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2011 News Releases

Longwood students attend statewide teacher institute

April 8, 2011

Longwood students and faculty who attended the statewide teacher institute
Longwood students and faculty who attended a statewide teacher institute were, front from left, students Abby Taylor, Catherine Easter, Amy McGregor and Jameeka Jones and faculty member Dr. Pamela Aerni, and, back from left, faculty member Dr. Ruth Meese and students Kourtney Nichols, Elizabeth Rensch, Melissa Elliott, Christian Mock, Duan Wright and Sarah Johnson.

Ten Longwood University teacher preparation students recently attended the 8th annual Teachers of Promise (TOP) Institute, a statewide institute for the most promising future teachers.

The TOP Institute, held March 25-26 at James Madison University, "promotes the best up-and-coming teachers," said Dr. Ruth Meese, professor of special education, who accompanied the students. "We select students to attend based on recommendations from the professors they had for their Partnership, a semester-long experience in an area school division. All of our students who attend have done their Partnership, which is their first professional experience."

The Longwood students, all seniors, are special education majors Catherine Easter, Melissa Elliott, Kourtney Nichols and Elizabeth Rensch; Sarah Johnson, Amy McGregor and Christian Mock, who are getting an endorsement in middle school education; and Jameeka Jones and Duan Wright, who are getting an endorsement in elementary school education. In addition to Meese, Dr. Pamela Aerni, assistant professor of education, also attended the institute. The former was attending her third institute, the latter her first.

"It's a huge honor to be selected for the TOP Institute," said Dr. Susan McGowan, assistant professor of education, who attended the year before last. "Each student is assigned a mentor-teacher, from their licensure area, and they spend the weekend with that person, attending workshops. This starts a relationship of networking, and these mentors are supposed to stay with them throughout their careers and to be available if any problems arise. Our students' engagement with the mentors at the institute is phenomenal. Some of the mentors are Milken Educators of the Year, one of the nation's highest honors, and three of the 33 mentors this year are former Teachers of Promise, which shows how much the program did for them."

Nearly two weeks after the institute, Aerni said, "I'm still getting emails from students who went saying 'Thank you.' They say it was very applicable, very enriching."

More than 200 students from Virginia's 37 teacher-accrediting institutions attended the institute, sponsored by JMU (where it's always held), the Virginia Professional Educators, the Virginia Milken Educators Network, and the Virginia Lottery. Longwood students have attended the institute since its inception. The institute, provided free to attending institutions, is facilitated by Phil Bigler, who is the 1998 National Teacher of the Year, the 1999 Milken Educator, and the former director of JMU's James Madison Center for Liberty & Learning.