Student teachers not fazed by closures

Sul Ross Elementary is one of nine WISD schools that will close on Monday due to cuts in the state budget. Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer
Sul Ross Elementary is one of nine WISD schools that will close on Monday due to cuts in the state budget. Of Baylor's designated Professional Development Schools for student teachers, only North Waco Elementary School will close. Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer

By Rob Bradfield
Staff Writer

Baylor’s student teachers won’t need to cut back after the Waco ISD completes its planned school closures.

Many in the Waco community have voiced concerns since WISD officials announced they were considering closing several area schools earlier this year.

The Baylor student teaching program is active in many of the closing schools, but according to Krystal Goree, director of Professional Practice at Baylor’s School of Education, the program doesn’t anticipate having to decrease the number of internships available at Waco schools. “I think it will help us to concentrate our efforts and, in fact, improve our program,” Goree said.

The actual number and locations of positions won’t be determined until enrollment numbers are finalized later this year, but positions at some of the closing schools will be moved with students to other locations.

WISD began considerations earlier this year to close schools in response to deep cuts in state school funding. The district will close five elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school.

The remaining students and faculty will be integrated into the remaining schools.

According to WISD, the closing schools were chosen in a way to best utilize existing space.

“We are consolidating classes based on space capacity,” Karen Hassell, WISD director of professional development, said.

The Baylor student teacher program also operates in the Midway, Robinson, Connally and La Vega school districts. Even with the WISD closures, Goree said, the number of positions available isn’t expected to change drastically.

The Baylor student teaching program operates in specially designated Professional Development Schools. Student teachers spend several hours a week in area classrooms for six semesters.

The only elementary level PDS site that will close in the fall is North Waco Elementary School.

The Baylor student teachers have been involved at the school for several years, and are regretting having to leave the facilities.

“We will miss North Waco [Elementary] as a PDS site. Fortunately there will be more placement options at the existing PDS sites as a result of the consolidations,” Goree said.