An open letter to our Loyola educators
I wanted to send a quick message of love and hope to all educators, especially the current students and graduates of the Loyola University Maryland’s School of Education who continue to learn and provide instruction, leadership, and guidance during the Coronavirus. We—myself, your faculty, and all of the staff and administrators at Loyola—are thinking about all the teachers, educational leaders, school counselors, and other education professionals who continue to bring their best selves to their students and colleagues virtually, while balancing their own personal lives, families, and health at home.
In these difficult times, I reflect on the teachings and examples of many mentors, including Dr. Peter Murrell, founding dean of the Loyola University Maryland’s School of Education. Dean. Murrell set Loyola’s School of Education forward a path that is consonant with Loyola’s mission at large. He helped faculty and students see that work in urban schools and communities is “the work” we must teach, and the training that educators need most, especially in extraordinary times.
The challenges associated with shifting to distance learning are difficult for everyone, but less so for our School of Education students and graduates. Why? Because you are adaptable, and you know that relationships matter more than content.
The cancelling of standardized tests only confirms what you have known all along; students are much more than test scores, GPAs, or student rank. You believe it is important for all students to learn—but you know that students do not all learn the same way, at the same pace, or have the same resources to facilitate learning virtually or in the classroom.
For these reasons, I also know that you are likely mad, but not surprised by the disproportionate impact the virus has and will have on black, brown, immigrant, and poor communities. However, your commitment to differentiated instruction, cooperation over competition, and ability to celebrate the beautiful mosaic that diversity brings to your school will sustain and motivate you to go forward.
Like our brave colleagues who go to work daily in hospitals, grocery stores, delivery/take out restaurants, transportation, and other essential services, you are brave. You have and will continue to make an extraordinary impact on your students and communities from the foundation of your training. You were and are a superhero! And the world needs Superheros now more than ever. Stay healthy, hopeful, and inspired. And thank you for all that you do!
Dr. Josh Smith is the dean of the School of Education at Loyola University Maryland.