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Volume 3, Number 2 - Spring, 2008

New Academic Building

After watching a year of construction, members of the Education Department were thrilled this May to move into their new offices on the third floor of the building across from historic Carter Hall. Regular readers of this newsletter know that plans for this move have been in place for awhile now (see Volume 3, Number 1 on the web), but department faculty and staff were excited to pack boxes and watch the movers bring everything over from the library to our new home.

New Academic Building

Enjoy this picture for now, but we hope you will be able to visit us in person to check out our offices and classrooms on what we like to call the “penthouse” floor of the three-story building. M.Ed. courses for the summer will be conducted in the new building, and it’s hoped that BSECE classes will be meeting in the new building by the end of May. We are so thankful for the Lord’s provision.

Graduation 2008

The end of an academic year is always a memorable time, and this May was certainly no exception. A large number of students again completed various programs in the Education Department and received their degrees in the May 3 program at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

Commencement 2008

U.S. Congressman Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) was the commencement speaker for the whole graduation, but M.Ed. graduate Karla Foreman gave a memorable speech of her own (see below).

Among the hundreds who graduated were the following 58 Education Department program completers:

  • 21 traditional on-campus students received their B.A. in either Early Childhood Education or one of our secondary programs
  • 24 evening adult students received their B.S. in Early Childhood Education
  • 13 M.Ed. students received their degree in either Integrated Curriculum and Instruction or Educational Leadership.

Save the Date!

Dr. Michael Fullan, Special Education Adviser to the Premier of Ontario and to the Minister of Education, is the featured speaker for Covenant’s annual Educators Conference on March 5, 2009. Dr. Fullan is Professor Emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, is recognized as an international authority on educational change, and is engaged in training, consulting, and evaluating change projects around the world. Among his significant books are The Six Secrets of Change, What’s Worth Fighting for in the Principalship, The New Meaning of Educational Change, Turnaround Leadership, Leadership and Sustainability, The Moral Imperative of School Leadership, and Leading in a Culture of Change. Find about more about Dr. Fullan at www.michaelfullan.ca/ and we’ll look for you on March 5!

BSECE Updates

The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education program, first started in 2004, continues to grow. This summer, we will welcome our 9th cohort of students to campus to begin their 22 months of study.

There have been several “firsts” related to the BSECE in recent months:

  • Sonja Russell and Heather Cox (both students in cohort #7) have a long history together – in fact, Sonja was Heather’s preschool teacher a number of years ago! This is our first teacher-student combination in the BSECE.
  • Margrett Stevens, a graduate from the first BSECE cohort and now a teacher at Lookout Mountain Christian School, is the first BSECE graduate to return to enroll in our M.Ed. program. Margrett starts classes in our ICI specialization in June.
  • Cynthia Moore (cohort #8) has a daughter in Covenant’s traditional B.A. program. Laura Moore is a junior majoring in Business and is an All-Conference pitcher for the women’s softball team. This is the first time we’ve had a BSECE student who has a child as a B.A. student.

Faculty Happenings

Phil Horton was recently appointed to a special Alliance Math/Science Task Force convened by the Governor of Georgia. The group is looking for creative answers to the critical shortage of qualified math and science teachers in Georgia schools. In addition, Phil presented "Enhancing Student Problem Solving through Databases" at the 20th Annual Georgia Educational Technology Conference, and "Preparing for your Fulbright Experience in Africa" for the 2007 Fulbright Scholars Pre-Departure Orientation Conference in Washington, D.C.

Becky Pennington and Donna Phillips continue their strong work in the Ed.D. program in Learning and Leadership at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In fact, Becky was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student of 2008 Award. She also conducted an all-day curriculum in-service in Atlanta for the Childlight Conference entitled "KISS-Keep it Simple for Success", and attended the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in New York City from March 24-28, 2008 serving as a discussant for the paper session, "Instructional Design Considerations in Web-based Teaching", sponsored by the Special Interest Group, Education on the World Wide Web.

Donna Phillips, in addition to her doctoral work, serves on a committee of educational leaders in Dade County, Georgia who are re-designing the structure of leadership in their schools. She also attended the AERA meeting with Becky in New York in March and served as a discussant on the same topic.

Bruce Young submitted an article on constructivism accepted for publication in Teaching with Compassion, Competence, and Commitment entitled "Oobleck: A Constructivist Science Lesson From a Christian Perspective." Bruce also conducted a workshop at the ACSI Convention in Birmingham in January on "The Math Classroom as a Place of Worship."

Jim Drexler spoke at the commencement services at Trinity Christian Academy in Lexington, Kentucky in May. In addition, he presented “Spiritual Warfare and Christian Schooling” at the ACSI regional conferences in Anaheim, California in November and in Birmingham in January, 2008, presented an ICCTE Journal Live Webcast in November entitled, “The Anatomy of a Book: How an idea, a need, a meeting, and several e-mails came together to produce a new book on educational leadership,” and spoke in three chapels on education at Bryan College in November.

Steve Kaufmann returned to the Mustard Seed School in New York in May for another three-week practicum with 10 education students. The head of The Mustard Seed School, Christine Metzger, is a graduate of Covenant’s M.Ed. program. In addition, First The Foundations: An Introduction To Christian Education is being translated and published in Hungarian and French this year by ACSI. The book is intended to serve teachers in Christian schools in Hungary and the French speaking parts of Africa. Finally, Steve will be on a teaching and writing sabbatical during the upcoming Spring, 2009 semester and will spend most of the time in Hungary. He will teach a course on a Christian approach to pedagogy for certified teachers around the country while also working on a companion volume to First the Foundations which will look at issues unique to Christian teachers in Central Europe.

