John Henning, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Education, plans to retire at the end this year.
Henning has been a part of the Monmouth community since 2015. Prior to his time at Monmouth, Henning was a professor at Ohio University and an Assistant Dean of Education at the University of Northern Iowa. He also has 20 years of experience teaching at the high school level, which allowed him to grow as an educator by learning about classroom management and how to form meaningful connections with students.
Regarding the transition of teaching high school to college students, Henning said that he felt he had enough knowledge to make a contribution to higher education.
“One thing I learned that I thought was key was how important relationships with students are. They are what set the stage for encouraging thinking, challenging students, and communicating the content,” Henning said.
Henning eventually took an offer from Monmouth as Dean. He recalled feeling tremendously excited about the opportunity, as he had more experience and interest in leadership. During his time at Monmouth he accomplished many things that transformed the education department.
For example, Henning designed, piloted and implemented yearlong clinical experiences in teacher preparation the University. Additionally, he worked on a teacher residency program that consisted of a pilot program that extends the current number of required clinical hours by paying teacher candidates for their work in schools. This program is based on the prekindergarten through grade 12 calendar rather than the university academic calendar.
One of the major themes regarding his transition from teaching to a role in leadership was building relationships with students, as well as becoming a model to the professors in his program to do the same.
Henning said, “At any level, those relationships are key and the basis of all that we do. As a leader, I really believe productivity of your department and school depends a lot on relationships and the climate you build as a leader. That sense of teamwork and collaboration gives people a sense of security and confidence as they move forward.”
Amanda Balestrieri, a senior studying mathematics and elementary education had the pleasure of working with Henning. She said, “ I credit Dean Henning for my positive experiences at Monmouth that have shaped me to be the educator that I am today.”
Henning also learned a lot about social justice during his time at Monmouth, crediting faculty such as Tina Paone, Ph.D., Nicole Pulliam, Ph.D., Jason Fitzgerald, Ph.D., among others who helped drive social justice initiatives to work towards more inclusion.
“I have learned a lot from them and their initiatives in sharing their values and ideas through the school of education and have been helpful in my personal growth.”
Fitzgerald said, “Dean Henning’s commitment to teaching all students, both those here at Monmouth and those in our partnering districts, has made us a stronger School of Education and a stronger community.”
Paone added, “He allows faculty to take the lead in their respective specialties and provides them the freedom to determine the best way to delineate their content areas. He is always quick to recognize faculty accomplishments and ensure they are celebrated.”
Since entering his role at Monmouth, Henning has had a strong focus on practice and clinical experience. In 2017, he led the charge in achieving the Exemplary Partnership Award from the National Association of Professional Development Schools. He now seeks to conduct more research into experiential learning and hopes to write more about the topic upon retirement. Aside from writing, he hopes to travel with his wife and spend time with his granddaughters during retirement.
Henning offered advice for students looking to pursue a path in education. “I think, especially for Monmouth students coming into the teacher preparation program, try to get into a school, as much as you can, that allows you to get experience,” he said. “We have put students out in schools longer than our program requirements. The longer you’re out in a school, the better you’re going to be, the more prepared you’re going to be, the easier the first year is going to be, and there’s also a better chance you’ll get hired.”
Henning gave a special thanks to the faculty in the Speech and Pathology Department in the education program, noting how it has grown and thrived since his start at the University.
Henning concluded, “My experience at Monmouth has been a special one. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve especially enjoyed the people that I have worked with and I’ve tremendously enjoyed working with people through challenges to successful conclusions. I’m grateful for those connections.”