Dear SOE Community,

Over the past six weeks, my thoughts and hopes have turned often to the members of our School of Education (SOE) family. I know the pandemic has touched us all, either through personal loss or by disrupting the connections and routines we treasure. We have heard this moment described as unprecedented, cautionary, troubling, and uncertain. While I am confident in our belief that the power of education will prevail, it will not be the same for a long time to come.

Teachers are among those on the front lines of this crisis. You’ve seen the news and have likely heard stories from friends and families. Perhaps you are homeschooling your own children, and/or have your own boots on the ground. Whatever the situation, please know that our thoughts are with you during this challenging time.

For the SOE, our students, faculty, and alumni, also are looking at multiple challenges, including:
SOE alumni, including teachers who are working with families, now juggling learning and working at home. Counselors are seeing their services needed like never before, and other educators are reimagining literacy and science programs to keep students and teachers engaged and energized.
SOE students, who are experiencing intense financial pressure. With over 70% of SOE students receiving some sort of need-based financial assistance in the form of grants and scholarships, most still work multiple jobs to pay for their education. For many, those jobs no longer exist and the funds our students had set aside for education are now needed for housing, food, and taking care of families.
SOE faculty, who have made the massive shift to online course offerings. While a handful of our programs were already set up for distance learning, most were not. Currently, all of our courses are now being taught online, a system that will continue at least through this summer.

I have been touched by the numerous inquiries we have received about how to best offer help to others in our SOE community. While I make no assumptions about how your personal circumstances have been impacted by recent events, I am making an exceptional ask of you in a very exceptional time. We have two funds in the School of Education helping us address the many challenges facing our community right now and going forward:
The School of Education Dean’s Greatest Needs Fund allows SOE leadership to meet the immediate/urgent needs that directly impact our students and faculty. This could include support for tuition, transportation, technology support online learning, students in crisis, and other services. Even if you have already made a gift to the SOE this year, we hope you will consider supporting this fund given the unique circumstances our students now are facing.
The School of Education Scholarship Endowment is a permanent fund that awards scholarships to multiple students, both undergraduate and graduate, in the SOE based on financial need. If you have already established a scholarship in the SOE, I encourage you to make your gift to your named fund. If you don’t have a named fund, this is the place to make your gift. Given the financial hardships our students now face as a result of the pandemic, we expect the need for scholarship support will far exceed what we are able to award in the coming year.

I am awed by the constant displays of generous support I witness daily in the education community. With your support, I am confident that we will come through this unprecedented time even stronger than before. I am available to answer any questions you may have, as is Terri Jackson, our Senior Director of Development (336-256-0496, terrijackson@uncg.edu). No matter the size of your gift, be assured your generosity and care will make an immediate difference.

With gratitude and best wishes for your health and safety,

Randy Penfield Signature

Randy Penfield, Dean
336-334-3944 • rdpenfie@uncg.edu

SOE Building Square Photo

Dear SOE Community,

On March 23rd, the School of Education (SOE) — along with the rest of UNC Greensboro — had to make a huge shift right in the middle of our Spring 2020 semester. We pivoted to move all of our SOE academic programming to a remote/online format, and all SOE academic and administrative operations were moved off campus to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Many of our students have had to move back home with their families, or self-isolate in their on-campus living arrangements, while simultaneously navigating their now remote/online coursework. We are doing everything in our power to make sure that our students are supported during this unprecedented time.

Providing a first-rate education remains our top priority, and I recognize what an enormous lift this transition to remote education has been for everyone. I am immensely grateful for all of your efforts — from our staff who have had to reorganize their operations and workflow to accommodate working from a remote location, to faculty who have had to quickly (putting it mildly!) shift their courses to an online format, to SOE leadership who have worked to make this process as smooth as possible. I am amazed and humbled by your support, effort, and resilience. And, equally remarkable, is that all of this has been accomplished while you have attended to the health and well-being of yourselves, your families, and your communities.

As you know, UNC Greensboro made the difficult decision to postpone all upcoming Spring 2020 commencement ceremonies. We are certain that this is the right call. I know that it is disappointing — as Dean of the SOE, there is nothing I look forward to more than congratulating our hard-working graduates in person in front of their loved ones and classmates. Rest assured, our Spring 2020 graduates will absolutely receive the recognition they deserve at a later date, when it is safe for us all to gather in celebration (date TBD). 

For the past few weeks, we have been engaged in an unparalleled shift in our operations, both in terms of scope and timing. This sudden shift brings with it fatigue and stress, all heightened by the social and physical distancing required to curb the spread of the pandemic. More than ever, it is our responsibility to work together in partnership and actively seek ways to help one another and our students. 

To everyone in the School of Education family, thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do as we work together to support our students and the mission of the SOE in the days and weeks ahead. We’re in this together.

With much hope and gratitude,

Randy Penfield Signature

Randy Penfield
Dean, School of Education

For anyone wanting to help UNC Greensboro students directly impacted by COVID-19, please click here for more information about the SAFE Fund.

SOE Building Square Photo

UNC Greensboro School of Education announced the establishment of the Institute for Partnerships in Education (I-PiE), to be housed within the School of Education (SOE). The SOE expects I-PiE will be operational in summer or fall of 2020 and is starting the process of developing the Institute infrastructure, beginning with identifying Institute leadership.

I-PiE will provide the necessary infrastructure and leadership to facilitate and support long-term partnerships between the SOE and education-related agencies (e.g., school districts, libraries, community organizations, etc.) across the state and beyond. 

