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2011 News Releases

Longwood liberal studies majors recognized for formal admission into teacher education program

October 3, 2011

Abigail Abigail "Abby" Robbins was among the liberal studies majors who were officially recognized in a recent ceremony for their admission into the teacher education program. Each was individually congratulated by (from left) Dr. Peggy Tarpley, Dr. Ken Perkins, Dr. Deneese Jones and Dr. Charles Ross.

Some of Virginia's finest future teachers were recognized recently by Longwood University, which has long been renowned for its teacher preparation program.

Longwood students planning to teach elementary or middle school, who major in liberal studies, have to be formally admitted into the teacher education program, which involves completing numerous rigorous requirements. Some 82 liberal studies majors who have done so were honored in a campus ceremony Sept. 29 billed as a "Celebration of Longwood's New 'Pre-Service Teachers.'"

"You should each be very proud to have completed this series of demanding requirements that have enabled you to reach this significant milestone in your academic career," Longwood President Patrick Finnegan told the students in videotaped remarks shown at the ceremony.

"As you know, Longwood has a distinguished history of producing the Commonwealth's best teachers," Finnegan continued. "You could say that teacher preparation is part of our DNA, and you're now taking a major stride toward adding to that legacy. You've taken a significant step closer to your professional lives as Longwood-trained and -educated teachers. Soon you'll have a chance to add to our legacy."

The students, mostly juniors, also were congratulated by Dr. Ken Perkins, interim vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Deneese Jones and Dr. Charles Ross, deans, respectively, of the College of Education and Human Services and the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Pat Lust, director of Liberal Studies.

In her remarks, Jones told of a high school senior, the son of a poor itinerant horse trainer, who turned in a paper detailing his dream of becoming the owner of  a successful horse ranch. He was given an F on the paper, told his dream was unrealistic, and was asked to submit a rewritten paper with a more realistic goal. A week later, after discussing the issue with his father and pondering it, he turned in the same paper and told his teacher "You can keep the F and I'll keep my dream." When the teacher years later took a group to kids to a camp at his successful horse ranch, where the school paper hung framed over the fireplace, she told him "Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kids' dreams. Fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours."

"My challenge to you: Don't be dream stealer; find ways to help learners create and actualize their dreams - no matter what," Jones added.

Jones also asked the future teachers to "prepare yourself to set high but realistic expectations where each learner can create their own dreams for an engaged lifestyle." The "world of learning" they will encounter will be "customized, connected, amplified, authentic, relevant, and resilient," she said.

Ross told the students that he thinks they have the best major at Longwood. "You have the opportunity to learn and make connections between a wide variety of important subjects and then use the knowledge as a tool in taking on the awesome responsibility of preparing young minds for an unknown future," he said.

Liberal studies majors are not automatically in the teacher education program when they enter Longwood, Lust said. "They have to be accepted, which involves quite a few rigorous hurdles. Once they have been admitted into the program, we give them the title 'pre-service teacher,' and they can take courses specific to the teacher licensure program. Even though (teacher) licensure is granted by the state, we have an approved program, so if you successfully complete the program, you are automatically granted licensure."

Among the requirements for admission to the teacher preparation program are minimum scores on several exams, including either the SAT (a composite score of 1,100, including 530 or higher on both the math and verbal sections) or ACT, the Virginia Communication and Literary Assessment (a reading and writing), and the Praxis I (reading, writing and math). Also, applicants must meet minimum grade requirements in the introductory education courses associated with their program, have an overall grade-point average of 2.5, and have two faculty recommendations.

The Office of Professional Services, which accepts applications and verifies the requirements for the teacher education program. "The majority of our graduates who go into teaching are preparing for elementary or middle school," Lust said. "Students who plan to teach on the high school level major in a specific academic discipline, such as English, history or music."

During the ceremony, the pre-service teachers were officially presented by Dr. Peggy Tarpley, chair of the Department of Education and Special Education, who was assisted by Dr. David Locascio, a faculty member in that department who coordinates the teacher education component for middle school. In a part of the ceremony that was similar to commencement, each new pre-service teacher also was individually congratulated by Dr. Ken Perkins, Dr. Deneese Jones, and Dr. Charles Ross. The new pre-service teachers were accepted between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1, 2011.

"Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, who died in the space shuttle Challenger tragedy, said 'I touch the future. I teach,' and now that's the path you're on as well," Finnegan said in his remarks. "You've earned your way into a world-class teacher preparation program, and with the guidance and assistance of our dedicated faculty and staff, you'll be able to reach out, to touch, and even shape our future. Congratulations on all you've achieved so far and best wishes as you continue this exciting journey."