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School psychology professor wins second Mensa research award

UF school psychology Professor John Kranzler has received the 2016 Award for Excellence in Research from Mensa International Ltd.

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Nepali PhD candidate cited for promoting global engagement

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Uttam Gaulee speaks at Turlington Plaza during a vigil to commemorate the earthquake victims in Nepal.

Nepal native Uttam Gaulee has scaled some impressive peaks as he has pursued a doctorate in higher education administration at the UF College of Education.

Earlier this year, he was one of 10 scholars nationwide chosen by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) to receive the 2016 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, which recognizes leadership ability in teaching and learning.

The AACU was impressed with Gaulee’s academic work and contributions to the university and the community. He represents “the finest in the new generation of faculty who will be leading higher education in the next decades,” AACU President Carol Geary Schneider wrote in a letter announcing Gaulee’s award.

In May, Gaulee defended his dissertation for a doctorate in Higher Education Administration with a research paper titled “American Students’ Experiences with their International Peers on Campus: Understanding Roadblocks, Enhancing Pathways of Global Engagement.”

He used surveys, interviews and focus groups to uncover roadblocks to improving global engagement among U.S. students. Despite the professed importance of “global competency” in an increasingly interconnected world, he found that most domestic students largely missed opportunities to create rich meaningful relationships with foreign students.

Gaulee’s interest in international learning stems from his personal journey, which began on the other side of the globe, in a valley not far from the world’s tallest mountains.

He grew up as the eldest boy of eight children in a poor family in the small city of Surkhet. His parents were subsistence farmers. No relatives had ever attended college. But Gaulee showed academic promise, became a star student and pursued a college degree while working as a high school English teacher.

In an interview, Gaulee laughed about how naïve he was and how limited his worldview had been.

“In Nepali, my name means the best,” Gaulee said. “And I grew up thinking my family is the best, my country is the best, my language is the best, and so on.  It wasn’t until I was able to cross those hills and was exposed to other parts of the world that I learned from people from many different countries.”

In time, he traveled to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, where he earned a master’s in education from Tribhuvan University and then to England for an international academic conference. This led him to apply for and receive a Fulbright Scholarship to earn another master’s degree, in education administration and policy studies, at the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2012, Gaulee came to UF, where he has worked closely with Dale Campbell, professor and coordinator of higher education administration, who chaired of his dissertation committee, and with David Miller, his committee co-chair and director of the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

Gaulee’s interest in improving global relationships has stretched across UF’s campus. He served as a graduate student senator to the Student Government and spearheaded the effort to rename the campus’ North Lawn the “Global Garden” to serve as a social space where U.S. and international students can gather and learn about each other’s cultures. The space also would display artifacts from around the world, highlighting UF’s commitment to creating a globalized community of scholars and students. The Student Government passed a resolution calling on the university to create the garden.

Miller said he first met Gaulee when he directed a task force that formulated the Learning without Borders: Internationalizing the Gator Nation initiative, a plan designed to improve student engagement in international learning experiences.

“Uttam has shown remarkable passion and leadership in creating opportunities for students to heighten their international awareness,” Miller said. “I expect he will continue to be a driving force in internationalizing student experiences at whatever institute of higher education he ends up in.”

Gaulee is on track to receive his doctorate in August and then he and his wife plan to return to Nepal. He is considering an opportunity to serve as a leader at a new university in his hometown in hopes of improving Nepalese and international higher education at large.

“I’m grateful for all the opportunities I have had to keep learning,” Gaulee said. “I want to help others to do the same, and inspire them to learn about different cultures and societies.”


Source: Uttam Gaulee, 412-805-4745
Writer: Charles Boisseau, news and communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449

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Dissertation proposal on police in schools earns Noble UF fellowship

Kenneth Noble

Kenneth Noble

The bottom line: To move forward, we must look back.

That’s the foundation for UF College of Education doctoral candidate Kenneth Noble’s award-winning dissertation proposal. The UF Center for Humanities and Public Sphere, which promotes and funds research programs of UF humanities scholars, recently awarded Noble the Rothman Doctoral Fellowship based on his dissertation topic choice.

His proposal revolves around the idea that to address modern-day concerns with police presence in urban public schools, educators and society must first understand the history behind officers’ integration into school systems.

The $2,000 monetary award, which comes with the honor, will go toward Noble’s research expenses.

Noble, 33, who plans to graduate in the fall of 2017 with his doctorate in curriculum and instruction, said he is encouraged that other scholars in the field find his dissertation topic significant.

“Understanding how, when and why police began partnering with schools provides an historical context to what many perceive as a critical concern in public education today,” he said.

Noble will have the opportunity to present his findings to the UF Center for Humanities and Public Sphere this fall.


    SOURCEKenneth Noble, 352-392-0762
    WRITERKatelin Mariner, news and communications intern, UF College of Education
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, news and communications director, UF College of Education

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School finance leader named 2016 Distinguished Alumnus

Henry Boekhoff

Henry Boekhoff

Henry R. Boekhoff (MEd ’70, PhD ’78, ed. leadership) is widely recognized as a leader in the field of school finance and for his dedication to improve the quality of public education across Florida. Now, after four decades working behind the scenes at many Florida school districts, Boekhoff is in the spotlight.

He is the 2016 winner of the University of Florida College of Education’s Distinguished Alumni Award. UF President Kent Fuchs and education Dean Glenn Good presented the award to Boekhoff Saturday evening at UF’s commencement ceremony for undergraduate degrees at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Boekhoff, 73, said he was surprised to learn he would receive the award considering he has worked mostly out of public view during his long career.

“Most likely I am being given the award because of the sheer longevity of my career, and part of that is the opportunity I have had at a relatively early age to make a mark in the area of school finance,” he said.

Humble beginnings

The honor comes to a man who rose from humble beginnings.

Born in New York City in 1943, Boekhoff grew up in Nassau County, Florida, on a would-be chicken farm. His family was poor, especially after his father died suddenly of a heart attack when Henry was 7 years old.

His mother never remarried and the family didn’t have money for college. After graduating high school, Boekhoff found a job cleaning barnacles from vessels at a shipyard in Jacksonville. Soon enough he enlisted in the Army, where he earned college credits toward an accounting degree. After his discharge, he transferred to the University of Florida and in 1966 earned a bachelor’s in business.

Boekhoff’s career in school finance started by chance not long after he discovered he disliked working as an auditor for an accounting firm. He took a job as director of finance for the Nassau County School District in Fernandina Beach.

He quickly made a name for himself and went on to serve as deputy superintendent and chief financial officer for many of the state’s largest school districts, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Orange counties, where he displayed a passion for education and commitment to schools and communities.

More recently, Boekhoff has served as co-CFO of Florida Virtual School, the country’s first, statewide internet-based public high school and a provider of online K-12 education programs. Boekhoff still works full-time for the virtual school as a special assistant to the chief financial officer.

Life-long learner

Along the way, Boekhoff continued his own education and returned to the University of Florida to receive a master’s in education in 1970 and a doctorate in Education Leadership in 1978.

He said his career has been guided by an understanding that financial considerations are at the heart of creating a well-functioning public school system.

“It’s crass to say in a way, but if you don’t have the funds you can’t keep hold of good employees and if you don’t have good employees the children are going to suffer,” he said.

Often referred to as the “dean” of school finance officers in Florida, Boekhoff helped shape the formulas that determine how funds are distributed to public schools and advocated for fair and equitable school funding. He coined the phrase “adequacy and equity” to highlight the inequitable distribution of education funding caused by the wide disparity in property values between rich and poor counties in Florida.

Boekhoff’s leadership helped Florida craft one of the most equitable education funding formulas in the nation.

“I have always been an idealist,” Boekhoff said, citing Thomas Jefferson as an inspiration. He paraphrased the founding father: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”


Writer: Charles Boisseau, Office of News and Communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449
Media liasion/Director of News and Communications: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137

 

 

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UF honors ed. finance faculty scholar for doctoral mentoring

R. Craig Wood

R. Craig Wood

College of Education Professor R. Craig Wood has received many accolades during his 40-plus year career.

But his latest honor may be the one he cherishes the most: Wood is the College of Education’s latest winner of the UF Faculty Doctoral Mentoring Award.

The honor, given annually by the University of Florida Graduate School, recognizes professors who provide doctoral students with exceptional mentoring as they complete their final dissertations.

“This award is one that probably has the most lasting impact because you are helping to start careers,” Wood said. “When I’m long gone and retired, these scholars will be making names for themselves and making society better.”

More About R. Craig Wood

R. Craig Wood started his career in public schools, working as a classroom teacher, school district business manager, and assistant superintendent for finance for school districts in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Connecticut.

He received a doctorate in education from Virginia Tech and served as a professor of education finance at Purdue University before coming to UF, where he has now spent more than a quarter of century.

Among his accomplishments:

  • Authored or co-authored four definitive textbooks with titles such as Money & Schools
  • Published 250 articles in academic journals, including the Journal of Education Finance
  • Presented at numerous academic conferences
  • Served as the lead expert witness in court cases in more than a dozen states in disputes over the manner public funds are distributed to school districts
  • Co-founder and president of the year-old National Education Finance Academy. In November, he also was elected president of the Education Law Association.

Wood, a professor of educational administration and policy, is among the nation’s leading scholars in the all-important field of education finance.

Since he joined the UF College of Education’s faculty in 1989, he has served on 51 doctoral committees and chaired to completion the dissertations of 50 doctoral students. Five of his students have won dissertations of the year awards from different academic organizations.

His mentees have gone on to become university professors, a president of a community college, the head of an overseas school and directors of national educational organizations.

“Craig Wood is still my mentor,” a former student, Carlee Escue Simon, wrote the selection committee in a nomination letter. She is now an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. “I call him for advice on teaching, research, service and navigating the academic world. My association with Craig opened doors that I never anticipated.”

Another mentee, Jeffrey Maiden, now a professor at Oklahoma University, wrote: “Simply having been his student brings automatic respect from scholars in the field.”

Wood guides doctoral students in the specialty of education finance, an area of growing importance as the public, school boards and elected officials try to balance how to best fund quality public education.

“These are not esoteric or philosophical issues. But they are real,” Wood said. “Education is one of the most costly investments a society can make.”

Wood sets high expectations for his students, and he enjoys helping polish the work of talented young scholars.

Wood said his approach is to work one-on-one with his doctoral students to provide them not only research skills but with writing and speaking opportunities to compete in the national job market.

This kind of work is not usually very visible. So the mentoring award is fresh evidence that Wood is making an impact.

“It’s nice to be recognized for doing your job,” Wood said.

A university-wide, eight-member committee of faculty members, a graduate student, department chairs, college deans, and high-level administrators selects winners for the mentorship honor.

The award provides faculty members $3,000 and an additional $1,000 in department accounts for use in supporting doctoral students.


Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4137
Media Liaison/Director of News and Communications: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137

 

 

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UF Anderson Scholars program honors 17 ProTeach students–most ever!–plus 2 faculty mentors

Seventeen COE ProTeach elementary education students have been named UF Anderson Scholars for their outstanding academic performances during their first two years at UF—the most education students to receive the award in recent memory.

Two education faculty members—Mary Ann Nelson and Caitlin Gallingane—also were recognized for the second year in a row for mentoring or inspiring several of the honored students.

Anderson Scholars awarded with highest distinction are, from left, Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

Anderson Scholars awarded with highest distinction are, from left, Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

The Anderson award is the highest recognition bestowed on undergraduate students for their academic excellence. Anderson Scholar certificates are given campuswide by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to students who have earned cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.90 (with distinction); 3.95 (high distinction); and 4.0 (highest distinction) during their freshman and sophomore years.

College of Education students receiving the Anderson Scholar award with highest distinction are Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

Education students awarded with high distinction are Simona Blanarikova, Lindsay Burn, Lauren Cassell, Autumn Finke, Felica Hanley, Margaret Kelly, Abby Newman, Caley Rappa and Alexandra Smart.

Scholars honored with distinction are Shannan Campbell, Sicily Guarisco, Cassandra Lussier, Tori Rubloff and Sydney Vail.

“Being recognized as an Anderson Scholar is a huge honor. It also reaffirms that our school takes pride in our accomplishments and that they recognize us for doing so,” said Krista Steele of Orlando. She said she hopes to teach first or second grade after graduation “and make a difference in students’ lives and the education field.”

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Mary Ann Nelson

Anderson Scholars faculty honoree Mary Ann Nelson is a special education lecturer; her colleague Caitlin Gallingane is a clinical assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning. Each student honoree can anonymously nominate one instructor for the faculty honor. Nelson actually has been selected three times overall for the faculty award.

“You go into teaching with the hope of inspiring students. It is always an honor when a student acknowledges any contribution you might have made in that direction,” Nelson said. “I love what I teach and who I teach and it is such a privilege to be a part of their professional training.  I think of them as junior colleagues and it pleases me to be able to share my knowledge and experience with them.”

Student winner Caley Rappa, also from Orlando, described faculty honoree Gallingane as “the teacher we all want to be when we grow up, not just as a professor but especially an elementary school teacher. I believe Dr. Gallingane is the heart and soul of the College of Education.”

