Dreams Take Shape
Before going to my internship this summer
at Camp Easter Seals I was very nervous
and didn't think I was ready to do it.
However, when I got there the nerves
quickly went away. I realized how important all my classes at Longwood had been and that I actually knew more than I thought I did. The internship helped me to learn
Longwood University's College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) not only educates many of the nation's best educators, social workers, therapeutic recreation specialists, exercise scientists and others, it also connects them to the real world in a big way. The reality of classroom instruction comes alive for students in the CEHS through hours of multiple field experiences.
"Field experiences empower students," said Dr. Judy Johnson, interim dean for the CEHS. "Through them students develop confidence in their ability to be effective and to excel in their chosen careers. All of the programs in the CEHS surpass standards in providing hands-on experience in real world settings. We begin early in the program, and continue throughout, providing experiences in diverse settings, with quality supervision, and increasing responsibilities."
"Each major in the CEHS goes well beyond the minimum number of hours typically required for certification or licensure," continued Dean Johnson. "In fact, every accreditation agency that has reviewed one of our programs has remarked about the extensive, exceptional field work that we require.
Field experiences are not only a requisite for graduation from the CEHS, they are a way of life. Whether majoring in therapeutic recreation, kinesiology (exercise science, physical education, and athletic training), social work, community health education, or liberal studies for elementary, middle and special education, and secondary education through majors in the College of Arts and Sciences, students must live out their choice of major through hours of applied knowledge. Each major names field experiences uniquely: internship, practica, partnership, student teaching, field instruction, field experience, but the goal is the same,
A student's field experiences are not without instruction and guidance. Longwood faculty devote hours themselves to visit and oversee each student's experience. Ransom Professor of Education Betty Jo Simmons said, "It is mutually beneficial. As we share information with our students we also gain new insights into the world of practice."
CEHS graduates are highly rewarded for their intern commitment, as numerous employers heavily pursue these graduates. In fact, Longwood has the highest job placement rate among public institutions in Virginia – over 90 percent of our graduates are employed or in graduate school within three months after graduation. Longwood is the only public institution in Virginia, and one of only a few in the country, to require internships or field experiences of all students.
Since 1839, Longwood has prepared educators to enrich the lives of those they teach. Today, Longwood students who want to be teachers are directly engaged in first hand, real-world teaching, learning experiences in each of the four years of the CEHS undergraduate education program.
Field experiences and clinical practice are essential components to prepare students for professions in education and school services. Through these experiences students develop and demonstrate the capacity to put into practice their knowledge, skills, and dispositions. CEHS graduates are expected to use their acquired knowledge to make a difference in society, and in particular, in the educational system as reflective citizen leaders.
In the freshman and sophomore years teacher candidates complete a practicum, a field experience in a public school setting during May. In the junior year they are required to complete a teacher education Partnership where they work collaboratively in on-site instructional delivery and practical experiences in area public classrooms.
This Partnership program recently was recognized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities with the prestigious 2004 Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education. The Partnership benefits both the Longwood education student and the local school community by offering extensive field preparation for teacher candidates, collaborative exchanges, and enhanced learning opportunities for public school children. Partnership schools serve as a laboratory for translating theory into practice. A documented outcome of the new program is improved SOL scores at partner schools.
During a student's senior year a full semester of student teaching is required. This experience takes a Longwood teacher candidate into a public school classroom to put into practice the content and methods learned in
"It is too little to say ‘hands on', it's brains on, every experience adds up to something more," said Steve Turner,
The CEHS social work program requires the highest number of field contact hours for graduation of any undergraduate social work program in the country and is the oldest continuously accredited program in Virginia.
Social work students live out their choice in major with
George Stonikinis, associate professor and former social work program director for 32 years, said, "Our students become professional practitioners. When the clock strikes 5, they learn they cannot get up and walk away. Field hours often are dictated by real life case responsibilities. When a mother is crying because she may lose her children, our students are there helping to handle the situation professionally. Students live the learning, they come face to face with the reality of their major. One of the reasons for Longwood's successful social work program is the number of hours committed to field work."
A new name to the Longwood campus is that of Kinesiology. What was formerly the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance is now the Department of Health, Recreation, and Kinesiology. Kinesiology (from the Greek words "kinein," to move, and "logos," to study) refers to the scientific study of movement. In higher education, the term is used to describe a multifaceted field of study in which movement or physical activity is the intellectual focus. The primary aims of Kinesiology are studying and developing new knowledge related to physical activity in its many forms, including exercise for improvement of health and physical fitness, activities of daily living, work, sport, dance and play in a variety of groups, including special populations such as children and the elderly; persons with disability, injury or disease; and athletes.
CEHS students majoring is Kinesiology (athletic training, exercise science, and physical education) devote 500 hours to experiential learning. These students intern in rehabilitation centers, settings such as in-hospital cardiopulmonary disease programs, school systems, fitness centers, departments of parks and recreation, outdoor/wilderness recreation facilities and with athletic teams.
Dr. Doug Cutter with Chippenham Sports Medicine believes that "in the health care field you must have clinical awareness. It starts with a base of good knowledge that can be applied practically. Longwood students have the knowledge base and good practical sense. In the medical field we are all practicing, the more you can share, the more your thought process is challenged. A student might challenge me on a point, I give them my perspective, then say, wait a minute, let's look at that again."
The CEHS Therapeutic Recreation program exists within the framework of an allied health profession, and is a professional preparation program through intensive academic coursework and multiple experiential learning. By the end of the sophomore year 120 community service hours are completed. At the completion of the junior year, the student fulfills the requirement of a minimum 320 hours in an internship at a setting of their choice. In the summer of 2004 students were placed in clinical and community settings in California and Montana, as well as in a variety of Virginia settings, such as Camp Easter Seals; Mt. Vernon Hospital, Alexandria; Northern Virginia Training Center, Manassas; Chesterfield Park and Recreation, Riverside Behavioral Center, Hampton; Eastern State Hospital, Williamsburg; City of Harrisonburg Park Department, and Rosewood Village, Charlottesville.
The senior internship of 560 hours follows the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) guidelines and students are placed with an agency supervisor who maintains the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist credential. Affiliations are maintained with diverse in-state and out-of state clinical and community settings.
The coursework, including practical skills, fieldwork and internships fully prepare the Longwood student to enter the therapeutic recreation profession. Many of the students have landed jobs from their senior internship and are sought after as interns by many agencies in the Virginia health and human service systems fields.
The CEHS Therapeutic Recreation program began one
Though the CEHS experiential learning requirements are demanding, they are designed to develop strong graduates prepared to make a difference in a real world. The education gained from dedicated faculty and rigorous curriculum coupled with hours of field experiences enable Longwood graduates to enter the career world prepared, to have confidence and to be a "cut above!"