Wisconsin’s superintendent of schools and a leader of the largest parochial urban education program in the state celebrated their common ground on Thursday, Aug. 10, during a graduate education professional development summit at Concordia University Wisconsin.
The summit, put on by Concordia’s School of Education, aimed to prepare instructors for the academic year ahead, as they strive to raise up the approximately 2,000 future educators who matriculate through Concordia’s graduate education programs. About 60 fulltime faculty and adjunct instructors attended the event.
The highlight of the full-day summit was a panel discussion with four esteemed guests: State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tony Evers, who is currently considering a run at state governor; Concordia’s School of Education Dean Dr. Michael Uden; Vice President of Educational Leadership for the Lutheran Urban Mission Initiative (LUMIN) Shaun Luehring; and Director of Teaching, Learning, and Special Services for Fox Point-Bayside School District Jennifer Ganske.
It was during the panel discussion—when the conversation turned to accountability and licensure measures for public, private, charter and voucher school systems—that Evers and Luehring put their arms around each other in a physical display of unity.
“We had an ‘a-ha’ moment,” Evers said after the panel discussion. “Both of us expressed similar frustration in that we spend so much time being concerned about the different sectors that we forget about the kids who are in the sectors, and so we need to focus on what’s best for kids instead of continuing to try and battle issues that, frankly, don’t help kids.”
The group also fielded questions on subjects ranging from teacher licensure changes to the teacher shortage issue, and on a lighter note, the sole Tweet the panelists would send out to those gathered in the room. Evers doesn’t “own a Tweet,” he joked, but if he did, he would share a piece of wisdom from Teddy Roosevelt: “People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.”
Demonstrating the care Concordia’s School of Education takes to prepare qualified educators for the next generation of learners, Uden shared some of the new programs Concordia has implemented in the past three years to directly service needs in public, private, voucher, parochial and choice schools.
Those programs include an accelerated superintendent certificate program; an accelerated teacher licensure program for teacher aides in certain urban schools; and movement towards a leadership in innovation and continuous improvement doctorate degree program, which is scheduled to be in place by fall 2018.
“I’m so hopeful for the future of education,” Uden said after the summit. “I think the value of an event like today lies not only in orienting those in Concordia’s charge who will be on the front lines with future educators, but in promoting open and honest dialogue around some of our more sensitive subjects in education today. Only then can we begin to move forward in a positive manner to better impact.”