GALLINGANE, Caitie (2013)

Caitlin Gallingane

Gallingane said she and other COE professors work as closely as they can with undergraduate students because they identify with students’ concerns as they prepare for careers in a constantly evolving profession.

“I try to see things from their perspective and give them the support they need to be successful,” Gallingane said. “I act as an advocate because I care about their experience at UF.”

The Scholars award program is named in honor of James N. Anderson, who served as the first dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1910 until 1930. Anderson Hall bears his name.


WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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Anita Zucker Center co-director honored for leadership, impact on behavioral disorders

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy, co-director of the University of Florida Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, has received the 2016 Outstanding Leadership Award from the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders.

CCBD, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, presents the award to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of behavioral disorders in the areas of research, leadership, teacher education and policy. Conroy was recognized April 14 at the CEC’s annual conference in St. Louis.

Conroy, the Anita Zucker Professor in Early Childhood Studies, has advanced research and practice in the field of behavioral disorders through her work in early identification, prevention and intervention. For 35 years, she garnered more than $15 million in research and training grants, produced 90 peer-reviewed publications and trained the next generation of leaders. A member of CCBD since 1981, Conroy has served in a number of leadership roles, including co-editor of its flagship journal, Behavioral Disorders.

Brian Boyd, who received a doctoral degree at UF under Conroy’s mentorship, nominated her for the award, citing her years of research, practice and teaching.

“I can attest to the importance she feels in ensuring her students acquire the ability to conduct sound research that contributes to the field, and importantly, educators, families and children,” said Boyd, now an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Boyd, also recognized at the conference, received the CEC’s 2016 Distinguished Early Career Research Award. The honor recognizes scholars who have made outstanding scientific contributions in basic or applied research in special education within 10 years after receiving their doctoral degree.

Independent of her award selection, Conroy was invited by the Institute of Education Sciences to present her research at the conference. She and her colleague, Professor Kevin Sutherland of Virginia Commonwealth University, shared findings from their recent investigation of an early childhood classroom-based intervention. Developed to support early childhood teachers’ use of effective practices, the intervention is designed to improve the social, emotional and behavioral competence of young children at risk for behavioral disorders. Their large-scale, four-year study was funded by the institute, which is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The CEC is an international professional association of educators dedicated to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities through advocacy, standards and professional development. The mission of the CCBD is to improve the educational practices and outcomes for children and youth with emotional and behavior disorders.


Source: Maureen Conroy, 352-273-4382
Writer: Linda Homewood, 352-273-4284

 

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PKY instructor cited nationally as outstanding teacher-researcher

Ross Van Boven

Ross Van Boven

Practitioner Scholars

Ross Van Boven received his doctorate in curriculum and instruction, a program designed to prepare practitioner scholars.

What is a practitioner scholar? A professional who brings theoretical, pedagogical and research expertise to help identify, frame and study educational problems as a way to continually improve the learning conditions in their schools and districts.

Middle school teacher Ross Van Boven has received a prestigious national award presented by the American Education Research Association for outstanding research by examining what he does every school day.

Van Boven specializes in working with sixth and seventh graders at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School who are on the margins — whether because they are struggling or high-achieving. His study at the public school affiliated with the University of Florida’s College of Education examined his experience in teaching a gifted sixth-grade student during the 2014-2015 school year.

The Teacher as Researcher Award recognizes a pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade teacher for research conducted in their schools. Van Boven received the award at the association’s annual meeting, held this year in Washington, D.C., April 8-12. AERA says its teacher-as-researcher special interest group is the only one like it: dedicated to recognizing high quality research done in schools by preK-12 instructors on their own practice.

Van Boven is a “learning community leader” at P.K. Yonge, which is UF’s special school district created to develop innovative solutions to educational challenges.

His training and experience is notable for his teaching as well as his scholarship. He has earned three degrees from UF’s College of Education: a bachelor’s (’06) and master’s (‘07) in elementary education and, in December, a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.

Van Boven’s doctorate was in a program tailor-made by faculty in the Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education program area to focus on the unique needs of practitioners who wish to become scholars of practice, leading change and improvement from within their local districts, schools and classrooms, said Nancy Fichtman Dana, a UF education professor and a leading international authority and researcher on teacher professional development and school improvement. Dana served as the chair of Van Boven’s dissertation committee.

Van Boven in his classroom.

Van Boven’s award-winning project, the capstone for his dissertation, took a close look at how best to teach gifted and talented students.

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Ross Van Boven teaches his students at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.

Van Boven’s award-winning project, the capstone for his dissertation, took a close look at how best to teach gifted and talented students at a time P.K. Yonge is transforming its approach to a “push-in” teaching model from a “pull-out.” In the push-in approach, general education and special education teachers work within the regular classrooms to serve all learners; in the pull-out approach, teachers work with these students in separate classrooms.

“It’s a real challenge to provide the time and services to all the students in the program,” Van Boven says. With a caseload of 41 students, he bounces from classroom to classroom to help learners in subjects ranging from math to social studies. Not only does he have to know the content, he must collaborate closely with the content-area teachers, which sometimes is problematic because of contrasting styles and time schedules. He also closely consults with parents to better understand their child’s needs and to personalizes lessons.

Van Boven tracked his experience of teaching one of his students by using a variety of tools, including his cell phone’s voice-to-text feature to capture episodes in near real time and digital recording of interviews so he could transcribe them later for analysis.

He says his research helped to improve his teaching in a variety of ways, such as more closely working with content-area teachers to rework the timing of his push-in to classrooms and planning periods with other teachers. “This allowed for ongoing collaboration and hopefully continues to remove some of the pressures teachers felt for planning to meet student enrichment needs,” he wrote in a report of the study.

He has shared his P.K. Yonge findings with the school’s administration and teachers, including the school’s five other learning community leaders. The study informed their perennial challenge: How best to provide in-classroom lessons to gifted students without disrupting the heterogeneity of classrooms.

Dana says Van Boven’s research “provided a rich accounting of how one middle school child was experiencing the program, and these insights led to specific actions Ross and his colleagues took to improve this new model.”

The school has launched a pilot program to cluster some gifted-and-talented students in the same classes to help learning community leaders and core teachers improve efficiency and coordination.

Despite the challenges, Van Boven says the collaboration required in the push-in model is helping teachers – including him – grow in their own practice. The award highlights the power of practitioner research to improve education for students – and provides Van Boven an opportunity to broaden his impact by sharing his experiences with other teachers.

“I am hopeful that my advocacy for students and collaboration with content-area teachers will result in sustained opportunities to provide content enrichment for students on my caseload,” Van Boven wrote.


Source: Ross Van Boven, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School; 352-392-1554
Media Relations: Julie Henderson, P.K. Yonge DRS; 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, news and communications office

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How Outstanding Young Alum saved his teaching career

Meet Jon Mundorf

Winner of UF College of Education’s 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Jon Mundorf

By Charles Boisseau

Jon Mundorf was considering quitting the profession after three years of teaching elementary school in Naples, Florida.

He felt frustrated and ineffective despite doing his best to follow the top teaching methods, curriculum, and steps laid out in educator manuals.

“Only a small number of kids really got it when I would teach,” Mundorf says.

Some did not speak English, others had behavior problems or any number of learning disabilities. He came to realize: The standardized teaching methods he was using were ineffective because his students weren’t standardized.

In the summer of 2006, Mundorf decided to look for a better way to teach and give his career a spark.

He found it. He learned new teaching methods that are designed for educators to more effectively reach all their students, and he has gone on to become an award-winning teacher, and an internationally recognized practitioner of teaching to meet the needs of all learners.

Young Alumni Award

Jon Mundorf works with a student in his classroom.

Jon Mundorf works with a student in his classroom.

Today (April 8), Mundorf, 36, received the UF College of Education’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award, one of 23 Gator alumni across campus who will be honored as leaders in their professions at a ceremony at Emerson Alumni Hall.

Mundorf’s story surely holds lessons for other teachers who are early in their careers, when research shows a high percentage leave the profession.

Mundorf, Ed.D., is a 2014 graduate of UF’s online doctorate in curriculum and instruction program, which is designed to strengthen the skills of practicing educators. His dissertation was about his experience of using universal learning methods to teach a blind student to read in his integrated classroom.

This school year, he joined UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, where he teaches seventh grade language arts.

“Dr. Mundorf brings to our classrooms extensive knowledge and many years of experience in leveraging technology and non-tech strategies for supporting the needs of each learner,” P.K. Yonge Director Lynda Hayes says. “He is a dedicated practitioner scholar committed to providing the best possible seventh grade English language arts experience for our diverse students.”

Universal Design for Learning

Mundorf credits his transformation to a decade ago when he entered Harvard Graduate School of Education’s summer institute on universal design for learning (UDL), a partnership with the nonprofit Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), which now includes Mundorf among its teaching cadre. UDL is a method of using inclusive teaching methods to meet the needs of all learners.

“Upon returning from Harvard, I reinvented myself as a teacher,” Mundorf wrote in his UF dissertation. “Instead of focusing and complaining about the disability I saw in my students, I chose to target the disability in our curriculum. The barriers within the curriculum were minimized because I had developed a student-centered stance for exploring the curriculum with my students.”

Mundorf’s ability to engage an audience with his love of teaching is striking, and he can turn a brief interview into a lively hour-and-half discussion of his teaching philosophy, education research findings and lessons he has learned along the way.

A native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Mundorf often wears a jacket bearing the logo for Bowling Green State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He also has a master’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and joined the small ranks of teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a nonprofit that aims to advance accomplished teaching for all students.

In an example of his inclusive teaching methods, Mundorf says he provides choices in how a student engages with reading materials, providing audio-visual, text-to-speech, captioning, and, if necessary, Braille formats. His students also have choice in how they express their grasp of the subject, such as writing an essay, making a speech or giving a visual presentation.

This way, students with high-incidence disabilities, such as dyslexia – by some estimates up to 20 percent of students – as well as less common disabilities like blindness are given a better opportunity to succeed.

“We allow students multiple ways to learn, engage, and demonstrate mastery,” Mundorf says. “If I only give them one way, it leaves some out.”

Mundorf is in demand to teach not only students but other educators. He has consulted with schools and organizations on inclusive teaching practices, accessibility, technology integration and other ways to improve teaching and learning. In the fall of 2015, he traveled to Fukuoka, Japan, to provide the keynote speech and lead a workshop on inclusive classroom instruction at the National Conference of the Japanese Academy of Learning Disabilities.

Mundorf says students will succeed in the 21st Century not by memorizing all the prepositions in the English language. They will succeed by becoming expert learners. And the same goes for teachers.

“Teaching can be extremely challenging and there is no one right way to do it,” he says. “You have to constantly work at it to reach all the learners. When you feel like you have figured it all out, the next day things change. Teachers have to be the lead learners in this effort.”


Source: Jon Mundorf, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School; 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, news and communications office

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UF recognizes COE’s Kumar for superior mentoring

SK_ZEL-e1379426834262

Swapna Kumar

Twenty-five. That’s how many times Associate Professor Swapna Kumar returned the proposals and drafts Michael Kung had written for his dissertation.

All of the careful editing and feedback illustrate how Kumar drives her students to achieve academic excellence.

Kung said he nominated Kumar for UF’s Superior Accomplishment Award because of her dedication to mentoring and pushing him and other doctoral candidates to do their very best work. Kung graduated last year with a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction and now directs of Global Education at UF’s College of Design.

Kumar, a clinical associate professor in Educational Technology, was recently named among the University of Florida’s 29 division winners for the award.

Kumar’s student mentoring goes “the extra mile and beyond normal assigned duties,”said Jonathan Peine, chair of the award selection committee.

While she is thankful for the recognition from the university, Kumar said she is most gratified because it comes from her students.

“My role at UF is essentially about teaching, advising and mentoring, so I am honored and humbled to have been nominated by students,” Kumar said.

Kumar, a COE faculty member since 2009, will receive the award on Wednesday, March 23 at 9:30 a.m. at Emerson Alumni Hall on West University Avenue. A $200 check, certificate and coffee mug will accompany the accolade.

This award qualifies her to become a finalist for a universitywide Superior Accomplishment Award. The final award winners, chosen in April, will receive a gift of at least $1,000.


    SOURCE: Swapna Kumar, 352-273-4175
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education, 352-373-4449
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education

 

 

 

 

 

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Early learning ‘action network’ taps Lastinger Center specialist for national fellowship

Valerie Mendez-Farinas

Valerie Mendez-Fariñas

Valerie Mendez-Fariñas of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning didn’t have to think twice about joining a vibrant national movement over the next three years to improve early learning opportunities and resources for our youngest children.

Mendez-Fariñas, a professional development specialist, is one of 38 American leaders in the early-childhood arena recently selected to fellowship posts with the newly formed Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN). The network brings together state, county and national experts who seek to reduce racial disparities in early learning systems.

The ELAN group evolved from a program called BUILD, created over a decade ago by the national Early Childhood Funders Collaborative. The BUILD program’s purpose: to support states’ efforts to build high-quality early-childhood systems that ensure all children have an opportunity to develop and reach their full potential without discrimination or bias.

Mendez-Fariñas will work with other ELAN fellows to help states identify and eliminate inequities based on race, ethnicity, language and culture in our early childhood state systems. They also will help build support and influence states’ policies in the areas of health, early learning and family support.

