Olivet The Magazine | Teaching On Purpose

Advanced Education for Teachers
Brian Parker headshot

Brian Parker

February 16, 2024 Academics, Olivet The Magazine

Professor engages in conversation with four students

An Educator’s Impact
The School of Education’s conceptual framework is built on the theme “Professionals Influencing Lives.” This influence starts with the educational experience students receive at Olivet.

“The School of Education’s faculty is what stands out among others in the state, defining us as a beacon of academic excellence,” says Dr. Lance Kilpatrick ’02, associate dean of the School of Education. “Comprised of a diverse and accomplished group of educators, our faculty bring a wealth of experience and a genuine passion for teaching. The School of Education stands as a testament to the transformative power of education through the building of relationships — making a lasting impact on the lives of our students and their future students.”

As students continue their educational journey with Olivet, they will be equipped not only with theoretical knowledge but also with practical skills that empower them to make a meaningful impact in the classrooms and communities they serve.

That impact is wide-reaching. Olivet was recently recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction report as one of the highest-performing universities in the nation for preparing its teachers to effectively teach reading. Over the past decade, the University has produced more reading specialists than any other institution in the state.

“The ongoing success of this program lies in its adaptability, staying attuned to the evolving needs of the education sector and preparing graduates to meet those challenges head-on,” Kilpatrick says. “Ultimately, I anticipate Olivet graduates continuing to be catalysts for positive change in education, shaping the future of learning and inspiring generations to come.”

In the Field
Cynthia (Cynth) Veronda ’97 M.A.T./’11 M.A.E., associate professor and Olivet’s Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity project coordinator, would consider herself an education influencer. Her path to education was non-linear, as she began in microbiology and then pursued a career in education at the age of 40. Over the years, she has moved from classroom educator to administrator. Today, she is an advocate for educators as they develop the next generation — regardless of their background.

“Pursuing my continued education degrees at Olivet was life-changing for me,” she says. “It was invaluable for me to get into another field that I really didn’t see myself ever pursuing. But, in it, I developed a whole new part of my passion for supporting children and, over time, supporting families.”

Dominic Manola ’10 M.Ed./’13 M.A.E. has been a lifelong leaner. After the early years of his career, Dominic made the decision to continue his education at Olivet. Through his experiences and continued education, he found the importance of building a positive culture. Now, having worked in administration roles for the last 10 years and as principal for the last five at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, Illinois, Dominic is passing along this emphasis of building a positive collaborative culture with the 2,300 students, administrators and staff at his school.

“As a leader in education, I am working to create a positive culture in a world that is socioeconomically and politically polarized,” he explains. “That is not something I can control, but what I can work to control is the culture that I create in my building. The joy and pride I find in my job is working hard to create a culture where staff and students alike feel like they have the space to feel seen, valued and heard. And we need more educators willing to step up and do that.”

Dr. Matthew Glenn ’04/’07 M.A.E./’09 M.A.E. serves as the principal of Manteno Elementary School in Manteno, Illinois. After graduating with his undergraduate degree in math education, he saw great value in continuing his education with two master’s degrees from Olivet.

“The completion of these two programs helped open the door for me as my educational career led me into a leadership position,” he says. “ONU provided me with many growth opportunities while still being able to carry out my daily responsibilities in my job. Having a vast network of people from the local area in both programs that I pursued was also a bonus, as I was able to collaborate and learn from their experiences as well.”

From Olivet The Magazine, On Purpose – Winter 2024. Read the full issue HERE.

Brian Parker headshot

Brian Parker

Brian Parker ’94, EdD ’11, lives in New York City and is a Partner and Managing Director with 989Group.

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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