Asbury Education Students Learn by Serving
WILMORE, Ky. — Anyone who’s heard of Asbury University’s School of Education already knows its track record of producing outstanding teachers. With experienced faculty, rigorous curriculum and impactful field experience, the program is worthy of its reputation.
Here’s something you might not know about the School of Education — for the past four years, students and faculty members have volunteered in Knott County, Ky., partnering with local schools and a local church. It’s valuable experience for students, and more importantly, it’s an opportunity to share the love of God.
“In some ways we look at it as part of the Great Commission,” said David Riel, assistant professor and director of Clinical Experiences in the School of Education. “In essence, our students are being commissioned to ‘go into all parts of the world.’ And this is a part of the world that is new to most of our students.”
Riel, along with Dr. Tim Crook, associate professor and chair of the Department of Instructional Leadership, led a trip to Knott County in October. Thirteen education majors participated, along with retired faculty member Dr. Shirley Pauler.
Riel and Crook worked in six schools, assisting with school improvement — working with principals, teachers and central office staff to identify goals and take steps to improve learning outcomes. Asbury Education majors also volunteered in two schools, organizing health fairs, hosting math and literacy nights and more. Crook says Education majors’ experience in Knott County helps them develop skills they will use in the classroom.
“They see a variety of classroom management styles and they are exposed to how teachers differentiate to meet needs of all sorts of students,” Crook said. “Our students also tremendously help a lot of teachers with technology. A couple of them had smart boards that they’d never used, and our students showed them how to use them and got them engaged in doing that.”
The learning went both ways, though. Crook says Asbury faculty and students went to Knott County with the goal of collaboration.
“We come there knowing that there’s a lot of great stuff going in Knott County, and we are here to learn from them,” Crook said. “And if we have an opportunity, we will share some of the things that we know. Anytime in education when teachers can talk to teachers, it is a great collaborative experience.”
The Knott County trip isn’t all about practical experience, though. In true Asbury fashion, it blends practical learning with a commitment to sharing the love of God. Asbury students quickly build relationships with school children, and their friendship — even for a short time — can be life-changing.
“They love our kids,” Crook said. “There are hugs, there are tears. It’s just amazing how close they get with those students in those classrooms. You’ve got to realize that, for a lot of these kids, mom or dad may not be in the picture for different reasons, and a lot of times those reasons are not good. Many of these kids need love, and we become the hands and feet of Jesus while we’re there. It’s a wonderful way of just showing them the love Christ has given us.”
Cassidy Johnson ’18, a junior Elementary Education major, says the trip was a reminder of how powerful daily classroom interactions can be.
“It was very eye-opening, and I loved having those opportunities,” Johnson said. “We can’t go into a public school and talk about the gospel as we’d like, but we can go in and be a witness through our actions — how we treat students and interact with teachers. While I was there for such a short time, I hope I was able to make some sort of impact. The kids taught me a lot, and I hope that I was able to give something back, as well.”
To learn more about Asbury University’s School of Education, visit: asbury.edu/Education.