HARRISONBURG — When Mark L’Esperance began telling people he was going to be working at James Madison University, the response he often got was, “that’s a great place for teacher preparation.”
As the person who will be taking over the leadership of the College of Education, this is exactly what L’Esperance was hoping to hear.
After a national search, JMU announced this week that L’Esperance will become the next dean of the College of Education, effective July 1.
L’Esperance is leaving his position as professor and chairman of the Department of Elementary Education and Middle Grades Education at East Carolina University, where he is also the lead faculty administrator for the East Carolina University Community School.
“When the job became available I had a number of people say, ‘it would be a perfect fit for you,’” L’Esperance said. When he interviewed for the position, it just further confirmed what others had been saying. It felt like the perfect fit.
As a school that was founded on educating future teachers, JMU has a great foundation already and L’Esperance said he’s looking forward to taking it to the next level.
In discussions with JMU President Jonathan Alger, L’Esperance was intrigued by the idea of engagement, civic, learning and community.
His goals are to make sure there is consistency and continuity to the undergraduate and graduate programs. He also wants to expand the idea of teacher leadership, which is a hot topic currently.
JMU should provide training for teacher leaders who don’t necessarily want to become administrators, L’Esperance said. He wants to pursue the potential of introducing a graduate-level program on teacher leadership, which doesn’t currently exist.
It’s also L’Esperance’s goal to extend training for teachers on how to tackle challenges such as student trauma that can impact learning.
Although he doesn’t officially start until July 1, L’Esperance has been meeting with people and getting set up for the transition.
“The faculty have welcomed me with open arms,” he said.
L’Esperance’s graduate studies included doctoral work at Indiana University and earning a doctorate in 1998 from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
He is a native of Lynn, Mass., and enjoys spending time with his wife of 32 years, Pam, along with their three adult children and their families.