Elementary Ed Alum Awarded ‘Teacher of the Year’

Sharyn Genschmer (BAE ’93 & MED ’94, Elementary Ed) was awarded Teacher of the Year at Valley Intermediate School in Pelham, AL. She has been teaching 4th grade for ten years at VIS and received the award for the year 2014.

Sharyn is originally from Florida and received her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Elementary Education from UF. She has taught 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. She moved to Birmingham ten years ago, so her husband could attend graduate school at UAB.

For the full story, click here.

Congratulations Sharyn!

image: Pelham City News.

image: Pelham City News.

Diverse practitioners headline Education Career Night

Four College of Education alumni will offer career advice that extends well beyond teaching during the college’s annual Education Career Night set for April 8 at the Reitz Union Auditorium.

The event is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is open to all.

Panel CollageThis year’s four-member panel will share wisdom they each have gathered along four distinctly different career paths. Panel members include Tina Calderone, school board member at Seminole County Public Schools, Jayne Ellspermann, principal of Ocala’s West Port High School, Steve Freedman, executive director of the Institute for Child Health Policy of the State University System of Florida, and Skip Marshall, vice president and CTO of Tribridge, a technology services firm.

Calderone, who received her Ed.D in educational leadership in 1999, was elected to the Seminole County School Board in 2010 and served as board chairman in 2011-2012. She has established a diverse and successful career that includes education, marketing, sales, public relations, fundraising and training. Previously, she worked as a college administrator at Stetson University and the University of Florida, and an adjunct instructor at both Seminole State College and the University of Central Florida.

Ellspermann received her M.Ed. in educational administration and supervision in 1983. Recently, the National Association of Secondary School Principals recognized her as Principal of the Year. During her 11 years as principal of West Port High, she changed the school’s entire philosophy by spearheading a college-going culture personalized for students. Under her leadership, course failure has nearly disappeared, the graduation rate has jumped 15 points and participation in activities has increased seven-fold to nearly 70 percent.

Freedman earned his BAE‘ 95 and MAE‘97 in education, and went on to receive his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1983. When he’s not working as an executive director, he doubles as a USF professor of pediatrics, political science and public health. Previously, he was a professor of child health policy at the University of Florida for over 20 years. His lifetime achievements warrant his distinction as one of a handful of non-physicians elected to fellowship in the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Marshall earned everything at UF from his BAE’ 95 in education to his MBA ’09 in business management at UF. He can be considered as the brains behind many online learning operations. He specializes in instructional design theory, integrative content design, learning program solutions and learning systems integration. He is a former faculty member at the University of South Florida and a teaching and technology fellow at the University of Florida.

Following the panel discussion, UF’s award-winning Career Resource Center is hosting “Careers in Education” Career Fair in the Reitz Union Ballroom from 5 to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit: https://education.ufl.edu/alumni/career-night/.

SOURCE: Jodi Mount, Associate Director of Alumni Relations & Events, UF College of Education; jmount@coe.ufl.edu
WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu

Social Studies Education Alum Named District’s Top Teacher

David Fields, a 2008 M.Ed. graduate in social studies education, has been named the Clay County (Fla.) School District’s Teacher of the Year.  Fields has been teaching advanced placement U.S. history and American government at Orange Park High School for the past seven years, and also designed a sports history course that requires students to research the history of a pro franchise or college team.

“I learned that being passionate about my profession helps to get students to buy into the subjects I teach,” Fields said. “Sometimes I think it’s crazy that I get paid to work every day and talk about subjects that I’m so interested in – whether it’s Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement or how instrumental he was in saving football from extinction in the early 1900s.  “The Secondary ProTeach program at UF gave me the tools to enter my classroom on Day 1 as a consummate professional,” he added. “I need to adapt to new technology and content so I can meet the needs of students in the 21st century.”  Students from Clay County (Fla.) Teacher of the year David Fields’ advanced placement U.S. History class show their support during a recent ceremony held at Orange Park High School.  Fields’ former social studies education professor, Elizabeth Washington, said she wasn’t surprised to learn of Fields’ selection as Teacher of the Year.  “Dave was very committed to making his lessons culturally relevant and engaging,” Washington said. “He was always very passionate during classroom discussions — always willing to think through challenging issues and make thoughtful contributions.”  Fields, who also earned bachelor’s degrees in history and political science with a minor in secondary education at UF, will go on to compete to become Florida’s Teacher of the Year.

