President's Blog - February 2013 - Helping Others Reach Their Potential

March 1, 2013

Most of us have visited a pre-school or kindergarten and noticed how much fun the children are having playing,  moving around,  laughing, and learning.  Their enthusiasm seems contagious, and some may even marvel at the teacher's ability to direct the students' energy and movement towards the learning and development activities.  But many of us also notice that when we visit students in the sixth or eighth grades, something has changed.  The students seem to have become more sluggish, and there is less laughter and enthusiasm.  These differences seem to become more pronounced as students enter high school.  The noticeable transitions from excited interest toward apathy probably are related, in some part, to hormones and adolescent development, but does it have to be so?  Some of the transitions in students' outward attitude towards school, learning activities, and the acquiring of cognitive skills brings back memories of Jonathan Kozol's observations of his teaching experience that he discussed in "Death at an Early Age."
So the question becomes, even as students begin a college education, how do we rekindle that "joy of learning" and guide students towards a life that will have to include continuous learning along with professional, and emotional growth?  Yes, we know this is not easy, unless you get to know the students. At Cheyney University, we work to help students rediscover their natural curiosity towards learning and their confidence.  Small classes, caring faculty, and University College are just some of the strategies we use to help students explore, develop personally, and find their potential contributions to society.
The thousands of Cheyney graduates who tell us how we helped them find their way to complete graduate programs and reach fulfilling careers are the evidence that inspire us to continue pressing forward in this mission of restoring that youthful love of learning.
Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania