UND teaching and learning students take eye-opening trip to inner-city schools


Amy Halvorson

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Education & Human Development


College of Education & Human Development Dean Robert Hill accompanied group to Minneapolis/St. Paul

Each semester a group of students from the University of North Dakota's Teaching & Learning Department head down to the Twin Cities to spend a couple of days experiencing inner-city schools.

Robert Hill, the recently appointed dean of the University of North Dakota's College of Education and Human Development, also was able to attend the trip. It marked the first time an administrator from the college had been "in the trenches" with the students.

This semester, the students had the option of visiting Paul Wellstone Elementary School in Saint Paul and the American Indian Magnet School, also in Saint Paul; or Harding High School in Saint Paul and Washburn High School in Minneapolis; depending on the students' areas of interest. Many students' thoughts of the trip varied before they left, ranging from nervous and excited, to dreading it.

"Never before had I been anywhere near an inner-city school (or an inner-city area in general)," said Nathaniel Peterson, from Horace, N.D. "I fully expected to stick out like a sore thumb and I was not expecting to be treated like a guest, but rather an alien in a foreign land. I was not looking forward to it at all."

However, after the trip most students appreciated the opportunity and thought that if there were any changes to be made it should be that the trip lasts longer.

This trip brings a unique element to the teaching and learning program at UND. It provides students with a chance to experience what life is like in an inner-city school. Many of UND's students come from rural areas and have never experienced big city urban schools and haven't witnessed the challenges that both the students and faculty face.

"The most challenging part of the trip was keeping an open mind," said Kaytelyn Porter, from Crookston Minn.

UND students were able to see how schools and teachers met the challenges, such as lack of busing and technology, problems that they may encounter one day. Others found it sobering to work with students from "rough" backgrounds.

"It was a great experience for me because growing up I was never around a lot of diversity," Porter said.

The UND Students came back with different perspectives on education and a better sense of the kind of school at which they would like to teach.

"We spend a lot of time in Grand Forks schools but to see other schools vastly different from our own is quite amazing," Peterson said.

For some it was a confirmation as to where they would like to teach, for others it opened doors to other possibilities.