‘Radford does an absolutely great job preparing teachers,’ says Virginia Superintendent for Public Instruction
Virginia Superintendent for Public Instruction James Lane, Ed.D., and National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson visited Radford University on May 7 to speak with students and answer questions from students who are preparing for careers in the field of education.
After introductions, students and faculty members gathered in the Teaching Resources Center located in Peters Hall, where Lane spoke briefly about current and upcoming initiatives in the Virginia Department of Education.
He complimented Radford University’s teacher education program, referencing the reputation graduates from the University’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership have among the Commonwealth’s school systems.
“I have said this before, and I will say it to you. I have worked in three school divisions as superintendent, and I will tell you that the minute a Radford University graduate walks into the room [seeking a teaching position], we were going to offer them a job,” Lane said to applause. “Radford does an absolutely great job preparing teachers. It is absolutely one of the best preparation programs we see.”
As the state superintendent, Lane is the executive officer of the Virginia Department of Education, the administrative agency for the Commonwealth’s public school system. In addition, Lane serves as secretary of the Virginia Board of Education.
Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam appointed Lane as the state’s 25th superintendent of public instruction in 2018.
Robinson, who has been an educator for 19 years, was asked to share advice for graduating seniors who soon will begin their careers as teachers. Creating and maintaining a network of fellow educators, including classmates and professors, he said, “can be helpful when things get rough. You always have them to bounce ideas off of.”
The first year will be difficult, Robinson said. “If you do not have a rough first year, you are not doing it right,” he joked.
Robinson currently teaches social studies and history to students in grades six through 12 at the Virgie Binford Education Center in Richmond. He was named Virginia’s Teacher of the Year in October 2018 and received the national honor in April.
He offered further advice for first-year teachers, urging them to “ingrain themselves” into their school communities.
“Reach out and get to know whatever community you are in, especially if you are in a rural community,” Robinson said. “When kids see you at their games and in their community, they will see you care about them and that you are invested in them.”
An important key to success for any teacher, Lane said, is maintaining a positive attitude in the classroom.
“You have to stay positive, because if a student sees you are down on yourself – they do not think of it as you having a bad day – they internalize that and think the teacher does not care about them that day,” Lane said. “You have to maintain a positive attitude.”
When asked about motivating students, Robinson said it is important “to get to know them and know what they are into. You just have to find that hook. You have to value everyone’s talent.”
In closing, Lane thanked the Radford University faculty members for welcoming him and Robinson to campus and thanked the students for choosing the teaching profession.
“You are doing the best work in the world and know you are truly appreciated,” Lane said.