Northern Michigan University alumnus Richard Cormier ('92 BS) established a distance education partnership between NMU and his students at Alcovy High School in Georgia. Cormier and his students will temporarily cut that distance when they visit NMU's campus May 19-23.
As part of the partnership, students from Alcovy and NMU’s pre-methods education class video chat during class periods to discuss contemporary issues, cultural and racial diversity, and education.
"Personally, it is an incredible learning opportunity,” said NMU student Jamie Kimble in a story written by an Alcovy student. “It's especially cool to see my own motivations to teach reflected in the Alcovy students. We can have open discussions about the issues currently facing the American education system, and I think that getting more people's perspective can help to expand on both our and the Alcovy students' worldview."
Joe Lubig, associate dean for teacher education, said it is rewarding to reconnect with an NMU alumnus and create valuable opportunities for education students.
“The discussions that have occurred over the semester by video and in writing are motivating for our teacher candidates,” said Lubig. “Our future teachers want to learn as much as possible about school, and having the opportunity to get the most current perspective from real high school students is exciting. School changes so much. Culture changes quickly. The gift we receive from high school students who can keep us current is priceless.”
Two years ago, Alcovy started the "teaching as a profession career pathway" curriculum within the school’s career, technical and agricultural education program. Alcovy students receive three pre-methods college credits in exchange for completion of three classes with a B average or better. Cormier is a profession career pathway instructor because of a projected shortage of qualified teachers in Georgia.
“I teach in a Title I school in which approximately 75 percent of our students are given assistance, and many do not believe that they can either qualify for or afford college,” said Cormier. “What I hoped for my students was to have a direct discussion and ‘partner’ who is in an education program and has the ability to have conversations about not only the college experience, but also about becoming a future educator.”
During the May visit, Alcovy students will attend simulated college courses taught by NMU professors, create projects in the Digital Learning Design Lab and tour the PEIF. Students also will explore the Marquette area by hiking and possibly camping one evening. NMU students will function as mentors for the Alcovy students during the visit.
The NMU education program, admissions office, diversity and inclusion office, NMU Foundation and Alcovy High School fundraising efforts are contributing to the cost of the visit.