We Are the Champions
by Gerald (Jerry) Girod
In 1973, Bob Albritton prepared a proposal to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education requesting that the organization confer on OCE the award for having the best teacher education program in the country. As most of you know, in 1974 OCE was in fact chosen as having the best teacher education program. This small manuscript describes three events which occurred as a result of that competition. I think all three are humorous but you get to be the final arbiter of that decision.
First, one of the ten competing schools from around the country was the University of Alabama. Their proposal for being selected as the best in the country included the argument that they must be good because their program was based on the OCE model. Though that was an affirming view for us, it didn’t seem like a compelling argument for choosing them over OCE.
Second, when I went to class the morning the news “broke,” I told students they were attending what was now acclaimed as the best teacher education program in the country. Then I predicted, “I know what you are thinking. If this is the best, what the hell are the others like?” They laughed but only a bit. Apparently my prediction was not too far from the truth.
Third, later during the day of the announcement, we had a faculty meeting to congratulate one another. All 14 members of the teacher education faculty in the elementary teacher preparation program attended. Our colleague, Del Schalock from the Teaching Research Division, also was in attendance. Del had done much of the heavy conceptual work in designing the program so we all knew he deserved as many kudos as we did, if not more. For that meeting and to celebrate our joint victory, Del brought a case of champagne for us to toast one another. In all my years as a student and as a faculty member at OCE/WOSC/WOU, only once have I had an alcoholic drink on campus—and it was that day. I think President Rice would have joined us if he could have been assured that no one from the media ever found out.
I have many fond memories of that time and the much needed acclaim the award brought to OCE. But Del’s champagne was the highlight.