January 18, 2023
These days, an educator’s job is more than teaching math, reading, and writing. You are planners, coaches, creative directors, and so much more. Teachers’ challenges include developing student skills in critical thinking and deep value for community and civic engagement – the very foundation of our democracy rests upon these skills and values. While we ask much of our teachers, the work offers much in return. There is deep satisfaction in living and leading a life of purpose in service to something larger than oneself.
Our work in teacher preparation in the College of Education (COE) is driven by a similar purpose, and the values of service and community. As a COE in a public university, we have a responsibility to help improve teaching and learning in schools in our region, and we embrace that role in our undergraduate classrooms, master’s degrees, and most recently through expanding K-12 partnerships.
This fall, we announced a lab school planning grant awarded from the Virginia Department of Education. The $200,000 grant will provide the initial funding for stakeholder engagement and planning, hiring an executive director, which we hope to announce soon, building organizational capacity, and developing the curriculum for the proposed lab school, which will focus on the in-demand fields of computer and data sciences. Its home will be at UMW’s Stafford Campus. I am excited about the opportunity to build a school partnership–similar to a teaching hospital–that will provide powerful learning, professional development, and research opportunities for COE faculty, staff, and students.
The COE also received an apprenticeship planning grant in conjunction with the public schools in Stafford and Spotsylvania Counties and City of Fredericksburg. Together, we are working to provide focused professional development leading to licensure for employees serving in apprenticeship roles. Evidence suggests that apprenticeship models can be effective in recruiting more diverse teachers, which leads to better outcomes for all students.
We are continuing our targeted recruiting efforts focused on Teachers for Tomorrow (TFT) programs. TFT is a state curriculum offered in high schools for students interested in becoming teachers. In the fall, we hosted TFT groups from Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania for campus visits. This semester, we have conducted virtual visits to high schools in King William, Chesapeake, and Pulaski. This summer, we will host our second Summer Institute for Future Teachers, a week-long residential program to nurture and develop high school students’ interest and skills in teaching. Registration is open now.
In addition, the COE is leveraging faculty and staff expertise and our new Makerspace in Seacobeck Hall to increase capacity for STEM education with our partner schools. During the fall, we hosted eight field trips from multiple schools involving close to 400 elementary and middle school students, including students with disabilities and students identified as gifted and talented. Program feedback indicates that students left excited about math and science, and also about the University of Mary Washington. I am proud of the positive impact this work is having in our community.
Finally, I am happy to report that the COE will host the Virginia Association of Teacher Educators’ Spring 2023 conference March 2-3. This will be a great opportunity to show off our campus and the newly renovated Seacobeck Hall to teacher education colleagues from across the state. Our ability to prepare teachers for the challenges of education is contingent upon the quality our partnerships with our K-12 colleagues. I am proud to share that our partnerships are strong.
Dr. Pete Kelly
Professor & Dean
College of Education
University of Mary Washington