Outstanding Graduate Research: Jennifer Drake Patrick Outstanding Graduate Leadership: Kali Davis Outstanding Graduate Professional Practice: Alexandria Harvey Phi Beta Kappa Induction: Andre Gutierrez, Kathryn Hermansen, Lindsey Jameson, Claire Pulignano, Rachel Wright
For anyone who has taken a special education class, there’s a fair chance David Westling wrote the course textbook. Westling has published five major textbooks used in college classes around the nation. Since graduating from UF in 1976 with a doctorate in special education, he has divided his time between teaching and research—studying instruction for students with disabilities and the preparation of special education instructors. He has garnered more than $5.6 million in grant funding in his career and has published over 50 articles in prominent special education publications. Westling has taken his research to an international level; he served as a Fulbright research scholar in Austria in 1994 and was a guest professor in Germany in 1997. Following his travels, he published articles about inclusive practices and support in international schools. He’s now the Adelaide Worth Daniels Distinguished Professor of Special Education at Western Carolina University, where he has taught since 1997. He previously taught at Florida State University for 20 years.
When Max Parker finished his doctorate at UF in the mid-1970s, he wasn’t ready to bid farewell to Norman Hall. Instead, he dedicated the next 26 years to an exemplary career on UF’s counselor education faculty, establishing himself as a campuswide leader and pioneer in multicultural counseling and development. He contributed to numerous college and university committees and advisory boards, and was a part-time counselor at the UF Counseling Center. Parker’s influence, though, extended beyond campus boundaries. He disseminated his research findings in numerous books and journals and received the Most Prolific Contributor Award for his work with the Journal of Multicultural Counseling. He collaborated with several Florida school districts and consulted with numerous colleges and universities. He also conducted group discussions and research in West Africa and Puerto Rico. His experience as an educator spans four decades, and in 1996 he received two universitywide awards for excellence in teaching and research. Although Parker retired from academia in 2003, he still lives in Gainesville and currently works as a mental health counselor in UF’s Student Health Care Center.
Graduate Teacher of the Year
Dr. Behar-Horenstein describes teaching as a “reciprocal relationship” in which her students learn from her just as she learns from them. She integrates teaching and scholarship by providing students with experiential learning to strengthen their resilience and promote their self confidence as emerging researchers. She’s obviously mastered the process: This year’s teaching honor follows her selection in 2006 as a recipient of UF’s Doctoral Dissertation/Mentoring Award, given for excellence in mentoring doctoral students.
Much of her teaching and research focuses on curriculum development, critical thinking skills and postsecondary education. She has published more than 100 research reports, many in collaboration with doctoral students enrolled in independent research studies.
She became a UF faculty member in 1992 after earning her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago. She also is an affiliate professor with UF’s College of Dentistry. She previously authored a critical-thinking-skills toolbox website for the American Dental Educational Association to assist dental faculty in the use of critical thinking strategies.
To improve her own teaching while helping her students better understand the relationship between theory and practice, Behar-Horenstein has conducted research in professional schools, clinics, hospital settings and local schools. Her studies document how helping faculty reflect on their own teaching results—through journaling and peer presentations—advances their critical thinking skills and improves their classroom instruction. She also developed a model for training principals based on the principles of effective school leadership. She was selected to UF’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars in 2006.
As editor of the UF-based Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, she offers students the opportunity to review manuscripts in exchange for a position on the student editorial board. Behar-Horenstein has served as reviewer or editorial board member for some two dozen professional education journals, including the Journal of Leadership in Education, Journal of Dental Education, and International Journal of Educational Policy.
Jennifer Drake Patrick is a busy mother of three with a husband on military deployment overseas, but she doesn’t waste any of her free time. Last December, she took a break from her household duties to defend her revolutionary dissertation on subject-area literacy. Her research on the unique language of science contributes groundbreaking information to a rarely studied topic in literacy. Patrick’s dissertation details how effective teachers interpret and apply reading strategies geared specifically for science in their classrooms. Her research is based upon the premise that each subject area has its own unique dialogue, requiring teachers to adjust their teaching methods based on the subject they instruct. She explores how personal characteristics of a teacher, such as the depth of their understanding of the material, can impact their ability to teach a subject’s complex language. Her dissertation earned her a fiercely competitive fellowship from the National Academy of Education. Patrick has presented at several professional conferences and co-authored numerous publications while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA at UF.
Outstanding Graduate Leadership
Kali Davis knows how to ignite support for a cause. While a student at UF, she established Coalition Save our Schools, drawing more than 200 students to support the College of Education last year after severe state budget cuts threatened college programs. She invited school, district and state officials and educators to speak at an evening candlelight vigil to protest the cuts. She has organized several other coalition rallies throughout the state in support of higher education, invigorating college and education advocates. Davis, who graduated from the ProTeach program in December 2009 with a 3.89 GPA, demonstrated the leadership skills that are imperative to good teaching. As the 2009 president of the Student Florida Education Association, she coordinated with student chapters across the state and coordinated a state conference in Jacksonville. She also presented at the FEA national conference in San Diego. Davis focused on special education in her studies, preparing to teach students with unique emotional and behavioral needs.
Outstanding Graduate Professional Practice
Alexandria Harvey received her master’s degree in May from the Unified Elementary ProTeach program with a specialization in special education and a 3.66 graduate level GPA. She excelled not only in her coursework, but also in her performance as a teacher-in-training. She engaged in professional development activities well beyond her course requirements. Harvey took extra graduate level courses to prepare for teaching the most vulnerable students—those with pervasive special needs and disabilities. Her supervising teachers say she distinguished herself in her internship and practicum placements, demonstrating an ability to carefully plan lessons appropriate for students with special emotional and behavioral impairments. She also proved capable in reflective self-assessment, identifying not only her most effective teaching practices but also the areas to address to improve her instruction. When putting her lesson plans into action, she always found a way to engage students in learning and bolster their participation. She tried to involve parents in their children’s education, maintaining close communication with them. One of her internship supervisors stated that in over 40 years of supervising interns, Harvey would rank in the top 1 percent.
Phi Beta Kappa Induction
The following Elementary ProTeach graduates were recently inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and best known academic society, in recognition of their outstanding academic achievement: