Dr. Donna Breault, dean of Ashland University's Schar College of Education, was selected as a Deans for Impact (DFI) Fellow this spring and she participated in a one-week training academy at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, this summer.
"The organization really provides a critical network for the Dwight Schar College of Education," Breault said. "Serving as a DFI Fellow provides me with the opportunity to reach out to the leaders in Colleges of Education across the country. It provides ongoing support to ensure that what we do at Ashland has an impact, that the impact can be measured, and that we hold ourselves accountable based upon those measures."
Each cohort of fellows attending the one-week academy is limited to no more than 20 leaders from across the country, each of whom went through a rigorous nomination and application process. The year-long Impact Academy fellowship aims to accelerate field-wide transformation by supporting and empowering a network of leaders who are committed to improving their educator-preparation programs.
"Each fellow was placed on a team of four or five and asked to develop an adaptive challenge," Breault said. "The Academy distinguishes between technical problems where leaders can provide specific directions and solutions with adaptive challenges: situations where a leader must identify a new problem or frame a key question and the organization will need to collectively solve it."
Dr. Breault identified the following for her challenge: "How do we shift our mindsets from advising to mentoring in order to build and support a system of competency-based intervention for our students? Secondarily, how do we develop and support a new role within the college: Faculty mentor?"
"This adaptive challenge is an important one for the College of Education," Breault said. "It guides the faculty in the university's strategic goal 1.1 to rethink the ways in which we mentor students. We feel it is an important way to operationalize our commitment to accent on the individual."
Breault keeps a copy of the work she did with her team on the wall in her office as a constant reference point of the work the College is doing and the support that has helped them move forward. In addition, the team "meets" through conference calls throughout the year to help one another and to hold one another accountable.
Breault's team includes Ellen McIntyre, dean at University of North Carolina-Charlotte (team leader); and fellows: Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, dean, American University; Gaetane Jean-Marie, dean, University of Northern Iowa; and Kim Winter, dean, Western Carolina University. According to Breault, the team leader, Ellen McIntyre, is a constant resource to support her and her efforts related to this adaptive challenge.
Fellows attending the Impact Academy were: Deborah Boyd, Lipscomb University (Tennessee); Kenith Britt, Marian University (Indiana); Ann Bullock, Elon University (North Carolina); Parker Fawson, Utah Valley University; Kyle Finke, Louisiana Resource Center for Educators; David Fuller, Middle Georgia State University; John Gasko, University of North Texas at Dallas; Deirdre C. Greer, Columbus State University (Georgia); Merrilou Harrison, Heritage University (Washington); Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, American University (Washington D.C.); Gaetane Jean-Marie, University of Northern Iowa; Andrea Lewis, Spelman College (Georgia); Shelly Meyers, Limestone College (South Carolina); Sara Quay, Endicott College (Massachusetts); Doris P. Screws, Alabama State University; and Kim Winter, Western Carolina University (North Carolina).
About Deans for Impact
Founded in 2015, Deans for Impact is a national nonprofit organization that empowers, supports, and advocates on behalf of leaders at all levels of educator preparation who are committed to transforming the field and elevating the teaching profession. The organization is guided by four key principles:
- Data informed;
- Outcomes focused;
- Empirically tested; and
- Transparent and accountable.
More information on the organization and its members can be found on the Deans for Impact website.