Dr. Charles Cherry named dean of the Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology
July 03, 2012
Dr. Charles Cherry has been named dean of the Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology at Elizabeth City State University. Cherry, an ECSU alumnus who earned his doctorate Vanderbilt University, has served as interim dean at ECSU for the past two years. He begins the post working in the new Willie and Jacqueline Gilchrist Education and Psychology Complex. Cherry is confident the building’s highly advanced features better enables faculty to blend theory with technology to prepare students for the types of challenges teachers face in today’s classrooms. "Today’s teachers must be prepared to show students how to gather information in a classroom that once could be acquired only by visiting the library," Cherry said in describing the future of education. He said ECSU has the tools to meet the challenge to produce more and better teachers. "We now can train them to incorporate technology in various instructional methods, whether that includes the use of Skype, webinars or online research databases. The curriculum center in this new building enables teachers to share instructional materials that will be used as resources in the classroom. Education has changed in the last decade — even in the last five years — so the way we train prospective teachers must change." Cherry said it is important for prospective teachers to be prepared locally to teach in schools anywhere across the nation or the globe. "Our students are now considering student teaching assignments in countries abroad, such as in China or Finland," he said. "They must be prepared to compete with prospective teachers from other universities who also are seeking jobs." Cherry is proud of ECSU’s ability to host workshops and training sessions for teachers working in surrounding counties. He estimates that more than 100 public schoolteachers have come to ECSU’s campus for workshops addressing the use of technology in the classroom. Last year, the Education Department also welcomed area teachers to hear motivational speeches by the national and state teachers of the year. Cherry lauds the increased interaction between the university and teachers in surrounding areas. If public education will change for the better, he explained, teachers, superintendents and other staff must have ongoing training, steady dialog about the needs of today’s students and a convenient, public place to complete those sessions -the local university, he said. It has been 50 years since Cherry first entered public education as a teacher. He went on to become a coach, assistant principal, an administrator in library services and instructional services and later an instructor and administrator in higher education. He says he can identify with the people he now serves as dean, whether they are prospective teachers, university faculty or staff. "After 50 years in education, my thirst, my desire, passion, compassion and commitment are as strong today as when I began. I am wiser now, but I realize it’s a good time to be a contributor in an ever-changing profession," Cherry said. Cherry said he is especially proud of the changes and developments at his alma mater, ECSU. He recalled the pride of seeing his former instructor, Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell, witness the naming of the School of Education and Psychology in her honor in March 2012. He said he learned from Caldwell and others during his undergraduate experience at ECSU in the 1960s core concepts in addition to the essential tactics of instruction. "Teaching goes beyond your special knowledge of a topic, but it includes your rewarding experiences in music, literature, community involvement and others areas of interest. You can be the smartest person holding a teacher’s certificate, but it’s the experience you bring to the classroom, the places you’ve gone that allow you to captivate students’ interest," Cherry said. "The teachers in my day brought real life experiences to the classroom. That’s what makes classrooms come alive when teachers can add that to the curriculum. Students must realize what you teach will be relevant to their lives after they’ve completed your course." In addition to ECSU’s Education Department, Cherry was complimentary of the Psychology Department, noting that psychology courses recommended for prospective teachers help them to understand the type students they will encounter in the classroom. In addition, he said, human growth and development courses will help prospective teachers understand the difference between the needs and abilities of elementary, middle and high school students. The Psychology Department also plays a critical role in preparing ECSU students for careers in social work, communications, criminal justice and others fields in which understanding human behavior is essential. Other possible career paths for students majoring in psychology include careers as counselors or psychologists. Cherry is dedicated to helping faculty and staff best prepare students in the Dr. Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology for meaningful careers. Cherry earned his master’s degree from Hampton University, an advanced certificate of school administration from Old Dominion University. He is married to Sophronia "Terri" Clarke Cherry. They are the parents of 2 adult daughters, Elon and Charla and the grandparents of five grandchildren.