The students, primarily juniors and seniors interested in careers in teaching, represented over 30 high schools from as far away as Virginia Beach, Bath, and Prince William Counties. Several high schools sent entire groups of students drawn from their Teachers for Tomorrow courses and other types of “grow-your-own” initiatives designed to help these divisions address persistent teacher shortages. Busloads of students came from nearby divisions like Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, and Mecklenburg counties, as well as more distant divisions like Franklin, Louisa, Mathews, and Rockbridge Counties.
Longwood’s Office of Admissions and the College of Education, Health, and Human Services organized the day and scheduled a variety of presentations and sessions for the visitors. The morning session in the Blackwell Ballroom included a greeting by Aaron Sims, associate director of admissions and engagement, and a review of Longwood’s admissions process, along with scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Various types of financial support available to teacher candidates, such as that through the Call Me MISTER program, was discussed as part of the opening session. Sims also moderated a panel of five current undergraduates from several education-related majors, highlighting their experiences at Longwood and their excitement at the prospect of soon entering the teaching field. The panel shared their most valuable advice to the prospective students, emphasizing the importance of time-management and seeking assistance when needed.
Dr. Tara McDaniel, director of the Office of Teacher Preparation, spoke with the group about the high demand for Longwood teachers by school divisions throughout Virginia. Dr. McDaniel 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!” said Dr. McDaniel. She 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.”
Faculty members from across programs ran breakout sessions to highlight the various teacher preparation majors at Longwood as well as programs like Call Me MISTER. These focused information sessions proved to be among the most impactful parts of the day for many of the visitors. “I enjoyed the breakout sessions and hearing different points of view about teaching from professors and current students,” shared Chloe Schaible, a junior from Mathews High School who wants to teach secondary history. “Listening to the presentations convinced me that teaching was something I truly want to do—I had always had an inkling, but now I'm sure,” shared her Mathews classmate Katelynn Mullins, who is interested in special education.
The crowd was treated to lunch in Longwood’s dining hall, where they interacted with current Longwood students who were circulating around the room chatting with the visitors. Osiris Ruff, a Spanish major who had earlier been part of the student panel, met informally over lunch with several young men interested in hearing more about the academic and financial support available through Call Me MISTER. The afternoon included a campus tour led by Longwood Ambassadors and admissions staff, complete with insights into Longwood’s many traditions. Some of the groups also took the opportunity to visit the Longwood bookstore before leaving Farmville.
“My experience at Immersion Day was beyond my expectations,” shared Sofia Skladzien, a senior at Monticello High School in Albemarle County interested in elementary education. “The students and staff at Longwood are such an amazing community with the same drive to create great teachers.”
Chuck Moss, director of innovation and development for Dinwiddie County Schools, who accompanied a group of students from Dinwiddie High, commented on how much his students enjoyed the experience. “Absolutely fantastic event,” he shared. “Five out of five students said they are now interested in attending Longwood!”