Virginia State Holds Workshop for Future Teachers
By Caitlin Davis
Jul 13, 2012, 11:16
Latonya Waller, 2011 Virginia Teacher of the Year, speaks at the opening of the workshop at VSU.
Virginia State University has become one of the latest sites to host the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Teacher Quality and Retention Program.
The TQRP focuses on recruiting college students to teach middle school science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics.
The workshop, which runs from July 8 to July 21, aims to help young adults become future teachers and leaders.
The opening reception for the week was held Sunday evening.
Altria recently provided a $1 million grant to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which supports the TQRP. The grant allowed the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to open the summer teaching workshop at VSU and Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN.
Education majors and those studying in the science, technology, engineering and math fields at an institution in the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s network of 47 historically black colleges and universities were eligible to apply to the program. According to a VSU release announcing the workshop, one of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s focus areas is recruiting African American males and STEM majors to address the shortage of African American male teachers and the shortage of STEM teachers in high-need schools. According to a variety of news sources including CNN and ABC, African American men represent only two percent of the nation’s 4.8 million teachers.
The opening charge for the workshop at VSU was given by Latonya Waller, Science Department Head and Teacher at Lucille M. Brown Middle School in Richmond and 2011 Teacher of the Year for the state of Virginia.
Waller began by explaining the word “chosen.” She said the students selected for the program were chosen because of their drive and passion and their desire to be a teacher.
“To be a teacher is to be chosen,” Waller said.
She said in the two weeks during the workshop, the students will learn the joy and craft of being a teacher. Waller told the future teachers they would need to take notes and ask many questions.
“You need to be a lifelong learner inside and outside the classroom,” Waller said.
Apart from the preparation and dedication it takes to become a teacher and a leader, Waller said there will be moments of joy.
“Your first classroom, the first smile you get from a child, and you will even have your first student Facebook request,” Waller said.
Waller noted that the teaching profession is often overlooked in terms of the hard work and preparation is takes to run a classroom.
“We have to know who needs help, we need to know how to take a wrong answer and turn it into a critical thinking process,” Waller said.
Waller said learning how to teach is a journey and she wished the students the best of luck on their journey over the next two weeks.
“A teacher’s influence never stops. You will be future heroes to someone’s child, maybe mine, I applaud you,” Waller said.
Wanetta Jones-Allen, Director of the TQRP with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, echoed Waller’s excitement for the students.
“I am so excited for July 20 to come so I can see your impact,” Waller said.
Dr. Misha Lesley, Vice President of Programs, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, said the selection process for the students was highly competitive. She said this program helps those students through the first three years in the classroom.
“We offer training, mentoring support and financial support,” Lesley said.
Lesley said about 17 schools from across the country are participating in the two week program at VSU.
Kathryn Fessler, Senior Manager, Corporate Contributions and Community Relations, with Altria, said the grant to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund represented the company’s continued support to excellence.
“The partnership with Thurgood Marshall is supporting schools, which we continue to do,” Fessler said
She continued saying the investment is part of the talent pipeline.
“This is just another opportunity Altria has taken in its support of education,” Fessler said.
Fessler said the TQRP also recognizes those students who wish to teach in areas such as science and math.
“Altria is excited to support the number of programs and services to students and the importance of excellence in teaching, especially science and math areas, which are major skills important to the 21st Century careers,” Fessler said.
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund has partnered with the National Math and Science Initiative’s UTeach program and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to help address the shortage of STEM teachers, a subject which has been grabbing national headlines, and prepare math and science teachers to work in high-need schools.
Doctor Dr. Delores Greene, Associate Dean with Professional Educational Programs, was all smiles as she talked about what this program means for VSU.
“We can’t afford to have teachers without passion,” Greene said, noting she looks for passion everyday among the staff and future staff of the university.
“I look for that in hiring people. You got to have that passion,” Greene said.
Greene herself started teaching at the ripe age of three when she began to teach others how to read. By age 5, she was holding classes in her backyard.
“I had a yardstick and if they didn’t listen to me, I’d whap them and say, ‘Pay attention,’” Greene said.
Since 2009, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and its partners have provided career development, leadership training and mentoring to over 150 aspiring and new teachers from public historically black colleges and universities, the release on the program states.
Greene was pleased to have the program at the university because it will help shape future teachers.
“I fell in love with this project. It is so well written and has all the components you need to help people grow,” Greene said.