GGC teacher education program approved for development

Georgia Gwinnett College has received a green light from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to implement its teaching unit and teacher education programs. The commission’s decision to award the college a developmental approval was based on an on-site evaluation, and enables GGC to pursue national accreditation for the academic programs in the new School of Education.

Georgia Gwinnett College has received a green light from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to implement its teaching unit and teacher education programs. The commission’s decision to award the college a developmental approval was based on an on-site evaluation, and enables GGC to pursue national accreditation for the academic programs in the new School of Education.

GGC’s teacher education programs include early childhood education, special education, and teacher certification programs for majors in biology, English, history, mathematics and political science.

The School of Education surprised its students and announced the commission’s decision at a seminar yesterday that included the students, faculty and administrators of the School of Education.

As students returned from a break during the seminar, they were greeted by officials from the college and the Gwinnett County Public School (GCPS) system, who had arrived with a celebratory cake. Upon hearing that their program had been approved for development, the students applauded loudly; some even cheered.

“We are delighted and proud that GGC achieved all of the standards for the unit and the programs with no areas for improvement cited by the review team,” said GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman. “This speaks to the outstanding quality of our programs, the dedicated work of our faculty and staff, and the strength of our innovative partnership with Gwinnett County Public Schools. Our student teachers are fortunate to work in a world-class school district, honored as the 2010 winner of the Broad Prize for Urban Education.”

Kaufman had a surprise of his own – a framed copy of the report filed by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission review team, which he presented to Cathy Moore, dean of the School of Education.

Kaufman explained that before the college had its name, he involved GCPS in the planning of a signature teacher education program that would serve Gwinnett County and areas beyond. He encouraged the students to welcome the opportunity to establish a legacy, and appreciate their important roles as teachers.

“You are the charter class of this premiere teacher education program. Everyone else will stand on your shoulders,” he said. “You will set the standards for those who will follow you. And you have the chance to change lives and inspire your students. That’s what is special about being a teacher. The influence you have on your students will affect them for the rest of their lives.”

A recent report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning included a call for revamping curricula, incentives and staffing of teacher education programs. The panel also cited the need for strengthening teacher candidate’s field placements, acknowledging the critical role of partnerships between teacher education programs and school districts. The report was commissioned by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and expresses guiding principles used in the development of the GGC programs.

“We believe that the recently approved teacher education programs at GGC have a curricular design that reflects best practice and the needs of Gwinnett County Public Schools,” said Cathy Moore, dean of the School of Education. “The school district played an integral role in the design of the curriculum and field experiences and continues to participate in the refinement of all of the teacher education programs.”

Individuals from classroom teachers to school administrators to district level curriculum coordinators participated in the development process over a three-year period. This strong partnership continues as the district works collaboratively with GGC to make placement decisions for all teacher education candidates, Moore said.

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