Kathryn Spence Named Director of the Peter Sammartino School of Education

November 29, 2023 — Fairleigh Dickinson University has officially appointed Kathryn Spence as the director of the Peter Sammartino School of Education. She had been serving as the interim director since July 2022.

Kathryn Spence

Kathryn Spence

“Kate has demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills in the School of Education, first as the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP) coordinator, then also as the QUEST program director and most recently as the interim director of the school, while continuing to serve in the first two roles,” said Benjamin Rifkin, Interim University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.   

As the interim director, Kate led the process for the revision of all the school’s certification programs for New Jersey Department of Education reapproval, doing so through a lens of social justice and equity-based educational practices rather than merely to demonstrate compliance. She also led a shift in the nature of our highly successful Ed.D. program and recruited three exceptional scholars to join our community as new faculty. Lastly, Kate has enhanced the climate of the School of Education, deploying her warmth and charisma to engage faculty, staff and students to participate in increasingly collaborative work. In these efforts, Kate demonstrated the very same skills that have made her an outstanding partner for collaborations across and beyond our campuses — skills that are critically important for the relationships of our School of Education with the school districts in North Jersey and beyond and for our relationship with the state’s Department of Education.

Kate started at FDU in 2009 as an assistant professor of education within the QUEST/MAT program. She became QUEST director and CAEP coordinator in 2018. Prior to coming to FDU, she earned her Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction and M.Ed. in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has extensive leadership and curriculum coaching experience in public middle and high schools, primarily in the New York City Public School district, which reflects her commitment to public education and providing equitable access to high-quality teaching and learning opportunities for all students. She is also a former middle and high school English teacher and has taught in South Korea, rural Vermont, suburban Maryland and the Bronx. 

“I am absolutely confident that Kate will lead the school to new heights while enhancing the school’s focus on social justice and equitable educational practices so necessary for our K-12 and higher education ecosystems both in New Jersey and across the nation,” Rifkin concluded.

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