UNCG’s Department of Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations (ELC) plays an important role in the preparation of administrators who are capable and ready to elevate students in schools. Researchers in the department take an interdisciplinary approach, studying educational philosophy and sociocultural analysis, and using their findings to train new principals in the field.
The researchers who work in the department are often former administrators themselves, and the work in ELC to prepare thoughtful and effective leaders is informed by both theoretical and real-world experience.
“Educators matter,” says Dr. Katherine Cumings Manfield. “People in schools are powerful. They are path makers . . . These realizations, along with my love of learning and fondness for working with children, fueled my resolve to get a college education and become an educator. Later, that same tenacity and passion has undergirded my growth as a scholar and my commitment to social justice.”
The students of the ELC department take their lessons out into the field, becoming administrators ready to make an impact. And many of them return. It is not uncommon for former students – including Kevin Wheat and Aaron Woody – to spend time after graduation as adjuncts or visiting professors in the department. Seeing students as administrators out in the world, and returning as educators, is its own reward for the faculty in the department.
As Dr. Brian Clarida says, “When I think about our students becoming administrators and working with teachers to prepare students for the future, it makes me proud of what we are able to accomplish.”
Ultimately, it is about the kids the future administrators will work with, and the skills they can learn to elevate these children – through education and through support during such challenges as the global COVID-19 pandemic.
To sum up the need to celebrate students while also focusing on what they can achieve, instead of what they can’t, researcher Dr. Tiffanie Lewis-Durham quotes Tupac Shakur’s metaphor of a rose growing in concrete: “I don’t want to define our students by their broken petals but by their tenacity to reach the sun.”
This story was originally published in the Fall 2021 UNCG Magazine.