by MICHAEL PATAKI
The Seacobeck Hall Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony took place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 7. Speakers, while emphasizing Seacobeck’s historic nature, highlighted the promising future of the building: a place where students become teachers.
Katya Stafira, a junior sociology major in the special education program, gave a speech on the excitement shared by students at the College of Education and what the new building represents.
“It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “The College of Education has taught me the importance of putting the student first and helping to empower them in their educational journey. Seacobeck is a beautiful space that allows the creativity of the professors and the students to flourish. I am so honored and excited to be a part of a program that values and uplifts me because I want to do the exact same for my future students. It is so exciting to be able to call Seacobeck my home.”
The ceremony commenced with a speech from University President Troy Paino. Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera also spoke at the event, remarking on the importance of education in the community. Guidera, Stafira and Paino cut the ribbon.
“It is an enormous amount of work to move into and prepare a building for an event like the Ribbon Cutting. The pride and sense of ownership for Seacobeck that faculty and staff have demonstrated throughout has been truly remarkable,” said Dean of the College of Education Peter Kelly.
Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken gave a thorough overview of the history of Seacobeck Hall and its evolving role at UMW.
Seacobeck Hall was first built in the 1930s on the University’s Fredericksburg campus. Originally, the building was used as a dining hall. The building has been repurposed and designated as the new building for the College of Education and the Office of Disability Resources.
The College of Education had previously spread its programs throughout different buildings on campus. Faculty offices, collaboration and group workrooms, student organization rooms, a curriculum lab and a MakerSpace are all part of the newly constructed layout. The renovations also include a 140-seat music venue which can be utilized as a space for live performances and lectures.
“We in the College of Education feel incredibly lucky to have this space,” said Janine Davis, associate professor in the College of Education. “From the moveable furniture and integrated technology to the sink to clean our paintbrushes, the books and learning materials in the curriculum lab, and the 3D printers in the Makerspace, we will use this opportunity to adapt our teaching to the changing times and model best practices for future teachers to use in their own classrooms.”
Professor Teresa Coffman of the College of Education also shared her excitement.
“As the new home for the College of Education, Seacobeck Hall offers comprehensive learning spaces for students, faculty, local school systems, alumni, and the entire UMW community to gather, learn and support excellence in teaching and teacher education,” said Coffman. “Seacobeck will serve as a place for students to learn, make, and explore all varieties of knowledge and innovation in a renovated building that has been a part of UMW history from 1930 to the present.”
Davis is looking forward to working in Seacobeck for years to come.
“Alumni, faculty and staff have so many powerful and lasting memories of this place,” said Davis. “I know we are all looking forward to welcoming new generations of teachers into Seacobeck, to learn and gather and inspire one another to teaching excellence.”