The Schools Within the Context of Community (SCC) program is a unique approach to teacher education that has been receiving national recognition for its efforts to prepare culturally responsive, community-engaged preservice teachers.
Started in 2009 as a partnership between Ball State University and the Whitely Neighborhood of Muncie, SCC immerses preservice candidates in a low-income, African-American community where they are carefully matched with community mentors who serve as cultural ambassadors and impart the strengths and values of the children and families with whom candidates work during their practicum placement. Alongside community mentors, candidates authentically participate in the life of the community, through their attendance at church, community events, family gatherings, and through their joint participation in critical service learning and community mobilization with the local community council. Through careful reflection on these experiences, candidates are challenged to incorporate their learning into their teaching in order to develop culturally responsive experiences for the children with whom they work.
The Schools Within the Context of Community program broadens the definition of “teacher educator” beyond university faculty to include school administrators, local pastors, service providers, community elders, members of the local community council, and parents within the community. Throughout our seven years in Whitely, impact on preservice candidates, P-5 student learning, the broader community, and the field of educator preparation has been significant.