“I-PiE will bring unique focus to strengthening and expanding partnerships within North Carolina, and will be positioned to be a recognized national leader in advancing knowledge and practice of university-school partnerships,” says Randy Penfield, Dean of the School of Education. “We are grateful to the UNCG Board of Trustees for their support of the institute, and our collective commitment to improving the quality of education in NC.” 

The functions and goals of I-PiE will include actively working with local educational agencies to identify points of intersection between the pressing needs of the educational agencies and potential capacity of UNC Greensboro education faculty/staff. I-PiE will broker partnership matches between our faculty/staff and educational agencies to position us for timely partnerships as needs arise. The Institute will also aid the development of grants supporting partnership work, and expand currently existing partnerships where such opportunities exist.  

In addition, I-PiE will help coordinate contracted services such as professional development and consulting to local educational agencies. SOE undergraduate and graduate students will have broadened opportunities to engage in experiential learning related to partnerships embedded in K-12 and associated community settings.

The SOE has a strong foundation in partnership work, including the Principal Preparation for Excellence and Equity in Rural Schools (PPEERS) program; Transforming Teaching with Technology (T4) with Guilford County Schools and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools; the new Piedmont Teacher Residency Program (PTRP) with Rockingham County Schools and Surry County Schools; the Moss Street Partnership School; and many other projects involving long-term partnerships with educational agencies. I-PiE will build on this foundation to support a broader scale of impact.

TEHE Benji Chang headshot

In August and November 2019, UNCG’s Dr. Benjamin “Benji” Chang participated in a series of keynote and plenaries at three Schools of Education in East Asia.  Benji Chang is Assistant Professor of Equity Education in the Department of Teacher Education & Higher Education, and Affiliate Faculty in the International & Global Studies Program in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. 

For more than 15 years, Dr. Chang’s teaching and research have been involved with diverse and diasporic communities, including those from the Asia-Pacific region such as Australia and Southeast Asia. For the talks in 2019, he drew upon his on-going research projects and collaborations with pre- and in-service teachers and researchers in Kazakhstan, mainland China, South Korea, and Hong Kong.

Professor Chang’s first talk was entitled, “Social Justice Praxis in Hong Kong, 2014-2019: Youth Resistance, Community-Engaged Teaching, and Teacher Education at a Historical Moment” and took place at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Education on August 20.  Chaired by HKU’s Dr. Carlos Soto Pineda, the talk chronicled Dr. Chang’s 5 years of equity work with Hong Kong students, activists, and classroom teachers, and the implications of such efforts towards the massive protest movements that have emerged in the area.  Prior to UNCG, Dr. Chang was faculty at the Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), which is the leading provider of teacher licensure in Hong Kong and ranked 2nd in Asia for educational research (QS World University Rankings).  Dr. Chang’s presentation discussed the successes and challenges of EdUHK’s teacher programs in trying to apply critical and sociocultural approaches to learning.  The talk attracted a variety of students, faculty members, and administrators, including those from the Faculty of Law and the Department of Social Work & Social Administration, as well as schoolteachers, community organizations like The Hong Kong Nepalese Foundation, and faculty from other institutions like the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Professor Chang’s second talk was for the Center for Global Teacher Education at Gongju National University of Education (GNUE) in South Korea.  The conference was titled “The Present & Future of Student Teaching Support” and took place on August 28.  For GNUE’s conference, Dr. Chang’s plenary, “An Educational Pipeline Model of Teacher Education,” focused on the Project for Critical Research, Pedagogy & Praxis (PCRP), a research team and educator pipeline project that he has coordinated since 2015.  PCRP was created in order to address a common gap in teacher education programs around the US and the Asia-Pacific Rim: the divide between progressive theories taught at university programs and teacher candidates’ lack of experience in observing and applying such theories.  PCRP has worked to address this gap through re-envisioning core preparation courses and collaborating with student-teachers to run monthly workshop meetings, bi-annual conference presentations, and annual research symposia. In addition, mentorship to students was provided by Visiting Scholars who were renowned social justice-oriented scholars from around the world, including the University of Washington, Beijing Normal University, and the University of Calgary.  Through the GNUE presentation, Dr. Chang challenged the idea that teacher educators and researchers in Asian schooling contexts could not build educational equity within their ‘conservative’ teacher development programs and scholarship, when compared to the ‘liberal’ institutions of North America.  The conference took place in Daejeon and was also broadcast online. Questions and comments came from Korean educators from around the country, with GNUE Professor Hyeunju Choi as discussant.  

The final talks took place on November 16-18 at the annual International Conference on Critical Pedagogy in Guangzhou.  This year the conference was hosted by the Research Centre for Modern Education at South China Normal University, one of China’s Top 5-ranked Schools of Education.  Dr. Chang’s talks included a plenary and seminar, which were titled “Critical Pedagogy with Students of Asian Heritage in the US & Greater China,” and  “Theoretical Application & Methods Selection – A Case Study of Chinese American Studies.”  Attended by scholars from the UK, Japan, Ukraine, India, the US, Rwanda, and other nations, Dr. Chang’s presentations focused on lessons learned in teacher education with diverse students in the US and Hong Kong, and implications for teaching and teacher education research in China.  In addition, Dr. Chang was also asked to do training on critical research methodology with teachers and graduate students working in schools and neighborhoods.