One step closer to becoming a teacher

Ask any teacher why they love their profession and many will refer to the "click" moment, the instant when a child first grasps an idea or connects with the teacher.

Jessica Layne already has had a few of those moments, but one stands out.

As a student teacher, Layne had in her elementary school classroom a boy who was struggling with school. She said he had a difficult time connecting with people and a difficult time with learning.

"But he ended up clicking with me," said the education graduate student from Centreville.

On the last day of her student-teaching assignment, the boy clung to her saying, "Miss Layne, I learn with you."

Randy Jennings understands the impact RU-prepared teachers can have on their students.

"Radford University is known for producing excellent educators," said Jennings, the director of student services at Salem City Schools. That reputation for teaching excellence is the reason Jennings attended RU Career Center’s 2015 Spring Education Career Fair.

"We come here to have great conversations and to get to know the person," he said.

Sponsored by RU Career Services , the annual event, held Feb. 27, brought representatives from school districts from across Virginia, and a few from neighboring states, to meet and network with RU students, alumni and other professionals who are interested in working in a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educational setting.

This year, about 50 school districts and more than 120 RU teacher candidates converged at the fair held in the Peters Hall gymnasium.


Jessica Clervoi, a senior middle school education major, speaks with Nicole Sarich and Deborah Bergeron from Manassas Park City Schools during the Education Career Fair in Peters Hall.

Dressed in business attire and equipped with smiles and resumes, many of those students spent the morning making the rounds through the numerous tables set up in the gym. Many scheduled one-on-one interviews with school representatives for later that day.

A little more than an hour into the fair, Jennifer Yeatts already had talked with representatives from three school districts. "It’s a little nerve-wracking, but it went better than I thought," said Yeatts, a senior from Salem who is currently student-teaching in a first grade classroom.

Zach McGuire, a senior from Tazewell, is an aspiring middle school or high school history teacher. He said he attended the fair to make connections with "potential future employers and set up interviews." Early into the fair, he had already scheduled a couple of interviews for later in the day.

Robert Stump, a principal in the Craig County Public School system, chatted with numerous "impressive" RU students and had scheduled interviews – "every 20 minutes," he said – throughout much of the afternoon.

Stump said he came to the fair looking for soon-to-be RU graduates who could teach English, science – either biology or earth science – special education and elementary education.

Jennings also had a list of teacher needs, including English, German, physics, reading, guidance and early childhood special education. "RU’s special education and counselling programs do an excellent job" of preparing students, he said.

This is a common statement from school district representatives, said Kenna Colley, director of RU’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership.

"The school division administrators report that they are continually impressed by our RU teacher candidates' professionalism, knowledge and skills and the wealth of experiences that they bring with them to the interviews," Colley said.

Through their classroom and student teaching experiences, RU students take an abundance of knowledge into their first positions as educators. They also beam with enthusiasm for the teaching profession.

"Having that moment where the students click, and they understand things, it’s really special," Layne said. "If I could spend the rest of my life doing that, I’d be extremely happy to go to work."

Mar 5, 2015