Clay Today, a weekly newspaper in Clay County, ran a recent article on his latest honor.


Benedict joins growing list of special ed. students to win prestigious CEC research award

College of Education alumna Amber Benedict (PhD ‘14, Special Ed) will head for San Diego this spring to receive the prestigious Student Research Award for Qualitative Design from the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division for Research.  The council is the world’s largest organization of special education professionals and educators.

Benedict, who has been serving as a post-doctoral associate in special education for the COE and its Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR Center) since earning her doctorate last August, is the fourth student of COE doctoral faculty adviser Mary Brownell to receive the award in the past six years. Previous recipients and their current institutions were Melinda Leko (University of Kansas), Mary Theresa Kiely (St. Johns University), and Alexandra Lauterbach (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

“It’s no accident that Dr. Brownell’s students repeatedly win this award,” Benedict said. “She works tirelessly to ensure that multiple grants operate concurrently, and she has modeled for us relentlessly while pursuing funding and support for large-scale research and technical assistance.”

“Her positive leadership has altered my life’s trajectory,” Benedict added. “Because of her high expectations, I’ve developed the knowledge and skills to be a strong teacher educator. And now I’m carving out a path for myself as a special education researcher.”

Benedict’s award is based on her dissertation, Learning Together: Teachers’ Evolving Understandings During Ongoing Collaborative Professional Development, and will be presented during the CEC’s national conference in April.

“I want to focus on ensuring that students with learning disabilities and other struggling learners have access to high-quality instruction,” Benedict said. “One way to do that is to demonstrate that teachers’ professional learning opportunities can increase student achievement in the area of literacy.”


2014 Distinguished Educators

Congratulations to our 2014 UF Distinguished Educators! The Educators were recognized at the University of Florida’s Commencement on Saturday, December 20th. A luncheon was held before the Fall Commencement ceremony at the President’s Suite in the Ben Hill Griffin stadium and the Educators received golden apple awards for their teaching accomplishments.

This year’s award recipients are (pictured from left to right): Richard Hernandez from Okaloosa County, Alfred Fabrizio from Martin County, Dean Glenn Good, David Steffey from Marion County, Moneek Scott-McTier from Palm Beach County, and Robert Egley from Hendry County.

To see all of the photos from the event, click here.



Higher ed. alumna joins college administration in Jamaica

UF higher education administration alumna Zaria Malcolm (PhD ’11) was recently appointed vice principal of academic affairs and institutional advancement at Excelsior Community College in Kingston, Jamaica.  Malcolm, a native of Jamaica, earned her doctorate at UF with a concentration in qualitative research methodology.  Zaria Malcolm, “The program and degree from UF was the best possible preparation for the work I’m doing now,” she said.

During her UF studies, Malcolm received major scholarships, including the Graduate School Fellowship, the university’s most prestigious graduate student award. The fellowship program is intended to recruit the most qualified students to pursue graduate-level study and research at UF.  She attended UF under a special Fulbright scholarship awarded to select students who come to UF from abroad to pursue their graduate studies with an expectation that they will return to their home country upon graduation and contribute to national development.  “I always had it in the back of my mind that I was going home to contribute to Jamaica’s education system,” she said.  As an administrator, Malcolm has a special interest in providing more opportunities for both students and faculty at Excelsior to receive international exposure and experience.  “In the field of education, I think we need to help to develop not just national citizens but global citizens,” she said.  Malcolm said she has a lifelong connection to her alma mater and appreciates the Gator Nations’ involvement with the rest of the world. With such a wide reach, she believes the higher education program at UF can contribute to the development of educational leadership not just in the United States, but internationally.  “There are really good people and programs in the College of Education,” she said. “I think we need to highlight that in order to take the Gator Nation even higher.”

50-year EduGator alums offer advice for today’s students

What advice would UF College of Education alumni who graduated exactly a half-century ago–from the class of 1964–give to today’s education students?

