By Hallela Hinton-Williams
The Education Student Educational Policy Committee (SEPC) is here for the students.
The members, Ashley Jackson ’18, Christian Clark ’18, Jherron Sutton ’18, Carrie Stallings ’19, Eden Gregory ’19, Rene Ayala ’19 and J’Remi Barnes ’19 have been a part of Grinnell’s education department community for years. Now, they can make active change in the department and be a resource for other students, specifically minority students as an SEPC composed entirely of students of color.
“If there’s anything that you need — if you’re trying to figure out who’s the best advisor for you, classes you can take, or how to navigate classes, we’re here specifically for you guys,” Jackson said. “If you’re going to be in the department, I want it to be as easy for you as possible.”
Their help takes many important forms in student life and within the department. They host study breaks — the most recent one was Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) themed, where they played music of HBCU alumni and discussed the similarities between Grinnell and HBCUs and how Grinnell can strive to implement some of the practices of these colleges. The group is also looking to create a brochure that makes student teacher programs more accessible to all students.
A big goal of the Education SEPC this year is generating a scholarship that will facilitate student enrollment in student teacher programs.
“People weren’t realizing that the ninth semester of the student licensure program goes unfunded. The funds for transportation, food, residence and a fixed rate to the College for participation come out of the student’s pocket. There’s only a small need-blind coverage, so we want to create a scholarship which would make the program more affordable. We noticed the trend that students of color are less likely to join the teacher licensure program because of the money aspect. It’s not like students aren’t interested in becoming teachers, because they are,” Jackson said.
More goals the SEPC are trying to reach include creating education related events for students to enjoy.
“We understand that students here value and understand the importance of education, so we have been working hard to brainstorm meaningful events that students would appreciate,” Sutton wrote in an email to The S&B.
While education isn’t a major at Grinnell, it does not stop the values of education and the ways of thinking from being instilled in Grinnell students.
“A majority of Grinnell students who graduate end up in the education sector,” Jackson said.
“We have a wonderful department with classes that are engaging and allow students to critically think about the education system as a whole. Many Grinnell graduates enter an educated related profession, so I think introducing education as a major would better prepare students for the work they wish to do whether that is in or outside of the classroom,” Sutton added.
The Education SEPC wants to mold civically-engaged teachers and students, to help make connections between education and its implementation in daily life.
“What you learn about education will apply anywhere to anything that you do. Even for people who are not directly involved in education, they know eventually that their child or somebody they know is about to enter the system. They know how to prevent that child from being wronged. I think that in itself is impactful enough,” Jackson said. “I think it is a job well done by the education department, if they can make students equipped to shake up education at any level.”
The legacy of the group will continue to improve the department and remain a force on the Grinnell campus, advocating for education and the department.
“Our SEPC is filled with super cool and kind members,” Sutton wrote. “It is so nice to work with students who are just as passionate about and dedicated to education and the department as you are.”
“I’m proud to be a part of something permanent, that me and my team … help make happen,” Jackson said.
Students who want to see change in the education department and have their ideas heard should email the Education SEPC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students can also talk to the thoughtful and kind professors of the department.