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$10,000 Gift Provides Technology Updates for College of Education

A recent gift to North Greenville University from a longtime donor family has provided updated technology for NGU’s aspiring teachers.

In August 2016, Terry Leonard pledged a financial gift of up to $10,000 to NGU’s College of Education (COE). The college used the donated funds to purchase new tools: 10 iPads and iPad add-ons, 10 Chromebooks, and one 3D printer, as well as several robots.

“This gift will allow current and future NGU students to become more equipped with knowledge and experience in our vastly growing technical world of education in public and private schools, where they will enter as teachers,” says Susan Boiter, COE secretary and a friend of Leonard’s.

In addition to Boiter, Leonard has several other connections to NGU. His son Brandon attended the university. Family members on Leonard’s father’s side — James and Ruth (’24) Howard, the namesakes of Howard Residence Hall — donated considerably to NGU during their lifetime. Leonard wished to follow their example and give to NGU in memory of his parents.

“I want to be able to help as many as I can with what God has given me and to touch as many lives as I can, hopefully spreading God’s word,” says Leonard, whose career included work in the airline industry and manufacturing. “I hope this gift will prepare [NGU students in the College of Education] for their future employment.”

Sammie Burman, who teaches technology integration courses in NGU’s COE, believes it will. Students in her classes can now gain hands-on practice with the new devices, learning to “create a more student-centered classroom environment” through the use of technology, explains Burman. The purpose of these integration classes is to prepare NGU’s future teachers to use technology to deliver content, meet students’ individual learning needs, cultivate critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and assess learning.

“Not only does technology make learning more engaging for our digital native students, [but it also] allows the teacher to instantly assess where students are. How amazing is it that a teacher can know within seconds who in the class needs extra help and who needs to be challenged?” says Burman. “The days of taking home quizzes to grade are over. The power of technology in the classroom is transforming education as we know it.”

NGU’s COE professors seek to over-prepare students for their profession not only by teaching them practical ways to integrate technology into the classroom, but also by providing field placements that allow them to apply their in-class learning in actual classroom settings. Field placements begin in the freshman year and increase in intensity each subsequent year.

“We had so many field placements and opportunities to work with students and learn from professionals,” remembers alum Kelsey Oxendine (’15), now a fifth-grade teacher in Myrtle Beach, S.C. “It was very hands on.”

In NGU’s early childhood education and elementary education programs, for example, teacher candidates conclude their studies by completing a year-long student teaching experience. In the first semester of their senior year, they do pre-student teaching with two full days per week in the schools, followed by full-time student teaching in the same classroom the next semester.

“Many colleges and universities offer the year-long teaching experience, but it is usually a five-year program,” says Dr. Jill Branyon, coordinator of the mathematics secondary education program at NGU. “Our teacher candidates experience all of this in-depth experience in a four-year program.”

Other practical opportunities available to NGU’s education majors include mock interviews with real principals and school district staff and mock parent-teacher conferences with members of the Greenville community. In addition, NGU’s COE professors — who boast an average of 30 years of experience each — assist education majors after they graduate in networking and job searching.

In September 2016, in fact, the COE announced that its Class of 2016 graduates across all programs had reached 100 percent job placement. For Branyon, who says placement is generally high, this is the first time that’s happened since she joined the NGU family more than 14 years ago.

“For the COE, I think [the numbers say] that we stay with our candidates until they are employed,” she says. “We want our graduates to make a significant difference in schools in South Carolina and beyond.”

At these schools, where classrooms are quickly “moving to one-to-one, paperless settings,” NGU alumni walk in “prepared and confident,” assures Burman.

For more information about NGU’s College of Education, visit ngu.edu/coe.

         

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