Landon Orrand ’23 has been pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education at Pfeiffer University for less than two academic years. Her professors in the Division of Education have already inspired her so much that she now envisions becoming a professor of education herself.
“All the division’s professors have taught several years,” said Orrand, a sophomore who receives scholarship support through the Grigg Education Scholars Program. “They all have a lot of experience. We’re lucky to learn from them. They know exactly what we’re going to be doing as teachers and what we’re going through right now. I want to follow in their footsteps.”
(The Grigg Education Scholars Program provides financial support and academically-enriched experiences to exceptional prospective teachers who develop leadership skills through service to the University and the community.)
Orrand hails from Baxter, TN, having fallen in love with Pfeiffer’s small-is-beautiful culture when she toured the the school’s Misenheimer campus. She first discovered her love for teaching when she interned in a first-grade class as part of a Career and Technical Education course on work-based learning that she took as a high school senior. This entailed tutoring, assisting the teacher with various tasks, and leading classes.
Orrand plans to teach at the elementary school level for several years before she enrolls in graduate school to get her doctorate in education. There are two ways that she is using her time at Pfeffer to lay the groundwork for a future professorship.
First, she’s already gained some practical classroom experiences she can talk about in a university setting, having done some student-teaching at Badin Elementary, which is near Pfeiffer’s Misenheimer campus. During one class, on President’s Day, she stood before third-graders playing the part of Barack Obama, recounting key facts about the former U.S. President.
The students filled out a form on the presentation as Orrand spoke. “They loved it,” she said. “They were so engaged.”
By the time Orrand graduates Pfeiffer, she’ll have also student-taught a class for an entire semester during her senior year. Again, when she teaches education subjects as a professor at a university, she’ll be able to draw on her experiences as both a student teacher at Pfeiffer and as a gainfully employed teacher at the school that hires her after she graduates.
Second, as a newly-named Grigg Education Scholar this year, Orrand is becoming better acquainted with the process of research, a major pursuit of many professors.
She’s to present her research findings to professors of two Pfeiffer entities: the Division of Education and the Honors Residential College (HRC). HRC, into which Orrand was accepted her freshman year on scholarship, calls on students to participate in a different self-designed research project each year.
At the moment, Orrand – working with Dr. Laura Lowder, an associate professor of education – is researching how poverty affects schools. Starting in the spring semester, Orrand’s research will focus on the effects of two different mindsets on the education that students receive.
There’s the “growth” mindset, whose students believe they can get smarter. For them, there’s always room for improvement. They’re not afraid of failure; they just want to learn. Students with a “fixed” mindset, by contrast, think they’re born with a certain level of intelligence. If they think they’re not smart, then they conclude that they’ll never be smart.
Orrand said that she’s interested in poverty and its effects on education because she encountered some poverty back home and sees it in Stanly County.
As for the issue of mindsets, “that’s one of those things that can affect all children,” Orrand said. “It’s based on how they were raised. It’s something we can impact as teachers.”
Orrand is the first person in her family to attend college. She will continue her education at Pfeiffer filled with appreciation.
“I’m thankful for all the professors and for the opportunities that Pfeiffer has given me,” she said. “It means the world that I am allowed the opportunity to receive an education.”
Ken Keuffel, who authored this article, has served as Pfeiffer’s Assistant Director of Communications since December 2019. He welcomes story ideas from Pfeiffer’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. The form for submitting story ideas is at www.pfeiffer.edu/newsform.