Experienced teacher and mother of a special needs child to lead Tusculum’s College of Education

GREENEVILLE – Dr. Miriam Stroder, an experienced primary, secondary and collegiate teacher who has participated in accreditation evaluations and served on state and local committees, has been named dean of Tusculum University’s College of Education.

Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Miriam Stroder

Dr. Miriam Stroder

She will oversee the teacher education and sport studies departments and all of the College of Education’s bachelor’s and master’s programs. She has served as associate dean of the teacher education department since July 2020 and will assume her new role Aug. 1.

Dr. Stroder succeeds Dr. Tricia Hunsader, who was promoted to provost and vice president of academic affairs.

“We are delighted to select Dr. Stroder, who brings a track record of excellent results and leadership to the table,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president. “Our College of Education will remain strong with Dr. Stroder as dean and continue to produce talented, career-ready professionals. Her skill set and impressive life story will inspire our education students to be civically engaged and enrich people’s lives.”

The College of Education prepares students to teach in elementary and secondary schools and empower adult learners to work in leadership positions within organizations. The College of Education also trains students to work in a variety of fields within the sport industry.

Born in Kansas, Dr. Stroder has lived in multiple states but considers Mexico City the place she most considers home. Her mother was from that city, and Dr. Stroder has visited it and her family there regularly during her lifetime.

Now a married mother of three and grandmother of three, Dr. Stroder has dedicated much of her adult life to supporting her son, who was born with a rare syndrome that produced cognitive delay, deafness and other health issues. This experience heightened her awareness of the importance of parents advocating for their special needs children. She also became more knowledgeable of laws enacted to provide students who have a disability with a free and appropriate public education according to their individual needs. As a parent and teacher, Dr. Stroder developed a keen understanding of the importance of the preparation educators need to teach and advocate for their students, students’ families and their schools, taking into account each individual’s needs.

Dr. Stroder earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and elementary education from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. She then embarked on her profession, teaching students in fifth through eighth grades in multiple states as she and her husband, Larry, moved for his career.

She taught fifth grade in several states. She was always impressed by how much growth she witnessed in her students during that year to be ready to enter middle school or junior high.

“They experience considerable physical, emotional and intellectual growth during that year,” Dr. Stroder said. “You can see them become critical thinkers as they develop the skills they need to enter middle school or junior high.”

Always on her priority list was a desire to earn her doctorate and become a college professor, but she put that on hold for a few years after her son was born due to his health needs. In his early years, she served as a substitute, tutor and fifth grade teacher.

When his condition stabilized, she pursued her career goal, first with a master’s degree in literacy education, with a reading and writing endorsement, from Western Kentucky University and then a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, with a literacy concentration, from Southern Illinois University. She accomplished these degrees while commuting 1 ½ hours to WKU and three hours to SIU.

Dr. Stroder has taught in higher education since 2008, and her primary focus has been literacy. She taught at WKU and Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, before coming to Tusculum in 2018 as an assistant professor of education.

She was attracted to Tusculum’s history as the first higher education institution in Tennessee and by the university’s mission statement. She felt extremely comfortable at Tusculum when she came for the on-site interview and met the faculty, staff and students. She has taught undergraduate and graduate students and will continue to teach a literacy course while handling her administrative duties as dean.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Stroder has served the profession and shared her knowledge with her colleagues. Since December, she has served as a member of the Tennessee Department of Education’s Educator Preparation Working Group. That same month, she became part of the Northeast Tennessee Equity Scholarship Initiative, a collaborative venture of the United Way of Greene County and the Niswonger Foundation.

Dr. Stroder participated in the TDOE’s listening session, which addressed changes to teacher preparation pertaining to foundational reading skills, discussed the attributes needed to support K-12 students’ social and emotional learning and talked about the state’s vision for high-quality instructional materials.

She was also lead author of two Grow Your Own grants from the TDOE to the College of Education, each totaling $100,000, to cover tuition, books and fees for 16 students who will seek licensure in a secondary school subject area and endorsement in special education K-12 comprehensive and K-8 interventionist. These students will participate while working as teaching assistants in the Greene County or Hawkins County school system.

Since 2019, she has served as a site review team member for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and the Tennessee Comprehensive Review, which evaluate colleges of education. She has used her state and national training to participate in several site evaluations. She shares what she learns during these site visits with her colleagues to improve the programs in Tusculum’s College of Education.

In addition, she has presented multiple times at the prestigious American Educational Research Association conferences. She is also co-authoring a book, now under contract, called “Digging the Dance: A Collaborative Self-Excavation Journey.” Her chapter and her contributions to some other chapters will address reconciling differences in individual and social bicultural identity development.

“I’m grateful for the trust placed in me and thankful for the opportunity to build on the College of Education’s many strengths,” Dr. Stroder said. “We have productive relationships with more than 20 school districts in East Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Education, and those connections are serving our students and the profession exceptionally well. Our expert faculty members in the College of Education are agile, work collaboratively and use our ideal student-teacher ratios to prepare our students to succeed in their profession.”

Dr. Hunsader said Dr. Stroder is an outstanding choice to lead the College of Education.

“I have worked closely with Dr. Stroder since she arrived at Tusculum and have seen firsthand her contribution to the quality of the College of Education,” Dr. Hunsader said. “Her enthusiasm to pursue new opportunities that have expanded her knowledge and supported our mission have further positioned her as an effective leader who will keep the College of Education on the cutting edge. Our College of Education will continue to excel.”

Further information about the College of Education is available at https://web.tusculum.edu/collegeofeducation/.