School of Education


Dean's Welcome

Welcome to Westminster College School of Education (SOE).

We are leading the way in preparing the next generation of leadership for the changing landscape of education. We believe in the power of education to promote social change in building healthy, vibrant communities. As such, we have created a range of stimulating and challenging learning experiences aimed at preparing highly dedicated students for important education leadership roles. In our programs, students engage in signature practices that weave throughout the curriculum, pedagogy, assessments, and a wide variety of field and clinical experiences. Central to these practices are community engagement, critical thinking, progressive pedagogical practices, and global learning, which are demonstrated in students’ capstone projects.

The diversity of our programs reflects the varied educational settings in which learning occurs, including schools, communities, and natural outdoor spaces. Teachers need to be responsive to diverse learners who are able to inspire students to think critically and creatively as active, engaged learners. Beyond the classroom, educators learn in field and clinical experiences that begin early in their program and continue through program completion. Faculty encourage educators to go beyond classroom teachers to be important advocates and change agents to ensure access to learning for all learners. We prepare educational leaders for a variety of community settings addressing significant societal issues on local, national, international, and global levels (e.g., education for social justice; critical pedagogy; teaching English for English Language Learners; issues of access, equity, and inclusion; and outdoor education leadership, diversity, and the environment).

It is with great anticipation that we prepare the next generation of leadership to bring about significant social change in our commitment to building healthy, educated communities. We hope you are one of them!

Melanie Agnew, EdD
Dean, School of Education

Our Mission

To prepare and inspire the next generation of innovative leadership for a range of educational contexts.

Our Vision

To be a leading school of education recognized for living our shared values, and our commitment to community engagement through teaching, learning, scholarship, and service.

Living Our Values

Access to education is a basic human right.  Our educational policies ensure that all people have equal opportunity to participate in education that promotes the highest quality outcomes for all regardless of their social class, ethnicity, physical abilities, religious beliefs, cognitive abilities, political views, gender identification or sexual orientation.

Diversity reflects the uniqueness and beauty of humanity. We recognize and value differences across the spectrum of individual and group identities and, in so doing, enrich ourselves, our students, and our community. Learning about the origins, traditions, cultures, values, attitudes, ideas, and perspectives that exist among us is necessary to promote positive, healthy communities.

Global learning requires that we understand the interdependencies of global systems and how these systems impact individual actors within contexts.  This means actively seeking new perspectives that will strengthen our relational thinking so that we can cultivate a sense of personal social responsibility and take effective action.

Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality, viewing all people as deserving equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities. We design curriculum to promote learning that is focused on developing awareness of how, when, where, and why social structures are inequitable. It is expected that this learning will result in taking action toward greater equity.

Life-long learning (LLL) includes formal, informal, and non-formal learning experiences that foster the continuous development and improvement of the knowledge and skills needed for personal, civic, social and/or employment-related fulfilment. Lifelong learning encourages creativity, initiative and responsiveness in people thereby enabling them to show adaptability in a society that requires one to manage uncertainty, communicate across and within cultures/communities, and negotiate conflicts and challenges. Learning to learn is a vital skill in a rapidly-changing world.

School of Education Signature Practices

Global learning is a critical analysis of and engagement with complex, interdependent global systems and histories (such as natural, physical, social, cultural, economic, political, and educational) and their implications for people’s lives and the earth’s sustainability. Through global learning, students should 1) become informed, open-minded, and responsible people who are attentive to diversity across the spectrum of differences, 2) reflect on how their actions affect both local and global communities, and 3) address the world’s most pressing and enduring issues collaboratively and equitably.

The development of critical consciousness happens through group dialogue, participatory action, and empowerment. When people develop critical consciousness, they come together to develop and apply critical thinking skills to discussions about their communities, how community conditions impact them, and how they can join in taking action to improve their lives and their communities. Discussions focus on purpose, issues of human dignity, freedom, authority, conceptualized notions of reason, intellectual quality, and social responsibility. It increases an individual’s agency to critique systems of oppression/inequality of systems of power. In this way, dialogue goes beyond a simple discussion of personal opinions to the application of critical thinking skills, active listening, and open minds.

Across our educational programs, and from an early onset, students engage in hands-on, experiential opportunities in the field. Throughout their course of study, students participate in practical experiences including internships, observations, practicums, fieldwork, research projects, and student teaching. Key features throughout instruction and field experiences include civic engagement and community collaboration, with a focus on reciprocal learning. We collaborate with a myriad of diverse institutions including public, private, and charter schools, afterschool programs, and non- and for-profit organizations.

Critical and progressive pedagogical approaches frame our work as educators with an emphasis on social justice and, in collaboration with those we serve, draw upon funds of knowledge in our instructional practice. We aim to implement culturally responsive current research and evidence-based pedagogical approaches while emphasizing and modeling differentiation, relationship building, innovation, and the importance of disciplinary content knowledge. Central to our critical and progressive pedagogical approach is the analysis of power relations.