Teacher Education Grads Excel in Classroom
What makes EMU education grads exceptional? For many, like Camila and Steven, it’s a focus on “reflective practice” and early experience in local classrooms observing and putting lessons into practice.
Those key characteristics of our teacher education program are part of why 100% of program grads pass the state licensure exams, and nearly all are employed as teachers within six months of graduation.
Spanish classes come alive
Kindergarteners file into Camila Pandolfi’s classroom at Waterman Elementary School in Harrisonburg, Va., and take seats in the illustrated rows they recognize by such names as triángulo, corazón, estrella (triangle, heart, star).
As a student teacher prior to graduating from EMU in the spring of 2012, Pandolfi was cited as a Teacher of Promise, “an award given to the best and brightest of Virginia’s beginning teachers,” according to Cathy Smeltzer Erb, PhD, chair of EMU’s education department.
Pandolfi discovered early in her college career that she had a gift for teaching, under EMU’s policy of sending its education majors into local schools as early as their fourth week of classwork.
“Reflective practice” in action
Steven Rittenhouse recalls a student-teaching “aha!” moment – a turning point both for himself, then an EMU undergraduate, and for a boy who dropped into his classroom during a planning period at Thomas Harrison Middle School (THMS).
“He was visibly frustrated with his math homework. We worked with it together, and I helped him see he misunderstood just a small part of the assignment,” says Rittenhouse, who graduated from EMU in 2011.
The boy’s pride in his work “secured for me the excitement I have for helping young minds succeed and have self-confidence,” adds Rittenhouse, now a math teacher at THMS.
Rittenhouse’s success has benefited from two key characteristics of EMU’s teacher education program: sending future teachers into classrooms early, and “reflective practice,” which is woven into all education courses at EMU.
Study teacher education at EMU
Employers know EMU teacher education graduates come from a high-quality program. In 2012, future teachers graduated with an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.38. 100% of program graduates pass the state licensure exams, year after year.