Skip to main content

The Velva Experience

Beaver yearbook photo of Dr. Clark Markell, instructor Experimental College, 1974.

Dr. Clark Markell, 1974

Before the EC was created, students in earth science teacher programs received no practical teaching experience within an actual school until they were seniors and near the end of their program. This situation was addressed through the development of a program simply known as the “Velva Experience.” Led by EC Geology professor Dr. Clark Markell, the Velva Experience was designed to give first-year freshmen in the earth science teacher education program the opportunity for hands-on experience at nearby Velva Central School.

Experimental College Student Teachers at Velva School

EC Student Teachers at Velva School

As part of the Velva Experience, each freshman earth science student was attached to a teaching team that also included a senior in the program and a science teacher in Velva. The freshmen were not just silent observers; rather, the program was designed to give young, future teachers a holistic view of teaching. This would include utilizing teaching strategies involving large and small group instruction, the correcting of papers, planning of lessons, and tutoring.

The Velva Experience helped students to learn firsthand what teaching was really about at an early point in their college experience, and guided them in their career decisions. As one freshman student in the program observed, “Maybe I wasn’t trying to get what I should have out of it, but I do know that I learned more about myself and people around me."  This self-discovery was central to the EC's goals of preparing enhanced earth science graduates who were excited and confident in their abilities to teach.