“I’ve always believed in the power of collaboration, and now I have 37 new critical-thinking friends in the network who will help strengthen my work, fuel my passion and push my thinking,” Mendez-Fariñas said.

She has worked for more than 23 years in education, including positions as a special education teacher, adjunct professor and quality improvement specialist.

Part of her work as an ELAN fellow will involve studying data from the UF Lastinger Center’s groundbreaking Early Learning Florida program, which blends online and face-to-face professional development for thousands of early childhood practitioners who work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers in Florida centers, schools and family child care homes.

Her main focus, though, will be on training certified early learning coaches in Florida’s 30 early learning coalition districts, working through Early Learning Florida. The eight-month, job-embedded process equips the coaches-in-training with new skills for helping fellow practitioners learn and implement new, equitable teaching methods.

“Coaching creates opportunities for reflective discourse that may include conversations about key issues, practices and policies that create disparities between groups of children,” Mendez-Fariñas said.

Since 2014, the Lastinger Center, the R&D innovation hub for the College of Education, has built a statewide network of over 200 certified Early Childhood Coaches and 280 Community of Practice facilitators who are improving the quality of early learning programs throughout Florida.


CONTACTS
SOURCE: Valerie Mendez-Fariñas, (c) 305-490-7825
WRITER: Katelin Mariner, communications intern, 352-273-4449
MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education,   352-273-4137

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Ed. tech’s Ritzhaupt named distinguished alumnus by alma mater

Albert Ritzhaupt

Albert Ritzhaupt

Award-winning UF education technology researcher Albert Ritzhaupt received the Valencia College Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to the ed. tech field.

Ritzhaupt, who received his associate’s degree from Valencia in 2001, is an associate professor and coordinator of the College of Education’s ed. tech program.

He said the award motivates him to continually set high goals.

“Both hard work and persistence can payoff,” said Ritzhaupt, a COE faculty member since 2010. “I hope to expand on certain avenues of research and continue to contribute to my field.”

Ritzhaupt has his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in instructional technology, and an MBA degree focusing on computer and information sciences.

He was nominated for the award by his former professor and mentor Colin Archibald, who teaches computer science at Valencia. He said Ritzhaupt’s unusual combination of graduate degrees gives him an advantage in his field.

“I don’t know of anyone else who studied computing only to later study education,” Archibald said. “This makes his work very important and his perspective very rare.”

A large portion of Ritzhaupt’s research encompasses the design and development of technology-enhanced learning environments. His research has reported in more than 80 publications and conference proceedings. He is the editor of the Florida Journal of Educational Research and associate editor of the Journal of Educational Computing Research.

Ritzhaupt has won best research paper awards from several national and international professional organizations.

Funding sources for his studies include the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Florida Department of Education.

Ritzhaupt has also played an important role in advancing the COE’s online master’s degree program in education technology.

Last year, the program went from being unranked to ninth in the nation by TheBestSchools.org, a higher education website for college information seekers.

The excellence of the ed. tech online program played a role in advancing the COE’s overall online master’s degree program to the No. 1 spot in the 2016 rankings of America’s Best Online Programs in Graduate Education by U.S. News and World Report magazine this year.


CONTACTS
    SOURCEAlbert Ritzhaupt, UF College of Education; 352-273-4180
    WRITERKatelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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Special ed. alumni cited for early research success

Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd

A pair of College of Education alumni have been selected for prestigious national honors from the Council for Exceptional Children for their outstanding research.

Brian Boyd won the 2016 Distinguished Early Career Research Award and recent graduate Elizabeth Bettini won for the best student-initiated research study.

The Arlington, Virginia-based Council for Exceptional Children is the world’s largest organization of special education professionals and educators. CEC will present the awards in April in St. Louis at the group’s annual convention.

Elizabeth Bettini

Elizabeth Bettini

Boyd’s honor recognizes scholars who have made outstanding scientific contributions in basic or applied research in special education within 10 years after receiving their doctoral degree.

Boyd now is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received a doctorate in special education in 2005 from UF under mentorship of Maureen Conroy, Ph.D., who now serves as co-director of the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies.

UF Special Education Professor Mary Brownell said: “The Early Career Award is one of the most significant awards recognizing the promise of young scholars in special education.”

The official language from the award said: “Dr. Boyd is considered one of the most promising scholars in early childhood and autism. He has published 46 papers in top-tier journals, such as the Journal of Child Psychology and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and his work is cited frequently.”

Bettini won for quantitative design for her research paper titled: Novice Special Educators’ Perceptions of Workload Manageability: Do They Matter and Are They Influenced by Novices’ Perceptions of Their Social Context?

Selected through a confidential review process, the award recognizes high-quality scholarship across multiple research methodologies conducted by students in the course of their undergraduate or graduate special education training program.

Bettini earned a doctorate in special education from the College of Education in 2015 and now is an assistant professor of special education at Boston University.

“Elizabeth was an outstanding student who continues to be devoted to conducting research on working conditions for special education teachers,” Brownell said. “She won the Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award for our College of Education in 2015.”

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UF doctoral student leads Florida elementary school with nation’s top-rated STEM program

Kristy Moody, principal of Jamerson Elementary

Kristy Moody

A UF College of Education Ph.D. candidate is in the national education spotlight for leading a Pinellas County elementary school honored for having the nation’s top U.S. STEM program.

Kristy Moody, principal of Jamerson Elementary in Pinellas County, accepted the STEM Elementary School of the Year for 2016 award on behalf the school. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The award was presented last week in Orlando at the Future of Education Technology Conference, an annual gathering of education leaders and technology experts from across country.

Moody is a graduate student in the University of Florida’s College of Education Leadership in Educational Administration Doctorate (LEAD) program, which caterers to working professionals seeking to earn a doctorate in four years of part-time study. The cohort program offers classes online, with periodic weekends at UF and other locations across the state.

Conference organizers said STEM awards are given to the nation’s top elementary, middle and high schools based on an evaluation of the use of interdisciplinary curriculum, collaboration, design, problem solving and the STEM experiences offered.

For more see:

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Associate Dean Adams honored for outstanding mentoring of minority PhD students

Dr. Thomasenia Adams, Associate Dean

Thomasenia Adams

Thomasenia Adams, science education professor and associate dean for research at UF’s College of Education, has received a statewide honor for outstanding mentoring of minority doctoral students.The award comes from the Florida Education Fund (FEF), a nonprofit organization that develops programs to enhance education for students at all levels across the state.

Adams received the FEF’s 2015 William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award, which honors exceptional faculty mentors from Florida colleges and universities who have empowered students to complete Ph.D. degrees and prepare for successful careers in academia. These students participate in FEF’s McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program.

The award comes with a $500 stipend.

As a previous McKnight fellow who was financially supported by the program, Adams said she mentors McKnight fellows to give back for the support she received.

“I have a commitment that every student that I mentor must be better than me when they graduate,” Adams said. “If I don’t make them better, then I haven’t done a good enough job.”

Adams is a professor of mathematics education and a senior author of the popular “Go Math” national elementary textbook series. She earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees in curriculum and instruction at UF. As associate dean, she oversees the college’s thriving education research enterprise.

She joined the UF education faculty in 1990 as the college’s first African-American woman tenured full professor.

She said the mentor-mentee relationship relies heavily on mutual trust.

“Nothing else works if they don’t trust my insight and experience,” said Adams, who previously was honored by the Florida Association of Teacher Educators with its Mary L. Collins Teacher Educator of the Year Award.

Several of Adams’ mentees nominated Adams for the award, including UF education doctoral candidate Natalie King.

“She encourages me to excel by setting high expectations for me to accomplish,” King said. “I am truly humbled to know her and to have the opportunity to receive her guidance.”

Adams doesn’t limit her mentoring to UF students. University of South Florida doctoral student Lakesia Dupree paired up with Adams through the McKnight fellowship program, which works to increase the pool of minority Ph.D. candidates to teach at the college and university levels.

“Dr. Adams has played a pivotal role in my success as a graduate student and has inspired me to become more than I ever imagined,” said Dupree, who also nominated Adams for the award.

Adams said every student deserves the opportunity to have a mentor no matter their background. She said she hopes her mentees surpass her accomplishments and skills in the years ahead.

“Mentoring can make the difference between success and failure,” she said. “In the end, I want to look up to my mentees.”


CONTACTS
    SOURCE: Thomasenia Adams, UF College of Education; 352-273-4116; tla@coe.ufl.edu
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-373-4449; marinerk@ufl.edu 
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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FSU honors UF’s inquiry scholar Nancy Dana with distinguished alumni award

Nancy Dana

Nancy Dana

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida College of Education Professor Nancy Dana has been honored with a 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Florida State University College of Education, where she received her doctorate in childhood education in 1991.

The award honors FSU education graduates who have distinguished themselves through scholarly, creative and humanitarian achievement, and service to their profession.

Dana is a leading international authority on teacher inquiry – a powerful form of professional development whereby teachers and school leaders engage in action research on their own practice in the classroom, wrapping their professional learning around the learning of students, and sharing their findings with colleagues.

Dana has worked with numerous schools and districts across Florida, the United States and abroad to help them craft professional development programs of inquiry for their teachers, principals and district administrators.

Dana, a professor of curriculum, teaching and teacher education, has studied and written about practitioner inquiry for over 20 years, publishing 10 books on the topic, including three best sellers. Her latest book was just released in November with Corwin Press on Professional Learning Communities titled, simply, “The PLC Book.”

Dana has made numerous keynote presentations and led workshops in several countries for educators hungry for professional learning models that focus on examining evidence from practice. Her recent work has taken her to China, South Korea, the Netherlands and Belgium. Last January she led a weeklong course on inquiry in Lisbon, Portugal, for education leaders from nine countries in the European Union. Next October she heads to Estonia.

Dana previously served on the Penn State University education faculty for 11 years. She joined the UF education faculty in 2003 and has conducted extensive research on practitioner inquiry and educator professional development. In 2010, Dana and co-researchers Cynthia Griffin (UF special education) and Stephen Pape (Johns Hopkins mathematics education) secured a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences to develop and study an extensive online professional development program for third-through-fifth-grade general and special education teachers focused on the teaching of struggling math learners.

She is deeply involved in the college’s new, professional practice doctoral program in curriculum, teaching and teacher education. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program is an online, on-the-job degree program designed specifically for practicing K-12 educators who aspire to lead change, school improvement and education reform efforts in their schools and districts.

Dana’s past honors include the Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Research in Teacher Education Award and the National Staff Development Council Book of the Year Award.

“It is a great honor to receive this alumni award and to have connections to two wonderful universities in our state,” Dana said, adding with a sly smile, “but I’ll always bleed orange and blue. Go Gators!”


SOURCE: Nancy Dana, 352-273-4204; ndana@coe.ufl.edu
WRITER
: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;
llansford@coe.ufl.edu

 

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Leite and Collier win best paper award

Walter Leite

Walter Leite

Zachary Collier

Zachary Collier

A research paper by Associate Professor Walter Leite and doctoral candidate Zachary Collier won the most distinguished award in the Florida Educational Research Association’s annual advanced educational research paper competition.

The College of Education scholars won for a methodological paper based on Collier’s master’s thesis, which concluded that “higher levels of Algebra Nation usage corresponds to higher passing rates in the Algebra I end-of-course exam.”

Leite and Collier measured school passing rates on the exam and the number of teacher and student Algebra Nation logins, videos watched and other variables to reach their conclusions.

High school students in Florida are required to pass the Algebra 1 exam to graduate. Algebra Nation is a free online study resource developed by UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning that provides a free, 24-hour Internet-based learning environment. It is now used by thousands of teachers and students in all of the state’s 67 Florida school districts.

“Collier and Leite’s paper was the clear first” among three the three finalists in the “highly competitive” contest, said Donna Buckner, president-elect of FERA and the founder and president of the Lakeland Institute for Learning.

Reviewers from the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Miami ranked the papers with no author information provided. The technical title of the paper was “Testing the Effectiveness of Three-Step Approaches for Auxiliary Variables in Latent Class and Latent Profile Analysis.”

More specifically the paper “demonstrates the use of state of the art statistical methods to estimate the effects of Algebra Nation usage on Algebra end-of-course passing rates,” Leite said.

They focused on methods to group schools according to “the degree their students and teachers used Algebra Nation, and then evaluate whether differences in passing rates across these groups was statistically significant.”

Leite is an associate professor in the college’s UF’s Research and Evaluation Methods program. His specialty is working with massive amounts of information to analyze the effectiveness of teaching tools and educational programs. Collier won a McKnight Doctoral Fellowship in May based on his academic achievements and promising future.

The Lastinger Center, UF’s educational innovation incubator, created Algebra Nation in partnership with the Florida Legislature, Governor’s Office and Department of Education, as well as Study Edge, a Gainesville-based company that helps high school and college students improve their learning through technology.

Florida Educational Research Association named the scholars the winners on Nov. 20 at the group’s annual conference in Altamonte Springs.


Writer: Charles Boisseau, (352) 273-4449
Source: Walter Leite, (352) 273-4302

 

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Doctoral candidate awarded KDPi scholarship for second straight year

Natalie Ridgewell

Natalie Ridgewell

Natalie Ridgewell, a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida College of Education, was recently awarded the prestigious international C. Glen Hass Laureate Scholarship for Instructional Leadership for the second straight year.

Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education awards the annual $2,000 scholarship to doctoral education students who impact the practical and theoretic development of instructional leadership and the scholarly extension of curriculum.

Ridgewell, who is working toward a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, said she was shocked the first time she received the award, and even more humbled when her name was called a second time.

“When they recognized me the second time it was not just about the potential they first saw in me, but that I was continuing (to develop) those (skills),” said Ridgewell, a KDPi member since 2013.

To qualify for the honor, Ridgewell’s application packet included a required essay she wrote emphasizing her passion for teaching, instructional leadership skills, commitment to the success of her students, and her positive influence in the community.

Letters of recommendation written by UF education faculty cited Ridgewell’s scholarship, leadership, service and her passion for teaching.

Suzanne Colvin, associate director of the School of Teaching and Learning, coordinator of Unified Elementary Proteach and the former adviser for the KDPi UF Chapter, recommended Ridgewell for the 2014 award. Alyson Adams, clinical associate professor in STL and the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning, is Ridgewell’s dissertation committee chair and recommended her the past two years.

Ridgewell has served as secretary of the Student Alliance of Graduate Educators (SAGE), and volunteers for a summer education and enrichment program for underserved youth in east Gainesville called FOCUS, a program developed by Natalie King, a UF doctoral colleague of Ridgewell’s. She also has volunteered at the local Boys and Girls Club, served as a Pen Pal for a third grader, and volunteered for an event sharing information about the Education Common Core Standards.

Since receiving her bachelor’s in English literature from Georgia College & State University, Ridgewell has earned master’s degrees in library and information science from the University of South Carolina, and in English literature from the University of Georgia.

Ridgewell said she continually stresses her teaching mantra, “How you teach is just as important as what you teach, and you can’t effectively teach students you don’t know.”

Ridgewell is due to graduate with her doctorate in August of 2016.


CONTACTS
    SOURCE: Natalie Ridgewell, UF College of Education; 478-319-5512; nkr@ufl.edu
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education; marinerk@ufl.edu 
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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National group honors UF education leader for helping low-income students get to college and succeed

Don Pemberton

Don Pemberton

University of Florida education innovator Don Pemberton received the prestigious Bob Craves Champion of College Access Award this week for his leadership in providing the means for low-income students to attend and succeed in college.

The award was presented on Monday in Orlando at the annual meeting of the National College Access Network (NCAN), one of the premier nonprofit organizations created to improve college access to low-income and other underserved populations.

Pemberton, 63, is director of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning, the College of Education’s research-and-development incubator for advancing teacher and student achievement.

The award salutes Pemberton’s life mission to give opportunities to young people who lack the hope, much less the money and support, to attend and succeed in college.

“It’s an honor in terms of affirmation of this work,” Pemberton said. “It’s about collective effort and by honoring me they honor the organizations and individuals that have supported the work.”

UF College of Education Dean Glenn Good said Pemberton is more than worthy of the award.

“Don is an innovative, passionate and tireless advocate for the children and students of Florida,” Good said. Pemberton’s work has influenced school administrators, educators and students not only across the state “but it is having a national and international impact.”

Pemberton is the first and only director of the Lastinger Center, which works with schools and communities to improve student performance, teacher practice, school achievement, principal leadership and parental engagement.

A quarter of a century ago, before he joined UF in 2002, Pemberton was a teacher and guidance counselor in Pinellas County where he was troubled by an alarming number of Tampa Bay area students who dropped out of school.

In 1995, he founded a nonprofit organization, Take Stock in Children, to address the high dropout rate. With the backing of concerned community leaders and businesses, the organization has grown to become Florida’s largest college access and mentoring program to help students escape poverty through education.

It serves all 67 Florida’s counties by providing scholarships, advocates and mentors to middle-school students who need help to graduate from high school and attend college.

“More than 25,000 kids have been through the program,” said Pemberton, who continues to serve as a board member of the organization. “Today there are military officers, doctors, lawyers, accountants and pharmacists who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to college without the mentoring and promise of a college scholarship that Take Stock in Children provided.”

Among the biggest backers of Take Stock in Children was Allen Lastinger, who at the time was president of Barnett Bank, since purchased by what is now Bank of America. A $2 million gift to UF’s College of Education from Lastinger and his wife Delores also led to the creation of the Lastinger Center for Learning.

Pemberton received the award named for Bob Craves, co-founder of the College Success Foundation and a founding officer of Costco. Craves died in 2014 after many years advocating for students who have been historically underserved by higher education. Past award winners include the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.


CONTACTS
    SOURCE: Don Pemberton, UF Lastinger; 352-273-4108; dpemberton@coe.ufl.edu;
    WRITER: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education; cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;

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UF Research Foundation recognizes education scholar with elite professorship

LEITE, Walter

Scholar Walter Leite is the College of Education’s newest winner of a UF Research Foundation Professorship.

One way Walter Leite explains the complex statistical methods he uses to measure the effectiveness of educational programs is with the old analogy of comparing apples to apples.

The associate professor in UF’s Research and Evaluation Methods program works with massive amounts of information (so-called “big data”) to analyze the effectiveness of teaching tools and educational programs, using measures such as standardized scores, end-of-courses assessments, surveys and observation protocols.

“I try to get around the selection-bias problem, the fact that there are apples and oranges,” when analyzing datasets with upwards of 1 million or more variables, he said while explaining one of the sophisticated tools he uses – “propensity score analysis” – to analyze massive amounts of data.

“My niche is extremely large data sets with lots of variables and I try to find the evidence for program effectiveness based on that data,” the Brazilian-born scholar said.

Leite sat down for an interview recently after being awarded a prestigious University of Florida Research Foundation (UFRF) Professorship, which provides three-year awards to tenured faculty for outstanding research and to provide incentives for continued excellence.

The award recognizes the growing importance of Leite’s work at a time of increasing government mandates related to school accountability, such as the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.

Leite’s research has been in collaboration with the UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning, where his work has helped evaluate large projects such as Algebra Nation and the Teacher Leadership for School Improvement (TLSI) program.

Last year, Leite and a research assistant received the Florida Educational Research Association’s Distinguished Paper Award for evaluating the TLSI degree program by using statistical models to follow 78 third- through fifth-grade teachers over a decade. Their study showed that students exposed to these teachers had improved their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) math and reading scores, and reduced their school absences.

More recently, Leite and his team received a $1.6 million grant from the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning to evaluate the effectiveness of a statewide pilot project to provide pre-K teachers special training and coaching as a way to improve the learning of children getting ready to enter kindergarten.

David Miller, former coordinator of REM and now director of the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education, said Leite’s UFRF professorship is well deserved — and increasingly important because of government requirements, such as tying school funding to student assessment scores. These mandates are proving controversial public policy, and a lot is riding on whether these accountability standards are really improving schools, teaching and learning.

“We need folks like Walter working on that,” Miller said. “It’s very complex, but the implications are very important to measure the effectiveness of social science and educational programs.”

Leite’s work is supported by a half-dozen grants, enough work to keep him so busy as to not allow time to teach. But Leite is an enthusiastic teacher. His structural equation modeling course this semester has attracted two dozen grad students from across the university, from the fields of criminology, forestry, psychology, immunology and more, who need to learn how to analyze big data.


 

Contacts
    Source: Walter Leite, College of Education, walter.leite@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4302
    Writer: Charles Boisseau, College of Education Office of News and Communications; cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449

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Paul Sindelar joins select group as UF Distinguished Professor

Special education Professor Paul Sindelar has been named a University of Florida Distinguished Professor, making him just the sixth College of Education faculty member to be awarded the coveted title.

Paul Sindelar8

UF Distinguished Professor Paul Sindelar

Sindelar’s new title “acknowledges an exceptional record of achievement in the areas of teaching, research and publication and professional and public service that is recognized both nationally and internationally,” according to Joseph Glover, UF provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Sindelar said there have been times when he wasn’t sure his credentials would measure up to the lofty standards set by his predecessors.

“I knew that Cecil Mercer and Paul George were both Distinguished Professors,” Sindelar said. “We were contemporaries before they retired, and I had a great deal of respect for their work.

“In fact, I was on a bird watching trip in the Yucatan when a guy we ran into asked where I was from and what I did,” he added. “After I told him I worked at the University of Florida, he asked me if I knew Paul George. I mean, what are the odds of that happening?

“Paul was one of the founding fathers of middle school education, and his work reached a lot of people,” Sindelar said. “I don’t suppose I’ve had that kind of impact, but then, not many people have.”

The same could be said of the late Cecil Mercer, a giant in his field during his 31-year tenure on the COE special education faculty. Three other former faculty members – all deceased — were granted distinguished professorships during their tenures. Joe Wittmer came to UF in 1968 and chaired the Counselor Education department for 18 of his 37 years with the COE; James Wattenbarger was known widely as the “father of Florida’s community college system” after his dissertation was used as a system blueprint in the late 1950s; and Mary Budd Rowe, a science education professor who spent 24 years on the COE faculty, was a former UF Teacher of the Year.

Sindelar said he learned about his new title while attending a conference in Arlington, Va., when COE Dean Glenn Good sent him an email message containing a letter from UF President Kent Fuchs.

“I was a bit surprised, but thrilled to death,” Sindelar said. “It’s an honor, of course, and utterly humbling.”

Sindelar, who is co-director of UF’s federally funded CEEDAR Center, has been conducting research focusing on change in the special education teacher labor market and its implications for policy makers and teacher educators. CEEDAR is an acronym for Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform.

He and his colleagues have established that fewer education teachers are employed in U.S. public schools today than were on the job 10 years ago. The reasons for the decline are unclear, although reductions in the number of students identified with learning disabilities, changes in service delivery, and the economic impact of the Great Recession all appear to play roles, their research indicates.

Mary Brownell, Sindelar’s co-director at the CEEDAR Center, says she knows her colleague will make the most of whatever opportunities his new title may bring.

“Paul has been my mentor and a close friend for 25 years,” Brownell said. “He hired me, and we’ve had a tremendous journey together as teacher education scholars. We’ve directed three centers together, four doctoral leadership grants and one research grant from the U. S. Department of Education. We’ve co-authored countless papers, presentations, and book chapters. I can’t imagine my career being what it has been without my trusted friend and wise colleague.

“He’s one of the finest teacher education researchers in our field, and he’s respected by all of his colleagues at UF and across the nation,” she added. “No one could be more deserving of the title Distinguished Professor.”

Honors and recognition aren’t new for Sindelar, He won the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, TED Publication Award in 1997 and 2009, as well as the University of Illinois College of Education Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007 and the UF Faculty Achievement Recognition Award in 2007.

Most notably, though, Sindelar and Brownell won the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s prestigious David G. Imig Award in 2015 for making significant, lasting contributions to educator development and teacher education policy and research.

Sindelar received an undergraduate degree in history at Dartmouth before earning a master’s in special education at the University of Illinois in 1974 and his Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Minnesota three years later. He entered the UF College of Education in 1988 as department chair and special education professor. He remained chair until 1996, when he became director of the UF Center for School Improvement and went on to serve as director of the UF Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education (2000-2005) and associate dean for research in the Office of Educational Research (2005-2008).


Contacts
    Media Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.

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Robin Rossie receives second Adviser of the Year award

After giving advice and occasional pep talks to thousands of students during her 20 years in the UF College of Education’s Office of Student Services, Robin Rossie has learned that one good question deserves another.

Robin for web

UF President Kent Fuchs presents longtime COE staff member Robin Rossie with her second Adviser of the Year award.

“A student might come in and say, ‘I’ve got a quick question,’ but there’s rarely a quick answer,” said Rossie, the COE’s 2015 Adviser of the Year. “Being a good adviser is all about asking questions behind the questions.”

Being a great listener also has worked well for the woman who walked away from a factory job to take a clerk typist position with student services. Six months later, she found herself acting in an advisory capacity for undergraduate students, and she’s been doing it ever since.

“I’ve stayed here because I love what I do and I care about our students,” said Rossie, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in linguistics at UF. “I help them plan and map out their goals. Who wouldn’t love a job like that?”

And who wouldn’t love her doing a job like that? Among the countless alumni who have appreciated her efforts over the years are former UF ProTeach students Alicia Gardiner and Carolyn Smith.

“When I first met Robin, she was very warm and welcoming and wanted to personally get to know her students,” Gardiner wrote in a letter of support for Rossie, who won the same award in 2009. “This proved to me that I wasn’t [just] a number, but I actually had value. She wanted me to not only excel in my courses, but to enjoy them as well.

“She would tell me exactly what I needed and how I could go about getting it done,” Gardiner continued. “There was never a time when I left her office confused because she would thoroughly explain everything and was always open and willing to answer any questions I had.”

Smith, who worked in a summer job with Rossie, said her former mentor is the “oil for the wheels” that make the Office of Student Services run smoothly.

“Though her title is academic advisor, her role and impact within the College of Education exceeds her job description,” Smith wrote in another letter of support. “She not only is an expert advisor in matters of coursework and certification, but she offers her time as a mentor and a listening ear for those who need to process, ask questions and explore all avenues in the field of education.

