The SUNY Potsdam School of Education Alumni Association recently honored Dr. Robert L. Arnold ’53 with the 2018 St. Lawrence Academy Medal, during the College’s Reunion Weekend.
The St. Lawrence Academy Medal is presented to a SUNY Potsdam graduate who has made significant contributions to the field of professional education or related fields. The Alumni Association recognized Arnold for his leadership, dedication and successful career in education.
About the recipient:
After more than a half-century as an educator, Dr. Robert L. Arnold ’53 is still working to improve the quality of teaching in our public schools.
As the youngest of 12 children raised on a farm in the Adirondacks, Arnold was, by his own admission, a very bored student who memorized his history lessons and copied someone else’s homework on the bus on the way to school. Being unhappy with his schooling, he made it his mission to do something about the way that students were being taught in public school. His recent book, “Remaking our Schools for the Twenty-first Century: A Blueprint for Change/Improvement in our Educational Systems,” along with numerous other publications, represents a significant achievement in fulfilling that mission.
After graduating from SUNY Potsdam in 1953, Arnold’s mentor, Dr. Ward Satterlee, arranged for him to enroll at Teachers College at Columbia University, where he earned his master’s degree in 1954. He then entered the U.S. Army, where he was responsible for helping soldiers gain their high school equivalency diploma.
Following his military service, Arnold was hired as an assistant professor of education at SUNY Potsdam, where he and Dr. Charles Lahey formed a partnership in exploring, researching and publishing a plan for engaging seventh and eighth grade students in history and geography, using primary source documents. This program became known as the “Discovery Approach” to the teaching of social studies.
In 1960, Arnold earned his doctorate, also at Teachers College, and soon after, he was hired to design a new teacher education program at SUNY Plattsburgh. During that time, he also worked part-time to develop educational toys for a toy company. He also worked with a group of cell biologists at the Lake Placid Cell Science Center to develop instructional materials to be used in medical schools.
Additionally, Arnold has consulted with healthcare facilities to develop educational materials and has completed a grant-funded project aimed at improving the quality of education in rural schools. He has spent a great deal of his career as a leader, writer, teacher and mentor. Currently, Arnold is working on a program to reproduce primary source historical documents online, for use in classrooms.
The St. Lawrence Academy Medal is named for the predecessor institution to The State University of New York at Potsdam. Founded in 1816, the Academy focused on teacher training from its founding—a tradition that continues to the present day with the rigorous liberal arts and sciences foundation offered at SUNY Potsdam.
To find out more about education at SUNY Potsdam, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/soeps.
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.