As a professor of counseling psychology, Hardin L.K. Coleman '71, Ph.D., attributes much of his teaching philosophy to what he learned at GFS—the power of collaborative learning, all children can learn and are valuable assets, the central role of caring adults in education—which have helped him in the pursuit of his ultimate goal: to create equitable access to a high-quality learning experience for all children.
Hardin L.K. Coleman '71, Ph.D., is a Professor of Counseling Psychology and Applied Human Development at Boston University's Wheelock College of Education and Human Development and a Dean Emeritus of the College. As a teacher, Dr. Coleman is focused on the preparation of professional school counselors. As Dean, Dr. Coleman focuses on how a school of education can use research to refine the practice of education, primarily through training educators and partnerships with schools.
Dr. Coleman's scholarly interests include the socio-cultural factors in minority student achievement and the use of developmental guidance to promote social and emotional intelligence in children. His work has been published in The Counseling Psychologist and The Professional School Counselor, and he has co-edited several handbooks, including The Handbook of School Counseling and The Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender in Multicultural Counseling. Dr Coleman is also deeply engaged civically, serving as Vice Chair of the Boston Public School Committee and Faculty Director for the Center of Character and Social Responsibility and for the Center for School Improvement at Boston University. He has served on the Board of Governors for English High School in Boston, MA, the Westtown School Committee, Beijing City International School, Ten Strands in San Francisco, Edvestors, and the Home for Little Wanderers and Inversant in Boston.
After graduating from GFS, Dr. Coleman attended Williams College ('75), University of Vermont ('80), and Stanford University, ('92). He has worked at the George School, Abington Friends School, Westtown School, Shanghai Teachers University, Cambridge Hospital, and is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His "North Star" is creating equitable access to high-quality learning experiences for all children.
Dr. Coleman reflects often on the impact GFS has had on his career path and on who he is today as a result of his time on campus.
"It is the GFS motto, 'Behold I have set before thee an open door,' that has guided my practice throughout my career. At GFS it was modeled for me that caring adults who believed, and acted on the belief, that all children can learn and that all children are valuable assets, creates opportunities for all. Much of my work is focused on creating equitable access to a high-quality learning experience for all of our children. I learned what that looks like and feels like at GFS. Every time I get a class to be fully engaged in a conversation, as we were with Mrs. Reifsynder, I am thankful for that experience. Every time I get a group to effectively employ a consensus decision-making model so that everyone owns the outcome of our work, I am thankful for GFS. Every time I am guided by my values in making a difficult decision and am not moralistic about it, I am thankful for what I learned at GFS. Every time that I am led by the belief that we all have value, I am thankful for the GFS experience."
When reflecting on his own path after GFS, Dr. Coleman has this advice to share with current GFS students and recent graduates interested in pursuing a similar career in education:
"Love what you do and trust yourself. The rewards of a career in education are not financial, they are deeply personal. It is OK to value that connection, be drawn to it, and take your sustenance from it. Challenge yourself to keep learning. Being an effective educator includes having a deep knowledge of your content and being committed to communicating that knowledge to other learners who may not learn as you do. It is an ongoing process. Seek models of excellent practice and get mentored."
When thinking back to his time on campus, and, in particular, those who influenced him most as a student, Dr. Colemen has fond recollections of Wesley Durham, Rick Huganir, and Alyson Greenlaw, who were "some of my closest peers with whom I learned to have meaningful conversations about anything and everything." In terms of teachers, it was Ms. Walker, Ms. Cadbury, and Ms. Reifsynder, along with Mr. Paulmier and Mr. Burnett (the only teacher of color I had) that are the models I aspire to replicate."
And as for a favorite moment: "Alyson, Wesley, and I would sit together in Mrs. Reifsynder's class every day. She would ask a question, our heads would come together and then all three hands would go up. She allowed us to learn that collaborative learning can be great learning. We mastered the work better in that situation than if we had been on our own. In fact, we all applied to the same college and she wrote a single letter of recommendation for the three of us. She was a model for the high expectations and high support that are central to student accomplishment."
Dr. Coleman shares in closing, "I learned at GFS that in relationships with my friends, there are no sacred cows and that having a passionate discussion about ideas, particularly when there is not yet a consensus, is a gift. My favorite activity is having conversations with friends about challenging ideas. I guess I am replicating the Front Hall moments with my great friends."