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Message from the Dean

January 2021

Dear SOE Billiken Alums, 

Once again, I hope that this note finds you healthy and safe. In recent weeks, my spirits have been lifted and I am optimistic about the possibilities of a New Year. We at SLU have shown that we can successfully manage to deliver in-person education in a way that is safe for students and faculty, although it is certainly not optimal and we look forward to a return to more ‘typical’ operations! Moreover, we have been reminded how much we all – students, staff, faculty, and alumni – value the opportunities to gather together as a community.  Finally, we have also learned that we can adapt and develop new strategies; we are certainly thinking about ways that we can continue to employ some of our new strategies to better serve our community in the future. For example, Zoom has provided us an opportunity to gather as a community and overcome barriers of distance. I anticipate that, in addition to our standard fare of in-person events, we will provide other new events via the power of technology. We have exciting days ahead!

Lest I get ahead of myself, I don’t want to gloss over the fact that these early months in Spring will certainly continue to be challenging for all of us. In the School of Education, and at SLU more broadly, we now know that we are most certainly able to deliver ‘mask-to-mask’ instruction safely. In fact, there was not a single reported instance of COVID-19 transmission in classrooms or labs last term! The fact that we have figured out how to bring students into community on campus and deliver instruction while keeping our community safe is heartening. But we do realize that all our efforts focused on health and physical safety did not address needs related to student mental health. And, during a pandemic, of course these needs are great. In 2021, we will be very intentional about addressing the stress, anxiety, and mental health needs of our students and community. 

Before I introduce you to our SOE updates in this issue, let me remind you that we are in the midst of application season for Fall 2021. Please let your friends and colleagues know that we have several master’s degree programs that are flexible, relevant, rigorous, and now affordable with a new lower tuition rate! If you are currently a teacher, you may be interested in our M.A. in Educational Leadership or our new M.A. in Education Principles and Practices. If you are a career changer thinking about entering the field of teaching, please check out our MAT, or Master of Arts in Teaching, which includes a degree and certification. Finally, if you are seeking work in higher education settings, you should consider our M.A. in Student Personnel Administration. 

We are pleased to share several great stories in this newsletter. We are excited to spread the word about our new SOE Interdisciplinary Center for Autism Services. In the midst of a pandemic, our Educational Leadership program, serving school leaders in Catholic and Public schools, continues to thrive. We also share an article highlighting the work of one of our new faculty members in Educational Leadership, Dr. Jaime Welborn, and her work related to culturally relevant instruction in the classroom. Finally, we close with an update from our much-loved Billiken Teacher Corps (BTC) program, and share the exciting news that the BTC is expanding across the Mississippi River into Illinois to partner with St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Springfield. 

As always, please let us know if there are ways we can support you better or communicate with you more effectively. We look forward to seeing you on campus – sometime soon!

Best wishes for a great start to 2021,
Gary W. Ritter, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Education