It took two years of preparation, but Randolph College is now one of just 10 schools in Virginia—and the first in Lynchburg—to earn national accreditation from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).
National accreditation, especially from a respected program such as TEAC, gives colleges and their graduates an edge. “The reputation as a college that prepares its students to be highly qualified, caring, and competent teachers is extremely important to our students as they enter today’s job market,” said Gail Brown, a Randolph education professor.
Founded in 1997, TEAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving academic degree programs for professional educators. The organization has accredited more than 100 schools in 21 states. TEAC requires schools to examine goals and student outcomes and to show that graduates meet criteria quantitatively and qualitatively. TEAC then sends an audit team for review.
“I always thought our program was good,” said Consuella Woods, a Randolph education professor. “But TEAC gave us an opportunity to make it even better. We have documented proof that our program can be compared, not just with other institutions around the state, but also at the national level.”
In the review, TEAC recognized a unique aspect of Randolph’s undergraduate and master’s programs—the heavy emphasis on practical experiences in the classroom. Students receive classroom experience each year, a requirement hailed by students and graduates as a key element for preparing them for success. For Jamie Steigerwald ’10, it meant she was ready to handle her own classroom when she was offered a paid, part-time teaching position as a physical education teacher at a local private school during her senior year.
The classroom placements help students develop and practice teaching strategies with the support and guidance of faculty members.
In Steigerwald’s case, she was able to adjust to teaching in both a classroom and a gymnasium.
“The strategies I learned were very helpful, and it was nice to be able to talk to professors about what things could be changed and modified to help,” she said. “Without all of the real experience I have received, I would not feel as prepared to teach.”
Steigerwald believes the national accreditation will help her in the job market. Others agree.
“For me, there is a great sense of pride in my alma mater as well as the security of knowing that I have been prepared to teach anywhere,” said Sandra Goldman ’10.
Though the TEAC accreditation process was intense, faculty members said the time and effort was worth it.
“This national recognition is a proud distinction for Randolph College,” said Peggy Schimmoeller, an education professor. “TEAC accreditation further validates the quality of Randolph’s teacher education program, its comprehensive curriculum, and the committed faculty and highly qualified teacher candidates.”