Professor Gail McEachron is the recipient of the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Matthew Allar, Vice President, Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Chapter of Virginia presented the award on February 24. Dr. McEachron is the first person from the School of Education to receive the award.
The Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes the importance that PBK places on the quality of undergraduate teaching, and “shall be made to a faculty member who has demonstrated a commitment to the concept of an academic community in which teachers and undergraduate students work together to advance knowledge."
Gail received her bachelor's and master's degrees in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been teaching courses in Foundations, Social Studies, and Language Arts, and supervising student teachers at the College of William & Mary since 1987.
Social justice, international education, multilingual education and cross-cultural understanding are long-standing research interests. Gail has taught in, observed in, or collected research in more than 60 PK-16 schools in the United States and more than 30 PK-16 schools in Europe, India, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. All this helps to better inform her teaching and research.
Her teaching focus has been social science and humanities education, foundations of education and field supervision. Over the course of 38 years, she has taught 11 different undergraduate courses and 13 different graduate teacher education courses, in addition to professional development courses and/or seminars for experienced teachers.
Gail is currently the Director of the English as a Second Language (ESL) Dual Endorsement Program which enables W&M students to become licensed K-12 ESL teachers; the program received the VA-ATE Partnership Award in 2013. More than 30 students have completed the program since 2011.
From 2013-2014, Gail was a Reves Center for International Studies Faculty Fellow; she had a matching grant with a colleague from Bath Spa University to involve BSU and W&M students in data collection on language support in elementary and high schools in England and Virginia.
Gail has also shared her talents with the broader “academic community:”
• She taught in the Summer Enrichment Program through the Center for Gifted Education for elementary, middle and high school students; she was a summer camp counselor for children of siblings who had terminal illnesses.(2004)
• She created partnerships with the Muscarelle Museum, Literacy for Life, and Montessori Schools for W&M student practica experiences. (2007-2014)
• She created partnerships with three public school divisions (Williamsburg James City County, Newport News, and Henrico County) as well as Hampton Roads Academy for the ESL Dual Endorsement Program so that W&M students could work with ESL students. (2011 – 2015).
At the conclusion of her remarks when accepting the award, Dr. McEachron shared the following sentiment: "To be part of an academic community is a privilege, and I’m truly grateful to have experienced the challenges and rewards of teaching and conducting research with extremely bright and talented students and faculty members at William & Mary and educators in local and international school divisions. Thank you for this tremendous honor."