Wednesday, July 31, 2013

College of Education dean shares passion for community engagement

By Ellen McIntyre, Dean, College of Education

I am honored to have been selected Dean of the College of Education.  This College has a strong presence in Charlotte and its surrounding area. In fact, one of the things that attracted me to the University was its reputation as an urban research institution and its dedication to bridging connections with the greater community. So, this summer, when I had the opportunity to observe, first-hand, one of our signature programs in action, it was energizing to see just how much of an impact our students and faculty are having on the lives of members of our community.

As part of a partnership with the national Children’s Defense Fund, the annual UNC Charlotte Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program attracts students from a number of area schools to our campus to take part in a multi-faceted enrichment program that focuses on enhancing reading skills, self-esteem and positive self-expression in a lively, engaging environment. I was thrilled to serve as a guest reader at the morning Harambee ceremony, where the student scholars are led in songs and chants to motivate and prepare them for each day’s activities. It was an opportunity to share my love of reading and show the students just how much fun you can have with a book.

The students were polite, engaged and filled with lots of wonderful energy! I was delighted to see the commitment of the children and teachers to the program’s mission.  It reaffirmed my belief that what we do here in our classes has a huge impact on our entire community. It is because of this experience and many others I’ve had throughout my career, that I am truly committed to the College’s outreach and engagement efforts. Programs like the Freedom Schools help us weave a greater sense of community among those we serve while exposing the next generation of leaders – and future 49ers – to educational opportunities. 

The Freedom Schools curriculum is also a great way to cultivate a sense of responsibility in our students as we encourage their interests in being leaders.  For me it is one of the most important ingredients for helping those of us in the College of Education become even more effective in our work, which is an investment in our community, our children and our future.

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