Johns Hopkins Gazette | February 9, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 9, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 21
100 Years of Educating Educators

In 1909, Johns Hopkins unrolled a plan to serve Baltimore-area teachers

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

In 1908, university President Ira Remsen helped lure Edward F. Buchner, a charismatic professor of education and philosophy at the University of Alabama, to Johns Hopkins. Buchner's appointment would have wide-ranging and long-lasting effects.

Buchner not only founded the university's Education Division a century ago, but one could say he was the father of formal part-time programs at Johns Hopkins, which today run the gamut from business to nursing.

Students in the 1921 Summer Courses for Teachers gather for a class photograph in front of Homewood's Gilman Hall. The session was part of the College Courses for Teachers program that has evolved into today's School of Education.
Photo courtesy Ferdinand Hamburger Archives of the Johns Hopkins University

As director of the newly formed Department of Education at Johns Hopkins, Buchner was asked to expand the university's academic offerings for adults — part of its mission almost since its inception in 1876 — and devise a specific plan for meeting the needs of Baltimore-area teachers.

The early 1900s, with an influx of immigrants to the country, witnessed a growing need for courses for adult students, particularly the training of public school teachers. In response, Buchner in 1909 helped create the College Courses for Teachers, a part-time degree program designed for those already engaged in the profession. The program, one of the first of its kind, offered collegiate-level instruction in the field of professional education and the liberal arts. It enrolled 69 students in eight courses its first year. Two years later, a summer session was established to accommodate the rising demand for courses.

The demand never waned, and this year Johns Hopkins will celebrate 100 years of leadership in public education and its new identity, the stand-alone School of Education formed in January 2007.

To honor the milestone, the School of Education will host a series of anniversary-related events in 2009 leading up to a celebration in the fall.

Ralph Fessler, the inaugural dean of the School of Education, who joined Johns Hopkins in 1983 and will retire at the end of this academic year, said that while K-12 education study and training at Johns Hopkins has had many names and homes during the past 100 years, two constants have been a responsiveness to local and national trends and a focus on "vulnerable" populations in schools.

"The College Courses for Teachers program was founded as an effort of outreach to the Baltimore community, and we have maintained those strong ties to Baltimore, even while we continue to grow into a national leader in KŠ12 education," Fessler said.

The program's first home, at the old downtown campus, was the original McCoy Hall, which held the humanities departments. McCoy Hall burned in 1919 while it was standing nearly vacant, shortly after the university moved to Homewood in 1915. (A residence hall on Charles Street now bears the McCoy name.)

The College Courses for Teachers was the first Homewood unit to enroll women, who held a celebrity status on the campus because the undergraduate population was then all-male.

Under Buchner's steady hand, the program flourished. In 1915, Florence E. Bamberger was appointed instructor in elementary education and helped expand the program's academic offerings. The bachelor of science in education was established in 1916. Three students received the degree in the first year, two of them women.

Through the joint efforts of Buchner and Bamberger, college courses were first given to students outside Baltimore City in 1917 through the university's "extension centers" in surrounding counties. The program was in great demand but proved to be a severe strain on the professors and was dissolved 10 years later.

By 1924, rising student enrollment forced the university to change the program's name to the College for Teachers. Buchner, however, had another name in mind. He wanted it called the School of Education. He was overruled, in part due to the university's desire to maintain the program's connections to other part-time programs.

"From the beginning, the education program became a magnet for every part-time program that was created here [at Johns Hopkins], whether it be in business or engineering," Fessler said.

Christina Godack, assistant dean for external affairs at the School of Education, said that Buchner's wish, if fulfilled, would have altered the school's path.

"If we had become a School of Education then, it would have changed the entire history of our school and all its renditions," Godack said. "We would also be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, schools of education in the country."

Buchner was instrumental in the creation of two new degrees — the master of education and doctor of education — and what would open in 1929 as the School of Higher Studies in Education.

Buchner left the school in December 1926 due to illness, and Bamberger was appointed acting director of the Education Department until his return. In 1929, Buchner died suddenly on a family vacation to Germany. He was 61.