“You will be well informed and equipped when you leave her office to pursue your goals,” Smith added. “Robin gives every individual her full attention and offers careful guidance in making big decisions.”

To Rossie, it’s all in a day’s work.

“Even though we’ve got computer systems with dashboards that place today’s students in more of a self-service mode, I still have face time with a lot of them,” she said. “I try to offer them insights that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.

“They know I’m there for them, and they seem grateful – even relieved – to get some guidance and direction. But what they don’t always know is that I’ll also be here for them when they change their minds.”

Contacts
Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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Collier receives McKnight Doctoral Fellowship

The Florida Education Foundation has awarded COE doctoral candidate Zachary Collier a McKnight Doctoral Fellowship based on his academic achievements and promising future.

Collier1

COE doctoral candidate Zachary Collier

Collier is a member of the UF Algebra Nation team at the COE’s Lastinger Center for Learning, where he collaborates with Study Edge, an entrepreneurial technology firm, to provide online support for Florida students enrolled in Algebra I.

The McKnight fellowship addresses the under-representation of African American and Hispanic faculty at Florida colleges and universities by increasing the pool of minority Ph.D. candidates to teach at the college and university levels. Up to 50 fellowships are awarded statewide each year.

Collier said the fellowship validates his belief that hard work pays off, especially when you have passion for your chosen field.

“I leaped out of my chair when I read the news,” said Collier, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in research evaluation and methodology. “After I collected myself, I called my mother; we cried, we prayed.”

He said the fellowship – which carries monetary awards of up to $5,000 per year toward tuition (with the balance being waived) and an annual stipend of $12,000 – virtually guarantees that he will be able to complete his doctoral work sometime in 2017.

“It’s a blessing to me and my family,” Collier said. “And – lest we forget – I’ll be free of student loans.”

Sylvia Boynton, the Lastinger center’s innovation manager, says Collier has a “brilliant future” ahead of him.

“Zach has been helping our team understand the impact that Algebra Nation’s components have on teacher practice and student achievement,” Boynton said. “He’s dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of the most vulnerable students in Florida schools.”

Contacts
Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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Florida chapter named ‘Outstanding Unit’ by Association of Teacher Educators

The Florida Association of Teacher Educators (FATE) has been named the Association of Teacher Educators’ 2014 Outstanding Unit, marking the first time the Florida chapter has brought home the national organization’s second highest honor.

Crystal Timmons

FATE president-elect Crystal Timmons

The award, which is based on the unit’s accomplishments in programs and services, membership and management, and articulation with the national office, was presented at this year’s national conference in Phoenix, Ariz.

FATE president-elect Crystal Timmons, a UF professor-in-residence with the College of Education’s Teacher Leadership for School Improvement program in Duval County, said all 200 members of her unit can be proud of what they’ve accomplished during the past year.

“We were the first unit to recognize all of our state’s district teachers of the year by inviting them to this year’s conference,” she said.

“FATE was well represented,” Timmons added. “We had five Florida school district members who served on the featured panel, and there were three University of Florida faculty members who facilitated a special professional development session for teachers of the year.”

She said the award comes with $500, which will be used to further FATE’s goals and objectives. Some of the money will help fund annual stipends of $500 each that FATE awards to four undergraduate teacher education students in Florida. The cash awards are part of FATE’s annual Fanchon F. Funk Scholars Award program.

“We were confident that our Outstanding Unit application clearly outlined FATE’s commitment to higher education and Florida’s public school system,” Timmons said. “We were hopeful that the committee could see the careful design and implementation of our various programs and activities.”

Contacts
Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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College honors five ‘outstanding’ students for 2014-15

Congratulations to UF ProTeach undergraduate students Shelby Boger and Madison Buchert, and graduate education students Julie Boker, Natalie King and Elizabeth Bettini, who will receive Outstanding Student Awards April 24 at the 2015 College of Education Recognition Dinner at the UF Hilton in Gainesville.

Undergraduate recipients were selected for their superior academic achievement and service to the college, university and community . . .

Madison Buchert

Madison Buchert

Outstanding Undergraduate Student
Unified Elementary ProTeach
Madison Buchert

Well organized and owner of a 3.72 GPA, Madison Buchert is on track to receive her bachelor’s degree in education in May and her master’s in education in 2016. Membership in Kappa Delta Pi, an international education honor society, has doubled since Madison became president one year ago. She also is an active member of the Florida Education Association, and served on the UF Student Advisory Council. Somehow, Madison found time to work as a substitute teacher and serve as a volunteer student mentor for the College of Education. She will intern at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School next year.

Shelby Boger

Shelby Boger

Outstanding Undergraduate Student
Unified Early Childhood Education
Shelby Boger
Shelby Boger is a well-organized, detail-oriented senior who carries a 3.96 grade point average in the Unified Early Childhood program. She has been on either the Dean’s List or the President’s List all but one semester at UF, and expects to receive her bachelor’s degree in special education in May. Shelby has worked in various capacities — including substitute teaching — at seven public and private schools and child learning centers. She also supervised peer groups charged with security during athletic and special events at UF’s O’Connell Center, and is a former lifeguard and camp counselor with the YMCA.



Outstanding Graduate Student
Research
Elizabeth Bettini
This award recognizes a graduate student who demonstrates outstanding scholarship and strong evidence of publications, professional presentations and professional development activities in support of the College of Education’s mission; also, service and leadership to the college, university and community . . . Elizabeth Bettini has bachelor of science and arts degrees (’04) from the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s in special education (’09) from the University of Arizona. She expects to earn her Ph.D. in special education this year. “Liz” draws the highest of praise from UF faculty members who see her as a valuable asset not only because of her quality research, but for her grant writing ability as well. She has presented at no fewer than 23 national conferences, and has eight peer-reviewed publications to her credit, along with four book chapters and three manuscripts that are under peer review.

Julie Bokor

Julie Bokor

Outstanding Graduate Student
Professional Practice
Julie Bokor
The Professional Practice Award recognizes a graduate student who demonstrates excellence in their research, publications, presentations, and professional activities in support of the College of Education’s mission. These students also provide valuable service and leadership to the University and community . . . After receiving bachelor’s degrees in zoology (’95) and microbiology and cell science (’98), Julie remained at UF, where she earned her master’s in science education before entering the COE’s doctoral program in curriculum and instruction. She holds a 3.95 grade point average and expects to receive her Ph.D. in 2016. Julie has been assistant director at the Center for Pre-collegiate Education and Training since 2010, where she also has served as an instructor and lecturer. Her research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and practitioner-oriented materials, and she has made several presentations at the national and international levels.

Natalie King

Natalie King

Outstanding Graduate Student
Leadership
Natalie King

This award honors a graduate student who demonstrates outstanding scholarship, a commitment to service, and leadership for the college, university and community . . . Natalie King is a doctoral candidate who earned a bachelor’s degree in applied physiology and kinesiology (’09) and a master’s in special education (’11) from UF. She expects to receive her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction in May of 2016. Natalie is a Graduate School Fellow and the science education project associate for the University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science (U-FUTuRES) project. She has presented at numerous conferences locally and internationally, and has been published in several journals and a book. Natalie also has won UF’s Phyllis M. Meek Spirit of Susan B. Anthony and Graduate Student Mentoring awards.   

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Students, faculty team up on AERA’s ‘best’ research paper

When two UF College of Education professors recently teamed up with three graduate students, the multidisciplinary quintet developed a compelling research paper that can be referred to officially as “the best.”

HUGGINS, Anne (Aug 2012)_2 2

Corinne Huggins-Manley

Assistant professor of research and evaluation methodology Corinne Huggins-Manley and Albert Ritzhaupt, an associate professor of educational technology, along with three students — Krista Ruggles and Mathew Wilson (both in education technology) and Savannah Madley (research and evaluation methodology)— were chosen to receive the American Education Research Association’s 2015 Best Paper Award.

Their article was selected for the category of one of AERA’s special interest groups, “Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching and Learning.” The authors will be recognized at the AERA annual meeting April 16-20 in Chicago.

Albert Ritzhaupt

Albert Ritzhaupt

Their winning paper, “Validation of the Survey of Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge of Teaching and Technology: A multi-institutional sample,” explores the accuracy of a measurement tool assessing Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK).

Research in this field is ongoing due to difficulties defining the boundaries of different TPACK knowledge areas.

“We hope the paper contributes to the advancement and refinement of TPACK theory to better mirror practice and how we measure it,” Huggins-Manley said.

Rizthaupt attributes the paper’s strength to its blending of expertise borrowed from several disciplines at the College of Education. His expertise lies in education technology, Huggins-Manley steered the research methods and the graduate students provided support in the research, analysis and writing of the winning paper.

“The college certainly nurtures research and collaboration,” Ritzhaupt said, “It’s this synergy that keeps people working and achieving.”


CONTACTS
   SOURCE: Corinne Huggins-Manley, amanley@coe.ufl.edu and Albert Ritzhaupt, aritzhaupt@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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Special Ed’s Gage recognized as rising international scholar in emerging field

Nicholas Gage, a UF assistant professor in special education, has gained international recognition for his early-career research success and commitment to advancing the emerging science of positive behavior support.

N.-GageGage is one of two recipients of the 2015 Ted Carr Initial Research Award, presented by the international Association for Positive Behavior Support. The annual honor goes to emerging researchers whose work reflects conceptual sophistication, applied relevance and promise of substantial contribution to the field.

Gage was honored at the APBS International Conference in March.

Positive behavior support, or PBS, focuses on intervention strategies that are compassionate, productive and educationally oriented to help individuals develop constructive behaviors to meet their life goals in social relationships, employment, academic achievement, health and other areas.

Gage’s research is dedicated to helping all students succeed in school, focusing particularly on students at risk of, or receiving special education services for, emotional-behavioral disorders. He has specific expertise in statistical modeling, research design and methods, and functional behavioral assessment.

“I believe my research and service efforts will have a positive and lasting impact on the college’s relationship with local schools and schools statewide,” he said.

After he earned his Ph.D. in special education from the University of Missouri, Gage was an Institute of Education Sciences post-doctoral fellow with the Center for Behavioral Education and Research at the University of Connecticut, working on statistical and methodological advances in the emotional and behavioral disorders research field.


CONTACTS
   SOURCE: Nicholas Gage, UF assistant professor in special education, UF College of Education; gagenicholas@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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

Amber Benedict1

Amber Benedict

College of Education alumna Amber Benedict (PhD ‘14,
special education) 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.”

Contacts
Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449

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Math educator grant aids ProTeach senior Rachel Andrews

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UF ProTeach senior Rachel Andrews

The Florida Council of Teachers of Mathematics has given UF ProTeach senior Rachel Andrews a Lichtenberg Pre-service Educator Grant that will cover up to $500 of her costs when she attends the council’s fall conference in Palm Harbor.

“Grants like this are out there, so I tell everyone to keep their eyes open,” said Andrews, who wants to teach math after she receives bachelor’s degree in elementary education in May and a master’s degree a year later.

Andrews, who will be introduced with four other grant recipients during the 62nd annual conference Oct. 23-25, received the award based on her 3.92 grade point average, volunteer work at Gainesville elementary schools and a solid endorsement from UF math education doctoral candidate Rhonda Williams.

“She is a very bright student and has a passion to work with elementary children,” Williams wrote of Andrews, who grew up in Wesley Chapel, Fla. “She continually seeks out opportunities that will help her grow professionally.”

Andrews is an executive board member of the UF chapter of the Golden Key International Honor Society and spoke at the Aligning of the Stars education conference in Pasco County two years ago.

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Ed. Leadership alum honored as nation’s top principal

UF College of Education alumna Jayne Ellspermann (MEd ’84, educational leadership), principal of Ocala West Port High School, was named national principal of the year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She was one of six finalists for the 2015 honor.

Jayne Ellspermann

Jayne Ellspermann

The award was announced Oct. 7 at a surprise assembly at the school attended by Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart, elected state and local officials, students, teachers and Ellspermann’s own family. The announcement came as part of NASSP’s celebration of National Principals Month.

During her 10 years as West Port principal, Ellspermann has ushered in a pervasive college-going culture. The high school is home to the Early College Center, an official offsite College of Central Florida campus. Ten percent of West Port’s 2014 seniors earned associate’s degrees a month before actually graduating from high school.

Lunchtime at West Port is “Power Hour,” a student empowerment initiative that Ellspermann launched to grant students autonomy over an hour of their school day for academic enrichment, open labs, clubs and other creative opportunities. Three years of “Power Hour” has produced a more personalized and successful school environment, helping to transform the campus into an “A” school that boasts the highest test scores in the district. West Port students also can earn an associate’s degree before graduating from high school thanks to an on-campus college program Ellspermann spearheaded.

A former law enforcement officer, Ellspermann joined Marion County Public Schools 34 years ago as a high school social studies teacher. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from the University of Florida.

“Jayne Ellspermann believes in students and pushes them to succeed by convincing them the future is theirs to control. ‘Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours’ is the standard mantra at WPHS,” said Superintendent George Tomyn of Marion County Public Schools. “Ellspermann supports this student-focused theme by developing and leading dedicated teachers who deliver outstanding instruction and guidance to West Port students.”

