Community Engagement and Partnerships:
News from Mount Saint Vincent University’s Faculty of Education
CSSE recently sat down for a chat with Dr. Sal Badali, Dean of the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. The Mount, as it is colloquially known, was established in 1873 by the Sisters of Charity—Halifax. By 1912, when women were still not able to vote in Canada, the Mount was offering higher education for young women, becoming by 1925 the only independent women’s college in the Commonwealth.
Today, the Mount is known for the uniqueness of its programs as well as for its student-centred approach to teaching and learning, an approach that is fully supported in the Faculty of Education. Dean Badali told us that the Mount’s teacher education program has a strong commitment to providing students with experiential opportunities. “We pay close attention to the connections between school-based and practical components. About 40 percent of our second-year teacher candidates take advantage of our community-based practicum experience to work in a non-school setting such as a museum or art gallery, broadening their engagement in non-K12 settings.” The Mount’s teacher education program is currently undergoing a redesign in conjunction with a provincial accreditation program. “K-12 education is transforming,” noted Badali, “and teacher education programs need to keep transforming along with it.”
Meeting Community Needs
Mount Saint Vincent offers the only master’s level school psychology program in Atlantic Canada, with its graduates in high demand to meet needs inside and outside the province. The Mount is currently partnering with the Nova Scotia government to reduce the wait list for in-school psychoeducational evaluations for public school students. The initiative will see registered psychologists as well as senior master’s students from the Mount’s school psychology program carry out the assessments for K-12 students. “The partnership developed fairly quickly,” stated Dean Badali. “The government approached us several weeks ago to assist with providing service for a waitlist of more than 300 students. We are happy to work with the schools and the province on this essential initiative, which is also providing clinical experience for our school psychology students.” Badali went on to note that assessments can take many hours, and once developed, also require curricular and program support at the school level. “It’s really a highly collaborative effort, one that will show our students how interconnected our work is with the lives of schools, families, and communities,” Badali concluded.
Milestone for the Mount’s PhD Program
The Inter-University Doctoral Program in Educational Studies, offered in conjunction with the faculties of education at Acadia University and St. Francis Xavier University, is entering its seventh year of operation. The program was launched in July 2011 as a collaborative project among the three universities, and is about to graduate its first Mount-based students (with six others having completed the program via the other partner universities). Students begin their program with an intense summer institute at one of the three universities, with the rest of the program (course work, comprehensive research/scholarly portfolio, and dissertation) completed via multimode delivery. Teaching and supervisory responsibilities, as well as administrative coordination, are shared across the three institutions. Badali noted that the program has been highly successful, with strong enrollment in each of the seven years. “What it shows is that distance itself is not necessarily a barrier to participation in a PhD program. We hope that this program might serve as a model for the creation of a PhD program for Indigenous students, for example, who can then pursue higher education while remaining in their home communities,” said Badali.
For more information about the Faculty of Education at the Mount, visit http://www.msvu.ca/en/home/programsdepartments/education/default.aspx%5B/vc_column_text%5D%5B/vc_column%5D%5B/vc_row%5D