Dr. Ann Taylor has served as Dean of the College of Education at the University of Missouri – St. Louis since January 2018, after a period as Associate then Interim Dean. Ann holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the UK, and a Ph.D. from Washington University in St Louis. Her urban public K-12 teaching experience, publication record, and varied career across six educational institutions on two continents serve her well as leader of an innovative college of over 50 full-time research faculty, educating over 1,500 students each semester. Quality programs accredited by three national professional organizations provide K-12 teachers, school administrators, school psychologists, school and mental health counselors, and researchers, justifying UMSL’s reputation as an urban metropolitan institution and premiere provider of professional educators and scholars to lead the St. Louis region and beyond. The college has enjoyed and stretch as they engaged in two years of deep curricular work with the first cohort of DFI’s Learning by Scientific Design project.

Why did you decide to join Deans for Impact?

Joining Deans for Impact connects me to a network of educators and fellow deans with whom I can focus intently on determining what shifts we can make to teacher preparation to provide stronger teachers for our K-12 students. An organization like Deans for Impact, which is committed to evidence and coherence, and leaders who are asking big questions of themselves and each other can help us all do a better job.

What is one pivotal moment in your career in educator preparation that left a positive impact on you or others?

I have had multiple experiences of working with a team of other capable professionals to solve the same problem. Whether it was initiating professional development schools across a district, redesigning an educator-preparation curriculum, or reimagining the practicum experiences into studio schools (formerly “student teaching” but in studio schools the locations, systems, and practices intentionally provide multiple candidates with ways to learn with and from multiple teachers in the service of student learning), the results have always been powerfully improved practices and more coherent educational experiences for all involved. Higher education can so often require our students to do the hard, isolated work of navigating across courses and content to sow together all their learning into a professional preparation. When adults form collaborative teams and intentionally design the whole journey, not just isolated parts of it, then I notice the curriculum is more coherent, the learners develop more expertise, and the learning outcomes are stronger.

When did you first know you wanted to work in education? What was your first job?

I sat in my 2nd grade classroom intently watching my teacher, and somehow, I just knew I wanted to be a teacher shaping the learning journey of others. And so, naturally, my friends talked me out of it and so my first full-time job was as an analyst programmer for a multi-national insurance company, but within three years I had found my way back into an education class, and, as they say, the rest is history.

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