I welcome the readers to the Education Department’s inaugural Newsletter and congratulate the department for developing yet another medium (The EDUcadian) for communicating with its stakeholders. A university is established to change society by transforming our civilizations and it does this by changing the lives of its constituents, especially students. Therefore, every member of a university has a story to tell—a story of how lives have changed or are changing. Ultimately, the value of the citadel is summed up in these stories; hence, it is the responsibility of university leaders to capture and narrate them succinctly to the general publics.
It is for this reason that I commend the Department and its leadership for changing lives, one student at a time, and for using this medium to tell the stories of faculty impact on students, faculty and students’ impact on school districts, and their influence on our understanding of the latest art and craft of teaching. As a Provost, nothing pleases me more than stories that warm the hearts about how academic units are relevant to individual lives and to the community.
Two years and four months ago, I joined the Arcadia family, attracted by its visionary commitment to global education, superior attention to student-centered education, and palpable collective desire to take the university to its next level of excellence. As a professor of higher education management, my attention focused almost immediately on the Education Department upon my arrival. I wanted to understand the vision of the Department, its challenges and opportunities of interest to the unit. I also wanted to know the faculty members and their students as well as their stories. The Academic Affairs Strategic Plan that took place within my first year in office also provided tremendous data about the Department’s activities. At the end of the exercise, it was obvious to all that the Education Department is, indeed, a powerhouse within Arcadia’s academic configuration. It has always been a powerhouse and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
But what makes Arcadia’s Education Department a powerhouse goes beyond its large proportion of undergraduate students or its dominance of graduate programs, especially for part-time graduates. What make the Department a powerhouse are its distinguishing features: relational pedagogy, deep practice, and responsive and relevant teacher education to mention but a few. Long before PDE requires close association between school districts and teacher education programs, our Education faculty have extensive and intensive relationships with K-12 teachers and classrooms across school districts; thus, ensuring that the preparation of teachers is a partnership endeavor between the academy and the employers of its graduates.
Many of the Education faculty members work closely (sometime one on one with graduate students) on empirical studies (some theoretical, many applied and action-oriented) that ultimately result in presentations at national academic conferences or publications in refereed journals. The bond between the learner and the learned and between the neophyte and the master, possible in relatively small institutions with high faculty-student ratios, is priceless to student growth and mastery. As readers read and reflect on the stories told by students and faculty through this medium, they will have glimpses of relational pedagogy.
Consider the following:
● Fieldwork—the experience of being coached and mentored in a classroom setting outside the University—is a keystone element of an Arcadia Education Department experience. Our education students revel in the difference early fieldwork, often with opportunities to teach in classrooms from their first semester, gives them. Recognizing the benefit of early fieldwork, Education Department faculty members this semester created the first full-day field curriculum, enabling undergraduates to get experience in a classroom one day a week, often in a classroom that will become their student teaching classroom. To learn about the experience of fieldwork from a student’s perspective, be sure to read about Joe MacNichol’s experience teaching 10th grade biology at Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School.
● Our education students have service learning opportunities and cross-cultural or international experiences open to them, led by many faculty members within the Department. In this issue of The EDUcadian, you will read about one such program, held earlier this year, in which faculty member Erica Davila led a group of students and alumna on a service learning trip to Guatamala. Other cross-cultural experiences are in the works.
● Our Education faculty excel in scholarship, often in tandem with their students. This newsletter features stories about presentations and publications by numerous Department faculty, including Professors Foram Bhukhanwala, Cindy Reedy, Kim Dean, and Julia Plummer, and adjunct faculty member Kathy Trainor. In several instances, Arcadia students were involved in the research projects.
In each of these examples, our Education Department faculty incorporate their expertise within a specific field of education along with a singular passion to engage their students in interesting collaborations and meaningful learning experiences, both in the Arcadia classroom and in elementary and secondary classroom settings through fieldwork.
We know these faculty-student relationships make a significant difference in the quality of the experience of Arcadia’s education students. As one student recently told us, “My professors taught me by sharing their own experiences and using the teaching methods they taught within their own classrooms.” The hands-on experience our programs offer through early, concentrated fieldwork–the “deep practice” of which Department Chair Leif Gustavson writes in this newsletter–sets us apart from other institutions. Our alumni, some of whom you will hear from in this newsletter, are a testament to the success of this unique approach to what it means to learn how to be a teacher or an educational leader.
I hope you enjoy this first of many issues of The EDUcadian, a new publication that will tell the world what you, as alumni, current or prospective students, and partners of our Education Department, may already know: We excel in the art and craft of teaching.
Dr. Steve O. Michael
Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs