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RMC education program review generates “stellar” acclaim
BILLINGS, June 5, 2014 – An Office of Public Instruction (OPI) Board of Review certification on May 9 heartily recommended and endorsed the RMC education program. Over four days last winter, a seven-person team coordinated by the Montana Office of Public Instruction visited the Rocky Mountain College education program to contemplate reaccreditation of RMC’s work in preparing future educators.
The OPI found that the RMC program makes effective choices to educate aspiring teachers, school principals, and district superintendents. “We appreciate the process, which occurs every seven years,” Professor of Psychology Barbara Vail said of the reaccreditation. Vail was Director of Education through the review process. “The feedback serves to improve the program, and the commendations are lovely.”
The review team report lauded the “rigorous and comprehensive” internship experience of each education department program, which emphasizes clinical practice of leadership and professional skills. The teacher preparation program at RMC, for example, has created “strong achievement [in] experiential learning [and] field experience.” Through extended fieldwork, students recognize the challenges and joys of their discipline long before they contemplate student teaching.
The small college environment fosters effective learners, the report said. The OPI noted, “Faculty know their students well … and are invested in the success of students. RMC is a living, learning and collaborative community with highly engaged students and faculty. Students expressed a deep appreciation and gratitude for their faculty and staff.”
“The commendations that they sent us are pretty stellar,” said Robin Bedford, adjunct professor and supervisor of student teaching, who came to RMC after 11 years as a principal in Billings Public Schools and 18 years as an elementary teacher.
“We are very proud of our student teaching,” Vail said. “We receive frequent requests for our students, rather than have placement problems.” The RMC program is objectives-driven, individually focused, and supportive, and teachers who mentor RMC students can count on strong student teachers.
Professors craft effective communication with all partners. “At the master’s level, our community advisors all come to meet with us for assessment work,” said Stevie Schmitz, director of Master of Educational Leadership and Distance Education programs at RMC. Schmitz’s program creates both new principals and new superintendents of school districts. “We studied three years before launching, so we could do these degrees right. We’re an accelerated program with added value, and our students show huge retention.”
The OPI report held a few recommendations, such as furthering students’ course content and adding field experience focused on diversity and Native perspectives. As the College focuses on continuous improvement in program quality, “we consistently address all recommendations from professional sources,” Vail said.