The search for this year’s national principal of the year started in early 2014 as each state principals association selected its state middle level and high school principals of the year. From this pool of state winners, a panel of judges selected three middle level and three high school finalists. A separate panel then interviewed and rigorously reviewed the finalists’ applications to select the national winner. Each finalist received a $1,500 grant, and the national winner will receive an additional grant of $3,000. The grants will be used to improve learning at the school.


QUICK LINKS:
— Read more about Jayne Ellspermann’s recognition here.
— Read her article about Power Hour.
Watch some of our selected interviews with Jayne on pertinent education leadership topics.


 

 

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ACA taps rising leaders from UF counselor education

Two up-and-coming leaders from the COE’s counselor education program—a faculty member and an alumni doctoral fellow—have assumed key leadership positions with the American Counseling Association (ACA).

Sandi Logan, left, and Jacqueline Swank pose for “selfies” on Capitol Hill while attending the ACA Institute for Leadership Training.

Sandi Logan, left, and Jacqueline Swank pose for “selfies” on Capitol Hill.

Jacqueline Swank, assistant professor in counselor education, has been elected president of the Association for Creativity in Counseling, an ACA division dedicated to providing understanding of diverse and creative approaches to counseling. She is well known for her service on several professional committees and organizations and as a dedicated mentor for graduate students.

Sandi Logan, an alumni fellow in school counseling, was named by the Florida Counseling Association as its graduate student representative to the ACA. Prior to pursuing her doctorate in 2012, Logan worked as a counselor in elementary and middle schools in California for five years.

 Swank and Logan appear to share a similar passion for leadership. The pair participated recently in the ACA’s Institute for Leadership Training in Washington, D.C. and also joined more than 130 other ACA attendees on Capitol Hill in meeting with their senators and representatives to discuss mental health issues and advocate for counselors. 

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Early-childhood education scholars join UF Institute for Child Health Policy

Patricia Snyder

Patricia Snyder

Patricia Snyder and Maureen Conroy, the director and co-director, respectively, of the UF Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies (based at the College of Education), have been named affiliate faculty members of the College of Medicine’s Institute for Child Health Policy. The institute focuses on disparities in health and health care outcomes for minority and underserved children and develops strategies and interventions to address these issues.

“The Institute for Child Health Policy has been a collaborative partner with the Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies since the center’s founding in 2010,” said Snyder, a professor of special education and early childhood studies and also an affiliate professor of pediatrics. “In the context of the UF Preeminence Initiative, being an affiliate faculty member will further strengthen existing collaborations and advance interdisciplinary doctoral and post-doctoral preparation as well as research, policy and the dissemination of evidence-informed practices in early childhood studies.”

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy

Snyder, who is also the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies, and Conroy, a professor of special education and early childhood studies, were among a total of nine professors representing six departments across UF’s campus to be selected as affiliate faculty members. They were chosen based on their interest and expertise in child health as well as on existing collaborations with faculty in the institute.

“Becoming an affiliate faculty member will help to increase our interdisciplinary collaborative work to assure optimal growth, learning and development for all young children,” Conroy said.

The affiliate faculty members are joining a team of 17 faculty researchers, who garnered $12 million in funding this past year from the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other funding agencies. 

Benefits of affiliate membership, which is reviewed each year, include participation in a yearly research day and reception, communication about funding and networking opportunities and eligibility for pilot study and pre-doctoral funding.

“Our affiliate faculty program is very important and provides a supportive environment where colleagues dedicated to child health can come together, share resources and push one another to think out of the box regarding how to address the critical disparities in children’s health,” said Betsy Shenkman, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Child Health Policy and chair of the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy.

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SPC honors EduGator alumna-donor Helen Gilbart

GILBART--Don and Helen (crppd) - Version 2St. Petersburg College has honored UF College of Education alumna Helen Gilbart with its 2014 Outstanding Alumna Award.

Gilbart graduated from St. Petersburg Junior College (renamed SPC in 2001 when it began offering baccalaureate degree programs) in 1964 with her associate in arts degree. After earning her bachelor’s and master’s in education from UF in 1965 and 1967 respectively, she returned to SPJC as a faculty member at its Clearwater campus where she later became the program director for humanities, fine arts and communications.

In receiving the SPC honor, Gilbart was described as “a true example of a life-long educator and advocate of student success.” She has published several student reading skills and test preparatory manuals and was one of the founding members of SPC’s Women on the Way resource and support center to help women succeed in college. With her late husband Donald Gilbart (BAE ’52, MEd ’63), she was one of the early members of the SPC Foundation’s Legacy Society.

The Gilbarts have provided endowments and scholarship support over the years for both SPC and UF’s College of Education. In 2008, the UF college formed the Gilbart-Olsen Education Technology Endowment with a joint $100,000 donation from the Gilbarts and alumna Norma Olsen (BAE ’76, MEd ’80). The COE last fall used endowment funds to purchase 20 iPads for pre-service teaching students to use in their technology integration courses, helping them develop the skills necessary to teach schoolchildren how to effectively use and learn from technology.

“I think back on my days in Norman Hall with so much pleasure,” Gilbart said. “I received my best direction and influence from professors who inspired me to want to help those children and college students who have no way to help themselves without a helping hand from people like me. I always hope that others will want to pay it forward, too, by donating to UF and (the College of Education).”

CONTACTS
   SOURCE: Maria Gutierrez Martin, development and alumni affairs, UF College of Education, mmartin@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4140
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education

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Spirt of Susan B. Anthony Award fit for a King

Natalie King (left) and Rose Pringle, King's faculty adviser, work together on a science project.

Natalie King (left) and Rose Pringle, King’s faculty adviser, work together on a science project.

The University of Florida Women’s Leadership Council has selected COE doctoral student Natalie King to receive this year’s Phyllis M. Meek Spirit of Susan B. Anthony Award, which recognizes a female student who promotes the rights and advancement of women at UF and beyond.

King’s COE curriculum adviser couldn’t be more proud of the former high school science teacher.

“Natalie’s amazing,” said Rose Pringle, associate professor in the COE’s School of Teaching and Learning. “She’s exceptionally motivated and she exemplifies everything the award stands for.” 

The annual Spirit of Susan B. Anthony Award goes to a young woman at UF who best represents courage, confidence, leadership and dedication — qualities that defined Anthony, an early 1800s schoolteacher who later led the women’s suffrage movement. The award is given in honor of Phyllis Meek, a former UF associate dean for student services, assistant professor of education and former president of the Gainesville Commission on the Status of Women.

King, who gave birth to her second child just three days before the award was presented recently during a Women’s History Month awards reception at the UF President’s Housesaid she felt honored but took the recognition in stride.

“So many individuals have helped me throughout my life,” she  said. “That’s why I make a point of serving my community; it’s my way of saying ‘thank you.”

King taught biology and chemistry for three years at Eastside High School in Gainesville before entering the COE’s Ph.D. program in 2012. She said she spent a great deal of time motivating some students and “just as much time keeping up with motivated students” in her International Baccalaureate classes.

King is on track to receive her doctorate in curriculum and instruction by August of 2016.

“That’s my drop-dead date,” she said with a laugh. “My husband and I have two boys now. I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

She previously received the 2013 Graduate Student Mentoring Award, given by UF’s I-Cubed program, for helping other students succeed in their undergraduate or graduate studies or in K-12 classrooms.

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International group honors Special Ed researcher for 2nd straight year

Mary Brownell

Mary Brownell

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—For the second consecutive year, University of Florida special education professor Mary Brownell has been chosen to receive a top honor from the Council for Exceptional Children, the world’s largest advocacy organization for students with special needs.

Brownell will receive the Kauffman-Hallahan Distinguished Researcher Award, to be presented by the CEC’s Division for Research at the council’s annual conference April 11 in Philadelphia. The award, which includes a $1,000 stipend, recognizes special education researchers whose work yields more effective services or education for exceptional individuals.

Brownell is recognized internationally as a leading scholar and policy expert in special education and teacher preparation. While the CEC honors her this year for her research, the council’s Teacher Education Division last year gave her its Pearson Excellence in Teacher Education Award. The CEC is the largest international professional organization for special educators, with more than 30,000 members.

“Mary is the premier scholar of teacher quality issues in special education,” wrote top special education researchers Donald Deshler of the University of Kansas and David Houchins of Georgia State University in jointly nominating Brownell for the CEC honor. “Her work has had enormous impact on the way teacher educators think about educating special education teachers and state policy and practice in educating teachers for students with disabilities.”

Brownell’s research has focused on improving the quality of teachers serving students with disabilities, including the advancement of literacy instruction among special education teachers, and studies on the induction and mentoring of beginning special educators.

She is the UF College of Education’s top-funded researcher. After more than two decades at UF, her scholarly productivity and international reputation have helped the University of Florida consistently rank among the top 10 special education programs in the nation. 

“Developing a serious research agenda focused on teacher quality issues and engaging other scholars and doctoral students in that agenda is of great important to me,” Brownell said.

In 2013, Brownell, with UF co-researchers Paul Sindelar and Erica McCray, received a federal award worth $25 million—the college’s largest grant ever—to create and lead a national  CEEDAR Center (Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform) at UF. The researchers are working with multiple states in restructuring and improving their teacher preparation programs and policies in special education.

Funded with $800,000 by the federal Office of Special Education Programs, Brownell and colleagues also are addressing the scarcity of research on teacher quality issues in special education. Their grant has supported four doctoral students over four years in their pursuit of new innovations for preparing special educators.

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CONTACTS 

   SOURCE: Mary Brownell, professor of special education, UF College of Education, mbrownelle@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4261

   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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PhD candidate in elite company after winning national honor for aiding exceptional children

CrystalBishop2

Crystal Crowe Bishop, a University of Florida doctoral candidate in special education, joined some illustrious company with College of Education ties after receiving the 2013 J. David Sexton Doctoral Student Award from the Division for Early Childhood of the international Council for Exceptional Children.

Bishop joins a growing line of UF EduGators who have previously received the annual Sexton honor, which recognizes a doctoral student who has made significant contributions to young children with special needs and their families through research, higher education, publications, policy, and information dissemination. The award is named for J. David Sexton, who was a revered mentor and leader in the field of early intervention and early childhood special education.

Previous Sexton award recipients with links to UF’s nationally-ranked special education program include alumna Tara McLaughlin (honored in 2010), who now works as a senior lecturer at Massey University in New Zealand; alumnus Brian Boyd (2004), now on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill faculty; and Patricia Snyder (1991), director of the Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies who holds the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies. Snyder is Bishop’s doctoral adviser and also studied under Sexton while pursuing her own Ph.D. degree at the University of New Orleans.

The Council for Exceptional Children, which sponsors the award, is the world’s largest advocacy organization for students with disabilities.

“I first heard about this award when I was only a few months into my doctoral program, and I remember thinking ‘I hope I can be that kind of scholar someday,’” said Bishop, who hopes to find a post-doctoral research position after her graduation. “To receive the award is an affirmation of my commitment to this work, but it also motivates me to continue to make important contributions to the field.”

Working as a graduate research assistant at UF’s CEECS, Bishop’s focus is in improving instruction in early childhood settings, including strengthening the professional capacity of leadership personnel. Bishop is also investigating how early childhood policies are translated and enacted into practice.

She first became interested in helping children with disabilities as a youth worker in a group home for adolescents who had hearing impairments. Later, she became a teacher for infants and toddlers at an all-inclusive preschool, where she worked with children with special needs. One child’s parent, Barb Best, who nominated Bishop for the award, said Bishop was “more than ‘just a teacher’” to her students.

“Without a doubt, I would entrust her with my children’s lives,” Best wrote in her recommendation letter for Bishop.

Since then, Bishop has received her master’s degree in human development counseling from Vanderbilt University. Throughout her graduate studies, she has also been involved in several research projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. Further, Bishop has authored a number of academic articles, book chapters, and presentations related to her research interests.

Bishop’s commitment to serving young children through her research, policy work, and teaching experiences has left a lasting imprint. According to Snyder, her doctoral adviser, Bishop “exemplifies the essence” of the J. David Sexton Doctoral Student Award.

“Crystal embodies many of the scholarly and interpersonal characteristics that David possessed and that he valued in others,” Snyder said. “He would be proud that Crystal is a part of his extended ‘academic’ family.”

Bishop will receive the award Oct. 18 at the Division for Early Childhood’s annual international conference in San Francisco.


CONTACT:
   WRITER: Alexa Lopez, news and communications office, UF College of Education; aklopez@coe.ufl.edu 

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UF special ed professor honored as distinguished alum

UF special education professor Linda Lombardino recently received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Ohio State University’s Department of Speech and Hearing Science. 

LOMBARDINO, LindaLombardino graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing education in 1971 and a Ph.D. in speech-language pathology in 1978. The award recognizes alumni who have make significant contribution to the profession of speech-language pathology. 

At the University of Florida, Lombardino is a special education professor at the College of Education. Previously, she was a professor of speech-language pathology at UF’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders for 30 years.

Her area of specialization is developmental dyslexia. She previously served as the director of UF’s Dyslexia Clinic during which she trained graduate students in the differential diagnosis of reading difficulties.

In 1998, Lombardino was named an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)  Fellow. She also received the ASHA Editor’s Award for an article of highest merit in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. She recently completed a book, The Multidimensional Model for Assessing Reading and Writing Disorders, published by Delmar/Cengage Press.

