For the Education Program, it was a Perfect Storm

Author: Malcolm McDowell Woods

Published Date: 12/21/2020

Categories: Education F1RST Magazine Faculty and Staff Graduate Programs in Education University News

A New School, A Rebuilt Home And a New Dean

In 1994, Kathy Kramer, applying to be an adjunct instructor, drove up North Barstow Street in Waukesha, looking for the building that at the time housed Carroll College’s education department. 

“I drove around the building thinking no way is this the right place,” she recalled. The building, at 326 N. Barstow, on the northern edge of the campus, had a most unimpressive exterior, perhaps only surpassed by a dark, cluttered, maze-like interior.  

Kramer got the position. She was at the right place. She still is. But that building, like the university and like Kramer herself, has undergone tremendous change. 
Explore the renovated Education Hall
This summer, Carroll University launched a new School of Education and Human Services, headquartered in a freshly renovated Education Hall, and directed by Interim Dean Dr. Kathy Kramer. In December, the university updated that appointment by naming Kramer as the founding dean of the school.

“I’m pinching myself,” said Kramer, who also serves as assistant professor of education and director of graduate education studies, but her amazement is mostly directed toward the building, which has been completely re-imagined. 

The red and cream city brick structure was originally built in 1924 by Otis E. Glidden Co., a producer of pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food products, including Jiffy-Jell Gelatin Dessert. Carroll purchased the building in 1989, named it the Barstow Building, and used it as an academic building. It was renamed Education Hall following an exterior renovation in April of 2017. 

Then, on June 27, 2019, a severe storm bull-rushed the Carroll neighborhood. Straight-line winds topping more than 70 miles per hour chased by heavy rainfall pummeled the structure, peeling off its roof and flooding the interior. 

The storm left the building battered and forced a one-year relocation of the education department into the basement of North Bergstrom Hall. It also opened a door to fast-track a key objective of Carroll's strategic plan —establishing (and housing) a new School of Education and Human Services. The storm, exceptional in both its ferocity and narrow footprint, left Education Hall in need of a complete renovation.

Explore the progress made in year two of Carroll's strategic plan >

Carroll President Dr. Cindy Gnadinger, education faculty and university staff got to work imagining a 21st Century building designed to facilitate the education of new teachers. The one-year renovation saw the 11,367-square-foot building's walls, floors and building systems completely reimagined, reconfigured and rebuilt. 

“After the perfect storm, a perfect building,” said Kramer.

The new interior provides an exciting backdrop for preparing future educators. The main floor holds three classrooms, faculty offices and a student workstation. Two adjoining classrooms are separated by a wall that retracts, creating one large classroom/event space. The top floor is home to a conference room and two classrooms, including a model classroom designed to mimic the real-world teaching environments Carroll’s students will experience when they begin working in partner school districts. The lower level includes a computer lab, spacious curriculum area, open space and a student break area with vending machines. Throughout the building, designers created open, inviting spaces for collaboration, creativity and study.

A dedication ceremony was held in mid-September to celebrate both the renovation and the new School of Education and Human Services.

“I am very excited to reopen and dedicate this space, as it will educate the next generation of effective and culturally relevant educators and school leaders. Education Hall has been transformed into an amazing place to collaborate, learn and grow,” Gnadinger said at the ceremony. 

At the Helm

Kramer was honored with the Norman and Louise Allhiser Award for Excellence in Teaching from Carroll in 2006. She has a B.S. in elementary education and an M.S. in special education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and holds an Ed.D. in leadership in curriculum and instruction from Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois.

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As part of Carroll’s strategic plan, the school will allow for the addition of new programs, certificates and credentials that will help students ready themselves for high-demand careers.

“And our new School of Education and Human Services will allow us to expand and develop academic programming to meet emerging societal needs. As a leader in the community, we strive to be responsive to those we serve – students, community organizations and our business partners,” Gnadinger said. “A prime example has been our Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), an accelerated program that prepares individuals who have earned a bachelor’s degree, regardless of discipline, to become a highly qualified teacher in just 17 months.”

This year, the also school began offering an English as a Second Language License program in its graduate program and is introducing an English as a Second Language Dual Licensure in its undergraduate program. 

Additional programs are already under consideration, according to Kramer, who will lead and direct the efforts of the school, including curriculum, programming and partnership development.
“It’s an honor to continue to serve in a leadership role at a university I respect, and that provides students with an education that empowers them to engage with their communities and make meaningful contributions to the world,” said Kramer. “I’m excited about the growth of the school and the opportunity to lead the outstanding faculty, students and staff at Carroll.” The new school and renovated building recognize and acknowledge the value of the education programs at Carroll, she said. 
“We are incredibly lucky to have such a tremendous leader like Dr. Kramer in our community. There was no need to look any further to fill the role as Dr. Kramer brings vision, experience and a focus on social justice to this role,” said Dr. Mark Blegen, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Carroll University.

Equity and inclusion will remain a top focus for Kramer, a co-creator and developer of the Carroll University Inclusive Teacher Residency Program. While taking on a new role in the midst of a pandemic has its own challenges, Kramer is hoping the lessons learned will pay off.

“It's a really interesting time to step into leadership,” she noted. “We're a program that's historically focused on equity, inclusion and social justice. Covid-19 gives us a chance to really explore and be creative in finding ways to include more people and provide more access.” The pandemic and consequential bouts of distance learning, she noted, both shone a light on societal inequities and forced ingenuity in grappling with issues of access. 

Learn more about Carroll's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts > 

“So, how can we take the ideas of distance learning and use them to actually increase opportunity for more people?” Kramer asked. “Our challenge is to take those lessons and apply them to a world post-Covid. I hope we don't as a society go back to the way we were operating, because there were a lot of people who didn't have access.”

“Let’s leave behind what was hard and take forward the lessons learned.”


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Panoramic View of campus