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Ed. psychology scholar awarded prestigious UF Research Foundation Professorship


David Therriault, an associate professor of educational psychology in the College of Education, never seems to find enough time to sit down.

UF COE education psychology scholar David Therriault is happier about his research being recognized than he is about any personal accolades that result from his studies.

“Learning about learning is very important to me, so I’m just proud that something I love to do is being highlighted,” Therriault said after recently being awarded a prestigious University of Florida Research Foundation (UFRF) Professorship. “Whatever helps to bolster the usefulness of my study results makes me happy.”

The UFRF professorships are given to tenured UF faculty members who have distinguished records of research as a way to recognize their contributions and provide incentives for continued excellence in research. Thirty-three UF professors were named this year, and each will receive a $5,000 annual salary supplement and a $3,000 grant to support his or her research.

Therriault is an associate professor of educational psychology in the COE’s School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education (SHDOSE). His main academic interest always has been the psychology of education, which is why his work at UF has focused on the empirical study of the mental processes that shape the way we learn. Such nuances include the representation of text in memory; comprehending time and space in language; the link between attention and intelligence; the use of perceptual symbols in language; and problem solving in engineering.

“I’m actually kind of a weird fit in the college because some people still don’t know what I do here,” Therriault said with a laugh. “I started taking psychology courses when I first went to college and never stopped. My interests within my field are all over the place.”

SHDOSE director Harry Daniels might disagree.

“There is clear evidence that Dr. Therriault is an active and productive scholar, and that his scholarship informs others who conduct similar types of research,” Daniels wrote in a letter of recommendation for the professorship.

Daniels’ letter also pointed out that Therriault’s published articles in scholarly journals – which total more than 25, including 14 in the past five years — have had a “high impact rating” on their audiences.

“The interdisciplinary nature of Dr. Therriault’s research deserves special recognition,” Daniels wrote, explaining that Therriault has developed relationships with UF College of Engineering faculty to address some of the critical issues of scientific problem solving within the field of engineering.

The objective in working with the College of Engineering is to measure empirically how two seemingly disparate disciplines can benefit each other, according to Therriault, who received $805,000 in grant money to examine how engineering students solve open-ended problems. 

Therriault also received an $83,000 UF research opportunity grant in 2011 that enabled him to develop a kindergarten-level reading disabilities screening battery called the Kindergarten Cognitive and Reading Assessment Tool for iPad (K-CRATI). The assessment tool is being designed to allow educators to effectively catch at-risk students early in their elementary schooling.

“If past performance is truly the best predictor of future behavior, there is every reason to believe that Dr. Therriault will utilize the [research professorship] to further his agenda,” Daniels concluded.

Therriault received his bachelor’s degree at the University of New Hampshire before earning a master’s degree and his Ph.D. – both in cognitive psychology — from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He joined UF’s education psychology faculty in 2004.

    Source: David Therriault, UF College of Education; therriault@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4345.
    Media Relations: 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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Second Preeminence Professor appointed in early childhood studies

The University of Florida College of Education has filled its second Preeminence faculty position in early childhood studies, appointing Mary McLean, an endowed professor in early childhood education and director of the Early Childhood Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).

McLEAN, MaryMcLean, a prominent researcher and leading author of textbooks on assessment of infants and preschoolers with special needs, will join the UF education faculty on Aug. 16 as a professor in the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies. 

Her appointment follows on the heels of the recent hiring of that program’s first Preeminence faculty member, Brian Reichow, an emerging scholar of behavioral interventions for young children with autism and developmental disabilities. Both will be affiliated with UF’s interdisciplinary Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies (CEECS), based in the College of Education.

McLean and Reichow are among more than three dozen distinguished faculty members recruited from around the world as part of UF’s “Preeminence Plan” to rise among the nation’s top public research universities. They are in the first wave of an estimated 120 faculty to be recruited this year and in 2015. Both will join the multi-college Preeminence initiative focused on “optimizing early childhood development and learning experiences.”

