Rural Bedford Seminar offers students a glimpse of rural life

December 06, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Education is presenting students with a unique opportunity to experience learning in a rural setting. The three-credit course, CI 295C: The Rural Bedford Seminar, spans most of two weeks from May 11-23, during Maymester.

The course will provide students with their first field experience. Immersed in a classroom setting, students will observe teachers and students. Some students may be given the opportunity to conduct individual tutoring or small group work, depending on the host teachers’ requests.

“Throughout the course, students will be able to observe teachers, teaching and students using specific observation assignments and tools to guide them,” said Kelly Johnson, instructor in the College of Education.

Michelle Hart, who participated in the Rural Bedford Seminar in 2012, said the continuity the class provides was beneficial.

“Being able to be in the same classroom for two weeks allowed me to make a real connection with both my host teacher and the students,” Hart said.

“Because of the rural experience, I was able to observe a classroom and teach lessons, which made me so much more confident and competent heading into upper-level classes.”

Hart said the two-week experience is unique to Penn State.

“The trip is focused on collaborative learning in seminars and mentoring in the classroom. Being able to work with friends and learn from a host teacher is a style of education no other program offers.”

Johnson said placements are available in early childhood, middle school, high school and special education classes.

After the school day, students will explore different historically and culturally significant places in Bedford County. Destinations will include Old Bedford Village and Bedford Springs Hotel.

Students will live in a guesthouse on a beautiful sheep farm. On the property is the first school building ever constructed in Bedford County. Also, it will be lambing season (when lambs are born), so students may get to see newborn lambs and learn more about sheep farming.

“We want the students to get to know the community. What students gain from doing this experience as a two-week immersion will be a better understanding and, hopefully, appreciation of rural life, culture and education through the lens of Bedford County,” Johnson said.

Amanda McGonigle, a former student who taught in Bedford, said she enjoyed her time there.

“The community is filled with education opportunities. On a walking tour you can explore Bedford’s 1828 courthouse that still serves Bedford County, learn how Fort Bedford was captured and stand at the Espy House, a National Historical Landmark, where President George Washington made history,” she said.

Most students are eligible to enroll in this course, regardless of campus affiliation. To participate in CI 295C, students must complete several clearances. See the CIFE website at for more information.  These clearances take six to eight weeks to secure. Registration will conclude on April 1.

The cost is three credits tuition plus a $350 program fee, which covers the cost of lodging, transportation and some meals. Students should also be prepared to bring or purchase food and other personal necessities.

For more information, and to pre-register, email Johnson at or call her at 814-863-1545.

  • A group of students poses at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

    Students who participate in the Rural Bedford Seminar spend time out of class seeing sites in and around Bedford County, such as the Flight 93 National Memorial at Shanksville in neighboring Somerset County.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 09, 2013