Volume 6, Number 2 - Spring 2011
"Standard Met, With Strength"
The PSC (Professional Standards Commission) of Georgia oversees a number of education-related issues for the state including ethics enforcement, teacher preparation programs, and the certification of all teachers and administrators. Every seven years, institutions are asked to submit various reports and data that address the eight main standards required for programs to earn state approval. Without PSC approval, graduates from Covenant would not be eligible for state teacher certification, so PSC approval is significant. The Education Department has been working over the past two years to revise, update, and improve our assessment systems, programs, forms, and procedures, and submitted hundreds of pages of reports. In early April, a five-person team from the PSC was on campus to review and evaluate all of the programs in the Education Department, and it is with thanksgiving to God that we can report an outstanding review by the state.
The Education Department "Met" all eight of the standards with no weaknesses noted, and in three of those eight the Department met the standard “with strength," which is most unusual in the PSC reviews. The three areas of noted strength include the overall Assessment System with "an authentic commitment to continuous improvement," the various Field Experiences and Clinical Practices that are "well designed," and the department's faculty who "are recognized as outstanding teachers by their candidates and their faculty colleagues." In addition, the new M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching) was approved, and the Educational Leadership specialization of the Master of Education (M.Ed.) is now "state approved" for non-Georgia students.
In addition, the following things were stated in the exiting meeting with the PSC team:
"One of the best reports we've seen. Everything was prepared well."
"There is a genuine and authentic buy-in to the conceptual framework, and department members work well together."
"There is real community here, and everyone has been very gracious to us. Professors in other departments and all the students we talked to were very kind."
"The members of the department were relaxed and confident, not tense. There were also honest, transparent, and consistent answers to the BOE questions."
"This has been the easiest on-campus review I've ever done. The reports were so thorough and comprehensive, we didn't have much to do."
And then off the record, one team member said, "You have set a very high standard not only for yourselves but for all the private institutions in Georgia, especially for the ones who say they can't meet PSC standards. My guess is that Covenant will become legendary!"
Dr. Niel Nielson, Covenant College President, commented, "I'm particularly encouraged that our education department earned such high praise from folks who don't necessarily understand or appreciate our distinctively Christian mission, which was fully explicit in the discussions during the board of examiners visit. Far from being an excuse for shoddy performance, our mission prods us toward professional excellence, including excellence in the judgment of our secular peers, so that, in God's mercy, no one would find cause to speak ill of that mission.
Paul urges Titus to exhort his congregation toward godly and respectful behavior — ‘...that the word of God may not be reviled...that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us...that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.’ While this doesn't constitute a guarantee that, even with our best efforts, unbelievers will not revile or speak evil of God or his people, I'm very grateful for God's blessing in this circumstance," Nielson concluded.
Praise the Lord!
60 graduates receive degrees in May
For a sixth spring in a row, the Education Department enjoyed the graduation of 60 or more students from our various programs, and despite a tough hiring market in many parts of the country, many of these graduates have secured contracts for the new school year.
In particular, the following degrees were awarded at the May 7 Commencement:
- 21 students earned their Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education
- 23 students earned their Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood, Middle Grades, or Secondary Education
- 16 students earned their Master of Education degree in either Educational Leadership (13) or Integrated Curriculum and Instruction (3)
May Term Practicum Experiences
For the past nine years, Steve Kaufmann has organized and led May Term teaching practicums for interested Education students, alternating between the Mustard Seed School near New York City and the International Christian School of Budapest. "For years, we knew that our graduates were not choosing to work in urban or international settings," says Kaufmann, "and we knew that one reason was because they had no teaching experience in those settings." Since the initiation of these May Term experiences, though, more graduates have chosen to teach in those schools, so it has had a good effect.
This past May, enough students enrolled that two separate trips were organized. Kaufmann took a group of five students to the Christian International School of Prague, while Jim Drexler took four students to the school in Budapest. After two weeks of work, the two groups met for a 36-hour weekend visit to Vienna Austria, and the group is pictured below on the grounds of the magnificent Schonbrunn Palace, the 1400-room summer home of the Habsburgs:
From left to right back row: Hannah Turnbull, Matt Bristley, Georgia Granholm, Ginny Somerville, Grace Mullaney, DaSom Jung;
Front row: Jim Drexler, Sara Drexler, Liz Somerville, Lynn Ogrosky, Laura Main, Mary Kaufmann, Steve Kaufmann
Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T)
The Education Department’s newest program, the M.A.T, has now officially been approved by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) of Georgia, and nearly one dozen students are enrolled in the first cohort of students beginning classes in June. The M.A.T allows students who have earned a B.A. in art, biblical studies, biology, chemistry, economics, English, French, history, mathematics, middle grades education studies, physics, Spanish, or theatre, to earn their teacher certification in less than one year.