The COE recently joined colleges across campus in honoring their new 50-year alumni, as members of the class of 1964 were inducted into the UF Alumni Association’s Grand Guard. Here is advice from some of the seven new COE Grand Guard inductees (pictured) who attended a luncheon at Norman Hall recently honoring their 50-year class:

“Have high standards, your kids will rise to it. Just because you have a degree in education doesn’t mean you have to teach. Keep the level of respect high; continue to learn.” — STEVE FREEDMAN

“Put your heart into it . . . Enjoy the children. If you don’t like teaching, find something else because you won’t be good at it.” — CAROL HAYES CHRISTIANSEN

“Know your discipline, get background knowledge, teach to the highest level and always expect a lot out of your students.” — DIANE BROWN

“Take advantage of P.K. Yonge (UF’s K-12 developmental research school)” — ANNA KARAYIANNAKIS

“P.K. Yonge is a great starting place. Follow your dreams. Take advantage of what you can.” — DIANE HAINES

“Be passionate; put your best self forward.” — VIRGINIA CULPEPPER

“The quest for knowledge is lifelong; foster a love for curiosity (in your students).” — BRUCE CULPEPPER

Seven members of the COE class of 1964 pose at a luncheon honoring their induction into the UF Alumni Association’s Grand Guard for 50-year alumni. Pictured from left are Anna Karayiannakis, Joyce Neilson, Diane Haines, Steve Freedman, Carol Hayes-Christiansen, Virginia “Pep” Culpepper and Diane Brown.

Counselor Ed Alum Credits College for Career Success

Cathy Hardage (MED & EDS ’96, School Counseling & Guidance) credits the UF College of Education to her career success.

“I wanted to compliment the recent issue of the College of Education magazine.  I am a graduate of the Counselor Ed Program at UF (1996), and I really enjoy keeping up with what is going on. The College did a fine job of highlighting the fine education program at UF.  I retired as the Head of School at St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School in Jacksonville, Florida in June of this year. My masters and specialist degrees from UF were instrumental in helping me advance my career. I began as a guidance counselor, then went on to become an assistant head of school, and then a head of school. All I gained at this program at UF, helped me tremendously in my day to day work in my various positions.  Best of luck and great job on the magazine!”

After completing the UF Couselor Education program, Hardage was hired as the first guidance counselor at Grace Episcopal School in Ocala in 1996.  “I was able to completely create the program,” she says.  “I put in place everything I learned at UF, large group guidance, small groups for specific purposes, individual counseling, a peer facilitator program. I had no restrictions and I was able to set up a true guidance program , without a great deal of clerical responsibilities. In 1997, I was called to be the assistant head of school . I took on this responsibility , while continuing the guidance program I had implemented.”

In 2001, Cathy Hardage became the assistant head of school at San Jose Episcopal Day School, located in Jacksonville.  The next year, she received the Hooker Grant from the Florida Council of Independent Schools for a character education program she developed called, “Fruits of the Spirit.”  Cathy published a booklet with the grant money on how to implement the “Fruits of the Spirit” program in secular and religious schools..

In 2006, Cathy Hardage became the head of school at St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School in Jacksonville.  She remained the head of the school until her recent retirement in June.  Her character education program is also incorporated into the school’s community culture.


Citrus County Schools Recognized for Innovative Technology Use

Mike Geddes (PhD ’04, Curriculum & Instruction) is the Director of Instructional Technology for Citrus County Schools. Under his leadership, the district was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for innovative and effective technology use.

Full article: Florida County Uses Technology to Engage Students and Innovate in the Classroom.


EduGator Homecoming Tailgate

On Saturday, the College of Education hosted an EduGator Homecoming Tailgate for alumni, faculty, and friends at the Norman Hall Plaza. Attendees were able to meet Dean Glenn Good and reconnect with fellow alumni before heading to the Florida vs. Missouri Homecoming game. This year we had BBQ from 4 Rivers and games for our guests.

Click here to see pictures from the event.

This year’s EduGator Homecoming Tailgate was a success!

Go Gators!