School of Education

Dean: P. Bull

Director of Clinical Experiences: P. Bull

School of Education Assessment Coordinator: M. Porter 

Coordinator of Elementary Education Online Undergraduate Program: L. Wesson 

Interim Director of Traditional Undergraduate Elementary Education: TBD

Coordinator of Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership Program: TBD

Chair of Professional Education Committee: L. Wesson

Licensure Specialist: P. Bull and M. Porter


Professors: P. Bull, F. Burch, L. Wesson
Assistant Professor: D. Betts
Visiting Assistant Professor: J. Lord


The Gardner-Webb University School of Education equips candidates to impact communities through innovative, collaborative leadership by applying principles of learning and continuous improvement to foster meaningful intellectual thought, critical analysis, spiritual challenge, and preparation for success within a diverse world.


Gardner-Webb University School of Education is a premier catalyst for positive, sustainable change.


The Gardner-Webb University School of Education consists of members dedicated to demonstrating innovation, creativity, teamwork, problem solving, flexibility, adaptability, and a commitment to continuous learning. Specifically, these knowledge practices include:

  1. Principles of ongoing reflection, continuous improvement, and evidence-based decision-making;
  2. Caring relationships characterized by high ethical standards, collaboration, and shared decision-making;
  3. Leadership skills focused on social and emotional intelligence, understanding group dynamics within diverse communities, and facilitating meaningful individual and collective development; and
  4. Interactive learning environments utilizing innovative and appropriate tools and strategies to expand opportunities for individual and collective development.

Conceptual Framework of Teacher Preparation

Within a Christian environment, the Gardner-Webb University School of Education strives to develop reflective and ethical educators who are knowledgeable in content, respectful of diversity, proficient in technology, and skilled in meeting the needs of all students. Graduates of Gardner-Webb’s School of Education should be 21st-century leaders in every aspect of their profession, having the instructional, technological, and collaborative communication skills to deliver relevant and rigorous content in a forward-thinking context that assures student learning (NC State Board of Education, 2006).

Within the framework of the liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the School of Education at Gardner-Webb University offers undergraduate majors in Birth-Kindergarten, Elementary, and Middle Grades Education. The Professional Education Minor is a required program of study for students seeking licensure at the secondary level (9-12) in the areas of English, History, Mathematics, and Social Studies. Successful completion of the Professional Education Minor is required for students seeking licensure at the K-12 level in the special subject areas of French, Music, Physical Education, Spanish, English as a Second Language, and American Sign Language. Candidates who successfully complete these programs apply for the North Carolina Standard Professional 1 (Class A) Teaching License. In addition to the undergraduate programs, qualified candidates may study at the master’s, education-specialist, and doctoral levels.

Central to all licensure programs at Gardner-Webb University is a common conceptual framework that provides not only a philosophical foundation that defines our work, but a model of practice that provides definition to the character and skill of our candidates. Built upon the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards (NCPTS) and the North Carolina Standards for School Executives (NCSSE), our conceptual framework places an emphasis on continual learning within the context of the community. Blueprints showing the relationship of our coursework to state standards at both the graduate and undergraduate level are on file with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Aligning our beliefs with those of Darling-Hammond (2005), we believe there are three components basic to effective teaching: the learner, knowledge, and assessment.

The Learner

According to Standard II (NCPTS), successful teachers establish a respectful environment for a diverse population of students (NCPTS, 2007). Therefore, effective educators recognize diversity as an asset and understand the relationship of individuality to learning. Not only do they understand human growth and development theory; they also recognize the teaching theory of differentiated instruction relative to the individual needs and diversity of students in today’s classrooms (Tomlinson, 2001). As the ability of the learner changes, so must the complexity and rigor of the tasks as well as the assessments.

Recognizing that it is the responsibility of the School of Education to respond to teacher candidates’ needs for experiences in a variety of situations and settings, all aspects of a candidate’s education, including classroom instruction, clinical experience, and student teaching, are planned and aligned to provide opportunities to understand and prepare for the targeted needs of learners from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Candidates’ awareness of student diversity in every area of teaching responsibility, including curriculum and materials selection, lesson planning, assessment, and interaction with students, is an expectation of our institution. Banks et al. contends that while in the past schools have focused on isolating learners by any number of limiting factors or demographics, today’s teacher must focus on inclusion, recognizing that “educators must seek to eliminate disparities in educational opportunities among all students, especially those students who have been poorly served by our current system” (as cited in Darling-Hammond and Bransford, Eds., 2005, p. 223). It is our belief that educating teachers who are prepared to confront disparity wherever it exists is a basic responsibility of our role as teacher-educators.

