Education Department Newsletter
Volume 5, Number 2 - Spring 2010

Covenant graduates win awards

The Apostle Paul exhorts in 1 Timothy 3:7 that we "must also have a good reputation with outsiders," so it's always affirming when our graduates are recognized for their excellence in the classroom - and this spring has been a good one for those honors:

  • Matt Jelley (2004, B.A. in Middle Grades) was announced as the Teacher of the Year by the Dade County Board of Education in January. Matt, who teaches 8th grade Language Arts and coaches soccer at Dade Middle School, is also one of the designers of Project Synergy, an award-winning cooperative partnership between Dade Middle School, Covenant College, and various business, government, and community agencies. Project Synergy, which in the past two years has worked with Volkswagen and TVA, seeks to encourage student achievement while presenting a holistic participation in the nurturing and growth of students. Matt was previously awarded Teacher of the Year status by the Dade County Chamber of Commerce in 2009, and he has been a key reason why Dade County has achieved the highest writing assessment scores for the entire state of Georgia for two consecutive years. "I've thoroughly fallen in love with teaching, and it is definitely where the Lord's called me. I wake up every morning and I can't wait to go into work," he said in an interview in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "I felt I was called to ministry here in Dade County more than anywhere else, and I had an opportunity to reach out to some kids who have some really difficult home lives."

  • Robert Stinson (2009, M.Ed. in Educational Leadership) was named Teacher of the Year for neighboring Walker County in May. Robert is an 8th grade Social Studies teacher, department chair, and wrestling and volleyball coach at Rossville Middle School where he has taught for the past four years. There are three other Covenant graduates on staff at RMS, Katie Long (2009), Meg Deaver Sparks (2006), and Andrea Grady (1997). Robert claims that relevance is the key to motivating his 8th graders: "Whenever I am successful, it is only because the students have found the hour and 15 minutes to be worthwhile," he said in an interview in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. According to his principal, "Mr. Stinson is always one of those ‘go to’ staff members when we are seeking extra help on whatever the project might be. He constantly searches for innovative and creative ideas to spark the interest and enthusiasm of the students."

  • Two other Covenant graduates were named 2010 Distinguished Teachers for Walker County: Deanne Rogers (1981, B.A. in Physical Education) who teaches 6th grade social studies at Chattanooga Valley Middle School and Linda Johnson (2006, B.S. in Early Childhood Education) who teaches third grade at Cherokee Ridge Elementary. Linda graduated from our first cohort of students in the BSECE evening program and recently wrote, "I am very thankful and proud to have been a part of the BSECE program."
    According to Deanne’s principal Jeremy Roerdink, a 1998 graduate of Covenant, "What amazes me about Mrs. Rogers is that while she has over 28 years of classroom experience, her zeal and passion for children never ceases. She is always looking for new classroom strategies and ways to implement technology in the classroom. She is not content with the 'status quo.'"

  • Chattanooga Valley Middle School is often called "Covenant South" because nine graduates currently work there, about 25% of the staff. In addition to Rogers and Roerdink, the following Covenant grads are also on staff: Lynn Duble (1984), Laura Dueitt (2005), Josh Green (2002), Patty Flowers (2005), David Macallister (1996/M.Ed. 2006), Matt Monahan, (2001), and Lori Robertson (1983).

  • Meanwhile, a Hamilton County (Tennessee) principal of an award-winning school recently told us that "My best teachers are Covenant graduates."
We praise the Lord for all our graduates who are teaching and leading in schools around the world.

Education Department graduates 74!

On Saturday, May 8, 74 students - a new high for our department surpassing the 64 graduates in 2009 - crossed the stage at Covenant’s annual Commencement Exercises and received their diploma in the following categories:

  • 17 students received their B.A. in Early Childhood Education
  • 1 student received her B.A. in Middle Grades Education
  • 9 students received their B.A. degree in English, history, or math with Secondary Education
  • 33 students received their B.S. in Early Childhood Education
  • 14 students received their M.Ed. degree in either Educational Leadership or Integrated Curriculum and Instruction.

Some of the 32 graduates from cohorts #8 and #9 of the BSECE program celebrate at Friday night’s graduation dinner.

