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From the Dean

Posted by on Friday, June 28, 2013 in From the Dean, Summer 2013.

Camilla P. Benbow

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School shook the nation. Those of us who work in education were affected in particular ways. After all, the principal, counselor and teachers of Sandy Hook represent our peers. The young students who died represent the children whom parents, families and communities entrust to our care. Their deaths demand not only our grief but our reflection on how to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again. Thus, school safety finds its way into this issue of the Reflector as a necessary subject for renewed consideration.

I am pleased that members of the Peabody faculty are, in fact, working every day to make schools safe environments in which all children can thrive.

Other students meriting our concern, although not for reasons of violence, are children with autism spectrum disorders. Faculty members and Peabody alumni are trying to understand better and to ameliorate the learning challenges that a growing number of diagnosed children face. One Peabody alumna, Helen Leonard, BS’91, was moved by her personal experience with autism to found a school dedicated to serving and educating students with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Her inspiring story is included here.

Finally, the close of each academic year brings departures of faculty members as well as graduating students.

This year yielded a larger group of retiring faculty than usual. We are sad to say goodbye to Leonard Bickman, Vera Stevens Chatman, David Cordray, Paul Dokecki, Carolyn Hughes, Linda Isaacs, Howard Sandler and Mark Wolery.

We asked another of these “graduating” faculty members, Kathleen Hoover-Dempsey, to share her insights about how teaching and Peabody College have evolved during her 40 years of service.

Forty years! That’s amazing to me, but Kathy and others—including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and even Peabody parents—share a common trait: a deep commitment to the wellbeing of others.

If Sandy Hook reminded us just how fragile life can be, the work that Peabody people do offers an affirming counter narrative. I’m grateful for that.

Camilla P. Benbow

Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development


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