The graduate learner focuses on program-long internships emphasizing working with others to facilitate learning environment needs.


Standard III (NCPTS) mandates that candidates know the content they teach. The expectation is that graduates of the School of Education will not only possess content knowledge, but they will also acquire the pedagogy necessary to convey the connections and relevance within the content, thereby gaining the ability to facilitate learning, which is Standard IV (NCPTS). This in-depth study of pedagogy will also enable graduates to choose appropriate methodology to enhance particular content. As Darling-Hammond asks, “How can we teach what we do not understand ourselves?” (2005, p. 205). In addition to content knowledge, the School of Education has the expectation that candidates possess a high degree of self-knowledge about their own professional dispositions developed through ongoing reflective practice. Whether aspiring teacher-leaders or future school executives, candidates are encouraged to ask themselves what they are “best in the world at doing” and what they “are deeply passionate about” (Collins, 2001, p. 95). Candidates should possess dispositions toward excellence in school management and instruction. As Collins reiterates, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are” (p. 13). It is the belief of the School of Education that it is our responsibility to support our PK-12 partners by providing them highly qualified school personnel who have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to lead and teach.

Additionally, the School of Education supports candidates in their journey to be lifelong learners. Standard I (NCPTS) delineates teachers as leaders. In order to be a leader in education, candidates must first understand that learning about their craft does not end at graduation. The understanding that the candidate’s pursuit of knowledge about the art of teaching has only just begun is conveyed by the School of Education through coursework, modeling, and opportunities for service and leadership through student organizations such as the Student North Carolina Association of Educators and Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education.

Lifelong learning and professional development is further encouraged by the School of Education’s support of The Center for Innovative Leadership Development (CILD), which is Gardner-Webb University’s catalyst for developing the skills of local leaders with proven methods that focus on transforming essential community functions and improving the results and quality of life that communities enjoy. The Center provides professional development in a variety of settings for school leaders, most significantly, a summer conference, which attracts school leaders from across the state. The Center also houses and facilitates resource projects with local school systems.


At the heart of effective instruction is the ability to know when learning has been achieved. To this end, candidates should have not only knowledge of a variety of assessments used in their field, but they should also be able to use the data obtained from formative and summative assessments to make informed decisions about content and methodology. Also, in consideration of Standard V (NCPTS), candidates must become reflective practitioners who understand how to analyze this data and determine the effectiveness of their instruction. Such assessment should utilize multiple measures, be continuous, and be thoroughly analyzed. It is the analysis of assessment that provides direction to future learning tasks. “Any activity that requires students to reflect on what they are learning and to share their progress both reinforces the learning and helps them develop insight into themselves as learners. These are keys to enhancing student motivation” (Stiggins et al., 2006). Assessment should not be relegated to formalized summative testing, but should drive targeted effective teaching. The needs of learners are important in planning for instruction as well as assessment. Cohen (1994) writes that assessment promotes “meaningful involvement of students with material that is central to the teaching objectives of a given course. For this meaningful involvement to take place, the goals of the assessment tasks need to reflect the goals of the course, and these goals need to be made clear to the students” (p. 13). Candidates’ utilization and analysis of and reflection upon data to design lessons are integrated components of Gardner-Webb’s coursework, clinical experiences, and professional practice.

Professional Education Committee

This committee develops and implements policy, approves curricula, and evaluates programs for the undergraduate and graduate education licensure programs within the School of Education. It is composed of faculty members from each school and department offering programs leading to licensure, student representatives, and public school personnel.

