Background of the Middle Grades Program
Appalachian State University (ASU) was the first institution of higher education in North Carolina and one of the first in the United States to offer specialized professional preparation for middle grades teachers and has a long-standing commitment to excellence in middle level teacher preparation. Approximately 765 undergraduate and 750 graduate students have received middle grades education degrees from Appalachian State University. Recently, ASU's program was awarded the first national award recognizing an exemplary middle level teacher education program by the National Professors of Middle Level Education, an affiliate organization of the Association of Middle Level Education.
ASU's middle grades program is a known "brand" across North Carolina and the country. It is no surprise that we seek to push innovation. It is our tradition. However, our most treasured value is "excellence" in middle level teacher preparation. As we move for the first time toward a hybrid delivery model for a new graduate cohort this fall, we do so with a bit of anxiety. Our hope in moving toward a hybrid model is to be responsive to the needs of prospective and practicing middle level educators who increasingly need flexibility in their schedules to meet the competing demands on their time as they serve as school and community leaders and as members of families. After all, a cornerstone of middle level education is developmental responsiveness. We want to model that principle in our practice.
Early in the history of specialized middle level teacher preparation, ASU faculty organized summer institutes that focused on middle school education. These institutes were attended by graduate students as well as by middle level practitioners from across North Carolina. Consultants for these institutes included noted middle school authorities such as William Alexander, Paul George, and Nancy Doda as well as successful middle school teachers, principals, and other educators. At that time in the history of middle school education, such training and collaborating were critical because middle schools were still a fairly new phenomenon.
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