Mason Chosen as Center for Teaching Excellence in Virginia

Posted: October 22, 2013 at 5:02 am, Last Updated: October 23, 2013 at 6:35 am

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By Catherine Probst

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Photo by Alexis Glenn

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has named George Mason University as the location for the Center for Excellence in Teaching in Virginia. The center, which McDonnell proposed as part of his “All Students” K-12 legislative agenda, will open in June 2014.

The center will annually provide professional development opportunities in instruction, education policy and leadership for 100 exemplary teachers. It will be housed in Thompson Hall on George Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

Elizabeth Sturtevant, professor and director of Elementary, Literacy and Secondary Education Division in Mason’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), will serve as director of the Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching. Sturtevant teaches courses in literacy education and teacher leadership.

“By establishing the Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching, we elevate the teaching profession and send a message that there is no higher calling than inspiring, mentoring and preparing young people for the future,” says McDonnell. “The center will set a new standard for excellence in classroom instruction and prepare teachers for leadership within their fields and beyond.”

The Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching will conduct four, five-day residential summer academies in 2014. Each academy will enroll 25 teachers chosen from school districts throughout the state. Two academies in June will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as the humanities and language arts. Academies in July will focus on the fine arts and interdisciplinary studies.

“There are outstanding teachers in every region of the commonwealth who could benefit from the challenging programs the Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching will offer,” says Mason President Ángel Cabrera. “In selecting the participants, we will seek out teachers in every grade level and discipline, and in schools fully representative of Virginia’s urban, rural and suburban communities.”

Each academy will have two George Mason faculty instructors, as well as guest speakers from Mason, local school divisions and the education policy community. Each participating teacher will earn five graduate credit hours, with three credits earned in the summer during the academy and two credits earned through online learning and a conference during the following school year.

Mason is developing an outreach campaign, which will also be led by Sturtevant, to identify qualified teachers for the center. Participants must hold a five-year renewable Virginia license, be employed by a Virginia school division, have a minimum of five years of successful teaching experience, and have a consistent record of effective instruction and demonstrated leadership ability.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to build upon Mason’s expertise in educator preparation to support teachers from throughout the state,” says Mark R. Ginsberg, dean of CEHD. “By developing teachers’ capacity for leadership within their classrooms, schools and communities, this center will empower teachers to work toward our shared goals of promoting effective instruction and excellence in public education.”

In approving McDonnell’s proposal, the 2013 General Assembly authorized $220,000 to establish the Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching and directed the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to solicit competitive proposals from state colleges and universities to create and operate the center. This month, VDOE awarded the contract to Mason.

To learn more about the Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching, email

Write to Colleen Kearney Rich at

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