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School of Education students bring home seven national awards for Kappa Delta Pi chapter

From left: Cole McQuaid, Maddy Shreeman, Dr. Andrea Beam, Hallie Chewning, Taylor Caldwell (Photo by Ryan Cardinale)

The Pi Sigma Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) in Liberty University’s School of Education applied for every possible national award for the 2019-20 academic year, and this year the chapter didn’t receive its usual one or two awards. It won big, bringing home awards in all seven categories.

“It was really neat, for me as the president, to see the fruits of the labor of the other officers and to see everything come to fruition,” said senior Taylor Caldwell, who won the Distinguished Officer award for exhibiting exceptional leadership as Liberty’s chapter president. “What we did was actually exceptional.”

Because of the dedication of the chapter’s 70-plus members, Liberty also won the Celebration of Teaching, Leadership Development, Professional Development, Fundraising, Chapter Counselor, and Literacy Alive Day awards.

Kappa Delta Pi is an international honor society in education boasting more than 1.2 million members worldwide. The society seeks to unify and promote the field of education by providing networking and professional development resources to student teachers beginning their careers, university professors, and experienced teachers with years under their belts.

Fundraising is a major focus for Liberty’s chapter. Officers collaborate with Sodexo, Liberty’s dining services provider, every year to arrange concessions at football games, and many of the proceeds are returned to the local education community. Liberty’s chapter also spearheads multiple events and initiatives at area schools each year that focus on giving back to host teachers and their students.

For the Celebration of Teaching initiative, student teachers treat their host teachers with something special as a way of saying “thank you.” For Literacy Alive Day, the chapter’s biggest event, Liberty buses 100-120 students from a local school to play games and win books and other prizes.

“We do a lot more outreach beyond the school than other chapters I’ve seen,” Caldwell said. “A lot of chapters just stay within their department. For our chapter, we do a lot of giving back, and saying thank you to teachers who let us into their schools.”

The chapter also supports various campus events throughout the year. Recently, it participated in a workshop on understanding and working on reducing poverty.

“We want to continue reaching as many schools as we can,” Caldwell added. “Obviously, we cannot explicitly talk about Christ in the (public) schools, but when we have 30-40 Liberty students working with 100-120 school-aged students, they can see Christ by our actions, time, and energy.”

Dr. Andrea Beam, the SOE’s chair of middle grades and secondary education, has served as faculty counselor for Liberty’s KDP chapter for four years.

“We normally do pretty well in the awards,” she said. “We always win a few, but when we won all seven, it was a slam dunk. It was amazing. It was like Christmas morning. … We were opening them one by one. We were just super excited about it.”

The chapter logged over 150 hours writing and refining applications, ensuring that each award submission aligned with the provided rubrics. Caldwell said this accomplishment would not have been possible without the joint efforts of Vice President Hallie Chewning, Secretary Maddy Shreeman, Treasurer Cole McQuaid, and Historian Karen Kirchner.

In July, Liberty’s chapter will apply for the society’s Ace of the Ace award, a high distinction presented by the international society every other year to a chapter that demonstrates exceptional and innovative programming, a strong commitment to membership and recruitment, and a detailed leadership development program for officers and members.

Chapter events are open to everyone in Liberty’s School of Education. Students interested in applying for membership can inquire on the chapter’s Facebook page.