senior Jai Bradley of Indianapolis. "It teaches me how to incorporate culture into teaching."
Project TEAM (Transformative Education Achievement Model) was founded in 1996 to help increase the number of teachers from under-represented minorities. It consists of IU students who have a desire to teach in urban communities after graduation, and who meet certain qualifications for the program.
The program is now in place on five of the eight IU campuses including those at Bloomington, Indianapolis, Gary, South Bend and Fort Wayne.
Project TEAM offers a pre-college summer program that hosts 36 students from under-represented communities from Indianapolis Public Schools and schools in Wayne Township, Lawrence Township, Hammond and Bloomington. These students are brought to the Bloomington campus for three days, and they stay in residence halls with a roommate from a different school to give them a feeling for dorm life on a college campus.
Throughout their stay, students are involved in campus tours, team projects, college admission workshops, counselor meetings and a variety of other activities.
According to Christine Bennett, director of the IU Research Institute on Teacher Education and Project TEAM, the program reaches out to all students, not just those with high grades. Reaching them in middle school is important for their futures as well as for the prospects of increasing the number of teachers of color in Indiana's schools.
"It's too late if you wait until they are juniors or seniors in high school," Bennett said.
The program provides a learning experience for both the middle school students and the college students who serve as their mentors and supervisors. While the middle school participants are getting an idea of what it is like to be in college, the college students are getting an idea of what it is like to be a teacher.
The college student members of Project TEAM volunteer to be counselors for the summer program. The program usually has more volunteers than the summer camp requires. Volunteers get the opportunity to design a workshop for the students and receive a stipend for their work.
Bradley has been a counselor for the past two years and said the summer camp has taught him a lot about his role as an educator.
"It taught me how to relate to the students. I learned more about personal issues outside of school issues," Bradley said.
His most memorable camp experience was a situation where the boys under his and other counselors' supervision had a night of sharing. A lot of the boys really opened up to one another about personal issues and things they felt they could not talk about with their teachers.
As part of the program, students are required to write thank-you letters to the congressional representatives who help fund this program. Many of them have cried while reading their letters at the closing ceremony, because the program has been that significant to them.
The summer camp is free for the student participants. Camp dates are May 21-24. For more information, go to the Project TEAM Web site at http://php.indiana.edu/~proteam/contactus.html.