These education students have the moxie, that rare “it” factor, to make a meaningful difference in our lives and in the education world, from applying social networking in teacher education to gauging the influence of race on students’ learning opportunities.The
future of GATOR EDUCATION has never looked so cool.
BY JESSICA BRADLEY – EDITED BY LARRY LANSFORD – PHOTOS BY ERIC ZAMORA, UF PHOTOGRAPHY
Jennifer Neukamm MAE, Elementary Education CLASS OF 2013 WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Jennifer strives for perfection in everything she does. For the past six years, dating back to high school, she has excelled in the sport of rowing as both captain and coxswain, steering the race boat while shouting out the crew’s rowing pace. She recently was named the 2012 Outstanding Undergraduate in her elementary education program and was one of the few undergraduates to make a scholarly presentation at a statewide reading conference. She’s a natural leader who takes advantage of every opportunity to excel, a characteristic that is sure to mold exceptional students.
WHAT’S NEXT: Jennifer will begin her master’s coursework in elementary education this summer. Her yearlong internship will involve the supervised teaching of second and third graders in the P.K. Yonge lab school’s new K-5 elementary wing, where teachers collaborate and work with students in community learning studios with transparent walls, common areas and media centers. “Times are changing,” Jennifer said. “We have really innovative ideas about how education should be; the ideas they are crafting and instilling in us are not the way we grew up when we were in school.”
THE PROFESSOR’S WORDS: Associate director of the School of Teaching and Learning, Suzanne Colvin, said she doesn’t know where Jennifer’s devotion to helping every child succeed came from, but she is sure Jennifer is a teacher that every parent would love their child to have. “Everyone who knows Jennifer is sure she will be an outstanding educator and leader.”
Sarah Piper MAE, Elementary Education CLASS OF 2013 WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Music has guided Sarah like a Pied Piper through most of her academic life and continues to shape her as a leader. She said learning to play trombone in sixth-grade band transformed her from a shy preteen into the outgoing senior drum major of the Gator marching band that she is today. “Music is the turning point for me,” she said. Conducting a band of 350-plus musicians has honed her management skills which she thinks will translate well in an elementary classroom. Piper is in her last year of undergraduate studies in the ProTeach program, is a Golden Key Honor Society member and carries a 4.0 GPA.
WHAT’S NEXT: Sarah will start her ProTeach graduate courses this summer, but she’s equally excited about leading the Pride of the Sunshine band in multiple ceremonies at the 2012 Olympics in London this June. After completing her master’s degree in 2013, she hopes to teach in an elementary classroom by day and direct a high school band by night.
THE PROFESSOR’S WORDS: Caitlin Gallingane, a clinical assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, said Sarah has an insight and a depth of understanding about teaching that is beyond many of her peers. “Sarah’s character is so strong and she’s so passionate about being the best teacher she can be. She is naturally encouraging and motivating for her students, always wanting them to do their best and modeling that attitude for them,” Gallingane said. “She’s a quiet leader, constantly reflecting on her performance and asking how she can make it stronger. She is constantly wanting more.”
Donald Sanchez MAE, Special Education CLASS OF 2013 WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Ten years in the National Guard have helped Donald develop superb leadership skills and the discipline required to be an exemplary educator. In 2008, he voluntarily deployed to Iraq for a year to do communications work. “I saw an opening for a volunteer position and I took it because I always wanted to serve my country,” the sergeant said. He applied to UF’s ProTeach program while abroad and started classes in spring 2010. Donald said his time in the military has taught him to lead an orderly classroom and still engage his students as a caring teacher and mentor.
WHAT’S NEXT: After graduation in 2013, he hopes to teach an inclusive kindergarten classroom and apply special education techniques to all students. He said the discipline and structure that special education teachers employ can benefit all children. Donald lives in Newberry, Fla., where he attended high school, and hopes to work in the area. He eventually wants to return to school and study to become an elementary school principal.
THE PROFESSOR’S WORDS: Martha League said Donald’s military service makes him remarkably mature for a young teacher. She said his level of patience with children makes him a wonderful teacher. “His dedication to teaching is exemplified daily through his earnest efforts to help each child grow in self-confidence, self-regulation and academic achievement,” League said. “I am confident Donald will be an accomplished professional educator and will consistently represent the University of Florida at the highest level of excellence.”
