Secretary of Schooling chats with UW college students
Cardona, along with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank, will meet with students from the School of Education’s special education program. The Dean of the University of Education Diane Hess is on the left. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona, flanked by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank, meets with students from the School of Education’s special education program on the Memorial Union balcony. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona meets with students from the School of Education’s special education program on the Memorial Union balcony. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona (left), meets with UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (right) at the Memorial Union during a visit to the UW Madison campus. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona (center right), meets with UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank (left), Diana Hess (center left), Dean of the School of Education, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (right) at the Memorial Union during a visit to the UW. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona, listens to Amari Rios (right) at the Latinx Cultural Center. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona speaks to students at the Latinx cultural center. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona, meets with students at the Latinx cultural center. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona, listens to students at the Latinx Cultural Center, including Kristen Acuna-Huete. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona speaks to Elias Moore-Barbosa at the Latinx Cultural Center in the Red Gym. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Cardona speaks to representatives of the League of Women Voters attending the Public Service Fair. Photo by: Bryce Richter
Two current students and a recent graduate of an innovative special education teacher preparation program at UW-Madison were given the unique opportunity to speak with US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona during a campus visit on Monday.
“I don’t expect to get into politics, so an opportunity like this will probably never arise again,” says Catherine Arneson, who is a graduate of the UW – Madison Special Education Teacher (UW-SET) residency program. “I was a little nervous, but it was just amazing.”
“Secretary Cardona was very passionate about education in general and special education in particular,” said Bo Blocker, who graduated from the UW-SET program in August and now teaches special education in his hometown of Beloit, Wisconsin. “He was so positive, thinking about ways to use politics and culture to make positive change and improve the teaching profession. It was a great conversation. “
Arneson and Blocker were accompanied by another current UW-SET student, David Tejada. They sat with Cardona around two patio tables pushed together on the Main Lounge Deck on the second floor of the Memorial Union.
The Governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, the Chancellor of UW-Madison, Rebecca Blank, and the Dean of the School of Education, Diana Hess, took part in an approximately 20-minute conversation.
Cardona was on the UW-Madison campus for a few hours on Monday afternoon as part of a “Return to the school road trip” – a five-day bus tour of the Midwest to highlight students and communities that are sure to return to face-to-face learning. The tour started with a pep rally at an elementary school in Eau Claire on Monday morning before heading to Madison.
Cardona was greeted on campus by Blank from the Memorial Union, where Evers joined the group before they finally made their way to the main lounge deck, which overlooks the terrace and Lake Mendota.
After greeting Cardona and introducing them to Arneson, Blocker and Tejada, Hess gave a high-level review of the UW-SET program and noted how students graduate in 14 months with a Masters Degree and a Wisconsin Teacher License in Special Education. As part of the program, each graduate student takes a 10-month teaching period at a partner school in Wisconsin and gains the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of students with disabilities in those districts.
As an incentive to enroll in the UW-SET program, students will receive a US $ 38,800 scholarship during their stay. In return, they undertake to teach in a partner district for three consecutive years. Hess added how this initiative, which prepares future special education teachers for work in needy and small rural counties, is made possible by a $ 2.5 million US Department of Education scholarship for teacher quality partnerships.
“This is a really good program,” said Cardona.
Hess went on to explain how students can benefit from the UW – Madison School of Education Wisconsin Teacher Pledge Program which was launched in 2020. This initiative “pledges” to provide financial assistance – including government tuition, fees, and test certification costs – for students enrolled in one of the school’s teacher education programs.
In return, after graduation, students “promise” to teach in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in Wisconsin for three or four years. Students who later teach in a needy district (including rural areas) or in a needy subject area (including special education) fulfill their obligation in three years, all others in four years.
Hess noted how the Teacher Pledge is funded by generous donors to the school – and also actively researched to understand the real implications of the program and whether it is a model that can be scaled widely.
“What the UW-SET program encourages me is how important federal support is for important goals,” said Hess. “Without the US Department of Education’s $ 2.5 million support, we would not have UW-SET. Similarly, without significant donor support, we would not have the Teacher Pledge. Investments like this are critical to teacher training. “
Graduates of the UW-SET program also receive two-year introductory support from the faculty and staff of the School of Education to make the transition from residency to full-time special education as smooth as possible. This support includes professional development, participation in an online community of practice, and on-site visits if necessary.
“The secretary really understood what this program does and what it offers,” said Arneson, who uses the Teacher Pledge and does her teacher-in-residence work in rural Judah, Wisconsin. “He asked us, ‘What should I bring to the White House for special education?’ It was great to hear because I have the feeling that there is not much talk about special needs education. But he is serious about improving our subject and how we can better serve our students. “
After leaving Memorial Union, Cardona went to the nearby Red Gym, where he met Lori Reesor, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UW-Madison, and Gabe Javier, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. The group took a tour of the Latinx cultural center before a group of students met for a chat.
Cardona and his team ended their visit by letting student guides take them to the Public Service Fair at the Gordon Dining and Events Center. This face-to-face exhibition gave students from all fields the opportunity to connect with local, state, and national nonprofits. Students can connect with individuals from these organizations to find volunteer opportunities, jobs, and internships that match their interests, study areas, and career goals. The event was open to all enrolled students and alumni of UW-Madison who have graduated in the past two years.
Cardona’s road trip includes a series of meetings and events with local school principals, parents, students, educators, and more – and runs Tuesday through Friday with stops in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan.
“Secretary Carona really seemed to appreciate hearing about the UW-SET program,” said Tejada, who uses the Teacher Pledge and is completing his special needs teacher residency in Beloit. “Who knows, we might see this program in other parts of the country.”