Faculty activities

Stephen Kaufmann has been in and out of Eastern Europe frequently as the Lord has opened up new opportunities with Christian teachers in these formally Communist countries. This past year, he has travelled to Hungary twice, and with another group that met in Basel, Switzerland. In addition, Hungarian, Romanian, and French versions of First Foundations: A primer for Christian School education are now available along with the English version. Steve has also completed a companion book, Meditations for Teachers: Reflections for Christian teachers about their work, that will be published in Hungarian this fall by ACSI.

Becky Pennington is closing in on her doctorate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga! If all goes well, we will get to start calling her Dr. Pennington in August! She also was promoted this year to Associate Professor of Education. Congratulations to Becky.

Bob Ashlock, Emeritus Professor of Education who is still helping with a class in our Master of Education program this summer at the age of 79, is also a great dancer! Bob and his wife Julia tore up the dance floor at the recent BUILD Celebration on the front lawn.

Jim Drexler traveled to South Bend, Minneapolis, and Birmingham to present workshops at ACSI conventions this past year, and spoke to other groups of Christian educators in North Carolina, South Carolina, California, and Connecticut on "Spiritual Warfare and Christian schooling." His new book, Nourishing the School Community, is set for publication by Purposeful Design this fall.

Cynthia Young, adjunct professor for our Exceptional Children class, was recently elected president of the board of the Chattanooga Down’s Syndrome Society, and was featured in an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jack Beckman continues his research work with Kevin Eames and Jim Drexler on a North American examination of educational leadership among heads of Christian schools. Their final report is due in August. Jack also continues his work with various Charlotte Mason projects through Gardner Webb University.

John W. Sanderson Award Given to Professor Stephen Kaufmann

Covenant College President Niel Nielson presented the John W. Sanderson Award to Professor Stephen Kaufmann at Covenant's 55th annual commencement on May 8, 2010.

The John W. Sanderson Award is given biannually to a faculty member who exemplifies the spirit of gracious Christian scholarship, which was characteristic of Dr. Sanderson. John W. Sanderson, Jr., professor of philosophy at Covenant College from 1963 to 1976, academic dean from 1963 to 1968, and adjunct professor on several occasions after his retirement, probably had more to do with the development of Covenant's educational philosophy than anyone else. He was known as a lucid thinker and a master teacher, but what colleagues and students are most likely to remember are his humility and his kindness. Dr. Sanderson was for students and colleagues a model not only of Christian thinking and Christian teaching, but of Christian living. He was one of God's best gifts to Covenant College, and though it may appear that the College honors him in naming an award for him, the truth is that most of the honor goes in the other direction.

Professor of Education Stephen Kaufmann is known for thoughtfully and comprehensively grounding his scholarship in the truths of Christian faith. He has contributed in significant ways to Covenant's core educational program and the development of his department. He has led student trips multiple times to Eastern Europe and to New York City.

Dr. Kaufmann has written numerous articles and book chapters over the years and served on various committees of the College. He has brought Christian principles to bear in the development of Christian schools in Europe, having published a book that has been translated into Romanian and French. Although he has taught many courses at Covenant College, he is probably best known for his treatment of the history and philosophy of American education. He has also served beyond Covenant's campus on various Christian school boards in Tennessee, Iowa, and New Jersey.

Dr. Kaufmann received his bachelor's degree in history from Covenant College, studied at Covenant Theological Seminary, and received a master's in history and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Iowa.

Other news...

Recent M.Ed. graduate Karon Law wrote, "I can say that this experience will go down as a profound impact on my faith, my professionalism, and personal development. Thank you all for creating and maintaining such a stellar program."

Erika Forland, who graduated this May with her B.A. in Early Childhood Education, played varsity basketball at Covenant for three years. This April, Erika was named to the NCCAA All-American Second Team after averaging 14 points and over 11 rebounds for the Scots. Her best statistical game of the year came against The University of the South (Sewanee) when she scored 24 point and pulled down 11 rebounds in a 73-71 victory. Erika plans to teach at East Lake Academy in Chattanooga this fall.

The Education Department once again sorted through dozens of outstanding applicants for our annual Future Teacher Scholarship, and the winner this year is Melanie Terpstra who will enroll this August to begin working on her B.A. in Early Childhood Education. Melanie is from Janesville, Wisconsin.

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