A consortium of schools and colleges in Southwest Virginia has become a model for improving primary and secondary education, according to an article written by two Emory & Henry College professors that will be published in a national journal.
Instructional strategies developed by the members of the Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium have improved students’ abilities to think in-depth about their studies and to improve their performances in areas of social studies, math and science, according to an article written by E&H professors Doug Arnold and Herb Thompson.
The article, entitled “Becoming an Equal Partner in a Partnership That Works,” will appear in a forthcoming edition of the American School Board Journal, which is distributed to all U.S. school boards and superintendents.
Emory & Henry is a member of the consortium along with eight other colleges and 15 public schools. In addition to Emory & Henry, the colleges include Bluefield College, Mountain Empire Community College, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Southwest Virginia Community College, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Virginia Highlands Community College, Virginia Intermont College and Wytheville Community College.
The public school systems include those of Wythe, Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise counties as well as the cities of Bristol, Va., Galax, and Norton.
The consortium provided a program, Reading First, which seeks to improve student performance by focusing first on assessing students’ abilities to read and to comprehend what they read. Emory & Henry hosted seven Reading First Academies that supplied professional development for teachers.
Eventually, Emory & Henry developed programs to upgrade math and science knowledge and certification levels for elementary and middle school teachers throughout the region. The College currently provides services for two mathematics and science partnership grants for area school systems.
“We have a good history of obtaining grants and bringing them to a successful conclusion,” writes Arnold and Thompson.
Emory & Henry also developed graduate programs in history, English and reading to accommodate the needs of consortium partners. To date, approximately 40 area public school teachers have received advanced degrees in English and history and nearly 200 people have obtained master’s degrees in an education program that leads licensure as a reading specialist.
Emory & Henry and its Neff Center for Teacher Education have become “a major player in educational programs in our region of Virginia,” according to the article. “By taking this approach, we (the consortium) have achieved a success beyond expectations. Other districts and higher education institutions can replicate what our partnership has accomplished.”