On Thursday, February 17, high school students from across the Commonwealth came to Farmville to participate in Longwood University’s first Education Immersion Day. Over sixty students attended the event, representing 25 high schools from as far away as Virginia Beach and Fairfax County. The students, primarily juniors and seniors interested in careers in teaching, were greeted by Aaron Sims, Longwood’s Assistant Director of Admissions and Engagement. Mr. Sims reviewed Longwood’s admissions process as well as why students choose to attend Longwood as aspiring future teachers. “We have a lot of different systems at Longwood that help you discover your pathway to becoming a teacher.”
Tara McDaniel, Director of the Office of Teacher Preparation, spoke on the value of Longwood’s teacher education programs and the high demand for Longwood teachers by school divisions. Ms. McDaniel outlined what four years at Longwood might look like for various teacher preparation majors and emphasized the importance of Longwood’s system of early embedded field experiences. “What better way to learn to be a teacher than being in the field and seeing first-hand what it is like to be a teacher!” Ms. McDaniel told the audience that one of the things that makes Longwood’s professors unique is that many of them have been K-12 teachers themselves and are able to connect content to their own teaching experiences. The audience, which also included about 40 parents, teachers, and school counselors, was informed that students who come to Longwood feel supported on the administrative side “from their first days all the way through graduation.”
Dr. Lissa Power-deFur, Interim Dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Services, moderated a panel of three current Longwood students and three graduates who are currently working as educators. In her opening remarks, Dr. Power-deFur touched on Longwood’s longstanding reputation for preparing the best teachers in Virginia. The panel answered questions about why they chose to attend Longwood, the professor(s) who shaped their time at Longwood, as well as their most valuable advice to the prospective students. “When I first started taking classes at Longwood, I was worried about if I would be a good teacher or not,” recalled Cara Bryant, a Secondary History major from Warsaw, Virginia, “but my valuable experiences at Longwood have taught me so much, I know I do not have to worry.” Da’Ron Harvey from Cumberland, a current Longwood student who is involved in the nationally recognized Call Me MISTER program, spoke about the program providing a mission mindset while also forming a supportive cohort of other young men committed to teaching. Ms. Ginny Gills, a two-time Longwood alumnus and the Principal of Cumberland Elementary, reiterated the high degree of interest in Longwood teachers from among school administrators.
The crowd was led to lunch in Longwood’s Dining Hall, followed by a tour of the campus. The tour included academic buildings and residence halls as well as insights on Longwood’s many traditions. Kari Joyner, a Teachers-for-Tomorrow teacher in Charlotte County who accompanied her Randolph-Henry students on campus, felt that the day was impactful. “One of my students with plans to go elsewhere for college fell in love with Longwood and submitted her application that very night!”
The College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS), the Cook-Cole College of Arts & Sciences (CCCAS), the Office of Teacher Preparation (OTP), and Longwood’s Admissions Office organized the day and were pleased with the response. “It was a great opportunity for these students to take that important next step toward becoming teachers,” said Dr. David Locascio, the Associate Dean of the CEHHS at Longwood. “Our school division partners need more high school students to consider careers in teaching as these young people are doing. It’s an incredibly fulfilling career, and we’re pleased to see this level of enthusiastic interest in it.”