College fetes engaged scholarship efforts of faculty, local educators

UF’s College of Education recently honored some of this year’s most noteworthy efforts in engaged scholarship by college and university faculty and graduate students, and local educators. The “scholarship of […]

UF’s College of Education recently honored some of this year’s most noteworthy efforts in engaged scholarship by college and university faculty and graduate students, and local educators.

The “scholarship of engagement’ concept involves pursuing innovative scholarly activities specifically to address critical concerns in education or society. Engagement often requires building connections with schools, families, school districts, community groups and government agencies to lead for change in a world where transformation in education and society is essential.

The college recognized its 2011 Scholarship of Engagement Award winners Sept. 8 at its annual fall recognition reception at the Gainesville Women’s Club. The recipients included College of Education faculty in educational administration, early childhood studies and educational technology, a UF professor and a graduate student in health education and behavior, and local school heads from Newberry Elementary School and P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.

A list of the winners follows:

COE Faculty Award (School of Human Development & Organizational Studies in Education)

Linda Behar-Horenstein, professor in educational administration, UF Distinguished Teaching Scholar
Linda Behar-Horenstein puts her knowledge of school curriculum to work by helping educators improve teaching methods. She holds the prestigious title of UF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a role that allows her to help graduate students in many colleges acquire the skills they need to become researchers, while offering faculty members an expanded skills base in teaching their doctoral students. Her recent work documents how helping faculty acquire a basic awareness of their own instructional practices can yield changes to their teaching. Behar-Horenstein, an affiliate professor of the College of Dentistry, has developed a Critical Thinking Skills Toolbox website for the American Dental Educational Association. This site assists faculty in dental schools across the U.S. and Canada in infusing the teaching of critical thinking skills strategies.

COE Faculty Award (School of Special Education, School Psychology & Early Childhood Studies)

Patricia Snyder, professor and David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies

Patricia Snyder portraitPat Snyder often finds herself in watching infants, toddlers and preschoolers interact with their families or early learning practitioners, counting the learning opportunities happening right in front of her. It is her natural instinct to note how one can easily capitalize on these everyday learning experiences. This is the kind of person you want overseeing the university’s new, interdisciplinary Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies. Snyder and the College of Education were instrumental in the center’s formation last year and she is its founding director. Snyder and her colleagues are mobilizing all the resources and expertise that the College and university can muster to advance the science, practice and policy of early childhood development and early learning. She advises state and federal early-learning commissions and also supports the local community in early-learning initiatives. Snyder is a local volunteer and adviser for United Way and the Children’s Movement of Florida.

COE Faculty Award (School of Teaching and Learning)

Kara Dawson, associate professor, education technology and Unified Elementary Education
Kara Dawson studies the innovative ways that technology can impact teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms, higher education and virtual schooling. Not only is she preparing UF teaching students for the increased role that online learning is playing in contemporary education, she’s also working to make computers a pervasive part of the learning experience in all public school classrooms. In one study, Dawson and co-researchers partnered with nearly 30 Florida school districts to assess and improve online teaching tools and classroom technology. Dawson, a UF faculty member since 1999, teaches the educational media practicum course that accompanies a student-teaching apprenticeship in the online learning environment through Florida Virtual School. She belongs to a statewide council of education technology leaders from school districts and is the lead researcher studying the influence of the federal grant entitlement program known as Enhancing Education through Technology, part of the No Child Left Behind program.

P.K. Yonge Award (P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School)

Fran Vandiver, school director (recently retired)
While directing UF’s renowned K-12 laboratory school over the past 13 years, Fran Vandiver has provided leadership and support to the 14-county Northeast Florida Educational Consortium. She also has assisted hundreds of school leaders across the state in understanding how to use research and theory to improve schools thoughtfully, rather than reactively. She was a key force in the Florida Reading Initiative, a state-funded project that impacted more than 100 schools. Vandiver also has been a strong proponent of teacher inquiry as an effective method of school-improvement. She supported the development of Research in Action and the Scholars Academy at P.K. Yonge, which continues to host more than 300 teachers and administrators annually. She was always in-synch with P.K. Yonge’s two core missions: First, you find the best way to teach kids, then you pass that knowledge to practicing and future teachers whenever and wherever you can.

Graduate Student Award

Anthony Delisle, doctoral student, UF Department of Health Education and Behavior
Tony Delisle has dedicated much of the past three years participating in a community-academic partnership that promotes health-enhancing physical activity in young adults with intellectual disabilities. He knows that persons with such disabilities are less likely to engage in physical activity and are more susceptible to obesity and other chronic diseases related to inactivity. He has worked with county school administrators, educators, caregivers, three UF academic departments and numerous university students to revive and expand a Community Academic Partnership to address the problem. The group implements sustainable health programming to increase physical activity and improve health outcomes in young adults with intellectual disabilities. Delisle has won numerous honors for his research and graduate-teaching instructional achievements. And, he’s achieved all of this—despite also being legally blind.

University Award

Christine Stopka, professor, UF Department of Health Education and Behavior
Since 1982, Christine Stopka and her students have worked directly with public schools, locally and statewide, using adapted physical education activities and exercise therapy to improve the quality of life for schoolchildren and young adults with physical, medical and intellectual disabilities. She has conducted dozens of in-service workshops, institutes and distance-learning courses to help teachers become highly qualified in promoting health-enhancing physical activity in students aged 2 through 22 with significant disabilities. She and her students work directly with public school teachers and their students in the teaching and learning of adapted physical education, aquatics, fitness and sports programs. Studies show these students improve in fitness skills at the same rate as their UF student peers, and it benefits their eventual transition into vocational settings. More recent research also shows that the UF peer “tutors” improve their own fitness levels, communication skills and comfort in volunteering. Stopka’s program bridges community service with research and has proven to be a win-win-win for everyone involved.

School District Award

Lacy Redd, principal, Newberry Elementary School
Lacy Redd has served as principal at Newberry Elementary School for nine years. She is a UF ProTeach graduate and earned her master’s and specialist degrees from UF.  She is currently a doctoral student writing her dissertation on “What is the principal’s role in socializing new teachers to the profession.” She is actively involved in training the next generation of teachers by hosting some 30 future teachers at her school each semester. Newberry Elementary, an “A” school for four consecutive years, and its highly respected principal are gaining nationwide attention for their ability to make impressive gains with students with disabilities through an inclusive education model. Redd recently co-authored her first published research report in the Journal of Special Education Leadership.