Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Connect with us:

Dorian Correa thanks D215 Board on behalf of EIU program participants

Nine future teachers found career confirmation with Minority Teacher Identification and Enrichment this summer

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (August 23, 2023) – “I took advantage of the opportunity, and I gave it my all,” said TF South student Dorian Correa to the District 215 Board of Trustees at their August 22 meeting. Correa and eight other District 215 students had been part of the Minority Teacher Identification and Enrichment Program hosted by Eastern Illinois University (EIU) this summer. They came back with a clearer vision of college, career, and calling.

Dorian Correa
A full college experience felt out of reach for Dorian Correa before this summer. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The three-week program is for high school students considering a career as educators. The program immerses participants in a college-like experience and awards them three hours of college credit upon completion. Students “live in the residence halls, go to class during the day, enjoy practical experiences with children, and participate in social activities in the evening and weekend,” explains a flyer on the EIU website. The District 215 group was joined by students from across Illinois.

Discipline and confidence

Correa is the first member of his family to pursue a college degree, and the EIU program was an introduction to college life as well as a glimpse of a teaching career. He’s been interested in teaching since freshman year but assumed a full college experience was out of reach. However, he shared with the board, following the summer immersion he applied to EIU. On August 14 he received an official acceptance letter from the university. That news was greeted with applause from board members and members of the public in attendance at the meeting.

Correa believes his summer experience will even impact his senior year at TF South, which just began on Monday. “When I got home, I still had that discipline,” he explained in an interview, also mentioning the “confidence boost” the program gave him.

Granting access

Enrollment in the Minority Teacher Identification and Enrichment Program costs about $2,000 per student, said Wendy Bivins, School Counselor at TF North and sponsor of the Future Teachers Club. The money covers housing for the students during their stay as well as actual tuition costs. EIU leaves it up to participating schools to decide which students to enroll, and Bivins based decisions on student interest level, academic performance, and participation in school life. As president of the Future Teachers Club, Correa was a natural fit.

It was grant money that made it possible for District 215 to participate in the EIU program this year. The grant was enough to cover 10 students, though one ultimately had to decline because of family scheduling conflicts. A teacher drove the participants to the Charleston campus in a school mini-bus.

Bivins checked in with the students throughout their experience, even driving to EIU to hear firsthand their impressions. The kids all remarked on how busy and tired they were — they had been starting each day at 5 or 5:30 a.m. to be ready for 7 a.m. breakfast and 8 a.m. classes — but said they wouldn’t change anything.

“All of them passed their classes with As and Bs,” she reported. “I’m super proud of them. They did a good job — they did a really good job. And everyone in the program had really good things to say about them.”

“I’m hoping next year we’ll be able to send more,” said Bivins.

Correa hopes so too. As he told the board, “I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. If this offer were to be made to another student, I would definitely recommend it. Wholeheartedly.”

The District 215 Committee of the Whole meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. Regular Board meetings are generally held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. Meetings are held at the TF Center for Academics & Technology, located at 1605 Wentworth Avenue, Calumet City, Illinois.


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.