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Catawba College Announces New Academy for Teaching

March 21, 2007

Category: Academics, Alumni, Evening & Graduate, Students, Teacher Education

Academy to Be Named in Honor of Shirley Peeler Ritchie

Academy for TeachingCatawba College is creating new Academy for Teaching which will be named in honor of former teacher education faculty member and College trustee Shirley Peeler Ritchie of Salisbury.   College trustees learned of a donor gift to underwrite the start-up of the Academy and new Teaching Scholarships offered through it and also approved plans for the academy and its naming at their February meeting.

Catawba Assistant Professor of Teacher Education and former N.C. Teacher of the Year, Dr. Cynthia Osterhus, will direct the Academy which will be a part of the College's Teacher Education Department.   The Academy will officially launch with the start of the '07-'08 academic year when 14 new Teaching Scholars enter Catawba as first-year students.   These students, who apply and are selected as Teaching Scholars, demonstrate strong SAT/ACT scores, a strong high school grade point average, leadership, community involvement, and a commitment to teaching,   These students will be designated as the Martha Kirkland West Teaching Scholars in honor of another former teacher education faculty member and College trustee.

Shirley RitchieCatawba's Teacher Education program is nationally accredited through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and has a rich tradition of turning out excellent teachers dating back to 1925.   Since 2004, graduates of the program have enjoyed a 100 percent pass rate on Praxis II and have had great success in landing teaching jobs immediately after graduation.

"We have a wonderful teacher education program and the Shirley Peeler Ritchie Academy for Teaching will only enhance it," Osterhus explains. "The need for excellent teachers is ongoing.   Last year in North Carolina, there were 12,500 teachers hired and 100,000 are expected to be hired in the decade."

Martha Kirkland WestDr. Jim Stringfield, Chair of the Teacher Education Department, concurs with Osterhus. "We see these scholarships as a way to invest in our future educational leaders while helping meet the teacher shortage both in our state and the nation."

By the 2010-2011 academic year, Osterhus predicts as many as 60 Martha Kirkland West Teaching Scholars will be enrolled in the Academy.

Osterhus plans to recruit almost two dozen of Catawba's current teacher education students to serve as Education Advisors to both the Academy for Teaching and the new Teaching Scholars. "These students will help design some special parts of the program and will act as mentors to our new Teaching Scholars," she says.

The Academy will focus on equipping its participants with 21st Century teaching skills.   The number of field experiences offered to Teaching Scholars will increase, beginning in their first year.  Teaching Scholars will be leaders who will work with professors on Blackboard or other technology in the classroom initiatives.  Scholars will also be involved in the community in leadership development and service learning.  Some regional travel is also planned, especially within the state of North Carolina. The hope is, Osterhus notes, to make students aware of the cultural diversity in the state.   A wellness program will also be part of the Academy — "part of the way we mentor and work with our students in the program."

As part of Catawba's Teacher Education program, additional licensure areas will be explored and offered.   This year, Catawba's faculty approved offering a four-year degree and licensure in Environmental Science Education.   Other offerings being explored include a Birth-Kindergarten degree in Catawba's day program (such a degree is currently offered in Catawba's School of Evening and Graduate Studies).

Osterhus says that members of the Teacher Education faculty are also exploring ways to better serve the needs of lateral entry teachers.

Catawba's Teacher Teacher Education offers a major in Elementary Education (K-6) or Middle School (6-9), as well as a minor in Secondary Education (9-12) with licensure in English, Mathematics, Science (Biology, Chemistry and Comprehensive Science, and Comprehensive Social Studies, and a minor in Special Subject Areas (K-12) with licensure in Music and Physical Education.   A program leading to licensure in the special field of Reading (K-12) is also available.

Additionally, Teacher Education offers a graduate degree program.   Practicing or in-service teachers having an initial or continuing license in Elementary Education may pursue a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education (K-6).

The Department currently has 80 students progressing through its program and all of its faculty have public school experience.   In addition to Drs. Osterhus and Stringfield, other faculty in the Department include Professor of Education, Dr. Lou Ann Kasias; Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Dr. Rhonda Truitt; Professor of Physical Education, Dr. William "Bill" Russell; Professor of Physical Education and Recreation, Dr. Patricia Whitley; Associate Professor of Music, Dr. Stephen Etters; and Director of Curriculum Materials Center, Ms. Amanda Bosch.

"We're living up to the motto of the new Academy for Teaching," Osterhus says. "We really are 'Influencing Education, One Teacher at a Time.' "

For more details on Catawba's Teacher Education program, the Shirley Peeler Ritchie Academy for Teaching or the Martha Kirkland West Teaching Scholars, visit

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