Fitchburg State University recently welcomed 50 local high school students to take part in its Future Educator Academy, offering day-long training sessions that ultimately result in earning a Leadership Certificate from the university.
Future educators engage in introductory coursework and experiences to show them the opportunities available as teachers of tomorrow.
Participating students from Fitchburg High School, Goodrich Academy, and Leominster High School received certificates for the coursework they completed. Offerings included cardiopulmonary resuscitation, facilitated by University Police Officer Timothy Grant; supporting mental wellness in the classroom, facilitated by Coordinator of Field Placement, Partnership & Recruitment
Lourdes Ramirez of the university’s School of Education; and working with students who are underserved, traditionally marginalized, and disenfranchised, facilitated by Assistant Professor Scott Tyner of the School of Education.
The students also got to enjoy lunch in the university’s dining commons.
“I really enjoyed the experience,” said Leominster High School freshman Raleah Barneus, who learned about the academy from a guidance counselor. “The information was great.”
Venetia Boss, a ninth-grader at Fitchburg High School, said she is considering a career in education. “I give today a solid 10,” she said.
Emily Walls, a sophomore at Leominster High School, said she enjoyed the CPR class for its relevance to her future interest in a “helping field,” such as medicine.
Nicholas Newell, also from Leominster, said the experience boosted his interest in teaching. “I enjoy working with people and helping them understand topics that I’m interested in myself,” he said.
The university conducted a survey after the training, and 100% of respondents said they would recommend the Future Educator Academy to other high school students.
The Future Educator Academy, launched in 2021, is designed to address ongoing demographic shifts by recruiting and training future educators from traditionally underrepresented populations. According to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, about 40% of the state’s public school students are of color, but only 10% of their teachers come from minority groups, noted Lourdes Ramirez, coordinator of field placements, partnerships, and recruitment for Fitchburg State’s School of Education.
“We want to offer relevant programming that will provide high school students with marketable skills, while seeing themselves as future educators and change makers,” Ramirez said. “This is a very exciting initiative and we have received strong support from the high schools and district-level administrators.”
The Future Educator Academy’s participants also get access to free, credit-bearing university courses they can apply toward their degree as part of early college engagement. The academy focuses on culturally relevant education that values students’ cultural, linguistic, and ethnic contributions as future teachers.