Policy change allows student teachers to walk in spring

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Policy change allows student teachers to walk in spring

Nick Tucker, Senior News Reporter

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Students with full-time internships or student teaching in the fall can now walk at commencement in the spring due to a recent change to CWU policy. This change has been spearheaded by ASCWU VP for Academic Affairs Claire-Anne Grepo, who received concerns raised by double education major Kassie Hill who wanted to walk with her graduating class. According to Hill, one year into the teaching program she found out that she wouldn’t be allowed to walk because her student teaching was taking place in the fall during a different academic year.

“I am a double major, I’ve done it in three years, and I’m a first-generation college student,” Hill said. “I found out I wouldn’t be able to walk at graduation, and that’s just really, really heartbreaking.”

Hill said she had a teacher tell her that this had happened to multiple previous students, and who told her to “start pushing buttons.”

So she reached out to Grepo and together the two started brainstorming and created a student task force, mostly made up of other education majors, with the goal of spreading word of this initiative.

ASCWU President Edith Rojas then drafted a letter from ASCWU supporting the initiative. This letter was then given to the Dean of Education and Professional Studies Paul Ballard, the Dean of Student Success Gregg Heinselman, Provost Katherine Frank, President Gaudino and the  Faculty and Academic Senates.

Once the letter was sent, the policy change went through various councils until it reached the University Policy and Advisory Committee (UPAC) which President Gaudino oversees, and then the Board of Trustees who gave it their approval.

All of this has been done successfully and the policy change is now official. According to Executive Director of the School of Education Ron Jacobson, he and his office received many emails every year from students asking for an exception. Jacobson thinks that this change is something that will impact a lot of students in a big way.

“I support [the new policy], I like the decision,” Jacobson said. “For a student who is going to finish up in the fall and then get a full-time job and move, for them to come back in the following spring to walk and bring family is difficult. This allows them to do commencement because many of them just don’t come back.”

Jacobson said that the policy previously allowed for students with an internship or student teaching in the summer to walk in the spring because it was a part of the same academic year. The problem for education majors specifically is that there is no student teaching in the summer because almost no K-12 schools are in session during that time. Jacobson says that this policy change has been made with mainly education majors in mind, and will do a lot for those students.

“Other than being a little more complicated, I don’t see the downside to this,” Jacobson said. “It’s a win for Central, the students, it’s a win for Ellensburg because families can come for commencement and enjoy the town, it’s a win for everyone involved.”

In order to make use of this policy, students need a petition form and must get a letter from their advisor, chair of their department, and the dean of their college.

“Not many schools allow for this, I think only a few others in the state,” said Grepo. “We have a lot of student teachers here and an esteemed education department. Their voices need to be heard.”

Hearing the voices of students is something that both Grepo and her administrative assistant Nancy Canales want to emphasize, and is what they say started the process of changing this policy.

“This policy was enacted due to concerns that students came in here with. If you have some kind of policy or something in your department that is interfering with your success, an unnecessary obstacle, please come talk to us because that’s what the student academic senate is here for,” Canales said. “The administration doesn’t know how it affects us because they’re not in our shoes, so please come let us know if you have issues with CWU policies.”

Hill isn’t yet sure if she’ll be able to walk, as she still has to go through the petition process. However, now she has a chance that wasn’t present before to celebrate her success with friends and family.

“I get to have them celebrate the fact I completed college, I get to move back and start teaching, I’m set to start looking for a job, and I won’t have to worry about leaving my students for commencement” Hill said. “I just want to thank Central for actually going through with this, I never thought such a large university could do this and the fact that they did it so quickly is amazing.”