Loyola University Chicago

Founders' Dinner - Archive

Ernestine G. Riggs

DAMEN AWARD - SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

Ernestine G. Riggs (PhD ’90) is an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago, where she received her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies. She taught undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of reading, writing, research, character education, classroom management, and critical-thinking skills.

Dr. Riggs has been involved in the field of education for 54 years and has a diverse background in teaching. She has taught Head Start, primary, intermediate, upper grades, special education, and high school students. At DePaul University, she served as an adjunct professor before coming to Loyola.

The majority of Dr. Riggs’s career has been in the Chicago Public Schools; however, she spent six years teaching in Misawa, Japan, through the U.S. Department of Defense Overseas Schools. She organized exchange programs between Japanese and American teachers, including workshops and training sessions on reading methods and instructional materials, diversity training, and human relations.

Dr. Riggs’s philosophy is that every child has the innate ability to learn and succeed in school and life but that school and society often diminish this ability. It is her belief that with a great deal of love, nurturing, authentic instruction, understanding, patience, and encouragement, the conative spirit—or the will and determination to strive to be and do one’s best—can be rekindled. She is a strong advocate of teaching the whole child, addressing each student’s social, emotional, cultural, and environmental factors. 

In 2008, her Loyola students accompanied her on a mission trip with her pastor and other teachers to Cape Town, South Africa, where they demonstrated to the students and teachers in South Africa how Loyola students and prospective teachers were so well trained in their craft.

Dr. Riggs is a member of numerous professional organizations. She is also published and a frequent presenter at local, district, national, and international conferences, such as the prestigious Oxford Round Table in Oxford, England, and in countries like Ecuador and Venezuela.

She has received numerous citations and merit awards but considers her most distinguished recognition as being selected as one of the Outstanding Elementary Teachers of America by the U.S. Department of Defense Overseas Schools in 1974.

Her core message is, “Perceive every child as having the potential for greatness, and provide all students with the opportunity to succeed in school and life!”