Covenant College’s alumni magazine, The View, in the Spring 2011 issue featured six graduates who are serving as teachers and alumni in schools around the world. Please take a few minutes to read these exciting stories: www.covenant.edu/pdf/alumni/view-spring11.pdf.
Steve Kaufmann’s book, First the Foundations, has been translated into Chinese, the sixth foreign language translation of the book. The original book was written in response to the need of educators in Eastern Europe as numerous Christian schools have started there in recent years. Used in a series of summer seminars, the book has been essential in helping key leaders gain a foundational understanding of Christian schooling, and was previously translated into Hungarian, Romanian, French, German, and Polish.
Daphne Haddad led 11 Covenant students to the Middle East in May for a Global Trends class. The group traveled extensively throughout Jordan and Israel.
Jim Drexler's new book, Nurturing the School Community: Comprehensive Induction and Professional Learning Communities, was published in June by Purposeful Design.
From the Trenches
Susanne Bowling (1987) was featured in a recent Chattanooga Times Free Press article emphasizing her creativity in the classroom: www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/mar/01/drawing-creativity/?local.
Robbie Dillard (2011) wrote to the faculty this spring with the following encouraging words:
"Hello all. I want to take just a few minutes to say that things are going great in my new position as a third grade teacher. The first two weeks were excruciating, really; but it gets easier and better every day. I get so many remarks and comments on how well prepared I came to walk right in and begin teaching. I know full well that I owe these comments to all of you. I feel prepared. I thank God everyday for leading me to Covenant and helping me make it to this point. I miss being in class there, but I am continuing on with higher education. Friday of this week will mark the end of my first week in a masters program. You guys will never know how much I owe you for the priceless pearls you bestowed on me. Thanks, Thanks, and Thanks again."
Micah Francis (2009) sent us this great picture of him with his class of third graders:
Amanda Levi Ross (1998) was featured in a recent publication from the college, and here is an excerpt from that that you will enjoy reading:
Covenant alumna Amanda Levi Ross ’98 lives in a city named the "City of Kings" by the Spaniards who built it in 1535; it now has 54% of its over 7,000,000 people living in poverty. Amanda’s ministry of mercy focuses on teenage girls who have been "robbed of their dignity, unloved, used and called trash as they are thrown back on the street corner." She is the director of the Gloria de la Casa (House of Glory - www.limanewcity.mtwla.org), a home for pregnant teenagers and the babies born to them. She co-labors with people from the congregation of the Luz de Vida (Light of Life) church plant in Lima, Peru. Amanda and husband Jeremy ’97 are missionaries serving with Mission to the World.
The mission of House of Glory is to bring the light of the Gospel to this generation and the next by caring for these girls in a safe environment where they can personally experience the reconciling and transformational power of Christ for his glory and his kingdom. Amanda and her co-laborers want the lives of teen girls to be transformed through the unconditional love of Christ by caring for their spiritual, physical, and emotional needs in a house filled with his grace and mercy.
Amanda majored in elementary education at Covenant and then earned a master’s degree in intercultural studies and a certificate in teaching English as a second language at Columbia International University. "I wrote my thesis on street children in Latin America and felt like God was calling me to work with these children at risk."
Amanda did the semester abroad program to the Czech Republic her sophomore year. "This was an incredible experience for me and confirmed my love for learning about other cultures." Psychology professor Dr. Michael Rulon and his wife, Judy, accompanied Amanda’s group of students to the Czech Republic. "This couple has an incredible way of encouraging students and bringing out the very best in each one of them," says Amanda. Dr. Rulon taught the developmental psychology class to the Covenant students while there. "I was fascinated by psychology and the way people think and learn. Dr. Rulon helped me understand people from a Christian perspective."
Amanda became especially close to the Rulons during her stay in a Czech hospital after an emergency appendectomy. She says the Rulons cared for her as if she were their own daughter. The bond became even stronger when Amanda did her student teaching during her senior year in Mrs. Rulon’s second grade classroom at Chattanooga Christian School.
During her last visit to Covenant, Amanda recalled her days as a student. "It was a safe place for me to be able to ask questions and explore what God had for me in my future. It was a place to study and grow, and I was motivated and equipped to go into the world and share Jesus in the day-to-day stuff of life: in teaching a student about God’s creation, in discipling young girls who are abandoned and pregnant, in raising my own children to love Jesus with all their hearts."