Smooth leadership transition for School of Teaching and Learning
The University of Florida College of Education’s School of Teaching and Learning, the hub of teacher preparation and K-12 educator advancement at UF, is undergoing a smooth change in leadership, with the former STL director working closely with her successor to ensure a seamless transition.
The college has hired one of its own, Ester de Jong, an associate professor of ESOL/bilingual education, to succeed Elizabeth “Buffy” Bondy, who has directed STL since 2008. Bondy stepped down May 16 after six challenging but fruitful years at the helm to return, full time, to her role as professor in the school’s curriculum, teaching and teacher education program.
“It is gratifying how Dr. Bondy and Dr. de Jong have worked together during this transition,” said Dean Glenn Good. “Ester should continue the tradition of excellence that the leadership of the School of Teaching and Learning is known for. Our faculty and their students are sure to flourish under her guidance.
De Jong said her first priority as the new director “is to maintain the positive and collaborative culture in our school. I hope to support faculty in creative ways so they can be at the cutting edge in their areas of expertise locally, nationally and internationally.
“Together we can shape not only theoretical understandings about teaching and learning, but also policy and practice, particularly as it is unfolding for diverse learners.”
De Jong, who has an Ed.D. in literacy, language and cultural studies from Boston University, joined the UF education faculty in 2001. She is in the final year of a three-year term as the college’s B.O. Smith Research Professorship, which supports her study of teachers’ use and modeling of academic vocabulary and specific language structures into students’ oral language use.
She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in language and literature studies from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, her native country. From 1996-2001, she was the assistant bilingual director for Framingham Public Schools near Boston, and also taught as a lecturer at nearby Harvard University and Simmons College.
Her Framingham district administrator job is one of several leadership posts she has held. At UF, she has headed STL’s ESOL/bilingual academic program, served as principal investigator on several federal and foundation research grants, and chaired the college’s 2013-14 Faculty Policy Council. She also served on the board of directors for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association and was a member of a Florida Department of Education review panel for the state ESOL teacher exam.
Her research interests include language policy, bilingual education and mainstream teacher preparation for bilingual learners. Last year, de Jong received the Award for Excellence in Research on Bilingual Education from the national Association of Two-Way and Dual Language Education (ATDLE).
She is the lead investigator on one of the college’s most ambitious research efforts called Project DELTA (Developing English Language and Literacy through Teacher Achievement). It’s a seven-year, $1.2 million undertaking funded by the U.S. Department of Education to assess and advance the teaching of English language learners in Florida’s public schools.
De Jong published a book in 2011 titled “Foundations of Multilingualism in Education: From Principles to Practice” (Caslon Publishing), which focuses on working with multilingual children in K-12 schools. She is widely published and has served in editorial posts for several peer-review journals on bilingual and language education and policy.
WATCH THE VIDEO: Message from Ester de Jong, the new director of STL
Bondy: now is ‘right time’ for change
After six years as STL director, Buffy Bondy said “it just feels like the right time” to make way for a new leader.
“My title has been both STL director and professor, but I haven’t been able to contribute as much as I should on the professor side,” Bondy said. “I want to do a better job as a professor, and that is what I really love.”
Bondy received her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from UF in 1984, worked at the College of Education as a visiting or adjunct instructor for five years, and joined the curriculum and instriuction faculty as an assistant professor in 1989. In 2008, she replaced Tom Dana as STL director when Dana became the college’s associate dean for academic affairs. Working with then-Dean Catherine Emihovich and her executive team, Bondy guided STL through the lion’s share of seven consecutive years of severe cuts in state spending on higher education.
From the start, Bondy said her focus was to create conditions favorable for STL faculty members and their students to excel. She continued to nurture the caring and collegial social climate that she had come to appreciate during her years on the faculty.
“Responding to the financial crisis, we’ve had to work in new ways and find new streams of revenue,” Bondy said. “Our goal has been smart programming, brilliant research and improved service.”
It took joint efforts between the dean’s office, the STL faculty and the school’s strategic collaborations with the Lastinger Center for Learning for both the school and the college to not only survive, but thrive.
During Bondy’s tenure as director, STL became a major player in the college’s expanding distance learning enterprise. Some of the new offerings in e-learning include an online M.Ed. program in language and literacy education and online doctorates in both education technology and in curriculum, teaching and teacher education. The blended Teacher Leadership for School Improvement degree has been named the nation’s top teacher education program by the Association of Teacher Educators.
Other advances while Bondy was on watch include shifting to a yearlong internship for ProTeach students and forging a multi-pronged partnership with Nanjing Xioazhuang University in China.
Bondy also garnered funding for vital building improvements in vintage Norman Hall, designed to group faculty members with common research interests together. These include renovated space in the Education Library basement for computer labs and offices for education technology faculty, and for new offices and work stations for STEM education faculty and doctoral students. She also added new infrastructure to help faculty researchers’ efforts to secure outside funding.
Bondy, who plans to take a one-semester sabbatical in spring of 2015, said she expects faculty and students in the School of Teaching and Learning to prosper under de Jong’s leadership.
“It is time for new ideas,” Bondy said. “Ester is extremely capable and a very quick study. She’s a top scholar, has strong leadership qualities and brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the job.”
SOURCE: Ester de Jong, UF College of Education, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Elizabeth “Buffy” Bondy, UF College of Education, email@example.com
WRITER: Larry Lansford, news and communications office, UF College of Education; firstname.lastname@example.org