Elephants aren’t too common in Sherman, but area elementary students have been envisioning elephants roaming the streets. The students are taking part in Austin College’s annual Austin Teacher Program (ATP) “Thinking Camp,” and stories of elephants in the streets in Thailand understandably grabbed the attention of the children in their studies of Southeast Asia in the two-week summer enrichment program taught by Austin College students in the ATP. This is the 14th year of the program.
The collaborative camp is coordinated by Julia Shahid, associate professor of education in the ATP. She, along with administrators and teachers at Jefferson, began the program several years ago, recognizing the need for a summer program. Each year, a few SISD teachers participate in the program to provide technical support and to help evaluate the program.
Past sessions have explored the cultures of Japan and Germany, as well as the topics of city development, space exploration, weather, the environment, and other varied subjects.
The program benefits Austin College as well as area elementary students. Shahid teaches a summer course for ATP graduate students on science and social studies methodologies, but since area schools are not in session, can offer no classroom experience to accompany the course. The Thinking Camp provides her students an entire morning of classroom teaching.
See the Herald Democrat coverage of the event.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 36 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of 1,250 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.