From the Dean

In reviewing the articles in this issue of The Reflector, I am struck by the theme of service, both at the macro and micro levels. Our primary feature is on the presidential election (macro), while several portraits of students and recent alumni shed light on engagement at local levels, though thousands of miles away.

In an ideal world, of course, our politicians consider themselves servants of the people. And every four years, U.S. presidential campaigns bring out the idealist in all of us. They rouse our hopes and dispel, if only for a time, jaded thoughts about the messy actual practice of government. We make a fresh investment in the candidate of our choice, cautiously optimistic that he (or she, someday) will take seriously his commitment to serve the will of the people.

Being a school of education and human development, in this issue we offer a primer on the two major candidates’ views on education, including NCLB, school choice, incentives, early childhood and higher education. Education is an important issue for almost all of us, though not necessarily an overriding one. We hope readers will find useful information to consider as we head to the polls. Needless to say, we are making neither endorsements nor predictions!

Outside the Beltway, Peabody people are changing the world in entirely different ways, and not just in our traditional education disciplines. Elizabeth Davis, Brooke Vaughan and Palmer Harston are taking knowledge and skills they hewed as human and organizational development majors to heal the wounds of the Rwandan genocide; strengthen African education, environment, and health; and work with South African children orphaned by AIDS. Current HOD students recently returned from a hands-on service trip to Manenberg, South Africa, coordinated through the Vanderbilt Initiative for Scholarship and Global Engagement.

Closer to home, Emily Thaden, a doctoral student in community research and action, created a photo project involving the children of one of Nashville’s public housing neighborhoods. Amy Cate and Melissa Brock, two education alumnae, were honored with Middle School and Elementary Teacher of the Year Awards from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

So if you are still looking for a place to invest your hope, and you are not entirely confident that politics offers the best avenue, might I suggest the students and alumni of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College? They inspire me every day.

Camilla Benbow
Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development