The Randolph-Macon College Education Department is the recipient of a Model of Excellence Award, Quality I: Moral & Ethical Dimensions of the Learning Community from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges of Teacher Education (AILACTE). The award will be presented at the AILACTE Annual Meeting and Conference, which will be held March 1-2, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.
AILACTE and the Model of Excellence Award
AILACTE, the only national teacher education organization dedicated to the unique needs of independent colleges and universities, provides communication and information systems for sharing concerns, issues and viewpoints in teacher education as they pertain to AILACTE institutions.
The Model of Excellence Award identifies outstanding programs in professional education that serve as models of quality in the areas of Moral and Ethical Dimensions of the Learning Community; Partnerships; Liberal Arts; and Global Awareness and Action.
Promoting Dignity, Preparing Teachers
R-MC Education Professor Amber Peacock led the initiative to apply for the award. She will be presenting at the AILACTE conference and will accept the award on behalf of the Education Department.
"The college's mission statement, 'A Randolph-Macon College liberal arts education develops the mind and character of each student,' not only aligns with what we do in the Education Department, but also with what AILACTE defines as 'excellent,'" says Peacock. "We create an intellectually safe environment that promotes dignity and respect for all people within the academic community and prepare our pre-service teachers to do the same."
Education Professor Diana Yesbeck, chair of R-MC's Education Department, says, "We are honored that AILACTE has affirmed our commitment to excellence in providing a learning community that promotes dignity and respect for all people. Teaching in respectful and safe environments, where students are allowed to express their ideas and culturally diverse viewpoints, enriches the teaching experience for all stakeholders."
Yesbeck continues, "When the application was first announced, Amber was quick to lead the process in submitting our application. Her fine work showcased the exceptional work of the department, which is affirmed each year when our student teachers secure teaching positions for the following academic year."
Yesbeck, who serves as the Virginia State Representative for AILACTE, is proud of the fact that R-MC teacher candidates are provided opportunities to observe multiple ethical and moral viewpoints as they relate to the profession of teaching and working with children.
"Our classroom discussions are rich with discourse about teaching equitably and understanding all classroom cultures," she says.
At the conference, Peacock will present "Creatively Using Field Experiences, Fiction, and Essential Questions to Develop Pedagogical Tact and Professional Discernment in Pre-service Teachers." Her presentation will focus on how pedagogical tact and discernment can positively impact the academic, social and emotional learning of students, particularly those from marginalized populations.
Empathy + Diversity Awareness
Chris Murray Jr. '05, who teaches social studies at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland, was one of several people to send letters of support about R-MC's Education Department to the AILACTE. Murray, who majored in history and minored in education and Asian studies, returns often to R-MC to lead workshops with pre-service students.
"My alma mater continuously displays the AILACTE definition of morality in teaching through both modeling and emphasizing empathy and diversity awareness in their preparation of pre-service teachers," he wrote in his letter of support. "The Education Department stresses the importance of empathy and diversity through required courses and through the workshops that I lead regarding diversity and culturally responsive teaching. This is a program with a solid foundation in ethical practice that routinely solicits both student and alumni input to ensure that the program produces the finest young teachers in America."
Stewart Roberson, superintendent emeritus of Hanover County Public Schools, wrote in his letter of support, "The R-MC graduate comes into the classroom as a subject-matter specialist. The education minor, one of the most rigorous offered by the college, rounds out the graduate's readiness as a highly effective and productive first-year teacher. An investment by a school district in an R-MC education graduate is a rock-solid investment that is certain to pay great dividends for the graduate, the school district, and the children they both serve."
The Education Program at R-MC
With a strong tradition of preparing outstanding teachers, R-MC's education minor is a Virginia Department of Education approved educator preparation program and is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The teacher preparation program at R-MC creates reflective, passionate educators who are highly qualified in their content areas and in 21st-century teaching skills. Inspired by dedicated teaching faculty, R-MC graduates bring to their own classrooms a commitment to children, youth, families and diversity.
With the first course in R-MC's teacher preparation program, students are in the community, working with students and teachers in local school classrooms. R-MC education courses fully integrate classroom and experiential learning, opportunities for collaborative research, civic and global engagement, personalized guidance, and leadership development.