College of Education program increases minority representation

By Hannah Lentz | 12/1/13 6:41pm

Roslyn Rhodes first heard about the COMPASS (Create Opportunities Maximize Possibilities Advance Student Success) program at a weekly Office of Multicultural Affairs meeting.

After hearing about all the opportunities that this College of Education program had to offer, Rhodes quickly applied and was accepted. On Dec. 7, she will be the first graduate of Grand Valley State University’s COMPASS.

“Many of the members look up to me as a big sister because I share my experiences that will allow their experience to be better,” Rhodes said. “In the end, it’s helping each other to not only get in the program, but stay in until you complete the College of Education program.”

The COMPASS program was developed three years ago by Elaine Collins, dean of the College of Education, with the intention of increasing the number of underrepresented students in the education profession. The program is meant to identify and recruit future educators to continue through the teacher certification programs offered at GVSU.

“There weren’t many underrepresented students going through the College of Education,” Rhodes said. “The COMPASS Program was designed to increase the numbers of students to not only get into the College of Education but also graduate.”

Rhodes has been a part of the COMPASS program for three years and attends monthly meetings with her fellow peers where they discuss their involvement in the field of education.

“We all come from many diverse backgrounds, and when we all come together to share our experiences, it makes us appreciate each other in a more meaningful way,” she said. “It’s an incredible experience to be well acquainted with like-minded individuals and encourage each other through many hardships that may come our way.”

Though the COMPASS program is intended to affect the students of GVSU, it also goes outside the university to provide real-life experiences in education to help students hone in their teaching skills in a way that prepares them for future careers.

“This program has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and share my experiences,” Rhodes said. “Through this program, I have developed relationships with many of the College of Education faculty and staff. I have met remarkable people who have talked to the COMPASS members about diversity in education and what it means for us to take a stand to make a difference in society.”

Rhodes has also been a part of the TRIO-MPOWER chapter at GVSU, a mentoring program for sixth through 12th-grade students in the Grand Rapids area, as well as a teaching assistant and mentor to 65 sixth-graders in the Wyoming School District.

She stressed that positions as a teacher assistant keep her involved with the Grand Rapids community.

“I have watched students’ academic performance excel, and I have watched students’ self-esteem rise,” she said. “It’s an incredible feeling when students inform you, ‘When other teachers gave up on me, Ms. Rhodes, you never did. You kept telling me I can do it, and you worked with me.’”

Currently, Rhodes maintains a leading position in the COMPASS program and serves as a student-teacher in the Grand Rapids Public School District, where she is a teacher to 14 students.

“I believe the best part of teaching is recognizing that teaching is my vocation and that I live each day to touch the lives of young people—young men and women that are our future,” she said. “I enjoy every bit of teaching and watching my students excel in every level of academics.”

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