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College honors year’s outstanding graduate students

COE associate deans Tom Dana (left) and Thomasenia Adams (right) flank the college's Outstanding Graduate Student Award recipients (from left) Rachel Wolkenhauer, Kiwanis Burr and Amber Benedict at the college's recent Recognition Dinner.

COE associate deans Tom Dana (left) and Thomasenia Adams (right) flank the college’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award recipients (from left) Rachel Wolkenhauer, Kiwanis Burr and Amber Benedict at the college’s recent Recognition Dinner.

 

Congratulations to Rachel Wolkenhauer, Kiwanis Burr and Amber Benedict, selected as 2013 Outstanding Graduate Students at UF’s College of Education.

The winners hail from the doctoral degree programs in curriculum and instruction, higher education administration and special education, respectively. Their mini-profiles below show why they were selected:

Outstanding Graduate Student – Research
Rachel Wolkenhauer
 
Rachel is a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, as well as a graduate of the College of Education’s Teacher Leadership for School Improvement master’s degree program. For the past two years, she has also served as the graduate assistant and teacher in residence at the Lastinger Center for Learning. Rachel is highly esteemed by her superiors for her leadership, talents and contributions regarding research about teacher preparation and professional development. She has had a role in numerous publications, presentations and professional development activities. Rachel has also maintained a high GPA throughout these experiences and consistently exceeds expectations in her coursework. 

Outstanding Graduate Student – Leadership
Kiwanis Burr

Kiwanis is a doctoral student in higher education administration. She is committed to promoting social justice and equity, starting on the University of Florida’s campus. Through her service and leadership, Kiwanis has made an impact on the University Minority Mentor Program, which aims to encourage its minority or first-generation college students to complete a college degree. As program coordinator of the program, Kiwanis has improved its group activities and student retention rate. Her dedication to serving underrepresented youth is also mirrored in her continued service to the College of Education diversity initiatives.

Outstanding Graduate Student – Professional Practice
Amber Benedict

Amber is a doctoral student in special education. After years of experience in special education classrooms, Amber was moved to support current special education teachers through research, curriculum planning and professional development opportunities. She began her work through UF’s Literacy Learning Cohorts, a project aimed at helping special education teachers in Alachua and Clay counties better teach language alongside the core reading curriculum, as well as to increase intervention to students with disabilities. Later, Amber began a professional development project with third- and fourth-grade general and special education teachers in Clay County. Amber’s extraordinary work and leadership within these programs has made a significant impact on the practices of the teachers with whom she worked, as well as their students.

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Ed tech’s Kara Dawson doubles up on UF honors for research, mentoring

If recognition from her peers and students is any indication, 2012-13 was a banner academic year for Kara Dawson, UF associate professor in education technology, who has received two top university-wide awards for her research innovations and mentoring of doctoral students.

DAWSON, Kara (2013, crppd)Dawson was one of 34 faculty named by the University of Florida Research Foundation as UFRF Professors for 2013-2016.  The honor goes to faculty who have a distinguished current record of research and a strong research agenda that is likely to lead to continuing distinction in their fields.

She also is one of five recipients of UF’s Doctoral Dissertation Advisor/Mentoring Award, a tribute to her dedication and high standards of excellence in her support of graduate education and her sponsorship of student research.

A natural mentor 

Former students describe Kara Dawson as a natural mentor, always ready to troubleshoot any problem and quick to offer encouragement.

Wendy Drexler, now director of online development at Brown University, said she did not realize how special her relationship with her advisor was until her final semester of doctoral work, when she collaborated with doctoral students in other departments.

“It soon became clear that I had a very special advisor who was mentoring me to become a successful future faculty member,” Drexler said.

Drexler said Dawson helped her refine her skills and get exposure for her scholarly work. In fact, Dawson has co-authored more than 25 refereed articles and book chapters with her doctoral students, and all of her doctoral students have presented at conferences.  Drexler said she credits Dawson with preparing her for the leadership position she is in today.

Dawson said she makes a point of encouraging students to seek the advice and guidance of other faculty members and colleagues, in stark contrast to the historical one-to-one model of the student-mentor relationship. 

“I believe students should take full advantage of all the talent and resources around them,” Dawson said.

Elizabeth Bondy, professor and director of the School of Teaching and Learning, said Dawson’s skill as a problem-solver helps her students navigate the challenging terrain of doctoral study. Dawson, she said, is a model mentor.

“She is available. She is determined,” Bondy said.

The mentoring award comes with a $3,000 salary stipend and $1,000 to use in support of her graduate students

A research innovator 

On the research side, Dawson and the other UFRF Professors were recommended for the honor by their college deans based on nominations from their department chairs. They had to show demonstrated evidence of recent research accomplishments as evidenced by publications in scholarly journals, external funding, honors and awards, development of intellectual property and other measures appropriate to their field of expertise.

 “It is this selection by their peers that makes the UFRF Professors so special,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “It is the work of these faculty and their colleagues across campus that has moved UF into the top tier of public research universities nationally.”

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 educational technologies a pervasive part of the learning experience in all public school classrooms. 

She belongs to a statewide council of education technology leaders from school districts and recently led a study of the impact on student achievement and teaching practices of the federal grant entitlement program known as Enhancing Education through Technology, part of the No Child Left Behind program. The research involved nearly 1,800 teachers in nearly 300 schools within 33 Florida districts.

Dawson also focuses part of her work on the practices and impact of online teaching and learning in higher-education settings. She helped develop one of the first online professional-practice doctoral degree programs in the nation and has published several research articles on the program.

The prestigious three-year UFRF award she received includes a $5,000 annual salary supplement and a one-time $3,000 grant. UFRF professorships are funded from the university’s share of royalty and licensing income on UF-generated products.


CONTACTS

   SOURCE:  Kara Dawson, associate professor, education technology, UF College of Education, dawson@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4177
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

 
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Counselor ed graduate receives UF distinguished alumnus award

The University of Florida is honoring Arthur M. (Andy) Horne, a 1967 College of Education master’s graduate, with a 2013 UF Distinguished Alumnus Award 

Horne, who earned his M.Ed. degree at UF in counselor education, was feted at the college’s recent, year-end recognition banquet and will receive the award May 4 at UF’s spring commencement ceremony.

UF Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient Andy Horne poses with COE senior development director Maria Martin at the college's recent Recognition Dinner.

UF Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient Andy Horne poses with COE senior development director Maria Martin at the college’s recent Recognition Dinner.

Horne is a dean emeritus and former Distinguished Research Professor in counseling psychology at the University of Georgia College of Education. He made his mark in education, though, long before retiring in 2012 from his five-year deanship.

Horne was already known for his nearly three decades of research on troubled families and ways to prevent and deal with male bullying and aggressive behavior in schools. Just since 1999, he received more than $7 million in federal grant support to develop and steer the Bully Busters program, designed to reduce violence and bullying in middle schools. His popular 2006 book, Bully Prevention: Creating a Positive School Climate, resulted from that project.

At UF, Horne earned bachelor’s degrees in English education and journalism (1965) before receiving his master’s in counselor education. His first teaching job was at Howard Bishop Junior High in Gainesville. He received his Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University in 1971.

Horne was on the faculty and directed training in counseling psychology at Indiana State from 1971-89 before joining the Georgia faculty, where he headed the counseling psychology department and training program before becoming dean.

Among numerous leadership posts, Horne is past president of the American Psychological Association’s division of group psychology and group psychotherapy and is the current president of the Society of Counseling Psychology. He is a fellow in numerous divisions of the APA and the American Counseling Association. 

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ESOL professor picked for Fulbright study in Ukraine

Maria Coady, a UF associate professor of ESOL and bilingual education, will embark on a 42-day research trip in Ukraine on March 10 as part of the Fulbright Specialist Program.

Coady will study teacher education and English language development at the Ukrainian Pedagogical Institute’s English language department. She will also lead workshops on second language learning and teaching for the institute’s students and teachers from local schools, and observe English teachers in Ukraine’s public schools and provide feedback.

“I hope to understand how teachers are prepared to teach English in state [public] schools, the challenges they face, and to identify local solutions to facilitate students’ learning of English,” Coady said.

Fulbright is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright Specialists Program provides short-term academic opportunities to prominent university faculty and professionals who are part of the Fulbright Scholars Program. Fulbright will pay Coady a stipend for her work and will cover her work-related expenses on the trip.

“I have traveled internationally for work to South America and Europe, but I have not done work in Eastern Europe before,” said Coady, who has been a Fulbright Specialist for 18 months. “It’s exciting and a wonderful opportunity to build partnerships around the world.”

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CCFA Bellwether Awards fete top community college innovators

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL—The Community College Futures Assembly has announced the winners of its highly competitive, 19th annual Bellwether Awards at the group’s 2013 policy summit in Orlando.  The Bellwether Awards recognize outstanding community college programs, mainly in the United States and Canada, judged to be at the forefront of innovation and worthy of replicating.

This year’s winners are: Elgin Community College (Elgin, ILL) in the Instructional Programming and Services category, Piedmont Technical College (Greenwood, SC) in the Planning, Governance and Finance category, and Chattanooga State Community College (Chattanooga, TN) in the Workforce Development category.

Dale Campbell, professor and head of the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida’s College of Education, founded the CCFA and the Bellwether Awards in 1995. The institute continues to administer the awards program.

“In more than 1,200 national community colleges, this is one of the highest honors an institute can receive. The awards are similar to being selected by your peers, comparable to the Oscar or Emmy awards,” Campbell said. “Leaders from the winning institution are often hired or recruited by other colleges to replicate the award-winning program. They also receive thousands of phone calls and hundreds of visits to help others replicate the success of their program in other community colleges and institutions.”

The Bellwether Awards’ Instructional Programs and Services category recognizes programs or services that have been designed and successfully implemented to foster or support teaching and learning in the community college. Elgin Community College presented a project called “One school can do so little; together we can do so much.” They cited statistics showing that since 2006 the percent of direct-from-high school graduates at Elgin Community College needing remediation has decreased 8 percent overall, and 10 percent in mathematics because of faculty-centered school district partnerships. This project replicated an Alliance for Readiness meeting by providing opportunities to interact with data, ask questions, and transcend educational boundaries.” For more information on this project please contact: Dr. Libby Roeger, Dean, College Transitions & Developmental Education (847) 214-7463 fax (847) 214-7818 E-mail: eroeger@elgin.edu

The Planning, Governance, and Finance category recognizes programs or activities that have been designed and successful y implemented to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the community college. Piedmont Technical College presented a project called “LEAN in Higher Education: How it Continues to Change Our Culture.” The project created better customer service by becoming LEAN to better record student enrollments through more efficient processes.  After winning, the team had this to say (on video): http://youtu.be/wfVuenmdEfM. For more information, contact: Keith Lasure, Associate Vice President of Process Development, Dean Engineering & Industrial Technology, lasure.k@ptc.edu.

The Workforce Development category recognizes programs that create public or private strategic alliances and partnerships that promote community and economic development. Chattanooga State Community College presented a project called “The Wacker Institute: Diplomas with Job Offers!” Chattanooga State has teamed with Wacker Polysilicon-North America to create the Wacker Institute. This innovative program, which includes working in a chemical pilot plant, allows graduates in Chemical Engineering Technology to leave with their diploma in one hand and a job offer from Wacker Chemical in the other. For more information, contact: George Graham, Department Director, Wacker Institute & Dept. Head, Chemical Engineering Technology, George.Graham@ChattanoogaState.edu.

The featured keynote address was presented by Leslie Crutchfield, Senior Advisor at the Foundation Strategy Group and co-author of the critically acclaimed book “Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Non-Profits.”

This year’s policy summit was led by Thomas Bailey, Ph.D., Director of the Community College Research Center (ccrc.tc.columbia.edu) with his remark on “Scaling Innovation: Research on the Promising Practices in Developmental Math Education.” J. Noah Brown, Ph.D. president of the Association of Community College Trustees (Acct.org) also provided a session showcasing his new book “First in the World: Community College and America’s Future.” Together the lessons from the speakers and keynote address served as the basis for introspection, strategic decision making, selecting critical issues, and directing policy creation for distribution to key administration and community college oversight board of directors including the Department of Education, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC), the National State Directors of Community Colleges, the National Council for Continuing Education and Training (NCCET), the Council for Resource Development (CRD), the National Council of Instructional Administrators (NCIA), the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), the Academic Chairs Academy as well as legislators and key policy makers.

The Community College Futures Assembly convenes annually as an independent policy summit to identify critical issues facing community college leaders and to recognize Bellwether finalists as trend-setting institutions. Annually, between 100 and 500 applications are received from around the world. Peer-reviewed committees judge entries in each of the three categories to select ten finalists to go to Lake Buena Vista to present and showcase their projects. The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT.org) oversees the judging process while, the Council for Resource Development (CRDnet.org) sponsors and provides the peer review judging for the Planning, Governance, and Finance (PGF) category, and the National Council for Continuing Education and Training (NCCET.org) sponsors and provides the peer review judging for the workforce development (WD) category. In almost two decades there have been thousands of applicants but only 55 winning projects honored programs with the Bellwether Award.


CONTACT
Source:  Dale Campbell, Institute of Higher Education, UF College of Education, dfc@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4300.

