Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 15, 2013

VSU receives Christa McAuliffe Award

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University is continuously striving to reach new levels with their students and staff. This need for success has led the university to win, for the second time in 10 years, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award.

In 2004, VSU won the Christa McAuliffe award, making them the only institution in the nation to be named a winner twice.

The Christa McAuliffe award is given to institutions that are able to show their effectiveness in producing Pre-K through twelfth grade learning outcomes. The universities must also explain how their education programs were redesigned to improve or change the outcomes they produced.

VSU was able to win this prestigious award for the second time thanks in large part to their work with the Valdosta Early College Academy (VECA).

In 2008, VSU partnered with the Valdosta City School System to establish VECA. Students and staff with the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services, were especially involved in this partnership.

The College of Education and Human Services saw the need for help in the City School System after finding statistics that were quite alarming. According to Dr. Brian Gerber, interim dean of the VSU College of Education and Human Services, at the time of VECA’s inception, 70 percent of all students in the Valdosta City School System qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. They also found that, of the 74 percent of the school population that is black, only 50 percent of those students graduate from high school. These statistics showed a serious need, one that VSU hoped to be able to fill through VECA.

VECA is specifically for students with high risk factors for dropping out of school. Each year, fifth grade students in the Valdosta City School system are given the opportunity to fill out an application to VECA. These applications are reviewed against a rubric and those students selected are then enrolled in the academy.

At VECA, students are encouraged by their teachers and treated under the expectation that they will graduate high school and continue on to college. The academy teaches at an accelerated learning level with the hopes that by the time the students are in eleventh grade, they will be able to take dual enrollment courses at VSU.

During the first year, VECA admitted 36 sixth grade students. After two years with VECA, the students showed significantly higher scores on the Georgia CRCT in social studies and language arts. However, the students did not show significant gains in math or science. These findings led VECA to alter their program to improve those scores as well. As per the requirements for the Christa McAuliffe award, the academy saw a troubling outcome and put in the extra work to improve.

Two years after those changes were implemented, the VECA students scored significantly higher in all subject areas, including math and science.

After receiving the award for the second time, Dr. Gerber was thrilled.

 “I was very excited and happy for the schools, the teachers and the partnership between VSU and Valdosta City Schools. There is a tremendous amount of work, creativity and innovation put into this program. The teachers and administrators need to be recognized for what they are doing and the difference they are making,” said Gerber.

As for what makes VECA different from other schools, Gerber said, “I believe it is the strong partnership. Valdosta City Schools have a lot to offer their students. At VSU, it is part of our mission to be involved with the community. That is especially true with the College of Education and Human Resources. We have to take an active roll in K-12 education. This is a model partnership that takes the expertise and resources available and shows how it can impact K-12 education if applied in a positive way.”

The VECA program currently has roughly 250 sixth through eleventh grade students, more than a dozen teachers and a full time principal. The program is housed in the former S.L. Mason Elementary School on Azalea Drive. Each year, the program adds a new class of 50 sixth graders. The program is hoping to expand to include high school seniors by 2014.

VSU President Dr. William McKinney will accept the Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award at the President-to-Presidents Lecture Luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 22, as part of the AASCU annual meeting in Los Angeles, Calif. Gerber will be presented a follow-up award in March 2014 at the annual meeting of the Teacher Education Council of State Colleges and Universities in Indianapolis, Ind.

For more information on the VECA program, please contact Dr. Brian Gerber at (229)333-5353 or email him at blgerber@valdosta.edu.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Brown Johnson Solis Cardiovascular Surgeons.jpeg Cardiac, Vascular, Thoracic & Endovascular Surgeons Join South Georgia Medical Center

    The three surgeons will operate a full-time medical practice and professional office named the SGMC CardioVascular Institute.  The medical office, which is located in Suite 230 of the Professional Building which is adjacent to SGMC, will be open 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140729-Gas_Leak002.jpg Roadway closed after second gas line break

    For a second day in a row, workers from Valdosta’s Utilities Department struck a natural gas service line causing a leak that shut down a portion of Forrest Street, officials said.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • dump truck arrest photo.jpg Deputies nab stolen dump truck suspects

    The search for suspected dump truck thieves ended Tuesday afternoon with the arrest of two men in the same area officials searched extensively Monday.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bears sighted on Baytree

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road this week could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Johnson family files second suit against school

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 30, 2014

  • Teachers Harvest

    With students and teachers returning to the classroom in the coming days, the need for school supplies is at the top of numerous priority lists. For teachers, this often means spending their money to ensure classrooms are fully stocked.

    July 30, 2014

  • Lake Park holds millage rate hearings

    Lake Park City Council held two public hearings Tuesday to discuss raising Lake Park's millage rate from 5.052 to 6.552, an increase of 1.5.

    July 30, 2014

  • 140729_celebritywaiter004.jpg Celebrity waiters raise $14,000 for CAC

    For local leaders, wearing aprons, counting tips and taking drink orders is quite the change from their day jobs. When it's for a good cause though, these “celebrities” didn't mind stepping out of their comfort zones to help.

    July 30, 2014 4 Photos

  • Jim Zachary Mug shot.jpg Zachary named The Valdosta Daily Times’ editor

    Veteran newspaper editor Jim Zachary has assumed the editor’s chair at The Valdosta Daily Times.
    During the past two decades Zachary has been one of the most decorated community newspaper journalists in Georgia and Tennessee.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-griner001.jpg Griner takes oath

     Surrounded by family, friends, and fellow commissioners, Clay Griner took the oath of office Monday morning as the Lowndes County Super District 5 commissioner.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results