Our Pillars: Areas of Impact

Taken together, the challenges facing schools of education and our distinctive advantages lend themselves to a strategy with three “pillars”: strategic areas of impact well-suited to our strengths. While many education schools pursue traditional strategies, often organized by degree level, we offer a unique approach that transcends educational boundaries and structures, helping us stand apart as we work to make substantive impact in critical areas.

Addressing the Social Determinants of Education

The School of Education supports research, academic programming, and research-to-practice activities that focus on school climate, socio-emotional learning, family engagement, career readiness, mental health and trauma, and other work that addresses the broadest needs of students and provides schools with the approaches, methods, and tools to support these needs so students can thrive. Preparing citizens for the future requires a holistic approach that recognizes the academic and developmental needs of students, inclusive of mental and physical health and preparation for K-12 school, college, career, and civic engagement. This approach recognizes the importance of providing safe and healthy environments for students and teachers, and it considers that much of what predicts student learning happens in students’ communities and homes. The School of Education takes on the significant and growing need for academic programming and research aimed at improving education as well as student health and well-being throughout the life cycle of human development.

Advancing Equity and Social Justice

The School of Education pursues research, academic programs, and research-to-practice activities that focus on advancing equity and social justice throughout the education sector and across the range of organizations that partner with our researchers and employ our students and graduates.

Schools and human services organizations should improve lives and advance communities, but research demonstrates that inequities by race and ethnicity, citizenship status, and economic strata continue and are too often reinforced by current practices. This is true at home in Baltimore, where we operate the Henderson-Hopkins School, but is also a global phenomenon, and one not just inherent to cities. As a school, we cannot stand by while students and others in our community—including disproportionate numbers of underrepresented students in our own city—do not receive the services and education they need. Pragmatically, our society cannot afford to fail to develop the economic and human potential and talent of these individuals who are at risk of being left behind. The School of Education will act to advance equity and social justice through its training of leaders for diverse contexts and its application of knowledge toward improving outcomes for underserved students and organizations, including research that informs and assesses the impact of policies on those outcomes.

Supporting Diverse Learners—and Educators

The School of Education prioritizes research, academic programs, and research-to-practice activities that further the understanding of diverse learning needs of students across the spectrum of academic ability—as well as the needs of those who teach them, counsel them, and advocate on their behalf. Our research and academic programs emphasize the need for innovative policy and practice approaches to these needs, as we all continually learn to improve our teaching.

While many educational systems have traditionally targeted the academic needs of students in the center of a normal distribution curve, the School of Education’s academic programs and research emphasize meeting learners where they are. Students across the academic ability spectrum have unique educational and mental health needs that must be understood in order to teach them effectively. Faculty with expertise in learning differences, neurodiversity, tutoring, data analysis, and other areas facilitate this emphasis across all our programs. Likewise, those same core educational and mental health needs must be met for educators, counselors, and policymakers before they can address them in students, clients, and constituents. With the understanding that all of us engage in teaching as a critical part of our roles, we support the training of teachers who are also insatiable learners who never assume that knowledge is static. Consequently, we pursue collaborations with Johns Hopkins divisions such as the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health as well as the Center for Talented Youth and Kennedy Krieger Institute. Through this work, the entire School of Education community applies fundamental knowledge of learning differences to solutions that meet the full range of student needs and improve the teacher in all of us.