Published on September 1, 2023 by Kameron Brown  

When the U.S. Department of Education and national accrediting bodies began touting the need for high-quality clinical partnerships in educator preparation, Orlean Beeson School of Education took this call seriously and transformed its teacher preparation program through what is now a long-standing partnership with Trace Crossings Elementary School in Hoover, Alabama.

The partnership was designed to provide a unique professional development opportunity for Samford’s early childhood special education, elementary and collaborative education students. Principal Quincy 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 can develop soft skills that can’t be learned from a textbook.

“We know that when students finish the program at Samford, they’re going to be ready,” said Collins. “It’s an investment on the front end by having this partnership, 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.”

The partnership has had a positive impact on recruitment and retention for Trace Crossings Elementary School, as 26% of the teachers are Samford graduates.

“Learning from course work laid the foundation for my education,” said Emily Shabo ’23, a recent graduate of Samford’s elementary education program, “but it was the student teaching experience that gave me the opportunity to practice and develop what I learned in the classroom. This piece of my education was invaluable, and this program gave me the confidence and preparation I need to start my teaching career in the fall.”

Samford’s teacher education program is the only undergraduate major in Alabama with four different teaching certifications within the program. 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.

“Classroom learning is only one piece of the puzzle,” said Anna McEwan, dean of Orlean Beeson School of Education. “Our students are set apart by the high quality, practical experience this partnership provides.”

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.