Each year, NIU College of Education students get spectacular opportunities for hands-on learning through the college’s Educate and Engage Program. These opportunities allow students unique, first-hand experiences before they even earn their degree.

To give a better idea of all that’s possible through this visionary program, some students might travel to Houston for a week of co-teaching in real-life classrooms while also staying in the homes of educators. Others might jet off overseas to teach children in Finland, where some schools haveno classrooms or desks, or teach English to teens in Taiwan, using lesson plans created from pop culture. Still, others might gain experience in a K-12 Bureau of Indian Education school in Mandaree, North Dakota, or make regular trips to a low-income elementary school near Chicago to plant seeds of higher education in the minds of second-graders.

These opportunities and much more, including equally transformational possibilities for non-teacher licensure majors, are available through this program. Educate and Engage’s unparalleled experiences throughout the Midwest region, across the U.S. and around the world are possible thanks to the generosity of donors and international partners. Thanks to these donors, our students travel at little or no cost to themselves.

For example, NIU’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE) students have taken advantage of the program, sending students to learn at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the NCAA headquarters, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory.

KNPE’s learning adventures are global as well, with students working in Sri Lanka and Belize to promote teaching the concept “Personal and Social Responsibility Through Physical Activity.”

With a half-decade of amazing journeys in the books, the college has built a legacy of success. A great example of this would be the Houston Independent School District, where eight proud NIU alumni of Educate and Engage currently teach. Evelyn Brand, who earned her B.S.Ed. in Elementary Education at NIU in 2018, is one of them.

“Going to Texas presented me the chance to learn from an experienced educator, to explore education in another city and to enjoy a different culture,” said Brand, a first-grade teacher at Sutton Elementary School. “The schools, the people and the opportunities in Houston all helped convince me that this was my next home.”

Those who participate can qualify to wear Educate and Engage stoles during commencement and earn a special notation on their official NIU transcripts.