North Park Names Rebecca Nelson Dean of Education

Post a Comment » Written on September 3rd, 2008     
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CHICAGO, IL (September 3, 2008) – The new dean of education at North Park University, Rebecca Nelson, says she is looking forward to advancing the tradition of the school that has had a major impact on her family and where her father was an influential professor at North Park Theological Seminary.

“It’s very special to be able to come back,” says Nelson.

She graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor’s in Music Education from North Park, where she also met her husband, Craig Lindley. Her parents, F. Burton Nelson and L. Grace Nelson, also met at the school.

NelsonNelson says she doesn’t feel like she is living in the shadow of her father, who was a world-renown scholar on the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He taught at North Park from 1960 until his retirement in 1996 and was serving as Research Professor of Christian Ethics at the seminary at the time of his death in 2004.

Burton Nelson also was an accomplished prankster. “It’s delightful to hear the stories,” Rebecca Nelson says, smiling. Her mother also teaches classes at the seminary.

Nelson says she is eager to continue North Park’s long tradition of teaching educators how to live lives of significance and service amid a changing environment. Such lives require teachers to be competent, reflective, and respective, she adds.

One of Nelson’s primary tasks will be to make sure the school’s program is tailored to changes in the field. “North Park has always kept up to date,” she says.

Rapidly changing technology is easily the most significant challenge of the last several decades, Nelson says. She cautions that educators cannot simply add computers to a classroom and expect them to make a difference.

She relates the story of a principal who had heard Nelson present a workshop on technology and subsequently asked her to give an in-service to the school staff so they could learn to integrate new equipment.

The principal told Nelson that the school had purchased 24 new computers and that two hours of training would be sufficient. Nelson advised the principal that the teachers and students would be better served by cutting the number of computers in half and using the money for more in-depth staff development. She never heard back from the principal.

The students’ use of the latest technology presents challenging opportunities, Nelson says. For example, Nelson lifts up a cell phone and says, “They all carry one of these.” Someday, even the phone might become an educational tool.

“Technology will never replace the human element,” Nelson adds. “There is always going to be a need for face-to-face interaction between teachers and students.”

Nelson earned her Master’s in Curriculum Development from DePaul University and her Doctor of Philosophy from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Loyola University of Chicago.

Since 2004, she served as superintendent of schools in Skokie, Illinois. She previously served in other Illinois districts as teacher, principal, or district administrator.

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