Children’s Museum of Illinois & Millikin’s School of Education
The Children’s Museum of Illinois and Millikin University’s School of Education have collaborated for the past two years, developing exciting ways for children and families to engage in learning experiences in the indoor and outdoor spaces at the Museum.
School of Education faculty and Children’s Museum staff worked together to create “Messy Materials” in a Reggio-inspired outdoor classroom, filled with many hands-on, child-centered experiences that promote critical thinking and other 21st century skills. In this way, the School of Education has helped the Museum develop an ecological approach in providing learning materials from the natural environment – such as wood, rocks, sand – that are more meaningful from the children’s own community of Decatur. In their “work,” the children create their own structures and add on to others’ work in a learning environment that promotes exploration and open-ended problem solving.
The School of Education has also worked with the Museum to provide an annual trip to the Museum to every Kindergartner in Decatur Public Schools.
For more about the Children’s Museum of Illinois, visit www.CMofIL.org
Decatur Public Schools
Decatur Public Schools + Millikin Partnership
The collaboration between Decatur Public Schools (DPS) and Millikin University is a highly valued partnership. What began as an agreement for internship and student teaching placements has developed into a multifaceted partnership that includes multiple schools in the district, along with many different departments at Millikin, working together to benefit the community.
The Dennis Millikin Partnership
The Dennis Millikin Partnership was built on the synergy between the student-centered educational pedagogies of the Performance Learning of Millikin and the Project-Based Learning of Dennis. These approaches have long allowed collaborative ideas to flourish. The partnership positively influences students from both campuses in real world applications that continue to progress their social, post-secondary education and career-ready development. Initially conceived as a way to connect Millikin’s School of Education to Dennis for internships and student teaching, the Dennis-Millikin partnership has grown by leaps and bounds. Now the Dennis-Millikin partnership extends past the study of education and brings students from both campuses together to learn about democracy, service, mentoring, global issues, and more.
A great example of the outcomes of the Dennis-Millikin partnership is the West End Garden, funded annually through a grant provided by the School of Education, housed on a lot owned by Millikin, but largely maintained by the students of Dennis Lab School. Under the supervision and guidance of Millikin faculty and students, Dennis students have planted vegetable gardens and fruit trees, built a stage and seating for theatre productions and speeches, and both schools and the local community hold lovely functions in the garden.
French STEM Academy
The French STEM Academy enjoys a partnership and commitment from the School of Education to support STEM initiatives for all students and teachers. The areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are core to Millikin’s mission of uniting in equal importance the scientific, practical, and industrial with the literary and classical. Through annual giving and program development, Millikin faculty in the field of Education support learning goals at French STEM Academy for all students. Some outstanding examples of how students have benefited from the School of Education partnership include:
- 5th grade Boxcar Derby design and presentation at the Illinois Junior Academy of Science
- Development and materials coding and robotics
- 4-H Jr. Science Explorers Club after-school program
- Science Fair projects and judging
- Professional Development conference for preparation of The Great American Eclipse
- 5th and 6th grade field trip to southern Illinois to witness the full August 21st eclipse
Johns Hill After School Program
Johns Hill Afterschool Program (JHAP) is a free afterschool program housed at Johns Hill Magnet School exploring culture, language, and literacy in a richly diverse school environment. JHAP provides Johns Hill students with the opportunity to develop social and academic confidence through activities that focus on literacy, linguistic skills, academic achievement, cultural awareness, and play. This after school program has emerged from grass roots needs and interests of community members: Millikin faculty, School of Education students, Millikin international students, and Johns Hill ESL teachers and students.
This program fosters children’s awareness of cultural and linguistic diversity. By creating a safe and intellectually curious environment, children learn about different multicultural backgrounds through discussions, technology, literature, social interactions, cultural activities, and especially from each other. JHAP aims to bolster students’ self-identity, by encouraging them to understand who they are in this society, and additionally understanding others inside and outside of their community. With socially conscious organizers, the JHAP is a program that will build children’s awareness of cultural and linguistic differences and similarities in a positive, nurturing environment.
- The students in the program demonstrate many forms of communicative competence through meaningful social interaction.
- JHAP helps students know and value their own unique gifts and learn about the diverse cultures and people in their community.
- JHAP will contribute to the academic and social lives of Johns Hill students and its community.
- This afterschool program also integrates research, teaching, and service, all focused to promote innovation, cultivate justice, enhance social mobility, and improve the quality of life by responding to local, national and global societal needs.
