Laurie Elish-Piper, Ph.D. is Dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. She also holds the titles of Distinguished Engagement Professor and Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Laurie’s previous leadership roles at NIU have included Acting Deputy Provost, Presidential Advisor on College and Career Readiness, and Interim Chair of the Department of Literacy Education. Laurie also served as the Director of the Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic and Co-Director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy. Laurie has served as the President of the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers, and she recently completed a term on the Board of Directors of the International Literacy Association. Laurie’s scholarship focuses on literacy leadership, literacy coaching, teacher professional development, and family involvement in education. She has co-authored 10 books and over 75 publications in refereed professional journals and yearbooks. Prior to her career in higher education, Laurie was an elementary teacher and a middle school language arts and reading teacher in Indiana.

We need qualified, caring teachers who can support every single child in every single school across this country.

Why did you decide to join Deans for Impact?

I am excited to work closely with other deans who are passionate about and deeply engaged in improving teacher education at their institutions. I want to learn from and with other member deans and Deans for Impact staff so that I can enhance the quality of the teacher education programs at my university and contribute to this improvement work across institutions. I am committed to prioritizing this improvement work in my role as a dean, and joining Deans for Impact will provide me with a network of collaborators, opportunities, accountability, and support I need to do this important work.

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

When I was a brand-new assistant professor, I was asked to co-coordinate a school-university partnership. I agreed, and for the next decade, I learned the power and possibilities of partnerships as I taught and supervised a group of students across a year-long placement. I was able to spend lots of time in classrooms and hone my craft of observing, providing feedback, coaching, and having challenging conversations with both teacher candidates and cooperating teachers. This experience shaped my understanding of and commitment to field based programs, school-university partnerships, professional development schools, and true collaboration.

What most excites you about the opportunity to transform the field of educator preparation in the years ahead?

I believe that public education is the backbone of our democratic society. Furthermore, I view access to quality education as a social justice issue. We need qualified, caring teachers who can support every single child in every single school across this country. This means that we need to ensure that our teacher education programs are designed to prepare learner-ready teachers, and I am honored to be involved in leading this work at my university.

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