The Augustana University Sharon Lust School of Education and the Teacher Education Program's conceptual framework, the Circle of Courage Model, is based on a model of youth empowerment supported by contemporary research, the heritage of early youth work pioneers and Native American philosophies of child care. The model is encompassed in four core values: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.
The central theme of this Circle of Courage Model is that a set of shared values must exist in any community of learners, including public education and teacher training institutions, to create environments that ultimately benefit society. The term reclaiming is used in this model because reclaiming environments meet the needs of both the individual and society. The school and program strive to create a reclaiming environment for its teacher candidates and dispose them to create classrooms and schools that exemplify all four values of the Circle of Courage.
- Belonging — the first value in the Circle of Courage Model, recognizes that students need to attach to caring adults in order to begin the process of learning and incorporate basic social values.
- Mastery — the second value in the Circle of Courage Model, promotes the belief that teacher candidates need to develop social, intellectual, and academic competence if they are to become capable and responsible citizens.
- Independence — the third value in the Circle of Courage Model, contends that to develop positive autonomy and interdependence, individuals must be secure in the guidance of caring adults and believe they have some power over their world.
- Generosity — the fourth value in the Circle of Courage Model, advocates that a positive learning environment must be characterized by a climate of caring so that all involved support one another and cooperate in making their social and academic experiences meaningful.
The mission of the Augustana Sharon Lust School of Education and Teacher Education Program is to empower students with the tools needed to create learning environments that ensure belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. This mission is grounded in a philosophy that integrates the best of Western educational thought with the wisdom of the indigenous Native American culture of the region and emerging research on positive youth development.