EKU instructor and long-time teacher, Richard Day believes in relationship building and taking an active part in his student’s educational experience. He goes above and beyond to ensure his online students have opportunities to interact and engage with both himself and the material. Day’s personal attention and dedication to helping students prepare to make their mark in the field makes him a particular point of pride on EKU’s campuses, both in-person and virtual. We take great pride in offering the chance to get to know him a little better.
What brought you to EKU?
I had been an adjunct professor at Georgetown College and the University of Kentucky when, in 2007, I received a call from a former colleague inviting me to come to EKU. Paying a visit to the campus I met the department chair, and signed on as a visiting lecturer. I have loved my time here. I never looked back.
Tell us a little about your work in your field.
My primary area of academic interest is the history of education in Kentucky. It began in the wake of the 1989 Kentucky Supreme Court decision in Rose v. Council for Better Education which declared Kentucky’s entire system of public education to be unconstitutional. I based my studies on the fiscal and legal aspects of the case. When former Kentucky governor Bert Combs said that someone should write a chronology of the factors leading up to the courts’ decision, I decided to take on that challenge in my dissertation. When my dissertation was nationally recognized, it expanded my interests into education policy and politics.
What moment at EKU stands out as most memorable?
There have been so many… I love my students and colleagues so a typical day on the campus beautiful is pretty great. But if I had to point to one thing that was exceptional and certainly memorable it was the three-years I spent as the Faculty Regent on the EKU Board of Regents. That experience gave me the opportunity to learn more about higher education in general and EKU in particular. The decisions were difficult, in those days of repeated budget cuts, but I gained great satisfaction from helping the university navigate those choppy waters and leave the university on a sound footing for the future.
What is your approach to online teaching?
I believe that high quality instruction begins with a well-designed course. It should be linear and very easy for students to follow. They shouldn’t have to guess what is expected or when assignments are due. I always like to include a comprehensive course calendar to give students a quick way to see the whole course at once. And I love that EKU Online requires all courses to pass a Quality Matters review. That way we can assure students that we are delivering high-quality instruction.
I also believe that instructor presence is important in online learning. That presence can be felt from the instructor’s responses to emails, “virtual office” questions, specific feedback on assignments, short videos, Zoom sessions, discussion boards, and whole class assignment reviews. I like to write summary feedback for students following assignments outlining what they have learned and challenging them to think about other related issues. In the end, students need to know that this is not an old school correspondence course, but that there is a real live professor behind the Blackboard course shell today.
What tactics or approaches do you use to aid in your student’s success?
I like to introduce current issues alongside the more theoretical texts we study. I want my students to be able to see policy change as it occurs.
From 2007 to 2017 I was a Kentucky education blogger. Those were the early days of social media. Every day I would read news stories and blog posts from across the political spectrum, gather quotes from politicians and pundits, and try to hold them accountable for what they said they believed, or were going to do. It was a great way to keep up to date on what was happening in the field. It also provided insights into where the profession was headed.
I want my teacher leaders and school administrators to be knowledgeable about the major issues confronting educators and how those issues may impact their local schools and districts, so that they may lead others.
What do you believe are the biggest advantages to online learning?
People who want to excel have busy lives and they find it increasingly necessary to flexibly plan their weekly activities. Online learning allows for an “anytime-anywhere” environment for learning. All you need is a computer and Wi-Fi. This flexibility allows students to plan time for family, work, church, recreation, study – whatever is important in their lives. If the kids go to bed at 8 p.m. and you want that to be your study time, no problem. If it’s 6 a.m., we’re here for you. You say “when.” If you live outside of Kentucky, no problem. You get to say “where” too.
What have you been up to lately? (Research, projects, awards, etc.)
In 2020 I was asked to take the lead on making improvements to the 120-year-old Granny Richardson Springs One-room Schoolhouse. It is located on the south side of campus across the street from the Perkins Building. Since that time, and with a lot of help from EKU Facilities, Development, and other folks, it is now a museum. We hope to open the schoolhouse museum to the public in the future.
EKU owes its existence to the thousands of one-room schoolteachers who sought a better education for themselves and the children of eastern Kentucky. Around the time EKU was founded, there were approximately 8,500 one-room schools in the state. But by 1975, that number was rapidly dwindling to the point that they were becoming hard to find. EKU President Robert Martin set out to find one.
After some searching, an Estill Co. resident named Eli Sparks donated the school on his Barnes Mountain property. Getting the school to campus proved to be a challenge. The narrow mountain road had a cliff on one side, and trees had to be cut on both sides to get the truck through. So, they dismantled the school, removed the bad timber, and reassembled the school within sight of EKU’s newest building, the College of Justice and Safety. The two buildings represented EKU’s past and its future. I am honored, as an “old education historian,” to serve as the museum’s curator.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering finishing their degree or starting for the first time as an adult?
I believe that the quality of our lives is greatly enhanced through life-long learning. So, my message is: You are not too old, even if you think you are. A few semesters ago I watched an 85-year-old woman cross the stage, shake Dr. Benson’s hand, and receive her degree. With some planning, and a lot of time management, I completed my doctorate at the age of 52 while working full-time as a school principal. You can do this.
In today’s world, university credentials are increasingly necessary for advancement in many fields. And it doesn’t always matter what the degree program is. Many companies just want to know that you are a well-educated person who they can easily train to do the work of that business or organization.
Interested in an online Master of Arts in Education degree?
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