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Randolph earns state approval for new elementary education program

Randolph teaching alumna Kate Thornhill works with students in her elementary school classroom

Randolph teaching alumna Kate Thornhill works with students in her elementary school classroom

Randolph College is pleased to announce a new major in elementary education. The program was approved earlier this week by Governor Ralph Northam as part of a new initiative to address the statewide—and nationwide—shortage of Pre-K through 6th grade teachers.

Northam announced that the state policy boards for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education approved 53 new teacher preparation programs and 25 new degrees, including Randolph’s, that will allow graduates to become teachers after earning four-year degrees in education.

“We must remain focused on meeting the growing needs of our public education system to prepare the Commonwealth’s students for success and secure Virginia’s economic future,” said Governor Northam. “As we work to strengthen Virginia’s educator pipeline, I am pleased to see the approval of these comprehensive changes that will create new pathways to the classroom and help increase both the supply and the diversity of quality teachers in the Commonwealth.”

On May 14, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approved new degree programs at seven of the Commonwealth’s public institutions of higher education. The Board of Education, which sets standards for all teacher preparation programs in the state, followed with its approval of the new public preparation programs on June 20. The Board also approved new preparation programs at Randolph and seven other private colleges and universities.

“With our newly designed elementary education major, our teacher candidates complete their course requirements for licensure in pre-K through 6th grade within four years and finish with a bachelor’s of science degree,” said education professor Cheryl Lindeman. “The major includes courses in content knowledge in language arts, social studies, sciences, and mathematics with pedagogy, practicum experiences, and student teaching. As a nationally accredited educator preparation provider, we have also demonstrated our teacher candidates have gained the needed teaching experiences to succeed in the field.”

Education professor Peggy Schimmoeller said Randolph’s new elementary education program provides multiple clinical experiences and mentorship opportunities in addition to student teaching.

“Partnerships with local school divisions strengthen community connections for our candidates, and allows us to place Randolph candidates with experienced, veteran teachers,” Schimmoeller said. “Candidates are observed at least 14 times during a semester-long experience. This intense mentoring provides consistent feedback and promotes effective teaching practices. When candidates complete the program, they are well prepared to enter the classroom with confidence, strong content and pedagogical skills, and dispositions to enhance learning of diverse student populations.”

Schimmoeller said the wide range of experiences candidates receive are what set Randolph’s teacher preparatory programs apart from the rest.

“Children deserve the best teachers who are committed to the teaching and learning process,” Schmmoeller said. “Course work in the newly designed elementary education major is coherent, and concepts and teaching practices are woven throughout the course work. Faculty in the education department collaborate with faculty in the content courses to ensure candidates are strong in the content they teach.”

Carl Girelli, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, applauded the education department for its work to incorporate the new program into its curriculum.

“In a rapidly evolving environment for the preparation of teachers in the Commonwealth, we are proud to be among the first few Virginia private colleges to respond to this curricular initiative,” said Carl Girelli, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “The education faculty of Randolph College has demonstrated commendable agility in a dynamic landscape, and will continue to help meet Virginia’s acute need for well trained and dedicated teachers.”

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