The Excellence in Collaborative Experiential Learning (ExCEL) option is specifically designed for elementary education majors who want to get an early start on their teaching experience. The program is open to those in their final semester prior to student teaching (Semester Y) and features a three-day-a-week, fully interactive, closely and actively mentored placement in a Stillwater Public Schools (SPS) classroom. ExCEL candidates attend university methods classes as a cohort. Those classes meet on campus with a concentrated format designed to connect university content with classroom experience.
ExCEL is offered in the fall semester, with most candidates continuing in the same placement through spring student teaching, resulting in a full-year focused internship prior to graduation. Candidates start the year when teachers do, engaging in professional development and preparation as well as those critical first days of school. They are placed in small groups at each of the six SPS elementary schools, each mentor/candidate pairing placed thoughtfully with an eye toward creating strong partnerships. ExCEL participants gain experience in almost every aspect of elementary school teaching and develop productive relationships with a variety of educational professionals.
Elementary education majors interested in participating in ExCEL may apply during Semester X. An ExCEL faculty representative will speak in classes about the program and information sessions will be offered to help with decision-making. Students interested in student teaching abroad may request a one-semester ExCEL placement so they graduate with domestic and international experience. One-semester placements are offered for students who choose middle school or other alternative student teaching arrangements as well. The ExCEL semester, though, is always in Stillwater schools.