Teachers and educational leaders today face pressures of a kind never before seen. Yet, it's precisely this challenge for professional educators that affords outstanding schools of education the greatest opportunity they have ever known. Schools, such as Baylor's, that can provide students a high value--through one-on-one contact with premier faculty, distinctive learning experiences, and excellent career placement--will position their students for success and also position themselves as "lighthouse" programs nationally.
Three things, foremost. First, that they would take full advantage of the opportunities our undergraduate and graduate programs afford them in gaining crucial practical experience. Second, that they would develop a deep knowledge base around the evidence-based practices that we know can improve teaching and leadership. Lastly, that they would come to see themselves as no less than moral agents with an imperative to help transform the lives of learners, schools, and communities.
Our graduates enter into their roles as teachers, leaders and researchers with a high degree of professionalism. Indeed, because so many of our graduates chose the field of education with a sense of calling, in wanting to serve God and neighbor through the educating of others, they bring great passion and a deep ethical commitment to their roles.
Today is one of the most important moments in the history of American education, because of both the challenges and changes our schools, colleges and universities face. So too is today an exciting moment to lead Baylor's School of Education, because of the opportunities that await us in fostering innovation and improving the conditions of learning in educational systems both locally and elsewhere around the nation.
My Baylor experience profoundly influenced me. It was here that I came to view Baylor as having a special role to play among universities everywhere, and it was here that I decided I wanted to teach and lead at the university level. I have returned with an equally profound sense of the privilege that is ours, at Baylor, in providing for our students the kinds of experiences that can transform their lives.
There are moments in the lives of some organizations when gathering currents make great things possible. I believe the Baylor School of Education stands at the edge of one such moment. In coming years, we will work to forge deeper bonds with our alumni and friends, strengthen an already superb teacher education program, launch initiatives around educational leadership and policy, engage the community in new ways, build our capacity to conduct high quality research, and raise our national visibility. It is truly an exciting time to be involved in the life of our school.