A Year Like No Other
It has been a year like no other. The ongoing stressors of the pandemic, combined with the courageous activism of the Black Lives Matter movement, combined to make my first year as dean of the Loyola Marymount University School of Education one of the most challenging yet inspiring of my career to date.
From day one, the LMU SOE community made it clear that they have no interest in returning to the pre-pandemic normal—because that “normal” was built on structures that maintained inequality. Instead, we are more committed than ever to reimagining and remaking schools that benefit all students, their families, and the educators who serve them.
In support of this commitment, we launched a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Committee that is setting measurable goals in the area of DEI for the SOE. It is mobilizing faculty, staff, and students to better understand pervasive inequality, engage in a schoolwide equity audit, enhance program capacity to prepare culturally responsive educators, and extend the reach of the SOE’s equity expertise to support our partner schools. Under the leadership of our new Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we’re committed to developing highly skilled and diverse teachers, leaders, and counselors who break down barriers and foster possibility. These efforts are bolstered by SOE faculty who have significant scholarly expertise in all of these areas. Teaching and leading for diversity and social justice have always been a fundamental tenet of our identity.
Like so many in the field of education, our work this year has been accomplished at a distance. To support a rapid pivot to remote instruction, all of our full- and part-time faculty were trained for online teaching and instructional design, enabling us to offer rigorous and relevant learning experiences to our students. Through our iDEAL Institute, we assisted many schools and districts in their efforts to shift quickly and effectually to online instruction, and trained over 1,000 aspiring and practicing educators to teach effectively using distance technology.
This year, SOE’s historically strong partnerships with local schools and school systems took on even greater importance and expanded our opportunities to make an impact on individuals and communities. In addition to our outreach through the LMU Family of Schools, the SOE extended its expertise to many other schools, students, and families, creating essential resources and providing tutoring, mentoring, and professional development programs—all designed to address the challenges related to remote instruction, racial injustice, and social-emotional learning. Lessons we’ve learned through these experiences underpin our ongoing conversations with K-12 leaders about the future of learning.
Our community has worked tirelessly this year to turn 2020’s steep challenges into opportunities to lay the foundation for a better, more just world. I invite you to learn more about our research, programs, and partnerships that promote equity and inclusivity, improve student outcomes, and drive the positive changes that we all want to see.
It has been an honor to step into the role of Dean of the LMU SOE this year. I hope that you enjoy these stories of how we’ve made a difference in 2020 as we all look ahead to 2021.
Michelle D. Young, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
Loyola Marymount University School of Education