Education remains a priority for Wisconsin, says Dean Mattison
In mid-summer, Sue Joseph Mattison, an academic administrator with experience in health and education, assumed her post as UW-Green Bay Dean of the College of Professional Studies. Mattison, who has a distinguished record as a scholar and academic leader, oversees academic offerings and community services in the areas of teacher education, business administration, nursing and social work, majors that account for about one-third of UW-Green Bay’s 6,600 students. Additionally, her position entails leadership in developing community partnerships with professional organizations in those fields. Here’s Mattison’s initial thoughts about education in Northeastern Wisconsin:
Q. What is your impression of education in this region?
Wisconsin is known for its strong support of education at all levels. It’s been a challenging time for educators, and certainly more resources are needed to support education, but I’m overwhelmed by the professionalism of educators in Green Bay and the Northeastern Wisconsin region, and how they work to maintain a quality curriculum for their students. I believe education is still a top priority for residents of the state.
Q. What are your thoughts about the Institute for Learning Partnership and professional development for educators?
I see how every Institute staff member is extremely focused and committed to serving the needs of students and educators in the northeast Wisconsin region, by supporting educators working to solve challenging issues within their own schools and districts. Learning about the outstanding projects completed by in-service educators/graduates of the Professional Development Certificate, as well as relevant continuing educational opportunities with the ILP Fall Conference, shows the critical importance of the work done by Institute staff. In addition, the overwhelming success of the Phuture Phoenix program is resulting in expanded educational attainment for students in Green Bay and surrounding communities. I had a great time mingling with the Phuture Phoenix fifth graders, and got caught up in the excitement during their field trip day on the UW-Green Bay campus this fall. In all aspects of their work, I have been extremely impressed by the ILP staff members.
Q. Could you share some of your thoughts about preparing future teachers at a time when there are so many challenges confronting the education profession?
I understand the enormous challenges faced by educators, but even so – I can think of no better profession than to be an educator. My daughter just started college this fall, and is majoring in music education. She said she wants to be able to instill the love of music in high school kids, just as that love of music was brought into her own life. That is exactly the kind of educators we want to prepare – those who would do the job for the love of inspiring others. And yet there is no doubt in my mind that we must hold greater esteem for the importance of those who choose to be educators, and the many challenges they face. I saw a very illuminating cartoon about the use of standardized testing as a way to measure teacher performance – an elephant, monkey, turtle, and other animals were standing in front of the teacher’s desk, and the teacher said, “Okay, now for our final exam, go climb that tree.” The sad part is the teacher will face severe consequences when the elephant and turtle can’t climb the tree.
Q. Do you worry the political and economic climate will discourage some students from becoming educators and drive others from their chosen profession?
I do worry about the effect of the current political and economic climate. However, the people of Wisconsin have a lot of common sense, and still recognize the importance of their political and economic support of teachers – the economic, social, business, political, public health, and cultural future of our state depends on an educated population. We will think of new ways to work together and keep moving forward.
Q. Could you share some of your ideas on how the Institute could better serve the needs of the region?
To address changes in legislation and teacher professional development compensation, the Institute staff is meeting with area school district administrators and educators to develop innovative professional development opportunities. The population of Green Bay and Northeastern Wisconsin is rapidly becoming more diverse, which brings many interesting educational opportunities. Education faculty, ILP staff, and I have been meeting with community leaders to begin to address the needs of diverse learners through innovative curriculum for pre-service and in-service teachers. I am very proud of the entire Institute staff, how committed they are to serving the needs of educators and schools in the region, and their creative vision to move the Institute forward in the face of multiple challenges – truly an amazing group of individuals.