FVSU education department reviving

Judy Carter, dean of the College of Education at Fort Valley State University, can smile now.

Nearly four years ago, she was brought on as a consultant from Benedict College to assist the university in getting its education programs on track. In January 2006, she was selected to lead the college as dean. At the time, all of the programs had been deactivated after the Georgia Professional Standards Commission placed the school on probation for not meeting state requirements.

Fast forward to 2009 and the college has inducted 33 future educators into five approved programs. In November 2007 when they held their last induction, 11 students were headed into two programs.

“It’s a wonderful feeling and I work with a great group of people with a supportive administration and College of Arts and Science,” Carter said.

She admits now that the program was in bad shape when she first took over. But Carter, who proclaims herself a stickler, made sure that all professional standards were being met. Then, every year, she and her staff approached the Board of Regents and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission about putting one or two programs back into place.

That is how she and her staff were able to bring back programs in agricultural education, early childhood and special education, school counselor education, middle grades education and a master’s degree program in middle grades education. This month, the Board of Regents is expected to vote on a master’s degree program for early childhood and special education, as well as a master’s of arts in teaching.

“I don’t know if we would have succeeded had we brought all the programs back at one time,” Carter said.

The College of Education now has about 200 students and Carter expects that number to grow to about 400 students in the next couple of years. Terrance Smith, vice president of student affairs, noted the importance of having the College of Education successfully up and running.

As a Bibb County student, he recalled the many good teachers he had who were alumni of the university’s program. He said he anticipates those entering the programs now will further that tradition and now is the right time to get started.

“With the shortage of teachers, we feel that this is an optimal opportunity to acquire new education programs as we continue to advance and enhance Fort Valley State University,” Smith said.

As Carter looks forward, she is preparing for a spring 2010 visit from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and still wants to add on a few more education programs.

“The work never ends,” Carter said.

To contact writer Natasha Smith, call 923-3109, extension 236.