An athlete-turned-educator and a rising star in an award-winning master-teacher training program at the University of Florida have been named the UF College of Education’s 2011 Outstanding Young Alumni.
The recipients are David Horton (PhD ’09), a former college baseball standout who now stands out as an instructor and researcher at Ohio University’s School of Education, and Philip Poekert (PhD ’08), a professor-in-residence for Miami programs at UF’s renowned Lastinger Center for Learning.
The UF Alumni Association established the Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2006 to recognize alumni who are 35 or younger and have distinguished themselves in their profession and community.
Here are profiles of the two 2011 recipients . . .
Philip Poekert (PhD ’08)
Ph.D., curriculum and instruction, 2008, University of Florida College of Education
Poekert, a 2008 doctoral graduate of UF’s College of Education, is a clinical assistant professor in the college’s school of teaching and learning and a UF Lastinger for Learning professor-in-residence in Miami. He began his teaching career in the South Bronx as a Teach for America instructor, but today he is a leader in two UF programs in south Florida that are on the cutting edge of education reform.
Poekert, 31, directs Ready Schools Miami, which partners UF’s Lastinger Center with Miami-Dade County schools and local community groups to ensure at-risk children enter school healthy and ready to learn. He also coordinates the center’s Florida Master Teacher Initiative, an on-the-job professional development and advanced degree program in education for teachers in Miami‐Dade and across the state. Poekert recently co-authored a successful $6 million federal grant to expand the Master Teacher initiative, offering a new degree track in early childhood education. His group was one of 49 winning applicants, beating out more than 1,600 others nationwide for a share of the stimulus funds.
“This is the area where we can generate the highest return,” Poekert said. “We can literally change the trajectory of children’s lives,” said Poekert, who previously taught in public schools in Oakland, Los Angeles and West Palm Beach before pursuing his UF doctoral degree.
The National School Reform Faculty organization recognizes Poekert as a national facilitator. His research includes evaluation studies of the impact of collaborative professional development on the instructional practice at the early childhood and elementary level. He has published in several national and international journals, including Teacher Education Quarterly and Professional Development in Education.
David Horton, Jr. (PhD ’09)
Ph.D., Higher Education Administration, 2009, University of Florida College of Education
Shortly after David Horton Jr. received his doctorate in higher education administration from UF in 2009, a search committee for Ohio University’s counseling and higher education department hired him as an assistant professor, impressed by his potential as an outstanding scholar.
Within two weeks of his appointment, the committee was proven right when Horton won the 2009 Outstanding Paper/Dissertation Award from the Southeastern Association for Community College Research (SACCR). He also was the SACCR’s featured speaker at its annual conference that year. Horton, who played baseball at the junior college and community college level in Texas, wrote his dissertation on the academic performance of community college athletes, a topic seldom studied. Research on college athletics typically focuses on four-year institutions.
At Ohio University, his teaching and research areas include the organization, governance and funding of higher education, multicultural development, diversity in higher education, the persistence of community college students, and the academic success of student-athletes.
Horton, 33, came to UF with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in history from Dallas Baptist University. During his doctoral studies, he worked as a recruiter and assistant in the College of Education’s office of outreach, recruitment and retention. He also received funding to attend the College Sports Research Institute’s annual meeting. He credits much of his success to his involvement in athletics, saying, “My participation in athletics taught me that hard work does pay off, and that you get out of life what you put into it.”