W&M School of Education receives $5.6M gift from an alumnus

William & Mary’s School of Education has received a $5.6 million commitment, the largest gift from an alumnus in the school’s history, to support the study of teaching, teacher preparation and special education. The donor, who asked to remain anonymous, hopes the philanthropic commitment will inspire others to support the School of Education.

“It’s pretty simple: Without properly trained teachers, our country would not have an educated population. Teachers are critical if we want a strong and vibrant society,” said the donor. "I believe the School of Education is essential because it prepares teachers to make a difference in the lives of children both in and out of the classroom.”

William & Mary President Taylor Reveley echoed the donor’s sentiments. “Teachers in K-12 have a profound effect on their students, for good or ill. It is critical for the welfare of the kids and the country that the impact be one that helps and indeed inspires young people to realize their potential as citizens and participants in the economy,” said Reveley. “A gift of this size to the School of Education will make a very significant difference for the better. We are enormously grateful.”

Since its inception, William & Mary’s School of Education has demonstrated a strong commitment to transforming students, schools and communities through professional preparation, collaborative partnerships and the application of research to practice.

“The establishment of initiatives such as the Clinical Faculty Program, the Center for Gifted Education and TeachLivE™ are just a few examples of how the school is a vanguard in offering innovative and collaborative learning opportunities and environments for its students,” said Spencer Niles, dean of the School of Education. Programs such as TeachLivE™ prepare students for real-world challenges by offering a mixed-reality simulation lab that allows pre- and in-service teachers to get experience in front of a classroom without the pressures that come with being in front of a live group of students.

“Bold and inventive thinking are at the heart of our work at the School of Education,” Niles said. “Through participatory teaching, scholarship and community engagement, we are positioned to effectively solve complex educational problems around the world.”

“Investments in the School of Education can help us continue to be a leader in nurturing students who have the assets, fortitude and talent to be at the very forefront of transforming young lives,” added Niles.

William & Mary’s School of Education has consistently been ranked in the top 50 best graduate schools by U.S. News & World Report. The school is highly rated by school-system superintendents and academic peers. Superintendents nationwide gave the school’s teacher preparation program a rating of 4.1 out of five overall, based on the quality of graduates hired by the school system.

What’s more, among graduates of all Virginia colleges and universities, graduates of William & Mary teacher education programs consistently maintain the highest scores on all sections of the Praxis series, which are a series of tests required for teachers to receive certification by the Virginia State Board of Education.

Emphasizing the importance of private support for William & Mary, the alumnus stressed, “If you are successful in life, you are successful for a lot of reasons and one of them is likely the education you received before and during college. I can think of no better reason to give back to the very institution that prepared you to move ahead in life.”