The MTSU College of Education’s “Teacher Candidate HUB,” which remains open with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, offers an amenity-filled workspace reserved exclusively for its students pursuing careers in the classroom.
John Lando Carter, an assistant professor of education, acts as the unofficial chair for the space, which is located on the first floor of the College of Education building in Room 110, down the hallway off to the right of the building’s spiral staircase. He inherited the role from retired faculty member and “brainchild” Becky Alexander in spring 2018.
“She decided we needed a space to … relax, collaborate and celebrate just for teacher candidates,” Carter said.
Previously a computer lab, the room’s evolution from 2018 to the HUB of today has been an “incremental” process for Carter and others in the department. Thankfully, he “had a lot of support from (recently retired) Dean (Lana) Seivers and now (interim) Dean (Rick) Vanosdall, who think it’s an important space.”
After years of hard work on the project, Carter was happy to list off the HUB’s now ample amenities: open floor plan, collaborative seating, individual workspaces, access to print, microwave, Keurig beverage maker, whiteboards, brainstorming materials and resource texts, power towers that can be wheeled around to charge phones and laptops and access to projectors to “test out slides.”
In addition to being a VIP workspace, the HUB hosts several department events: professional development sessions, tours for local high school students, a lunch-and-learn series and more.
When asked if the HUB were still missing anything, Carter responded, “I’d like to get that wall painted blue just to keep the vibe going, the True Blue, you know.”
Visiting the HUB
Now that HUB renovations are essentially finished, the college wants to “continue to promote it and get the word out. We want to clarify what it is and who it’s for,” explained Carter. “It’s a matter of letting teacher candidates know that this space is for them. This is a VIP space for y’all.”
It’s a place “to relax, to work on a project with another teacher candidate or to serve as a spot if you just need a place to eat,” Carter added, seated in one of the space’s trendy and comfortable armchairs. “We’re proud so far of the progress we’ve made with the HUB, and we want to keep it getting even better.”
The HUB’s hours this fall are 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, but hours change every semester. They are posted on the televisions throughout the COE building, shared with the faculty members and added to the college’s Facebook page.
To visit, simply sign in with the graduate assistant on duty. Currently, capacity is capped at 18 to maintain proper social distancing.
Juvi Mallari, a graduate assistant pursuing her master’s degree in higher education administration and supervision, works at the HUB.
“The space acts as a nice study area where I can sit on comfortable furniture and have access to coffee whenever I need a boost of caffeine,” she said. “I like how comfortable and private it is. I find that lobbies in buildings can be distracting, but the HUB is its own little room where I don’t have to worry about that.” She also likes the “big windows” because they add “light to the room.”
With the addition of spaces like the HUB, the college is “trying to send signals that we want you here, we want you to teach, we want to take care of you and this is where you belong,” said Carter. “If you want to teach, we’d like to prove it to you that we’re the best.”
“We need good people,” he said. “We need people to pick up the torch for the cause.”
The college, which embodies the university’s founding as a normal school more than a century ago, continues to pursue improvements in educating its teacher candidates. The curriculum “gets you out in the field more” and “earlier and more often.” They are “really shoring up any areas for growth,” Carter said.
— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)