Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Benefit of a Regent University in Your Backyard

From a geographical standpoint, it doesn't get much better than Hudson. Located just minutes from Waterloo and Cedar Falls, our location in the Cedar Valley is ideal. Those looking for small town living with multiple opportunities to shop, eat, or catch a show, Hudson is about as good as it gets. When asked to describe our school district, I am uncertain whether we are considered rural or suburban. I suppose either definition would work, but I am not too concerned about the semantics. But one thing is certain: a lot of people want to live here and send their kids to our schools. Because of this, Hudson is poised to grow. We have residential development currently underway that includes both single family residential and multi-family units; both of which are under construction. Our city is working with a developer right now to add another sub-division for our community. All of this is good news for our city and our school.

As suggested above our closeness to a large urban population center has a lot to do with our appeal. The benefits of this geographic location are enormous for our school district and pay huge dividends. Think of this: there are few schools in Iowa that have a regent university in their backyard. And the opportunities to leverage these resources can't be overstated. Our relationship with the University of Northern Iowa provides us with resources that aren't easily replicated in other parts of the state. While the other two regent universities in Iowa have great reputations and outstanding programs, the University of Northern Iowa is the premiere program for teacher and administrator preparation in Iowa.

Because of our close proximity to UNI, we are regularly invited to participate in research projects with the University whereas our teachers and students are able to study and implement the latest and most promising teaching techniques and strategies into our classrooms. Further, each summer, we have the very unique opportunity to host the University of Northern Iowa's Reading clinic where pre-service teachers work with our struggling readers. We are honored to host these professors and college students on our campus where they are taught reading strategies that are proven effective. Then through their practicum experience, are able to implement these strategies with our own Hudson students. We are entering our fourth year in this mutually beneficial partnership where the true beneficiaries are not only the UNI pre-service teachers, but our own emerging readers.

In addition to this, we are pleased to host a large number of student teachers every year. This spring, we have had the fortune of hosting seven student teachers at the high school. Certainly a great opportunity for these student teachers, but an equally important benefit for our own practitioners who have the ability to supervise and share insights with those who may someday be their colleagues. Further, our own teachers are oftentimes able to learn alongside these teachers new and innovative techniques. Plus the ancillary benefit to this is the fact that it provides us with a direct talent pipeline! It may surprise you to know this, but there are numerous school districts in Iowa that never have student teachers because they are so far away from any college or university that has a teacher preparation program. Believe me, it is tough to recruit teachers in extreme rural areas of the state.

As I shared with you a few weeks back, right now we are trying to figure out how this puzzle will fit together for the 2017-2018 school year. Our relationship with the University of Northern Iowa certainly helps to take the rough edges off some of those pieces!

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