Tomorrow's Teachers

Classroom experiences give Randolph College education majors an edge

Susie Lukens '12

"It’s amazing to be in a classroom so early. Part of the reason I chose Randolph College is because the teacher education program is so rigorous and professional and really prepares teachers for the classroom. I’m excited to get to the job-searching point of my career because I know that I will be well prepared and confident."
- Susie Lukens '12

Susie Lukens ’12 sits beside the young children, encouraging them as they create masterpieces with markers and crayons. She is right at home in the classroom—even though she will not begin her career for two years.

Thanks to a unique element of Randolph College’s teacher licensing program, students like Lukens start gaining experience in the classroom during their first year of college. By the time they graduate, most education majors are well-prepared to teach and have the resumes to prove it.

Lukens is participating in her first practicum in a second grade classroom this year. The elementary school placement includes some whole class instruction, small group work, and one-on-one tutorials with students to improve reading skills and strategies. She also has a part-time job in a preschool.

“It’s amazing to be in a classroom so early,” Lukens said. “Part of the reason I chose Randolph College is because the teacher education program is so rigorous and professional and really prepares teachers for the classroom. I’m excited to get to the job-searching point of my career because I know that I will be well-prepared and confident.”

Randolph College offers elementary and secondary teacher licensing programs at the undergraduate level as well as master’s degree programs in curriculum and instruction and special education.

Teacher candidates who begin their undergraduate program at Randolph College have the opportunity to earn 17 credits in practical experiences in the classroom—more than 700 hours of experience. Beginning coursework adds even more opportunities for direct observation in the classroom.

“This extensive preparation for ‘real world’ teaching is invaluable to new teachers as they enter the profession,” said Gail Brown, one of Randolph College’s education professors.

Many colleges and universities place their education majors in the classroom during their junior or senior year. “We want them to get in there early so they understand the complexities of the profession,” added Peggy Schimmoeller, another education professor.

“The profession of teaching is a very complex career choice. The earlier students get experience in the classroom, the better off they will be. These experiences will help them decide if this is something they want to do.”

Randolph College’s program transitions students over their college career from observing to full classroom instruction. By the time education majors begin their intern teaching (sometimes called student teaching) requirements during their senior year, they are more prepared. “They’ve already had a lot of teaching opportunities,” Schimmoeller said. “They can jump right into the role of teaching, and they get more out of the experience.”

Education majors are also encouraged to pursue some type of international study opportunity. Lukens hopes to attend Randolph College’s World in Britain program in Reading, England. Schimmoeller said the College works with students like Lukens to get them enrolled in education classes while at the University of Reading.

“It makes them better teachers,” she said. “They teach in very diverse classrooms and, when they have an experience in another country, it makes them understand what it is like for students who speak English as a second language or who have other cultural differences. It makes them more understanding of how a child will feel in their classroom and that helps them design their lessons more appropriately to meet diverse needs.”

Randolph College’s education majors often have jobs lined up before they graduate.

“The experiences our students graduate with make our program unique,” Schimmoeller said. “They are very marketable because of that.”