A new dean is leading the KU College of Education, and he is looking to improve on several aspects as the college moves forward.
John Ward, 60, of Millersville, Pa., was appointed dean of the college on Dec. 15, after serving in the interim role since August.
A Michigan native with a doctorate degree in Education from the University of Memphis, Tennessee, Ward notes that improving the image of the teaching profession is among his goals in leading the college.
“I’d like to promote a more positive image of the profession. I feel like teachers are getting blamed for quite a bit these days,” Ward said. “Anything that goes wrong, people want to blame the schools, and then blame the teachers. It’s turned into a lot of mistrust of teachers, where teachers have to prove themselves in all kinds of ways that they didn’t used to.”
Ward says that, despite the increased level of scrutiny, he believes “people are ready to turn (the image) around,” and that he hopes the program will equip teachers to both deal with scrutiny and use it to build themselves up.
“I would want our programs to build students up to know how to advocate for themselves as teachers, and also, to themselves, have a positive view of teaching,” Ward said.
Another priority for Ward is improving the college’s connection with local school districts.
“The biggest thing in teacher education is good field experiences for students, and we have good field experiences for students, and most of our programs, if not all of our programs, have field experiences every year you’re a student here,” Ward said. “In many places, we have strong partnerships already, where we have a lot of students in the same school together, but, in some cases, our partnerships are not that deep and we have students kind of spread out all over.”
Ward’s goal is to have students going “to the same school year-after-year, so that we get to know the teachers in that school, and they get to know us. Then we can do a better job connecting what we teach in our class to what they’re going to see in a school,” he said.
Before coming to KU, Ward served as interim dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Millersville University for two years. Prior to that, Ward was a professor and the chair of the Secondary Education department at Millersville, and he taught secondary mathematics in Detroit before moving to Pennsylvania.
The College of Education has an enrollment of 800 students, and offers degrees including secondary education, library sciences and counselor education, among others.