The Crowder Legacy
It’s not every day that you come across an entire family that has dedicated itself to the same profession. Dr. Robin Crowder, a first year professor in the Learning, Technology, and Leadership Education Department, and his wife and children have all made their mark on the field of education.
Dr. Crowder started his legacy at JMU as a student, graduating from the undergraduate Elementary Education program in 1977 and the graduate program in 1981. Dr. Crowder continued his studies at UVA, receiving a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies with minors in Instruction and Social Foundations.
Dr. Crowder began his career in education as an elementary school teacher in Augusta County Public Schools. After six years of teaching he took a principalship in Montgomery County, Virginia. Dr. Crowder remained in this position for three years, but returned to Augusta County Public Schools as an elementary principal.
While teaching in Augusta County, he met his wife, Cathy, who happened to be a special education teacher with a degree in Exceptional Education (EXED) from JMU.
Three children later and following in their parent’s footsteps, their son Marcus graduated from the JMU Elementary Education graduate program in 2010, while their daughter Emily is currently in her last year as a graduate student in the EXED program. Although their oldest son Stuart chose a different career path, earning an engineering degree at Virginia Tech, he was still able to make his own unique mark on Madison by working on the construction team that built the new Bridgeforth Stadium.
In his 35 years working in K-12 education, Dr. Crowder has held many different roles, including teacher, Principal, Curriculum Supervisor, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent. During that time, Dr. Crowder dedicated his time to teaching night courses in higher education at UVA, JMU, Shenandoah University, and EMU for 14 years. Eventually, Dr. Crowder made the decision to return to the field of higher education permanently.
“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.”
Dr. Crowder is currently in his second semester at JMU, serving 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. Both programs require students to complete 18-21 credits in the Leadership Concentration, as well as completing a practicum or internship. The only difference is that the certification program requires students to complete only one course in the Professional Core cluster. Students enrolled in the Certificate program must already completed a master’s degree. The main goal from this program is for “aspiring administrators” to be able to add the Virginia endorsement in of K-12 School Administration to their teaching license. With this endorsement, teachers will be able to apply for a new career path in school administration.
The Educational Leadership graduate program has continued to experience significant growth and success since Dr. Crowder arrived on campus in August. With strong educational leaders teaching in the program, word is getting out about JMU’s unique and far reaching Educational Leadership program.
Dr. Crowder, along with his colleagues in the department, realized this would be difficult to achieve if the program could not make itself accessible to the students that teach beyond the traditional JMU footprint. After holding informational meetings throughout the Commonwealth, in an effort to gauge interest and promote the program, and working jointly the College of Education, the Office of Outreach and Engagement, and the Graduate School, the program has grown. The 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 has started, 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 the program, with the goal of transforming school “managers” to school “leaders”.
“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”.