During the summer, the School of Education hosts the Decatur Public Schools' SMASH Camp for middle schoolers who are identified as gifted. This 4 week camp is reimagined each year with a unique curriculum, planned outcomes, and innovative learning experiences. The lucky middle school campers are able to use the many resources and experts at Millikin in their learning and activities.
Over the past few years, Millikin Education students and DPS teachers created summer experiences focused on entrepreneurship, visual arts, astronomy, food sciences, and technology. DPS middle schoolers used Millikin's public observatory (the largest public observatory in the state) to view the night sky with their families, designed and opened startup companies, and auctioned creatively repurposed items.
An organization started in 2015 by Millikin alum Rebekah Harrelson and School of Education faculty member Denice Love, Not Forgotten’s main purposes are to develop awareness, resources, and partnerships throughout the Central Illinois communities for children and adults with special needs, their families and their educators.
Parents and educators in the community suggested that they wanted to learn more about topics such as emotion regulation, managing behavior at home and in public, the IEP process, and more. We have brought in experts in these and other areas and to date have had over twenty guest speakers come to the Millikin campus over the last two years to provide needed information to our community.
We have paid particular attention to helping families navigate the special education process and the Director of Special Education for the two-county area (that serves 14 school districts) gives a talk to the group at the start of each school year on the IEP process and answers any questions families have. It is a valuable opportunity for this Director to understand the priorities of our families.
Not Forgotten has also been actively involved in educating the Decatur community on the needs of families with children with special needs. We have assisted the Children’s Museum of Illinois, the Scovill Zoo, and the Decatur Public Library in developing sensory-friendly programming and are currently working with the Park District to develop athletic camps for children with disabilities. The Children’s Museum of Illinois has had regular sensory-friendly events that so many of our families enjoy. We have also participated in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and the Future Superstars Basketball event.
Not Forgotten is working to develop a “Bridge Club” for young adults to provide them with opportunities for, and support in, socializing. This young group of 18-26 year olds has met a few times to chat and discussed getting together to play games and share other interests. The owners of The Board Knight have offered to host their meetings and we look forward to this group becoming a regular opportunity for young adults with special needs to socialize and have fun together.
Not Forgotten is developing an online, social media-based presence that we hope will become a community forum where parents and educators can share information, listen to one another, and work more effectively to meet the needs of their children with special needs. Follow or contact Not Forgotten at: https://www.facebook.com/NotForgotten/, @notforgotteninc on Twitter, and email@example.com, or by calling (217)358-8548.
Pi Lambda Theta
Pi Lambda Theta
For many years, the School of Education has engaged in work with Pi Lambda Theta, one of the nation’s most prestigious education honor societies. Students with outstanding academic achievements receive invitation to be inducted in Pi Lambda Theta. These students are recognized at graduation by the gold honor cords they wear. The benefits of Pi Lambda Theta are significant and include scholarships to support undergraduate or graduate studies, discounted professional liability insurance, and professional connections with outstanding professionals in our field. Membership in Pi Lambda Theta signifies a student’s hard work and dedication to excellence in their studies and the teaching profession.
Each April the School of Education hosts an induction and recognition ceremony and reception for all eligible and joining students and their families. Students may run for office in our local chapter of Pi Lambda Theta. Annually, the student organization coordinates an event to benefit an outstanding service group or to draw attention to a need that affects children. When beginning your program in Education, aim for an invitation for membership in Pi Lambda Theta with a 3.5 GPA and demonstrating potential leadership in the teaching profession.
Annual Conference of Tomorrow's Teachers
Each year the School of Education hosts the Annual Conference for Tomorrow's Teachers on campus in the beautiful state-of-the-art University Commons building. Throughout the event, students interested in education participate in sessions on important topics in the field – such as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), new technologies, Special Education, English as a Second Language, and global education. Attendees also join a class in their program area of interest and visit Dennis Lab School, a preschool through 8th grade partnership school that has transformed learning using the concept of Project Based Learning.
With breakfast, lunch, and even an overnight option included, this conference day is an outstanding way to learn more about Education as a career option and the value of a Millikin School of Education degree. Most importantly, we believe that attendance at a conference such as this shows commitment to education and professional development and we award an Education scholarship to each attendee on top of other merit scholarships and talent awards earned.
Check back in the Spring for the date and registration link of our Annual Conference for Tomorrow's Teachers!