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Apr 4, 2014

Dr. Robin Crowder Picks JMU in His Return to Higher Education

Dr. Robin Crowder, a first year professor in the Learning, Technology, and Leadership Education Department, his wife, and three children have all made contributions to JMU. The legacy started with Dr. Crowder earning degrees from JMU’s Elementary Education program in 1977 and the graduate program in 1981. He went on to study at the University of Virginia, receiving a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies with minors in Instruction and Social Foundations.

While teaching elementary school in Augusta County Public Schools, Dr. Crowder met his wife, Cathy, a special education teacher who happened to have a degree in Exceptional Education (EXED) from JMU.

After six years of teaching elementary school, Dr. Crowder became a principal in Montgomery County, Virginia and then returned to Augusta County Public Schools as an elementary school principal. Since beginning work in K-12 education 35 years ago, Dr. Crowder has held many different roles: teacher, principal, curriculum supervisor, assistant superintendent, and superintendent. For 14 years of his career, Dr. Crowder dedicated his time to teaching night courses in higher education at UVA, JMU, Shenandoah University and Eastern Mennonite University.

Eventually, Dr. Crowder made the decision to permanently return to the field of higher education. “I chose to come back to JMU because often the best teachers hired by school divisions were products of James Madison University,” admitted Dr. Crowder. “JMU education majors typically have incredible instructional skills and become great classroom teachers and school leaders.”

Currently in his second semester of teaching at JMU, Dr. Crowder serves as an instructor in LTLE’s Educational Leadership graduate program. The program is divided into two sections – the Educational Leadership master’s degree and the Educational Leadership Certification program for students who have already completed a master’s degree. Both programs require students to complete 18-21 credits in the leadership concentration, as well as a practicum or internship.  The certification program is for “aspiring administrators” who wish to add a Virginia endorsement of K-12 School Administration to their teaching license. With this endorsement, teachers are able to apply for a new career path in school administration.

Since Dr. Crowder arrived on campus in August, the Educational Leadership graduate program has experienced continued growth and significant success.  Dr. Crowder, along with his colleagues, realize the importance of making the unique Educational Leadership program accessible to students near and far.  The efforts of Dr. Crowder and others have helped to spark interest in students and increase enrollment. “I believe JMU and the College of Education have the capability and responsibility to develop great school leaders,” stated Dr. Crowder. “And as future educational leaders, our students can influence the conversation and debate about the important role education plays in our country’s dreams, economy, and future.”

The Educational Leadership program has been promoted through the JMU’s College of Education, Office of Outreach and Engagement and the Graduate School.  This partnership has made it possible for the program to start student cohorts in cities of Harrisonburg, Hopewell, Martinsville and Winchester along with cohorts in the counties of Augusta, Goochland, and Page.  These locations serve nearly 30 school divisions in the Commonwealth.

Since the program began, students have averaged a 100% pass rate on the State Leaders Licensure Assessment (SLLA) and continue to receive high job placement rates in administrative positions.  Dr. Crowder and his team plan to continue developing and transforming students into leaders in the school system. 

Dr. Crowder’s family has caught the JMU spirit too as his son Marcus graduated from the JMU Elementary Education graduate program in 2010 and his daughter Emily is currently in her last year as a graduate student in the EXED program. Even his  oldest son Stuart, who is currently earning an engineering degree at Virginia Tech, was able to make his own unique mark on JMU by working on the construction team that built the new Bridgeforth Stadium.



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