During the last three years, our lives changed in unexpected ways. As a society, we learned through very trying circumstances the importance of supporting mental health initiatives, the need to explore cognitive and physiological needs, and the significance of students being taught and nurtured in school settings. Each of these areas is touched on by the teaching, research, and service through the diverse disciplines represented in the College of Education . As we seek to find a sense of normalcy or even grapple with a new normal, we are challenged with building or even rebuilding our sense of community, because we know that we are stronger when we come together for common goals, than when we live and work in isolation.
In the College of Education, our faculty, staff, students, and many stakeholders recognize the importance of community. One of the ways in which we demonstrate this is by joining school educators and leaders, scholars, educational researchers, and health professionals in conducting cutting-edge research, developing innovative teaching practices, and implementing much-needed service initiatives.
A few highlights that exemplify our sense of community include:
- The College of Education has supported the Gadsden, Alabama community and surrounding areas at the Gadsden Center. Since 2021, the Early Learning Initiative led by college faculty and Gadsden Center staff provides two Pre-K classrooms to local families with support of the Department of Early Childhood Education.
- College of Education faculty members have partnered with the Alabama Fire College to develop a research effort to examine various physiological issues tied to the work of fire service professionals. A research lab recently established on site at the fire college will allow for intensive research.
- In June 2023, the College of Education began the second year of the Gandhi King Scholarly Initiative Exchange sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Our college partnered with Stillman College to train 20 young civic leaders from India and the U.S. The aims were to advance civil rights, social justice, and inclusion by exploring the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Members of the College of Education faculty have developed counseling initiatives and conducted research at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center with specific emphases on opioid abuse and employment initiatives.
Whether the opportunity to collaborate and build a community occurs in Pre-K-12 schools, research laboratories, community agencies, or university and off campus settings, we embrace the diverse thoughts and experiences represented which can help us flourish. These efforts allow us to inform policies and practices that elevate the college’s influence beyond our campus and local boundaries.
In closing, I want to thank each member of our College of Education community for your many contributions. Your dedication supports our society and will result in positive outcomes for years to come.