Noting that St. John’s Vincentian mission drew him to the University, Michael Sampson, Ph.D., the new dean of The School of Education, believes that educators must strive to reach children who live in poverty. “If we do,” he explained, “we can transform lives.”
Dr. Sampson, a noted author and specialist in the professional development of teachers, joined the 106-year-old division of the University effective August 14, 2014. He comes to St. John’s from Northern Arizona University, where he was dean of the College of Education and provided administrative and curricular leadership for campuses in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson, as well as 36 sites throughout the region.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Sampson to St. John’s,” said Robert A. Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph., provost. “He is an accomplished leader with outstanding administrative expertise, a record of significant scholarly achievements, and great passion for the education profession. I very much look forward to working with him as he leads our outstanding School of Education in its long-standing tradition of excellence in conducting important research and preparing compassionate educators.”
Dr. Sampson also served as dean of the School of Education at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven; as coordinator of reading education and chair of the Graduate Council at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; and as chair of curriculum and instruction in the Department of Elementary Education at Texas A&M University–Commerce, where he also directed doctoral programs.
A prolific author, Dr. Sampson has written university textbooks, been published in leading peer-reviewed journals, and developed curriculum materials. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Teacher Education. In addition, he coauthored 30 children’s books with Bill Martin Jr., including New York Times best sellers Chicka, Chicka, 1,2,3 and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? He has read to children and teachers at schools throughout the United States and abroad.
“One of the most important issues facing our country today is for young children to become literate,” Dr. Sampson said. “What I’ve found is that if you have a good book, a child will read it.” He defines good children’s books by two characteristics: interest (something the child wants to read), and text arrangement, which refers to the “predictability” of the book. “Children can anticipate what the words are going to be before they get to the words. I write books that are very much like poetry.”
Dr. Sampson has four immediate goals: to meet with The School of Education faculty and leadership to discuss where the School has been and where it is headed; to use data to make decisions about where to allocate resources and efforts; to talk to alumni about their educational experiences at St. John’s and current careers; and to meet with superintendents and principals in New York City and on Long Island.
“I am coming into a very strong school of education, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” said Dr. Sampson. “My first semester here is about learning for me. Any new leader knows that listening is a critical thing to do.”