Published on January 25, 2023 by Leighton Doores  

Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education hosted Yvette Richardson, Alabama State Board of Education member representing District 4, to share about the school’s partnership with Trace Crossings Elementary School in Hoover.

Orlean Beeson School of Education leadership and several faculty members were able to visit Trace Crossings Elementary School with Richardson and Cathy Gassenheimer, senior consultant to the Alabama Best Practices Center and A+ Education Partnership. During the visit, Trace Crossings Elementary School Principal Quincy Collins and Assistant Principal Lindsay Morgan presented an overview of the partnership and its impact on the school. Third-grade teacher Haley Brown also shared about her experience in the program.

Collins detailed how the partnership has been mutually beneficial for both parties as Samford’s teacher education candidates have been able to gain experience in a real classroom and have the opportunity to develop soft skills that can’t be learned from a textbook. The partnership has also had a positive impact on recruitment and retention for Trace Crossings Elementary School, as 26% of the teachers are Samford graduates.

“We know that when students finish the program at Samford University, they’re going to be ready,” said Collins. “It’s an investment on the front end by having this partnership and it being housed here in our school, but then it’s also beneficial to us on the back end because we know we’ve prepared these students, we know what they’re capable of and they’re going to be ready when it’s time for them to step foot into a classroom and help our students, our families and our school community.”

Collins and Morgan strategically place the Samford students in classrooms based on their personality and skills resulting in a mentorship that equally challenges and encourages the students. They are able to hone problem-solving, improvisation and communication skills before beginning their educational careers.

In addition, Samford’s teacher education program is the only undergraduate major in Alabama with four different teaching certifications within the program. Graduates are certified in early childhood education, early childhood special education, elementary education and elementary collaborative education. The efforts of Trace Crossings Elementary School and Orlean Beeson School of Education complement the other in providing a rigorous and robust learning experience for the Samford students.

“Over 10 years ago, the U.S. Department of Education and national accrediting bodies began touting the need for high-quality clinical partnerships in educator preparation,” said Dean of Orlean Beeson School of Education Anna McEwan. “Samford took the call seriously and transformed its teacher preparation program through what is now a long-standing partnership with Trace Crossings. Immersion in the school setting as full participants continues to be a win-win for future teachers, higher education faculty, our partner schools, and the profession as a whole.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.