‘TOP’ teachers celebrate ‘Magic of Education’ at JMU

James Madison University sophomore Abby Jamison has wanted to become a teacher ever since she can remember. Influenced and encouraged by the example set by her mother, a second-grade teacher in New Jersey, Jamison is preparing for her dream career to make students’ learning experiences “enjoyable, significant and fun.”

“I think teachers have such an important role in guiding and positively influencing children, and I would love to be able to do that while teaching them the academic material they need to master in order to move on in their educational career,” Jamison said. While she is in the early days of her teacher-preparation program – she will begin her practicum in spring 2012 – Jamison is already a volunteer tutor at Spotswood Elementary School in Harrisonburg.

Jamison is one of more than 200 pre-service teachers from Virginia’s 37 teacher-accrediting institutions will convene at James Madison University March 25-26 for the eighth annual Teachers of Promise Institute. This year’s theme is the “Magic of Education.”

“The Teachers of Promise Institute celebrates and recognizes the Commonwealth’s most outstanding pre-service teachers. We firmly believe that quality teachers make a difference in our nation’s schools, and we are committed to helping prepare our country’s next generation of educators,” said Philip Bigler, who has facilitated the TOP Institute since its inception. Bigler is the 1998 National Teacher of the Year, 1999 Milken Educator and former director of JMU’s James Madison Center for Liberty & Learning.

Bigler said students are selected by their institutions for participation in the conference based on their academic credentials, their commitment to the teaching profession and their exemplary character. Each student is paired with a mentor, who can serve as a source of support for the student for many years to come.

Sponsored by JMU, Virginia Professional Educators, Virginia Milken Educators Network and the Virginia Lottery, the institute has received national recognition and features interactive workshops delivered by teachers with distinguished honors, including Virginia teachers of the year, Milken national award winners, nationally board-certified teachers and national teachers of the year.

The event includes a gala banquet to honor pre-service teachers and their career choice, which takes place at the Festival Conference and Student Center on Friday, March 25, from 6:15 to 9 p.m. Workshops for pre-service teachers will run from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Festival on Saturday, March 26. The conference is provided free of charge to attending institutions.

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