By Jessica Strickler, Staff Writer
On the evening of Sept. 11, children from Oak Hill Elementary hung out in the second floor methods classroom of the new School of Education and demonstrated how the Lego Robotics program can inspire students to work with math, science and technology. Guests were heard commenting, “we’ve never seen anything like this before!” and “this is incredible,” while students looked on with pride as the robots performed the student-programmed tasks at the touch of a button. These demonstrations, along several others, were all a part of the grand opening of High Point University’s new School of Education.
The ceremony, prior to the ribbon cutting and building exploration, featured speakers President Nido Qubein; Dr. Marianne Tillery, dean of the School of Education; Dr. Dennis Carroll, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs; and Leni Fragakis, a student who graduated with an elementary education degree in May and is now pursuing her masters in education at HPU.
During the ceremony, Tillery shared what the building meant most to her after waiting more than 10 years for the School of Education to have a place to call home.
“The School of Education represents for any person on this campus High Point University’s commitment to the value of teachers, their work and children in this community who will be taught by the students who teach in this community,” said Tillery.
Following the ribbon cutting, guests traversed through the building, which also houses the Department of Psychology, interacting with professors and students, engaging in the technology demonstrations, touring the testing rooms for psychology and asking plenty of questions about the programs.
After experimenting with the iPads and SMART boards, many guests decided the technology was well worth the cost.
Dr. Jane Bowser, assistant professor of Education said, “I had one person tell me they were interested in putting a SMART board in their house.”
During the week, professors use the technology to help students learn the content for the courses they are enrolled in; however students also have a chance to use the technology to teach one another.
“I plan on incorporating use of the SMART boards as part of my class sessions,” said Dr. Sarah Vess, assistant professor of Education. “They will be doing basket activities to sort terms and increase understanding of commonly used terminology in education, as well as designing their own slides to create test reviews.”
“Most schools are getting the SMART board technology, and [education majors] sometimes know more than the teachers [about technology], so we get to help teach them and the students at the same time,” said senior Becca Irvine. “We are bridging a generational gap.”
The creation of the Methods Lab, a classroom in the School of Education designed to look like a typical elementary school room, “allows me to feel more comfortable when I’m working with students,” said Jen Clark, who is completing her practicum at Jamestown Elementary School in special education grades K-3.
During the fall semester of an education major’s senior year, the student receives a placement corresponding to their impending teacher certification. Termed ‘practicum,’ this experience requires students to spend at least 90 hours in the classroom, working closely with your placement teacher to develop lesson plans and regularly experiencing what a typical day is like. In the spring of one’s senior year, this experience is called “student teaching,” and the seniors will start teaching the classes all day, everyday.
One local teacher who was in attendance told Bowser that she was always thrilled to work with students from HPU when they are completing their practicum and student teaching assignments because “they know how to use the technology when they show up.”
The access education majors have to technology inside the building allows them to take their skills out to a grade school classroom and successfully incorporate it into their lesson plans as they complete practicum and student teaching.
In the Department of Psychology, the technology continues. New testing rooms are wired for sound and video, allowing students and professors to actively participate in research, as well as maintain and collect data like never before.
Dr. Kimberly Wear, assistant professor of Psychology, spoke about how the testing rooms enable both professors and students to perform research in their fields of interest and specialization.
“We now have the ability to code behavior and speech for the purposes of research and are able to use the private [testing rooms] to work on research such as unpleasant and pleasant smells, emotional arousal and facial recognition.”
Excited about the possibilities now available to the department and psychology students, Wear says she has plans to begin using the rooms immediately for memory research as she conducts her latest study.
“As people have come through tonight,” said Bowser, “our students have shown them the types of things we do and asked our students how they are using this in the classroom. Our goal is to expose our students to the things they can use when teaching, especially since this technology is so similar to what students have at home with smart phones, iPads and similar technologies.”