A message from Dean Laurie Elish-Piper

Laurie Elish-Piper shows her new background on Teams.
Laurie Elish-Piper shows her new background on Teams.

In celebration of the start of another school year, I changed my Teams background to an elementary classroom scene. That picture brings back fond memories of my teaching days as well as the anticipation and excitement for opportunity and growth.

Clearly, as our new semester of teaching and learning gets underway, I am full of much optimism for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead during this still-unusual time.

Recent good news includes licensure-candidates in clinical experiences have been outfitted with Chromebooks to assist with their remote teaching, our Educators Rising student group already has attracted more than 50 new members and our new Principal Residency Program in Rockford has begun.

Bill, David and I loved “seeing” many of you during our first week of “walk-arounds” as we continued our tradition of visiting each department in person.

With most of us working modified schedules with a combination of in-office and virtual days, we realize that staying connected is critical for our college family. I deeply appreciate every effort being made to remain present and available for our students and for each other.

And, as you’ll read in this issue of Ed News, our enrollment numbers are proving even stronger than projected during the All-College meeting – a product of much effort and focus by many across the college and a clear demand for the education and experiences we offer.

That demand is seen in the more than 1,200 courses we are offering this fall, including independent studies and dissertations. Our faculty continue to amaze me with their commitment to their courses and programs, making sure our students receive an outstanding preparation despite class modality changes and COVID-19 concerns.

Naturally, I do know that some of our students – and some of you as well – are struggling. That’s understandable. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives for six months, severely putting our coping mechanisms to a long test.

This past week, I heard about two students with the virus who are too ill to participate in classes or meet their coursework deadlines. I also have heard from colleagues who have been exposed and are self-quarantining while awaiting test results.

This is concerning news, of course, and calls on us to hold true to the principles of humanity we all adopted last March.

Please practice flexibility, kindness, grace and patience, as I know you have over these last six months.

If students notify you that they are battling the virus, please express your care and concern for them in your responses. Let them know that their top priority is always to take care of themselves. Tell them that you will record and share your “live” class sessions if that makes things easier for them. Offer to relax or extend deadlines as needed.

As we move through the semester, please remember we are all in this together – so reach out if you need assistance and we’ll work to find a solution,

More importantly, let’s remember to be nice to each other. The friendship you extend goes a long way to brighten someone else’s day – and is likely “paid forward” to deliver smiles to others.

Stay safe and healthy.

My best,

Laurie

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