Luke Rodesiler Doctoral Candidate, English Education CLASS OF 2013 WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Luke, a designated teacher-consultant with the National Writing Project, left his job teaching high school English in Michigan in 2008 when he recognized a desire and opportunity to prepare teachers-in-training for the rigors of the classroom. His graduate studies at UF have inspired him to advance English teacher education by examining how teachers use online platforms, such as blogs and other social media, outside of the classroom to enhance their instructional practices. He is conducting trendsetting research for his dissertation on how teachers engage their peers online to explore issues related to teaching, learning and literacy.
WHAT’S NEXT: Luke will continue his dissertation study, partially funded by a grant from the Conference on English Education, and plans to complete his fellowship in 2013. After graduation, he hopes to land a tenure-track faculty position that allows him to pursue the research agenda he set during his UF studies. He wants to continue working closely with secondary English teachers and teachers-in-training to inspire a vigorous learning climate in the classroom.
THE PROFESSOR’S WORDS: Barbara Pace, associate professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, is impressed with Luke’s dissertation research. Noting his interest in teaching, learning and technology, she said Luke is poised to break new ground: “His work acknowledges changing views of literacy and the impact of shifting forms of texts and contexts on teaching. (His research) will provide a portrait of how participatory online cultures are used and experienced by practicing teachers.”
Angel Rodriguez Doctoral Candidate, Leadership in Educational Administration CLASS OF 2013 WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Angel grew up in a family where graduating from high school was the biggest accomplishment one could hope for. However, several teachers throughout his schooling pushed him to achieve more. “I’m where I am today because people took time for me, and I should do the same,” said Angel, a science professor at Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale. Angel, a marine biologist and oceanographer, is constantly teaching others in and out of the classroom – a characteristic which twice earned him Professor of the Year honors and a Motorola Endowed Teaching Chair. He’s currently compiling his dissertation study findings after examining dual-enrollment students’ success at four-year institutions.
WHAT’S NEXT: As a recipient of the College of Education’s James L. Wattenbarger Scholarship, named for the former professor who helped create Florida’s community college system, it is only natural that Angel strives to improve teaching and learning at that level. He hopes his research findings will lead to improvements in the college experience of dually-enrolled students who are indecisive about their majors despite transferring to a university with so many credits accrued. After graduation, Rodriguez hopes to become the president of a Florida community college.
THE PROFESSOR’S WORDS: Professor Dale Campbell, interim director of the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education, recognizes Angel’s dedication to helping community college students. He also thinks Angel’s recent selection to receive the UF Presidential Service Award is a sign of great things to come. “I have no doubt that with his values, vision and vitality, Angel will achieve his goal of becoming a community college president and a leader we can all be proud of,” Campbell said.
Diedre Houchen Doctoral Fellow, Curriculum, Teaching and Teacher Education CLASS OF 2014 WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Diedre’s doctoral research focus on race and education is not uncommon, but the hands-on approach she uses to assuage tense situations—racial or otherwise—is rare. Last fall, she received a grant from the UF Center for the Study of Race and Relations and developed a new course, Race and Education, which explores the history of race, culture and public schooling in America. Diedre’s experience as a mother, middle and high school teacher, program developer and youth advocate shape her understanding of the challenges facing students of color in public schools. Making a positive change in education and in her community is particularly important to her.
WHAT’S NEXT: Diedre is planning a career that allows her to engage with the community members and groups. “I want to learn all that I can to open all the doors and help spread a message about equity and the lives and needs of communities and their children,” she said. Diedre would like to see teachers become master instructors, gain more flexibility to plan culturally grounded lessons and spend more time building partnerships with parents and communities so all students thrive to their fullest potential.
THE PROFESSOR’S WORDS: Dorene Ross, professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, said Diedre sees an urgency to solve racial inequities that drives her to do more and learn more. “She pushes me to new levels as we work to meet her needs as a learner,” Ross said. “She will blaze her own path because traditional paths are not leading to equity fast enough.
WRITER: Jessica Bradley, Communications Intern, UF College of Education; 352-273-4140.
EDITOR/MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, Director, News & Communications, UF College of Education; email@example.com; 352-273-4137
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