Admission to the Teacher Education Program

To be admitted to the Teacher Education Program, the undergraduate degree-seeking candidate must meet the following requirements:

  1. File a declaration of intent to major in an area of licensure with the Academic Advising Center immediately after completing UNIV 111;
  2. Complete a minimum of 30 cumulative credit hours, with at least 12 hours earned at Gardner-Webb;
  3. Complete the Application for Admission to Teacher Education. Candidates must submit the application by the published deadline;
  4. Candidates are required to have (and maintain) an overall GPA of 2.7 in addition to other factors for admission to Teacher Education;
  5. Complete EDUC 250 with a grade of “C” or better (a “C-” is not acceptable). The Teacher Education Handbook provides specific guidelines for the pre-service candidate;
  6. Obtain the minimum scores on the PRAXIS Core examinations or the SAT/ACT equivalents as required by the School of Education. These scores are subject to change. Applicants must satisfy the score requirements in effect at the time of admission to the Teacher Education Program;
  7. If majoring in Elementary Education, candidates must be enrolled in MATH 205 with a “C” or better and take the General Curriculum Exam for licensure to be considered for admission. Elementary Education applicants do not have to pass the examination for admittance; 
  8. Successfully complete the Teacher Education Program Interview; and
  9. All other requirements as outlined in the Teacher Education Handbook.

Candidates are not formally admitted to the School of Education until they have met all requirements of the interview.

The Professional Semester

Before beginning the professional semester (which includes the 16-week student teaching experience), the candidate must meet the following requirements:

  1. Submit a completed Application for Student Teaching, to include background check and drug screening, on or before the published deadline;
  2. Maintain a 2.7 cumulative grade point average;
  3. Maintain a grade of “C” (2.0) or better (a “C-” is not acceptable) in all professional education courses; and
  4. Complete all requirements for the selected major. Any exceptions must be approved by the Dean of the School of Education or designee. These requirements are described under the appropriate department listing.

Students will not be permitted to complete more than 50% of the Professional Education Minor (excluding student teaching) until they are formally admitted to the Teacher Education Program. All candidates must be fully admitted into the Teacher Education Program a minimum of two full semesters prior to the semester in which they intend to student teach, ideally no later than the end of the first semester of their junior year.

Clinical Experiences/Student Teaching

Student teaching assignments and various clinical experiences required throughout the Teacher Education Program are made by the Director of Clinical Experiences and Student Teaching in surrounding North Carolina public schools or childcare centers. Candidates are required to comply at all times with clinical experience expectations, including the Code of Ethics for NC Educators, while completing clinical requirements. Transportation to and from these sites is the responsibility of the candidate.

Candidates are not allowed to complete clinical experiences without the permission of the Director of Clinical Experiences. Clinical experiences are tiered and candidates should seek to take courses in the correct order. Students should consult their advisor for additional information.

All candidates, in all teacher education programs, must maintain active classroom liability insurance while completing clinical experiences. Specific requirements regarding classroom liability insurance can be found in the Teacher Education Handbook.

Completion of the Teacher Education Program

Successful completion of coursework and licensure requirements, all major requirements, and the Professional Education Minor, including the professional semester, will qualify candidates for licensure in North Carolina. The candidate is responsible for any out-of-state (NC) licensure requirements.

North Carolina Educator Licensure Requirements

To be recommended for Standard Professional 1 (SP1) licensure in the state of North Carolina, a candidate must meet the following requirements:

  1. Complete an approved program of study;
  2. Obtain minimum scores on the state-required assessments for your licensure area and submit to NC DPI Online Licensure System;
  3. Submit the completed application for licensure to the NC DPI Online Licensure System;
  4. Provide official transcripts for all college and university work completed at other institutions to the NC DPI Online Licensure System; 
  5. Remit the processing fee required by the State of North Carolina at the time of application using NC DPI Online Licensure System;
  6. Birth-Kindergarten, Elementary Education, and Middle Grades candidates (and candidates seeking EC licensure) must pass NC licensure exams prior to becoming eligible for licensure. EC candidates must also pass the appropriate PRAXIS exam for EC - General Curriculum (K-12); and
  7. For candidates wanting to obtain an educator’s license in a state other than North Carolina, the candidate must also fulfill all licensure requirements of the state in which licensure is being sought.

Licensure Only Candidates

Individuals who hold a baccalaureate degree and wish to obtain a North Carolina Standard Professional 1 license may apply for admission to the approved program for teacher licensure. The candidate must meet entrance and exit requirements comparable to those required of a degree-seeking candidate in the approved program. A minimum of 21 hours must be taken at Gardner-Webb University to be recommended for licensure by the institution.

Major Fields of Study

Birth-Kindergarten (Licensure and Non-licensure Tracks)

Elementary Education (K-6)

Organizational Leadership (Non-Licensure)

Minor Field of Study

Professional Education 


Exceptional Children (K-12)