Dr. Leah Fiorentino is named dean of the School of Education


Dr. Leah H. Fiorentino, a veteran educator and administrator, has joined The University of North Carolina at Pembroke as dean of the School of Education.

Leah FiorentinoDr. Fiorentino comes to UNCP from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga., where she served as assistant and interim dean of the College of Education. She taught for 10 years in a K-12 setting and was a member of the faculty at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., for 17 years.

Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, said the University could not be more pleased with the addition of Dr. Fiorentino as Dean of the School of Education.  

“Dr. Fiorentino has established a strong national reputation for being a visionary, a tireless advocate for teacher education, and a highly effective and motivational leader,” Dr. Harrington said. “Her commitment to collaboration, cooperation, and shared governance will be a tremendous asset to the University. 

“I have no doubt whatsoever that Dr. Fiorentino will build on the foundation of excellence that has become the hallmark of our School of Education,” he said.

Dr. Fiorentino notes that the School of Education has an outstanding reputation in the state.

“I talked with a lot of people,” she said. “Most impressive is the response I received from the local community, which makes our School of Education sound almost too good to be true. They are very impressed with UNCP and the high quality of the teachers we develop.

“The reputation of our School of Education extends well beyond the region,” she added. “The recent successful state and national accreditation efforts validate that reputation.”

“I am very impressed by the faculty and administration at UNCP, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with individuals who are known for their commitment and work ethic,” Dr. Fiorentino said. “One of my basic beliefs is that higher education folks need to work with the local communities. The School of Education faculty seem to value the same idea, and I look forward to working side-by-side with faculty who value service to the local school communities.”
Dean Fiorentino plans to spend considerable time working collaboratively with the local education community. Working with local schools is the key to improving education in the region and teacher preparation at UNCP, Dr. Fiorentino said.

“We will make a concerted effort to meet the needs of our local school systems and to provide the services they deem important and useful,” she said. “The chance to engage local educators in the planning process opens the door for action research opportunities, which show promise to simultaneously improve P-K education and teacher preparation.

“Open dialogue is critical to our mission,” she said. “Positive conversations with our local school partners will enable the School of Education to meet the needs of the local schools and the University’s students.  We have to be partners in the short and long term goals of our schools and teacher preparation programs.”

Before beginning her ascent up the ladder of higher education, Dr. Fiorentino was a certified K-12 physical education teacher. “I taught all shapes and sizes of children,” she said.

She earned a Master of Arts degree from Adelphi University and a Master and Doctor of Education degrees from Columbia University. Dr. Fiorentino joined the faculty at Adelphi University as supervisor of student teaching and later served as director of clinical services, coordinator of teacher preparation and interim department chair.

“At UNCP, I have the opportunity to lead a well established and well regarded teacher education program,” she said. “This has been a long-term career goal, and it is a great opportunity for me.”

Dr. Fiorentino brings lengthy and varied experience to the School of Education. Besides administrative and teaching experiences, she has conducted research and is widely published on issues of integrating technology in the classroom and physical education curriculum and instruction.

Dr. Fiorentino worked on national and state accreditation matters, edited several professional journals, consulted on school technology issues and was awarded several grants, including almost $1 million in AACTE-Microsoft Innovative Teachers Technology grants.

She won several awards for teaching and service to her university, community and professional associations.

Dr. Fiorentino is president-elect of the National Association for Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education and a member of the Association Internationale Ecole Superieure de Education Physique, the American Education Research Association, Phi Delta Kappa Honorary Education Society, and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.

For more information about the School of Education, please call 910.521.6221 or email soe@uncp.edu.