By Scott Bray

Over the past year both SPCS and the University as a whole have undertaken and engaged in a strategic planning process. It came as no surprise that one key finding and area of identified strength was the Education department’s connection to the larger Richmond metropolitan community. Program alumni and current education students in their daily work supporting our region’s youth continue to demonstrate the value of a University of Richmond education.

It is our hope and desire to build on this strength by engaging our alumni and current students in an on-going and open dialogue during the year ahead in order for the department to continue grow and strengthen our community ties and partnerships. 

Just as alumni and current students serve as valuable resources within their respective communities, the University serves as a valuable resource within our region. It is an exciting time on campus as faculty and students engage in cross-disciplinary work and community-based learning experiences. These community-based learning experiences allow students to partner with industry experts while at the same time providing leadership opportunities.

For example, during the past year, three Teacher Licensure Preparation (TLP) students, Kristen Joswick, Barbara Tait, and Caroline Tarin (pictured above), each with a concentration in art education, took the initiative to partner with the University of Richmond’s Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art. The partnership focused on creating a K-12 cross-curricular resource aligned with the Auguste Rodin exhibit, Rodin, The Human Experience: Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collections, that was open during the fall of 2016.

Through their work the students demonstrated opportunities the museum exhibit provided for authentic learning. The completed curriculum and accompanying teacher resources included before and after museum activities, essential questions, 3D printing ideas and areas for differentiation. All resources were developed and aligned with Virginia’s Standards of Learning including cross-curricular links to chemistry, world languages and history. 

As a department we have along history of providing students with community based learning opportunities, and we remain committed to connecting students’ academic work and professional interest with their interest in and concern for our local communities. These practical experiences strengthen our communities while providing students with broad experiences that enrich and enhance their learning experience.

If you have an idea or suggestion for a potential community based learning experience, we would welcome your input.