Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Article in LUMINUS

Education faculty’s green thumbs
By Heidi Wicks, BA ‘02

In the brick-wall-beige of the G.A. Hickman (Education) building, the mini-rainforest on the third floor is a welcome burst of life. Almost always, students and profs can be found nestled on the couches, absorbing the area’s natural beauty as their brains benefit from green breath.

A study at Washington State University proved that plants increase moisture in the air and stabilize humidity, in turn reducing the risk of colds and flus. They also improve air quality by absorbing pollutants, airborne pathogens, increase morale, and reduce stress – increasing productivity.

Dean Alice Collins, BA ’71, B.Ed. ’71, along with Dr. Glen Clark and Bruce Burton, BA ’82, B.Ed. ’92, M. Ed. ’94, undertook this I nitiative in Memorial’s education faculty. All three faculty members are avid gardeners at home, and appreciate the joy and beauty that a few simple plants can bring to the work place.

“It was done pretty much on the cheap,” Dr. Clark chuckled. “Myself and Bruce brought in some plants from home. Alice brought in some plants from her home, and we all contributed some pots at first, but eventually the faculty paid for more pots and we’d pick up some plants on sale from Kent, and it kind of just grew from there.”

Literally. One particular vine-type piece of foliage now climbs up the wall and onto the ceiling in the building’s ‘Green Area.’ Moreover, the whole project spawned from a single flowering amaryllis sitting in a window, to dozens of green and flowering pots all over the building.

Numerous plants were created by cutting a tiny leaf and replanting it into a new pot.

“Cutting not only creates a new plant, but also improves the health of the old plant, so it’s economical in many ways,” added Mr. Burton.

For the petite amount of care and maintenance required to maintain a project that brings such pleasure to all who roam the building’s halls, it’s worth it. And if you’re lucky enough to catch either of the Green Thumbs in the hall, you may even get a gardening tip or two.
March 3, 2008
The Editor
The St. John’s Evening Telegram
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to a letter titled “Quality of Education suffers from fast tracked-teaching” which appeared in the Feb. 29, 2008 issue of The Telegram. I wish to correct many of the errors made regarding the consecutive [“fast track”] program offered by Memorial’s Faculty of Education. The program prepares students to be primary and elementary teachers. It is to them and those who have graduated from this excellent program that I direct these comments as they should know that claims made about them and the program are erroneous.
All students in teacher education programs at Memorial University receive preparation in all aspects of teaching and learning achieved through a broad range of courses and experiences. We offer courses in diverse learner needs and a course on the exceptional learner is required on all teacher preparation programs.

The Faculty of Education admits excellent students based on criteria including university grades. The average of those in both the integrated and consecutive programs is the same and far exceeds the minimum requirements to be admitted to the Faculty. That these are students "not accepted into the regular teacher education programs because of insuffcient grades" which the letter claims is entirely false. Furthermore, the program is a consecutive sixteen-month (four semester) program and not one of less than a year as stated in the letter.
The formats are the same for all programs with most courses being offered on-site at Memorial University in St. John’s or at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, with options for web delivery. The Faculty of Education engages full-time faculty, sessional instructors and contractual appointees whom we are fortunate to hire from the school system. Our programs are further enriched by the involvement of classroom teachers in the school experience components such as the internship. All are dedicated, knowledgeable, highly qualified professionals working collaboratively with commitment to our students, our programs and the future of the teaching profession. Many are award-winning teachers who have received, for example, the University President’s Award for Exemplary Teaching and the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.
We do not have to offer this program to make money. We have far more eligible applicants for any of our programs than we can admit. If revenue generation were our motivation, we would simply admit more students to other existing programs. We are offering this program because there is a need to which we have been responsive.
To our students: please be assured that we offer our teacher education programs with the assurance that you will be well prepared to assume the responsibilities of beginning teachers. We know this because of the reports we receive from school districts in this province and many other jurisdictions about the exceptional graduates of our programs.
The Faculty of Education appreciates the opportunity to work with educational agencies who share the same goals as we do for comprehensive education programs. We believe that working together to achieve these important goals will benefit the education system and the students we serve.

Alice Collins
Dean of Education

Monday, March 3, 2008


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