Dr. Jerrold Ross has spent many years trying to make a difference through his work in the field of education.
Born in Brooklyn, when it came time to go to college Ross had two choices. He could either attend Juilliard and become a professional pianist, or he could attend New York University for music education. He chose the latter.
“It's something that I had wanted to do since I was in the fourth grade,” he said of being a teacher.
Ross began his education career as a music teacher in public schools. Eventually he moved on to teach at New York University (NYU) and served in various positions before taking on the role of Associate Dean of the School of Education.
“When you work with teachers, you have the ability to influence far more children. If you work with children on your own, you just help those you work with,” Ross said.
For the last 11 years, Ross has been the Dean of the School of Education at St. John's University. He said that he was attracted to the university because of its mission, which he said is to work with those who are in need.
“The opportunity to work with young people who come to St. John's, who differ from the elite who come to NYU, is something that I found irresistible,” said Ross, who is a member of organizations such as the Teacher Education Accreditation Council and the commission on Teacher Preparation, Accountability and Evaluation.
During his time at St. John's, the university's School of Education was ranked 84th on U.S. News & World Report's 2007 list of the 100 best American graduate schools. To get this spot, the school rose 12 spots.
Ross is also currently a member of the Usdan Center Board of Trustees and formerly spent 30 years as its president. The Usdan Center for Creative and Performing Arts is a not-for-profit summer school that focuses and serves about 1,800 students who have expressed an interest in the arts.
Recently, the Usdan Center showed its appreciation of Ross's contributions by naming the Jerrold Ross Discovery Center after him. The center will be home to the Discovery Program, which serves Usdan's youngest students.
“It's a tremendous honor,” Ross said.
Ross has also contributed to the field of education through his work with the National Arts Education Research Center. Research with that organization found that there is a relationship between a student's exposure to the arts and their academic success. This research is still quoted today.
As a musician who still plays piano for himself, Ross knows first-hand how important the arts are.
“Music both leads and reflects society so that when you listen to music you are better able to understand what has happened or is happening in the world,” he said.
As Ross continues his work at St. John's University and with the Usdan Center, he said his goal for both is the same.
“We want to be the best that we can possibly be and that requires a continuing effort and a real commitment to working with young people.”