Roop RLC: Cultivating Community, Crafting Educators

College of Education

SUMMARY: Step into the world of JMU's Roop Residential Learning Community, where aspiring educators form lasting bonds while shaping the future of teaching.

The Roop RLC (Residential Learning Community) affectionately known as the “Roop Group” at JMU offers a unique opportunity for students pursuing careers in education at the pre-K through grade 12 level. Through living and taking classes together, Roop provides a tight-knit community for students interested in teaching careers. Over the first three semesters, Roop students engage in General Education and core education classes as a group. Some of these classes might even be taught in their residence hall. Additionally, students participate in community service projects, field trips, and school visits, fostering a sense of camaraderie and enriching their learning experience.

alger and studentsActive since 2000, students in the Roop RLC have formed strong bonds with one another that last into their upperclassman years and beyond. Recently JMU President Jon Alger hosted current and former members of the Roop Group at a reception in D-Hall’s Hall of Presidents. In attendance were President Alger, as well as Dr. Mark L’Esperance, Dean of the College of Education. Both thanked the group of gathered educators and stressed the importance of the teaching profession.

Kaleigh Phelps joined the Roop Group in the Fall of 2020. Finishing high school and starting college during the Pandemic quarantine was a daunting proposition. Phelps credits the Roop Community with helping her to form lasting friendships at a time when such an idea seemed impossible. “The wonderful thing about Roop is the immediate immersion into a community that is just as passionate about education as you are. These are the people you will not only spend your first years of college with, but who will eventually be your colleagues and friends in the field of education,” she says.

Preston Morgan (’23), credits environmental science field trips with solidifying his decision to become a history teacher. Morgan says, “I always try to include local relevance which meaningfully grounds the students in the content and shows how what they are learning meaningfully shaped their lives.” Roop connections last well beyond the initial semesters spent together in Jennings Hall. Morgan is still in touch with Dr. Robbie Higdon, one of the faculty coordinators for the Roop Learning Community, and considers her a mentor.

higdon and studentsIn her role as one of the faculty mentors for the Roop RLC, Dr. Higdon thoroughly enjoys getting to know the students at a deeper level than one can establish through interactions in the classroom. She strives to incorporate meaningful experiences for all members such as volunteering for the Harrisonburg City Schools Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience held in the JMU Arboretum in fall 2023 or visiting the Lucy Simms Center with an educator from Rockingham County Schools to better understand how the American educational system was segregated. In all, being able to engage with students through a residential learning community model has been very meaningful to Dr. Higdon as she has mentored and supported future educators during their time at JMU and beyond.

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by Rabia Lieber

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2024

Last Updated: Monday, April 22, 2024

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