This will be a pivotal year in the life of the College of Education (COE) for a number of reasons. The 2021–22 school year will be the third straight year disrupted by the global pandemic.
During that time, how we engage in teaching and learning–on campus and in K-12 schools–has changed dramatically. I believe the work that teachers do has never been more important to the social fabric of our nation. Clearly, we have important work to do in the COE. Given the deep commitment of our faculty, staff, and students, I am confident we can continue to prepare teachers for the complex teaching profession.
There will be many new faculty and staff faces in the COE this year. While it is difficult to lose the wisdom and experience of colleagues like Marie Sheckels, Beverly Epps, and Courtney Clayton, I am excited about the new people joining our team. Two new faculty members, Brittany Garvin-Hudson and Alexis Rutt, bring important passion and expertise in science education, culturally relevant pedagogy, and teaching English language learners. Danielle Springston will lead the development of our assessment system and will teach research and other courses.
I am excited to report that we have received additional funding from the state of Virginia to support workforce development initiatives specifically focused on the chronic teacher shortage. I believe our ability to prepare teachers is contingent upon the success of our K-12 partner schools. Additional resources will help us expand efforts to nurture high school students’ interest in the teaching profession via Teachers for Tomorrow Programs. Preliminary planning for a summer institute for Teachers for Tomorrow students is underway; this will help elevate the teaching profession and focus our student recruitment efforts. In addition, we will continue to increase school-based capacity for mentorship skills to support both pre-service and in-service teachers to improve teacher retention. This additional funding is a powerful reflection of the state’s confidence in our work in teacher preparation at UMW.
Finally, the COE will move into its new home, Seacobeck Hall, during the winter break, and we will begin offering courses there during spring 2022. Seacobeck Hall will provide state-of-the-art classrooms, performance and maker spaces, and collaboration rooms that will help build community and generate excitement about the teaching profession. Again, I see Virginia’s investment in the renovation of Seacobeck Hall as a powerful testament to the quality of our teacher preparation at Mary Washington.
UMW has endured difficult times at several points since its founding as a Normal School dedicated to teacher preparation in 1908. Given our faculty, staff, students, and supportive alumni base, I am confident we will weather this storm, too. Many thanks for your support!
Dr. Pete Kelly
Professor & Dean
College of Education
University of Mary Washington