With the funding support from the Fien professorship, Coady says she will examine the role, qualities and vision of school and teacher leaders in advancing academic achievement and success of multilingual students.
“In my work, I have repeatedly noted the strong leadership required to support the language and literacy development of multilingual students through policies and practice,” Coady said. “When school and teacher leaders are invested in these students’ learning, they appear to do well. The Fien Endowed Professorship will advance my work by gaining insight into effective school leaders for multilingual students.”
Florida has required ESOL endorsement training for preservice teachers since 2001, and UF’s ProTeach curriculum infuses second language learning and teaching theory into their general teacher education classes such as reading and science instruction. Still, Coady says research on the impact of so-called ESOL infusion in American schools has been minimal, but she and UF ESOL education faculty colleagues Ester de Jong and Candace Harper (recently retired) have been making headway to strengthen research and knowledge in the field.
They made giant strides in a landmark, five-year study (2007-2012) called Project DELTA, which stands for Developing English Language and Literacy through Teacher Achievement. Under a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education and tapping into the Florida DOE’s massive Education Data Warehouse, the researchers identified the need to transform traditional teacher training by providing more in-class opportunities to practice second language teaching strategies and guidance working with non-English speaking families.
They also revised UF’s curriculum to show education students how teaching materials in mainstream subject areas can be modified for English learners.
Coady’s work in that study led to a second national grant, for $2.4 million over five years (2016-2021), called Project STELLAR, or Supporting Teachers of English Language Learners Across Rural settings. Her team is in its second year of designing and implementing special, job-embedded professional development programs for teachers and leaders in rural Levy County schools—located in northcentral Florida—to advance teaching and learning of second-language students and boost school engagement with their families.
The Fien professorship Coady now occupies was created in 1998 through a $600,000 contribution by Irving Fien, founder of Fine Distributing, a Miami-based food distribution company. He made the donation to honor his wife, Rose, who had died the year before. Irving, the son of Russian immigrants and once an at-risk student himself, died in 2004. With matching funds from the state and additional gifts from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the professorship is now backed by more than $1.2 million in funds.