 

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UF education researchers recognized at state research conference

Several University of Florida education researchers were honored at this year’s Florida Educational Research Association annual meeting, hosted last month by the College of Education at UF’s Hilton Conference Center Hotel.

Walter Leite, an associate professor of research and evaluation methodology (REM), and his research assistant Francisco Jimenez, a Ph.D. student, received the conference’s Distinguished Paper Award. They were recognized for their paper evaluating the effects of the Teacher Leadership for School Improvement (TLSI) degree program offered for prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers. The graduate program is a joint project of the college’s School of Teaching and Learning and the UF Lastinger Center for Learning.

Leite and Jimenez developed statistical models following 10 years of performance by 78 third- through fifth-grade teachers’ who are currently enrolled or graduated from the program. They compared the teachers’ effects on students they had taught prior to their TLSI coursework to their effects after joining the program.

The study revealed that the students exposed to these teachers had improved their FCAT math and reading scores, and reduced their school absences.

“The most important finding of our study is that the TLSI program, which is unique to the College of Education and the Lastinger Center, is positively affecting schools,” Leite said. “It also shows that the work done by the college and Lastinger Center matters.”

Koro-Ljungberg

Also recognized at the conference was professor Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, who received the Educational Researcher of the Year award for her contributions to educational research. Koro-Ljungberg is a professor in REM. In the past two years, she has authored or co-authored 11 peer-reviewed papers.

For Koro-Ljungberg, a qualitative researcher, the award came as a surprise because quantitative research is often seen as dominant, she said. Qualitative research is the practice of analyzing personal and narrative accounts, such as interviews, focus groups, observations, artifacts and oral histories. On the other hand, quantitative research often involves larger samples and relies on numbers and statistics.

“I hope this will motivate people to do more and present more qualitative research in the future,” she said.

Others honored at the meeting were UF doctoral students Kristi Cheyney (in special education), Nicole Jean-Paul (school psychology) and Jean Theurer (REM), who received awards for the best overall project posters.

For more information about the Florida Educational Research Association, visit feraonline.org.


CONTACTS:
SOURCE: Walter Leite, 352-273-4302, walter.leite@coe.ufl.edu
SOURCE: Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, 352-273-4304, koro-ljungberg@coe.ufl.edu
WRITER: Alexa Lopez, 352-273-4449, aklopez@coe.ufl.edu
MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137, llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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One of COE’s ‘6 to Watch’ students receives leadership scholarship

UF education doctoral student Angel Rodriguez was selected by Kappa Delta Pi to receive the C. Glen Hass Laureate Scholarship in Instructional Leadership.  The $1,500 award is only awarded to applicants from the University of Florida doctoral program.

Kappa Delta Pi is an international education honor society comprised of more than 40,000 students, teachers, professionals and school staff members and administrators from around the world.

Rodriguez, a science professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education leadership at UF. He was profiled on the College of Education’s home web page earlier this year as one of the “Six to Watch” students as recommended by UF education professors.

According to Dale Campbell, a higher education administration professor who recommended Rodriguez for the scholarship, Rodriguez is dedicated to helping community college students.  After 20 years of serving on community college faculties, Rodriguez hopes to become president at a Florida community or state college.

“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 wrote in his recommendation letter.

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Math ed professor nominated for Spirit of Gainesville Award

Tim Jacobbe

Tim Jacobbe, a math education professor at UF’s College of Education, and his wife, Elizabeth, were nominees for The Gainesville Sun’s 2012 Spirit of Gainesville Awards.

The awards were announced on Nov. 28.

Now in its second year, the Spirit of Gainesville Awards honor members of the community in five categories: arts, community service, entrepreneurship, medicine and sportsmanship. The Jacobbes have been nominated in the community service category for their involvement in the nonprofit organization Caleb’s Pitch.

Tim Jacobbe founded Caleb’s Pitch in 2009 in memory of his nephew, Caleb Jacobbe, who passed away from cancer at the age of 8. Caleb’s Pitch is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating memorable experiences and enhancing the quality of life for children and families confronting serious childhood illnesses. Caleb’s Pitch aims to share the story of Caleb Jacobbe as an inspiration to others through the Caleb Jacobbe Award which is given out by several Division 1 basketball programs across the country.

To learn more about Caleb’s Pitch, please visit http://calebspitch.org.

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COE alum receives nation’s highest science teaching honor

Only America’s most exceptional teachers find themselves strolling through the White House discussing education policy with Vice President Joe Biden. COE alumnus Eric Grunden (MEd ’94, science education) recently got the VIP treatment from Biden and the White House staff after receiving the nation’s highest honor in the science teaching profession.

Grunden was one of 97 educators across the country to receive the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in a ceremony at the White House.  The honor came with a certificate signed by President Obama, an all-expense-paid trip for two to the capital and a $10,000 stipend from the National Science Foundation. President Obama was scheduled to attend the ceremony but had to make an emergency trip to visit the victims of the Colorado wildfires.

“I had been to the White House before as a tourist, but this was special,” Grunden said.  “We got to come in through the back entrance, and I got to meet Bo, the (Obama family) dog – all that was important, but it was nice to feel validated and meet other educators who think like me.”

The Presidential awards are given annually to one math and one science teacher in grades K-12 from each state based on the quality of instruction in their classrooms. Grunden thinks it’s his knowledge of chemistry and teaching skills he honed during his master’s degree coursework in science education at UF that made him stand out as an applicant.

“I think it’s more important to teach less content at a deeper level so students get an appreciation for the system. It’s like cooking: you can teach somebody a recipe, but understanding why you need to add sugar at that point or why  you need to do this over low heat allows you to make your own recipes, and then you’re a chef,” Grunden said.

Grunden has been the science department chair at Raleigh (N.C.) Charter High School since 2000 but got his first teaching job at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School after graduation from UF in 1993. He said he still draws on his experience at PKY because it was a small, innovative school much like the school he’s at now.

His science education professor at UF, Linda Jones, recommended Grunden for his first teaching position at P.K. Yonge and said chemistry class enrollment at the school soared after he began teaching.

During his Washington, D.C. visit, Grunder poses a question to physicist Jim Gates, a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, at a recent council meeting. (Photo courtesy of National Science Foundation)

“He taught chemistry like a magician or showman,” Jones said. “Students don’t even realize they’re in a chemistry class because they’re having so much fun.”

Jones said Grunden, who has been a contestant on the TV game show “Jeopardy!,” is the second UF education alumnus to win the Presidential Award – the first was her husband, Griffith Jones, a master science teacher with the College of Education’s UFTeach program, who won in 1998.

Grunden describes his teaching style as Socratic because he believes having students ask questions of themselves helps them realize what they already know and apply it to different situations.

“Our students are very sophisticated,” Grunden said. “I look at the things they do every day with technology, and I think, ‘if they can do that, they can do this, too.’”

With 17 years of teaching experience,, his latest venture is founding a science-and-mathematics-focused charter school in Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, which opened in mid-August with 160 new freshmen. The high school’s neighbors include science and engineering giants such as GlaxoSmithKline to give students opportunities for interaction and internships, much like his nonprofit, the Contemporary Science Center, that places teens in day-long field trips giving them a firsthand look at what scientists do on a daily basis.

“I never wanted to be anything other than a classroom teacher, and when the board of directors asked me to be the school leader, I reluctantly accepted. Since then, I’ve realized that this is a lot of fun, so I don’t know where this is going to take me,” Grunden said. “I’d like to see this school go for a while, certainly through the first graduating class, but who knows after that?”

Professor Jones said it’s like Grunden to leave you guessing.

“You never know what’s going to come next with Eric, but, whatever it is, it turns to gold.”


CONTACTS/CREDITS
  
WRITER: Jessica Bradley, student intern, news & communications, UF College of Education
    MEDIA RELATIONS:
Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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Award reflects McCray’s rise as top scholar in special education

A diverse and potent research agenda—focusing on (of course) diversity and equity along the teacher-education pipeline—has helped University of Florida special education instructor Erica McCray win a 2012 UF Excellence Award for Assistant Professors.

The awards, presented by the university’s Provost’s Office, recognize junior faculty for excellence in research. Each award is a onetime allocation of $5,000 in support of research that can be used to fund travel, equipment, books, graduate students and other research-related expenses.

Now in her fifth year as assistant professor at UF’s College of Education, McCray has quickly drawn national and international attention for her work. She recently received an Outstanding Author Contribution Award from the Emerald Literati Network for a book chapter resulting from her study of black women scholars teaching at predominately white colleges of education. Her research activities, also involving teacher quality and professional development and K-12 student experiences, have generated more than $4 million in collaborative, highly competitive grant support.

She also is a consultant on two training grants worth more than $2 million.

“My goal is to prepare pre-service teachers who are skilled and have a strong sense of self-efficacy to teach students with special needs, as well as students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” said McCray, who earned her doctorate in special education from the University of South Florida in 2006 and was a visiting instructor there for a year before joining the UF faculty in 2007.

At UF, McCray made an instant impact as a special education instructor and mentor, receiving the College of Education’s Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2009. She also served as a research associate with the UF-based National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development (NCIPP). Her research is widely published in highly regarded journals including Teacher Education Quarterly and the Journal of Special Education Leadership.

Her intriguing assortment of research topics also includes studies on the experiences of students enrolled in magnet schools and on the perspectives of K-12 students on their literacy and technology experiences.

“Professor McCray established herself quickly as a talented instructor and she is moving rapidly toward becoming a national leader in her field,” said Jean Crockett, professor and director of the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies.


 CONTACTS   

   SOURCE: Erica McCray, UF assistant professor in special education, edm@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4264
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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UF cites higher ed student for superior accomplishment in health promotion

Maureen Miller, a doctoral student at UF’s College of Education, has earned two campuswide awards for the impact she’s made as interim director of UF’s GatorWell Health Promotion Services.

Miller, who’s pursuing her Ed.D in higher education administration while working at her full-time UF job, recently received the Jeffrey A. Gabor Employee Recognition Award and a UF Superior Accomplishment Award for her diligent efforts and research that has helped shape many of the alcohol and drug prevention programs on campus.

UF’s groundbreaking Medical Amnesty Policy, which waives student disciplinary action if they seek medical help in cases of serious and life-threatening alcohol and drug-related emergencies, went into effect last year under Miller’s leadership at GatorWell.

The annual Super Accomplishment awards program highlights UF staff members for outstanding service, money-saving ideas or contributions that improve the quality of life for students and employees. Miller won a divisional award for all departments and units under the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

The Gabor award, also part of the Super Accomplishment program, highlights outstanding contributions employees have made to the university. Miller was one of four employees who received the award along with a commemorative plaque and $1,000 check.

Miller has worked at UF since graduating with her B.S. degree in 2000 and a Master of Public Health degree in 2002, working at GatorWell as the coordinator for alcohol and other drug prevention since 2002. She’s scheduled to graduate with her doctorate in 2015.

She previously was recognized in the Who’s Who of Prevention Leadership in Florida in 2004 and received the Community Recognition Award for Outstanding Prevention Service from the Corner Drug Store Family & Behavior Health Services, Inc., in 2007.

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Community college council honors ’08 higher ed graduate

Christopher M. Mullin (PhD ’08, higher education) has received the 2012 Barbara K. Townsend Emerging Scholar Award from the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC). The annual award recognizes a scholar for writing an outstanding research publication that contributes to the professional body of knowledge about community colleges.

Mullin was cited for a series of articles about the student body and future of community colleges published between October 2011 and April 2012 by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). He is the program director for policy analysis of the AACC in Washington, D.C., where he conducts research and analysis to guide advocacy efforts for the organization.

UF’s Institute of Higher Education also honored Mullin as an Outstanding Graduate earlier this year.

CCSC, a division of the AACC, is a council of university researchers and community college professionals who work to advance the development and scholarship of community colleges. Mullin received the award at the council’s recent annual conference in Orlando.

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COE graduate wins AERA Scholarly Award

After submitting a top-rated research article, recent College of Education doctoral graduate Stephanie Dodman (PhD ’11, curriculum and instruction) has been awarded a Special Interest Group Scholarly Award by the American Educational Research Association, a national interdisciplinary research association with about 25,000 professionals in the field.

Dodman, an elementary education assistant professor at George Mason University, was recognized for her dissertation-based paper by the School Effectiveness and School Improvement Special Interest Group (SIG), a division of AERA that encourages members in school effectiveness and improvement specialties to conduct research, evaluate school programs and exchange ideas. Dodman also received a $300 check.

Her dissertation underlined the issue of accountability for chronically failing high-poverty schools, building on previous research findings that without strong internal conditions, schools will not improve. Dodman presented a case study of effective internal reform in an underachieving, high-poverty elementary school and presented a theory of school reform based on her findings.

After receiving her bachelor’s and M.Ed. degrees from UF in 2001 and 2002, respectively, Dodman taught in Florida public schools and worked on a team at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History creating a science-literacy curriculum for Head Start. Dodman joined George Mason’s education faculty last fall after earning her doctorate at UF.  In addition to teaching curriculum and instruction courses, she dedicates time to Westlawn Elementary in Virginia, where she is a Professional Development School university facilitator. She also works with a high-needs charter school in Washington, DC as part of a school improvement partnership effort.