Reinhardt education major and student teacher Christa Richards (left to right) and her students Rafi Tudela and Ashley Maracara at R.M. Moore Elementary School study a history book in the library. Almost one-sixth of Reinhardtï¿½s student population is majoring in education.
A cheer went up from the student teachers as Associate Professor of Education Harriett Lindsey gave them the good news. "You'll be the first class of graduates certified by Reinhardt College! Isn't that wonderful," she said, grinning from ear to ear.
As of Dec. 29, 2003, Reinhardt received notice of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GAPSC) approval of the early grade and middle school programs and a reading endorsement to be offered by Reinhardt's Price School of Education. The GAPSC, the accreditation and teacher certification agency of the state of Georgia, required Reinhardt to partner with an accredited institution until the programs earned their own GAPSC approval. Clark Atlanta had provided this oversight for Reinhardt, and previously, Brenau University offered assistance.
"This approval is an important step forward for our distinctive teacher education programs," Reinhardt President Dr.
J. Thomas Isherwood said. "Our Early Childhood and Middle Grade programs share a common theme of training our teacher educators to individualize instruction for each child. These principles will form the foundation of our continued growth as we expand to secondary education. The education faculty, our staff, and our colleagues in the Cherokee County schools are to be commended for their hard work and dedication."
The Reinhardt education students also appreciate the hard work. "The dean, professors, and staff have worked so hard to provide us with an education that is quality and challenging so each of us are successful teacher candidates," education major Danielle Polcha said. "I truly feel that these professors have ... gone the extra mile to prepare me so I, too, can walk in their footsteps."
Dr. Robert L. Driscoll, dean of the Price School of Education, hopes to explore more degree options, namely in secondary (high school) areas and possibly in special education.
"We want to move aggressively," he said. "We are serious about collaboratively addressing area school system needs with the resources we have available."
With 218 education majors, nearly a sixth of Reinhardt's student population, the education program is central to the health of the institution, and this announcement bodes well for the institution.
Driscoll came from Kennesaw State University in August of 2002 with a wealth of knowledge and experience in teacher education, program building and GAPSC expectations. Since his arrival, Reinhardt faculty and others have been immersed in generating the extensive descriptions, statistics and evaluations needed to respond to state and national standards prescribed for the GAPSC's campus visit in November 2003.
The GAPSC commended Reinhardt for its collaborative work with the Cherokee County school system and its vision.
Driscoll said the teachers at Teasley, R.M. Moore and other local elementary and middle schools, as well as the Central Office leadership, have been tremendously supportive.
Lindsey also views Cherokee County Schools' cooperation as a huge opportunity. "We're going to have a program that goes right into what the local school system needs," Lindsey said. "It's been a great collaborative effort."
Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo, Superintendent of Schools, Cherokee County School District, agrees.
"We are delighted to have a written, systemic partnership agreement with Reinhardt College, one which allows both parties to work closely to provide the best opportunities for teacher training and increases in student achievement," he said.
Reinhardt's programs are based on a differentiated teaching and assessment model, Assistant Professor of Education Nancy Carter said. This emphasis prepares teachers to modify their methods and time lines to respond to differing student needs. The program also stresses the value of establishing nurturing classrooms, where students are cared for and challenged, where they feel comfortable enough to seek help.
Driscoll said the GAPSC also evaluated the physical education teacher preparation program and cited reservations about its limited staffing and resource support. He is optimistic these items can be addressed and approval secured later this year. In the meantime, p.e. majors will continue to partner with Clark Atlanta.
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