Professor Sally Blake has conducted numerous research projects funded by nationally competitive granting agencies, taught hundreds of college courses, presented at dozens of academic conferences, and founded several important education initiatives over the course of her 30-year career in education. She is a 17-year-veteran of public school teaching and was named Flagler College’s Faculty of the Year in 2013. She’s even on the advisory board for Sesame Street, and in that role, she is participating in a special study to better develop language and vocabulary for children from low-income environments. Yet for all these astounding achievements and noteworthy accolades, what is it that really impresses this veteran educator?
“Flagler College students,” she said simply. “I’m in awe of them.”
That’s heady praise, coming from a master educator with a long history in academia. But she unhesitatingly presses the point: “I’m in awe of our students, and how passionate, articulate, and serious they are about becoming good teachers,” she said. “Our students are change agents. They will teach coming generations how to lead and succeed. Our future lies in the hands of Flagler College students—I believe that very firmly.”
Professor Blake was born in Arkansas and made her way to Florida by way of Texas and Mississippi. She has served on state science standards committees for early-childhood development, developed degrees in ECE science education, and won numerous awards in the field. Most recently, through the Sesame Street advisory board position, she has worked on a project entitled “Words are All Around Us” to develop key messages and strategies that set the foundation for new methods of learning that will improve the use of language among at-risk groups of children. At a meeting this year in Pittsburgh, colleagues on the advisory board asked her why she left a tenured position in academic research to teach at Flagler College.
“I told them that I had decided that research was just not doing enough to change educational environments,” she said. “Teacher training at a college like Flagler will have more impact than any of my other work.”