Cumbres uses a cohort concept, in which an identified group of teacher education students begin together as freshmen and take a cluster of courses each year that not only prepare them for their area of primary teacher certification, but also for an endorsement in ESL. What sets these teacher education students apart is that they are being specifically trained to teach public school children who may be bilingual in English or Spanish, or whose primary language is not English.
There are 4 components to the Cumbres program designed to foster a sense of community, academic and social support, and leadership development for education majors with an ESL endorsement:
1. Living Community - all incoming Cumbres freshmen are required to live in Brown Hall as part of the cohort. This is designed to create a community of people who share similar goals and values, foster friendships and support each other to ensure the success of all new Cumbres students.
2. Learning Community - Cumbres students are required to take classes together as a cohort during their first three semesters at UNC. These classes are all appropriate Liberal Arts Core or ESL endorsement classes for all education majors in the program. These cohort classes provide students with a support system to study as a group, know others in their classes, and have professors who will be supportive and communicative regarding each student's success.
3. Mentorship - Cumbres staff members act as mentors to all students in the program. In partnership with Housing and Residential Education and the Center for Human Enrichment, we hire a Resident Assistant for Brown hall, two dorm mentors, and an academic advisor, who are all upper-class Cumbres students. They act as mentors and role models for incoming Cumbres students to help them transition to college.
First-year Cumbres students are also matched with a current in-service teacher volunteer, many of whom are former Cumbres students themselves. Our students are required to volunteer two hours per semester, minimum, in their mentor's classroom and write a reflection paper each time exploring their thoughts regarding their experiences.
4. Leadership - The main goal of the Cumbres program is to help education students become the type of teacher that schools will want to hire, parents will want to work with, and students will want to learn from. We want our teacher candidates to be leaders in their schools and communities when they begin their careers and make a difference in the lives of the students in their classroom. Leadership development is a crucial part of our program, and we require students to attend workshops, complete community service activites, and complete a leadership project prior to graduation. We encourage our students to step out of their comfort zones and take the initiative to be leaders in their circles of influence.