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Message from the Dean: December 2021


Dear SOE Billiken Alums,

I hope that this note finds you healthy and safe. It’s hard to believe that we are in the home stretch of the fall semester, with students taking their final exams before heading home for the holiday season.

Of course, this has been a challenging year for all of us, and those of us working in the field of education are no exception. Here at SLU, we are all blessed to be working in an environment in which more than 95% of our community is vaccinated and our students are responsible adults. Even so, 2020 and 2021 have been very difficult for all of us at SLU. On the other hand, our students, colleagues and alumni working in P-12 schools are facing far more challenging circumstances. Your buildings are not 95% vaccinated and your very young students are bouncing back and forth between school and the community each day. You face student isolations and sometimes crippling teacher absences. I marvel at the work you all have been doing in the P-12 world. Thank you for all you are giving to our young people and to our communities. 

On campus, while this has been no picnic in 2021, signs of life are returning. The other day, I was walking through campus among crowds of students while we were preparing to host NCAA soccer and basketball games. This, in late fall 2021, was such a contrast from 2020. Thanks to our strong leadership on campus, our supportive alumni base, and our responsible and health-conscious SLU community, we can safely convene and celebrate together. We all remain hopeful for better times around the corner in 2022.

In this newsletter, we are pleased to share several stories. First, our faculty have been working to redesign the undergraduate curriculum which will be rolled out to our students in fall 2022. In this issue, we highlight our rejuvenated undergraduate program that is designed to prepare equity-minded new teachers who are committed to social justice and dedicated to meeting the needs of children and families. 

We also highlight our “Grow Your Own Teacher” scholarship program, a new initiative that was implemented this fall and is designed to build a diverse and talented local teacher pipeline by investing in local students who want to be educators in our community. We look forward to the continued success of these students as they work toward their goal of teaching in urban schools in the St. Louis region.

And finally, we feature some of the great work that researchers in the School of Education’s PRiME Center are doing. The goal of their recent research is to assist policymakers, educators, and parents in understanding the importance of monitoring the progress students and schools are making from year to year – not basing student achievement only on single point-in-time proficiency measures.

In the spring, we plan to continue our School of Education speaker series presentations. We hope you can join us for these lectures and discussions.

As we enter a season of reflection, I wish you peace, joy, and time to relax with family and friends. Please let us know if there are ways we can support you better or communicate with you more effectively. Please stay healthy and safe, and we look forward to seeing you on campus next year!

Best wishes,
Gary W. Ritter, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Education