Every year, the students in the Education Policy and Leadership (EPL) program are given the opportunity to address policy issues and gain real world experience during their EPL Proseminar Course (EDU 686). Working with education policy organizations in DC, students immerse themselves in research on a range of issues including teacher salaries and benefits, college prep, school choice, and teacher effectiveness.
During the summer of 2018, the EPL students worked with the American Federation of Teachers, The College Board, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), Institute for Educational Leadership, The Management Center, Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), and Teach Plus. Each organization engaged the students with a specific challenge they were facing, allowing the students to provide recommendations to help the organization solve it.
The opportunities offered through the EPL Proseminar Course allows students to play a role in education policy and practice. By combining their classroom work with a practical experience, our students are able continue their emergence into leaders and policy makers. Not only was the experience meaningful for students, it also made a difference for each of the education organizations.
EPL student Rachel Hargreaves worked with Alice Deal Middle School “on developing curriculum that integrates art into the 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) classroom to promote literacy and deeper understanding of critical topics.” When thinking about the courses that prepared her the most for the Proseminar experience, she recalled her Education Leadership and Organizational Change course (EDU 631) and Teaching Literacy in the Elementary School course (EDU 601). Rachel said, “While these were drastically different classes, one prepared me to manage my time and communicate effectively, while the other prepared me for the literacy activities and components of the curriculum."
Christina Palmer, another current EPL student, shared “This summer during my proseminar, I was working with DCPS to design a protocol and system to track the Work Based Learning (WBL) events that students participate in through their Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. We were given a lot of flexibility in the project and were able to create a tangible product for an organization that they could modify to their specific needs.”
Finally, Peter Weber, Instructor in the EPL program shared, “One of my favorite things about the American University program is that it prepares students with the specific skills and experiences that they need to be successful policymakers in the future — both in schools and in broader policy contexts. The ProSem is an integral part of this process. Students both get the experience of engaging with real organizations and they get to solve real problems. Both are vital skills. Every group gets the chance to do what policymakers do every day — consider their work in the broad context of an organization and figure out how their work can contribute to that organization’s mission.”