I hope that you and your families are healthy and that you have been able to find new ways to appreciate and care for one another during this unprecedented time. In moments like these, I am reminded of the power and importance of the work our school of education is engaged in to support learning in public schools and community organizations locally and around the country. Every day, we hear about the creative ways our students, student teachers and faculty are working with partner schools and educators to provide educational resources for students and families as their schools close and, in many communities, schools continue to provide meals for the families that rely on them. We've pulled together a list of just some of these resources and stories of inspriation from and for our education community. I am proud of our students, faculty, and alumni who are leading this work in schools, educational spaces, and universities across the country. I would love to learn more about your stories as you do this work.
Much like our nation’s schools, our campus has been closed to our everyday, in-person interactions while remaining open and engaged with students remotely and via online modalities in the name of keeping everyone safe and healthy. We are lucky that our faculty are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable educators, which made the task of moving courses to a remote format relatively easy for them. They have been creative and thoughtful in their responses to students, centering compassion, understanding, and their students’ humanity.
Yet, it is not easy to be apart. There are many things I miss—one of them is having a lived sense of how our faculty, staff, and students are doing. It’s not that on a typical day I would have seen or even been in touch with each (or even most) of the members of our wonderful community. Still, inhabiting the same building, passing each other in the hall, I feel as though I would have more of a sense than I do now, and I miss everyone! It’s one of the reasons I am even more excited about our building renovation and move to the Fleming Building, which will allow us to bring our community together in new ways. The Fleming Building construction is proceeding at a steady pace and, to the best of our knowledge, the move is still on track for this May. Until we can work together in-person once more, I value our time together in virtual meetings and continue to appreciate the kindness, generosity, good humor, and care expressed by our faculty, staff, and students.
We have also been focused on ways to celebrate and support our students. We have been working with the state department of higher education to ensure that our student teachers will receive credit for their work in schools, such as collaborating with teachers on distance learning and staying in close touch with students. While we are all disappointed that in-person commencement activities have been cancelled or postponed, we surveyed students about the ways they might like to be recognized this May and have several online celebrations planned. We look forward to inviting graduates to the in-person ceremony next spring, and this semester, you can always follow our social media channels to stay connected with stories about and online celebrations for our recent grads.
Through it all, I am hopeful the members of our community remember to put their own health and the well-being of their families first. Our community is filled with people who hold high standards for themselves and others, and I want to remind everyone to prioritize what is most important and to find moments of joy in each day.
I am filled with gratitude for each of you and for your many contributions to our community. I hope that you will continue to stay in close touch with us and place your family and the people you love at the center of your life.
Kathy Schultz, Dean of School of Education