Karla Foreman’s M.Ed. graduation testimony

Following is Karla’s wonderful testimony at our May 3 graduation:

Karla Foreman speaking at Commencement 2008

“Gideon has never been my favorite Bible character. He seemed unimpressive, obtuse, and reluctant. And while I don’t like to think of myself in those terms, I am more like Gideon than I care to admit. But God has been just as generous with me as He was with Gideon supplying knowledge, confidence, and surprise.

First, surprise. Gideon – and I – were going about our business under the radar when God surprised us with opportunity. That at my age, He would let me go to school, meet lovely friends, learn so much, and have the chance to implement it has all been unexpected and sweet.

Second, the Lord taught Gideon – and me – about His other-worldly plan. I’ve learned about how integrated we were created to be, how profound the dis-integrating consequences of the fall, and the resulting implications for what and how and why we teach…about learners as image bearers…about applying critical appreciation to learning theory, instructional practice, and the history of education…about careful attention to detail in research and in choosing a conceptual lens through which to view the content of what we teach…all within a solid epistemological framework and a relational definition of knowledge which produces shalom. And in instructing us, our professors practiced exactly what they preached.

Then, God boosted Gideon’s confidence through a conversation overheard. The Master of Education program crystallized for me the fundamental differences between education to build the kingdom of man and education to build the Kingdom of God, which has given me the confidence to teach this to others. Finally, surprise again. It had to be thrilling to break those clay pots, blow the trumpets, and watch the enemy rout itself.

Covenant has been challenging and hard, but also exhilarating and delightful. I am astounded, humbled, and grateful that the Lord would be so kind to His reluctant child to give such a gift.”

Stone Creek and Covenant College

Katherine Crawford and Heather Bednar, two of the three 5th grade teachers at Stone Creek Elementary School in Walker County, decided that planting seeds about college was a good idea that even 5th graders could appreciate, so they arranged for a two hour trip to Covenant. It was a wonderful morning of questions and answers, touring the campus, receiving beautiful blue t-shirts as a memento, and finishing their visit in the Great Hall for lunch.

In fact, there are seven Covenant College graduates currently on the faculty at Stone Creek: Katherine Crawford (B.A.), Heather Bednar (B.A., M.Ed.), Stephanie Hixon (M.Ed.), Karen Griffey (M.Ed.), Rachel Eldridge (M.Ed.), Rene Varnell, and Glenda Manning (M.Ed.). Elaine Tinholt (M.Ed.) used to be an eighth Covenant graduate there until our department stole her away a year ago to join the Education Department.

This and that from our graduates and friends:

This from a recent BSECE graduate: “I would just like to say thank you! I'm so proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of this program. I can honestly say it has had a positive impact in my life in many ways. I am an official kindergarten teacher now and have also rededicated my life to the Lord four months ago. Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity! You guys are terrific and I will miss you. Keep doing what you do best! Thanks for all your help.”

Our Director of Field Placement, Donna Phillips, sent this to our department recently: “A principal from a local school called me today and asked for more student teachers. She said, ‘Your students come to us with an understanding of standards-based curriculum, guided reading, and workshop principles. They’re reliable, capable, respectful, and demonstrate a great deal of care for our students.’”

From M.Ed. graduate Brandon Byrd: “Greetings from Moshi, Tanzania! I just wanted to again say thank you for all of the work and sweat that you have invested in the M.Ed. program over the years. Today, I am preparing my teacher development sessions for next week's inservice. I have four teachers (besides myself) in our first year as an official school for our one secondary school class. As I was going back over my '05 comps notes, I was able to remember and see more clearly the imprint of your teaching on my leadership. Thank you for your faithfulness. Its value is priceless.”

From a nearby middle school principal: “I don't know how much feedback you actually get, but Covenant is doing an awesome job of preparing teachers! (They) are all excellent, engaging, enlightened, organized, caring, and highly committed. Thank you.”

And finally, some humorous insights from 2008 Middle Grades graduate Carla Rae Himebook on her student teaching experiences: “Monday, (aka ‘Day One’), I was introducing my unit on cells and just giving some background information. No big deal, the students were going to watch a movie and take notes using the very intense handout I created for them. Everything was going grand...until 3rd block. Apparently, at the end of the movie the second time through I accidentally hit the record button along with the rewind button...so the whole movie was ruined. Ms. Bearden, wonderful teacher that she is, looked at me and asked "So student teacher, what are you going to do?" I ended up giving a 35-minute impromptu lecture over the content of the video (which I had seen 5 times by this point) using the handout as an outline (good thing it was so in-depth!). Wednesday, when we did a brief review of what we covered on Monday, 3rd block remembered everything just as well, if not better, than the other two. At any rate, I've got a reputation at the school now and the chances of anyone lending me their educational videos is slim.

Overall, I'm having an amazing time, loving all of it...even the mad kids and the piles of homework that need to be graded. Teaching feels...natural. It's always a bit of an adventure at first (for instance, today when we were talking about osmosis and diffusion and I had all the kids crowd into one corner and one girl turned out to be claustrophobic...), but that's part of the fun. Right now I'm soooo glad it's Friday and I don't have to get up early and teach tomorrow, but I can't wait for Monday!”

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Covenant College Department of Education
14049 Scenic Highway
Lookout Mountain, GA 30750