One year has passed since I took the helm as the Dean in the School of Education at Gonzaga University and I am delighted to say that I am very satisfied in my role serving the School. All of us who work in the SOE are guided by our theme, “Preparing socially responsible professionals who serve with care, competence, and commitment.” Although this theme may seem to be a simple string of words, we believe wholeheartedly in the meaning and spirit behind the words. Each day we strive to be an educational organization that leads by example and makes a concerted effort to have a positive impact on all those we serve regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, country of origin, or sexual orientation.
In August 2013, I spoke to the SOE community and expressed my vision for the School emphasizing five main themes including professionalism, scholarship, teaching, collaborations and partnerships, and service. During this past year we engaged in many activities that touched upon one or more of these themes and we are making significant progress in relation to collaborations and partnerships. We have reached out to four major groups in our community to determine ways we can work together with public schools, Catholic schools, Native American Tribes, and the military.
Last fall the School hosted a reception for public school superintendents and department chairs to have an opportunity to learn about each other and how the SOE can work with public school teachers and students. Recently, Gonzaga University and the SOE together with Spokane Public Schools, Communities in Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane, and Washington State University received a $400,000 grant from Community Partners for Middle School Success to lead the Hillyard Youth Collaborative. The efforts by this group will provide some significant resources for children in our community.
Principals from the Catholic Diocese of Spokane and SOE department chairpersons were welcomed by President McCulloh, Bishop Cupich, and Patricia O’Connell Killen, Academic Vice President, to a special reception in the spring. The President announced that Gonzaga and the SOE will sponsor a Professional Development Day for Catholic School teachers on October 10, 2014. Plans for this event are well underway and more than 150 teachers are expected to participate. SOE faculty and members of the Gonzaga community will present at multiple seminars and workshops centered around the theme of “Understanding the Whole Child: Spiritually, Academically, Physically, Emotionally, and Socially.” In addition, a day of reflection is being planned for Catholic School teachers and principals focusing on the theme, “what does it mean to be a Catholic school today.”
I have been working with Wendy Thompson, Director of Tribal Relations at Gonzaga, on learning about the educational needs of Native American students. Recently, we visited the Kalispel, Coeur D’Alene, and Spokane Tribes. The hope is that this outreach will lead to teacher institutes, workshops, and seminars on how to work with Native American students in various educational settings.
Soon we will reach out to military families and their children who attend various schools in the region.
The Young Child Expo and Conference: Spokane 2015 is a major event that will involve these four groups as well as multiple agencies throughout Spokane County. This conference will be presented by Gonzaga University, the SOE, and Los Ninos Services in October 2015, and over a dozen agencies have been involved in the planning. The conference will involve dozens of presentations, workshops, and activities centered on young children with and without special needs. The hope is to draw more than 500 participants from around the country, northwest Canada, and several other countries. This event will be a true collaborative effort and benefit to professionals who work with young children, their families, the community, and beyond.
We are proud of these connections we are establishing and celebrate them with you. If you have any questions about our School, would like more information about our programs, or would like to offer ideas about the future of the School, feel free to contact me at your convenience or visit our Web site. On behalf of the faculty, staff, and administration of the SOE, I wish you all the best in your personal and professional endeavors and hope to see you soon!
Vincent C. Alfonso, PhD
Dean, School of Education
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