Dr. John Essington is the first director of this new program at Blackburn.
After attending the College as a student, Dr. John Essington returned to campus as a faculty member in early 2020. He primarily works with middle and high school education majors. He will serve as the director of the new center.
He stated, “I believe that the new Center for Faculty Development and Inclusive Teaching will serve a myriad of purposes. Its goal is not to solely focus on faculty development for development sake but equally on student growth and retention by heightening faculty awareness and skill over a vast array of pedagogical and socioemotional praxis.”
Provost Karla McCain explained how faculty development programs not only benefit the teacher but also prove to greatly enhance a student’s learning experience within the classroom. She said, “In addition to their work in classrooms, studios, and labs, our faculty have collective responsibilities for the curriculum of the college and for the academic policies that shape the environment of students’ holistic academic experiences. Faculty need continuing opportunities to engage and celebrate their work as scholars. While Blackburn does not have an explicit research requirement, there is an ongoing emphasis on professional development. Blackburn’s faculty produce creative products, publish scholarships related to teaching and learning. They serve in advisory roles as content experts and supervise students working on community-based research projects. This new center will provide a venue for encouraging, supporting, and celebrating this work while also modeling for our students how to participate in intellectual dialogue.”
The College recently was awarded a $50,000 Presidents’ Lab Development Grant from the Endeavor Foundation which will assist in funding the program. As the program director, Dr. Essington will coordinate diverse learning opportunities for faculty such as workshops, seminars, and ongoing faculty orientation. Additional faculty resources will include mini-grants for collaborative projects focused on inclusive teaching and learning as well as supplemental funding for books, materials, and supplies.