Bamberger became director of the School of Higher Studies in Education, designed to meet the growing demand of public and private schools for administrative and supervisory officers trained in technical and modern scientific education.

The programs and course offerings in education remained strong and even expanded. By 1931, the summer session alone enrolled 1,400 students in 150 courses. In 1938, the trustees accepted the unanimous recommendation of the Academic Council that the School of Higher Studies in Education be abolished. The full-time program in education once again became a department in the Faculty of Philosophy, with part-time programs offered through the College for Teachers. The master of education and doctor of education degrees continued to be available.

In 1942, several new majors were offered, including nursing education. Through the cooperation of the College for Teachers and the School of Nursing at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, graduate nurses were able to receive instruction in methods of nursing education and supervising of nurses.

Bamberger retired in the summer of 1947 on the eve of the next period of education study at Johns Hopkins. That year McCoy College was established to merge education programs with the expanding need for a broad range of adult education classes.

McCoy College, named for Baltimore businessman John W. McCoy, became the administrative umbrella for all the university's part-time programs.

During the McCoy College years, the Education Department established the master of education and master of science in education degree programs.

The college acted swiftly in an ever-changing world. For example, in response to the 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, the college developed a curriculum to promote diversity and provide greater opportunities for all children in the classroom. After the Russian satellite Sputnik was launched, the Division of Education beefed up training in foreign languages, math and science, as many in the country didn't want the United States to fall behind its rival.

In 1965, McCoy College became the Evening College to signify a renewed focus on part-time evening educational opportunities for professionals in the workplace. In 1974, the college began to offer education courses at the Columbia Center, the first Johns Hopkins classes offered at an off-campus site. A doctoral program in special education was later established to help advance research and content needed to serve children with disabilities.

The Evening College morphed into the School of Continuing Studies in 1983 to better promote a nationwide movement of lifelong learning for adult students. The Education Division would later add a Master of Arts in Teaching program, the Center for Technology in Human Disabilities, the Police Executive Leadership Program and Teach Baltimore, a small tutorial project to provide academic support for Baltimore City public school students during the summer months. In 1988, the School of Continuing Studies began to offer education classes at the university's Montgomery County Campus.

In 1999, the school once again changed its name. It was now called the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education, under the leadership of inaugural dean Fessler. SPSBE would exist until 2007, when the school divided into the Carey Business School and the School of Education.

Under Fessler's leadership, Johns Hopkins education programs in 2003 obtained national accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The school also established numerous universitywide collaborations to bring an interdisciplinary focus to KŠ12 education issues.

In 2006, the Education Division faculty and staff moved into its current home, the Education Building, located at 2800 N. Charles St., marking the first time Johns Hopkins education programs had their own building. Previously, the Education Division occupied space in Whitehead Hall, Shaffer Hall and a townhouse on East 29th Street.

Today, the School of Education annually awards more than 500 master's degrees in education, the largest number by any institution in Maryland. The school enrolls more than 2,000 students and employs approximately 60 full-time faculty and 30 research and professional staff. Classes are offered at the Homewood, Columbia and Montgomery County campuses. The school also houses three research and development centers: the Center for Research and Reform in Education, the Center for Technology in Education and the Center for Summer Learning.

Fessler said the school will continue to address and meet the most pressing needs of K-12 schools, such as building leadership capacity and helping children with special needs to reach their full potential.

Fessler said he also sees increased collaborations with other university divisions. He points to the school's Neuro-Education Initiative, in collaboration with the JHU Brain Science Institute, that fosters dialog among educators and researchers in the brain sciences to develop joint research projects and explore how current findings have application to educational practice. The initiative will host an event in May called The JHU Education Summit: Learning, Arts and the Brain, which will feature faculty from the schools of Education and Medicine discussing the latest in brain research and its potential impact on classroom learning.

"We are really excited about such collaborations. We will certainly stay true to our roots, but this is just one way we seek to better prepare teachers in the 21st century," Fessler said.

For a full listing of anniversary events, go to


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