Message from the Chair

Sally Blake
Sally Blake

Greeting Huskie alumni.

While traversing these uncertain and restless times, we have been moving forward with some exciting work in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

In spite of the many challenges we have all faced this past year, the licensure programs in CI have been growing, bringing in more outstanding candidates to enter the profession. We have expanded our innovative collaborative work to continue to provide engaging educational experiences to graduate more what I call “Huskie Teacher Heroes,” ready to follow your legacy of excellence in teaching.

In this newsletter, we are featuring some of our newer initiatives.

Our PLEDGE programs, inspired by Dean Laurie Elish-Piper and overseen by Associate Dean David Walker, are building capacity to fulfill our mission to increase teachers and diversity needed in our Illinois schools. This started in Elgin with Elgin Community College and our elementary program with a focus on ESL/Bilingual education. There are six 2+2 programs now in place with CI, and a total of 13 across the college with different models to fit the need of our community college partners.

More innovative work comes from our collaboration with the Kaneland School District. The new graduate certificate in instructional coaching was developed by school personnel and CI faculty to ensure we were providing coursework that walks the walk of practitioners’ need. We know that connections to practice is vital to preparing teachers, and this project is a model of collaboration with our school partners.

Hateful Things crates
Hateful Things crates

The Middle Level Teaching and Learning (MLTL) program has been focusing on a social justice theme and has joined the NIU Center for Black Studies in a project to better to prepare these candidates to deal with social issues in our schools. These students are developing culturally responsive lessons and resources spanning essential social justice topics and reinforcing critical social emotional learning skills. Understanding culture, social-emotional learning needs and diversity is important to ensure that all students have a chance for academic success. The MLTL program is leading this initiative in our department.

We’ve also been celebrating the publication of ”The New Teacher’s Guide to Overcoming Common Challenges: Curated Advice from Award-Winning Teachers,” a book full of NIU connections – including many of you!

Finally, I must brag on how our Educate Global program adapted to the virtual world of communication during these epochal times. Huskies never quit, and we found new venues to continue our international work in style.

I want to thank you for all of your support and your success stories that serve as an inspiration to our future teachers, our faculty and staff and to me, your chair of CI, as we continue to lead the pack of literacy, education and accomplished professionals in Illinois and beyond.

Sally Blake
Chair, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

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