The Challenges of Navigating Eastern’s CARE Program

Brianna Crysler   Staff Writer


As my senior year of college is coming to an end, and I am approaching the final week of my student teaching placement at RHAM High School, I’ve begun to reflect on both the positive and negative aspects of my experience in Eastern’s CARE Program (Committee for Admission and Retention in Education). While I could not have asked for a better host teacher, and consider myself lucky to have been so warmly welcomed into a new school district’s English Department (if even just for the year), I must admit that the process of navigating the numerous vaguely-worded program requirements added unneeded stress to the experience.


On the morning of my group interview for admission into the CARE Program, I quickly realized the importance of taking a self-directed approach to finding out important program information. As I arrived without my packet of educational information (because I was told I would not be able to use this in the interview), I looked around to find my classmates with highlighted and annotated packets in hand. While I managed to recall the necessary information from memory, this experience would have been a lot less stressful had I been informed that I would not actually need to commit the packet to memory. Unfortunately, this was not the first time that I had to rely on multiple sources of information, with answers that frequently contradicted each other, to navigate the program requirements.

Another frustration that I faced while navigating CARE was the sometimes dismissive nature of liaisons when factoring other Eastern educational requirements into my schedule. Two semesters ago, when I met with a liaison to discuss my concern about my placement in regard to the timing of my creative writing class, it was very quickly suggested that I drop the course to accommodate this placement instead of exploring all other options. Brief mention was made of contacting another school, but timing was of the essence, and the meeting came to a rather terse end with the final decision being that I would drop creative writing and try my best to cram it into a later semester.

Last spring, as my second clinical placement was coming to an end, I was surprised by my roommate in the Elementary Education Program with the news that I would have to submit a resume and cover letter by the end of the week in order to receive a student teaching placement. I received no email from a program liaison and no warning from my education professors, but chose to complete this task anyways, just in case. As the fall semester rolled around, the rest of my Secondary Education cohort was met with stress and frustration upon realizing that they had not completed this important step in the program, to no fault of their own. While the Elementary Program has close to thirty members and is one of the more popular age groups in education, the CARE Secondary Program consists of just ten people, and is often forgotten about when it comes to passing on crucial program information.

My patience was close to breaking this semester, as I was originally informed by my education advisor that my final week of student teaching would be April 8, only to find out that I would actually have to return for an additional week after the high school’s spring break. While I enjoy my placement and am in no rush to leave, this information would have been helpful while planning observation times with my university supervisor, who struggled to fit all of my observations into his schedule under the impression that April 12 would be my last day.

While everything has worked out in the end amid the confusion, and I have had an immensely positive relationship with my education professors, host teacher, and students; it’s clear that the CARE Program facilitators could definitely improve their communication skills. From an outside perspective, it seems like a few quick department meetings could have cleared up some of the misinformation as well as the lack of information being circulated amongst program members and education professors.

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