Elizabeth Gunto, staff writer
Starting in the fall of 2010, Warren Wilson College will no longer offer an education major in its catalog. Instead, the College will be offering a five year program to which people with an undergraduate degree from Warren Wilson or elsewhere may apply. The fifth year program will set up the student with a mentor. The student will student-teach under the mentor’s guidance for the entire year instead of one semester. The program is very new, and the College is beginning to look at faculty members as well as deciding on the full plan for the program.
The former education department chair, Laura Turchi, was working on the new five year program when she left the college last year. There are now two people in the education department, Annie Jonas and Pat Tuttle. The small faculty has been a subject of concern for education students, many of whom have been frustrated with the education department and are disappointed that their program is being removed.
Junior Jill Levy, an education major, said that Jonas “is amazing, but she can only do so much. It shouldn’t be all on her. She’s doing a wonderful job, but you can’t take on everyone’s job.”
About the new program, Levy said “The five year program is taking over, which is fine, but a lot of us (education majors) feel forgotten about. Annie’s been working on that.”
Levy mentioned that Jonas has a weekly lunch for education majors, so they can talk about their ideas and concerns.
“I think the new program will pull in a lot more money for the College, and it makes a lot of sense considering the statistics on Wilson grads that end up teaching,” junior Ansley Thomas, another education major said. “As far as the current program goes, I guess I feel a little bit like we’re getting the short end of the stick, being the last class and all. Some of that is due to circumstances beyond their control (faculty leaving and whatnot), but I’d like to see a little more support for current education majors. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about it from people student teaching next semester saying that they don’t feel entirely prepared or supported.” Jonas said state and national criterion have changed, so the standards for education majors need to change so graduates can be hired by public schools. She also said the new program will offer meaningful field work and new partnerships with schools that the old program cannot offer. She pointed out that “other schools are going in this direction, not just Warren Wilson.”
Paula Garrett, the Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the College said that “we see a lot of students become educators, [when their major isn’t education]. We want to respect that…We want to serve our students who dig deep in the arts and (give them) the practical background.”
Tuttle said that the new program is still in the beginning stages. The school is currently looking for a chair for the program. The plan is new and still changing, but the idea right now is that people with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, such as anthropology, any kind of science, math or psychology can apply for the year long education program.
She said the program will teach students “good teaching skills.” She is hoping that Warren Wilson will also provide an education major.
“I’m excited. I think it gives Warren Wilson a chance to do something different,” Tuttle said.
Tuttle pointed out that the program is not just for Warren Wilson graduates but also for people in the community who want to teach. She thought the program will develop strong educators.
“It takes a lot of commitment to teach early morning to night […] It makes you stronger,” Tuttle said.
She also thought the five year set up of the education program will make for better teachers.
“Being a good teacher is knowing your subject. [the program] teaches you to teach in a broader way,” Tuttle said.