MARTINSVILLE, Va. – As their final project goes into the gradebook, eight students are on their way to becoming the teachers themselves. On Tuesday, seniors in the Longwood University education program offered through New College Institute (NCI) gave their final presentations.
These seniors include Katie Bowers, Tiffany Coleman, Alyssa Dalton, Crystal Draper, Helen Holt, Katie Mays, Leslie Phipps, and Nicole Root. Bowers and Phipps completed the program by virtually connecting to classrooms at NCI from Crossroads Institute in Galax, VA. The others completed the program at NCI in Martinsville, VA.
Coleman shared that her experience with the Longwood University program at NCI has been challenging but rewarding. “As someone that has already been to college and graduated, and now going back to school to switch careers, I have learned so much. I have been inspired from the creativity and ideas of my classmates, which I think will make me a better teacher. Having this program offered at NCI is a good balance because you’re not in the classroom every day, but you don’t lose that in-person connection.”
According to Dr. Pam Randall, Longwood University faculty and program director, the senior presentations represent the culminating capstone of the two-year program, which includes a 10-day integrated unit around a central theme involving science, math, history, and language arts. Pre- and post-scores from the unit indicated success of these student teachers’ unit based on their research-based applications in the classroom.
All eight graduates are officially certified to teach Pre-K through 6th grade after passing several state tests including the RVE (Reading for Virginia Educators), VCLA (Virginia Communication and Literary Assessment), Praxis I and Praxis II. Such certification required two placements as a student teacher: one in Pre-K – 2nd grade and one in 3rd -6th grade. Schools throughout Southern Virginia hosted student teachers from the Longwood program including Henry County, Danville, Pittsylvania County, Patrick County, and Carroll County.
Dr. Rebecca Smith, university supervisor for Longwood University and retired Pittsylvania County school administrator, supervised the student teaching experience for two seniors, Dalton and Root. “Longwood does an excellent job of preparing their student teachers, but these were excellent candidates. They understand child development, the content, and appropriate research-based classroom strategies.”
Smith continued, “First and foremost, what I look for in young teachers is that desire to make a difference in the lives of the students that they teach.”
All but two of these December graduates have already been hired for full-time teaching positions or long-term substitute teaching positions. The others are currently applying and/or interviewing for positions. “We are so proud of these graduates. We are also excited to see high hire rates among these students, especially in December when schools are not as likely to hire,” said Randall.
According to Dr. Leanna Blevins, acting director of NCI, “This program continues to be a great success for NCI, our students, and local employers. This represents one of NCI’s primary goals: to provide educational opportunities close to home that supply employment needs in our region.”