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WSU Teacher-education Program Accredited with Commendation for Anti-racism Work

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) teacher-education program has received full, seven-year accreditation with commendation from the Assoc. for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) for its wide-ranging, growing work in anti-racism education. WSU is the first institution of higher education in the AAQEP membership to receive commendation from the organization.

“Educator preparation at Westfield State has been a vital and integral part of Westfield State University since Horace Mann founded the institution in 1839 as the Westfield Normal School. It is Horace Mann’s philosophy that we continue to embrace: to welcome all students — regardless of fortune, ethnicity, gender, or religion. This remarkable heritage is embodied by our Education Department,” said Roy Saigo, WSU’s interim president. “National accreditation by AAQEP continues the affirmation of Westfield State University’s longstanding tradition of excellence in teacher preparation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and region.”

The WSU Education Department’s teacher-education program is designed to prepare educators to teach effectively within a democratic society. Its mission is informed by several pillars, including critical engagement with diversity, social justice, community building, scholarship, and reflective practice. Program coursework and field experiences provide students with the understanding, knowledge, and skills that will enable them, as teachers, to engage with diversity and issues of equity, build inclusive learning communities, embrace the scholarship of teaching and learning, and adopt a reflective practitioner mindset.

These principles — which undergird the Teacher Education program — set expectations that are essential for those who will teach in K-12 schools, and collectively are needed to provide the foundational knowledge for WSU students to become effective, caring, and equitable teachers.

Robert Kersting, WSU’s interim provost, in recognizing the faculty, staff, and librarians whose collective efforts made AAQEP accreditation possible, noted that “Westfield State University strives for excellence in each of our academic programs, and this prestigious accreditation with commendation is a clear example of that success.”

The Accreditation Commission also commended the university’s education programs for their concerted and deepening work in anti-racist education, as these efforts permeate the preparation of educators, are embedded in and impact the wider campus culture, and reach into the community through campus- and program-based partnerships.

All education students participate in annual Anti-Racist Education Town Hall events featuring relevant themes like the School-to-Prison Pipeline, share common readings across courses, and participate in guest lectures on campus.

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