Education program builds a bridge between rural high school students and University

How one Carson High School teacher is providing students an early vocational draw to teaching

EDUCARSON students tour the University of Nevada, Reno campus each year.

Students from Carson High School's EDUCARSON program, sit in front of the large blue N located outside the University's Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.

As Sarah Lobsinger, implementation specialist at Carson High School, faced another year of teacher shortages, particularly in math, she began looking for ways to engage current students. Her intention was to showcase what being a teacher is like in the hopes that early recruitment could potentially pay off in the long-run.

"At first, I tried to start a ‘grow your own' program using a club-model," Lobsinger said. "It became quickly apparent that we needed more time than a weekly lunch meeting."

The following year, the Carson City School District, also seeing the need for a "grow your own program," set out to build a partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Education. This project was written into the school district's strategic plan in an effort to find teachers. From that, EDUCARSON was born.

Designed to introduce students to the resources and expectations of the University's College of Education, EDUCARSON, for which Lobsinger became the project manager, allowed Carson High School students participating in the program to enroll as University students, receive access to the University Libraries, campus resources and to spend a day touring the University - all part of a high school and University dual-credited class.

"This course has really grown over the last two years and now has 34 students participating," Lobsinger said. "The involvement by the University's College of Education and the partnership we have forged with Dr. Ferrara has been an instrumental component to all of this. It's the biggest reason why this program is successful."

Margaret Ferrara, associate professor in teacher education and human development, led the Community University School Partnership with the Washoe County School District for five years. Her work with CUSP made her the perfect partner for Lobsinger and Carson High School.

"With teaching, we're finding that it's really important to catch students and educate them early on about this profession," Ferrara said. "When you have leadership that is motivated, it's incredibly helpful. Many of the practices and principals shared with Carson High School were taken from a prior project we did with Sparks High School."

Ferrara hopes to see the new partnership with the Carson City School District grow and to possibly be applied in other rural Nevada communities.

"This project is a wonderful example of how the University can successfully partner with rural school districts in an effort to educate K-12 students about the teaching profession," Ken Coll, dean of the University's College of Education, said. "One of our missions as a land-grant University is to work with these communities to generate concrete, tangible goals to create both incentives and interest in higher education and then bring these students back to the rural communities as highly-qualified teachers."

Funded by the state's College and Career Readiness Dual Enrollment Grant, the EDUCARSON course covers the cost of the students' tuition to the University as well as the University student IDs they receive. The course is open to junior and senior Carson High School students.

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