“With the recruitment of Dr. McLean, we are fortunate to bring one the nation’s most preeminent and productive scholars in early childhood special education to the University of Florida,” said Glenn Good, dean of UF’s College of Education. “Her leadership with the Early Childhood Research Center at Wisconsin offers the perfect background and expertise for the interdisciplinary collaborations she will be involved with at UF.”

Along with her groundbreaking work in the assessment of young children, McLean has co-authored the first three editions of Recommended Practices in Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education, an undertaking of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the international Council for Exceptional Children. The latest revision occurred this year. She is a past president of DEC and currently chairs the group’s Recommended Practices Commission.

 “I was immediately drawn to the Preeminence faculty position at the University of Florida because of the focus on strong interdisciplinary collaborations with recognized leaders in early childhood studies like Pat Snyder and Maureen Conroy at the CEECS,” McLean said. “It’s a grand opportunity to work together toward innovations helping young children and their families and then applying those innovations to help close the gap between research and practice for all children.”

McLean, who has a doctorate in early childhood special education from UWM, also has held faculty positions at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, Auburn University, the University of North Dakota, and Cardinal Stritch University. She has edited seven books and written numerous refereed articles, book chapters and professionals papers.

Her other research interests include intervention practices, and cultural and linguistic diversity, and she has received 10 personnel preparation grants funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Since 1997, McLean has worked with the California Department of Education on the development of a statewide assessment program for children from birth through age 4.

Since 2010, she has partnered with the Head Start national Center for Quality Teaching and Learning at the University of Washington, developing training and technical assistance materials on child assessment. 

McLean has been teaching in higher education for 32 years and was named Outstanding Graduate Faculty Member while at Auburn. She was a special education teacher for two years in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools before starting her doctoral studies, and also was the supervising teacher for the early development assistance program at the John F. Kennedy Center Experimental School at Peabody College, where she earned her master’s in special education.

UF has earmarked state Preeminence funds for four new “all-star” College of Education faculty positions: two in early childhood studies (McLean’s and Reichow’s), one in education technology (filled by Carole Beal, who will head UF’s new Online Learning Institute), and one in “big data” informatics research in education (Andrew Thomas).

    SOURCE: Mary McLean, marymclean@coe.ufl.edu; 414-229-2213
    WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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Teen traffic deaths inspire UF professors to write award-winning article, “A Science That Saves Lives’

Griff Jones, a clinical associate professor of science education in the UF College of Education, knows only too well that the laws of physics apply to everyone.

“I was a high school physics teacher, and I lost a lot of students to car crashes,” said Jones, who spent two decades teaching at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville. “Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death among teenagers.”

COE professors Linda and Griff Jones send a hand-made paper test car down a race track Griff Jones designed using sections of a plastic rain gutter.

COE professors Linda and Griff Jones send a hand-made paper test car down a race track Griff Jones designed using sections of a plastic rain gutter.

That’s why Jones and his wife, Linda Jones, a COE associate professor of science and environmental education, co-authored a cover story titled “A Science That Saves Lives” for the January 2013 issue of The Science Teacher, an academic journal sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association.

Their efforts paid off when the Association of American Publishers named their article a finalist in the Distinguished Achievement Award category of the recently held Revere Awards competition. The Revere Awards is the most prestigious recognition program in the learning resource community, according to the Association of Educational Publishers, which once sponsored the awards under a different name.

Receiving accolades for articles isn’t new to the husband-wife research team, but gaining recognition for their story on motor vehicle crashes involving teens meant something special.

“When I worked on my Ph.D. at UF, part of my dissertation was to help the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety write and produce a science education video for students on the understanding of car crashes,” said Griff Jones, who also is director of the COE’s STEM Teacher Induction and Professional Support (STEM TIPS) program. “The number of teen traffic deaths has gone down, but there are still way too many – more than 2,800 a year.”

Together the Joneses not only have kept up with matters related to physical science, but human behavior as well. Their cover story is based on research suggesting that a lack of emotional and cognitive maturity among teenagers increases risky driving practices such as speeding, tailgating and not wearing seat belts. 

Their article outlines a “truly life-saving teaching lesson” for high school science educators by combining Internet research with classroom “crash tests” using paper cars designed and built by students; a 6-meter “race track” made from plastic rain gutter sections; a step ladder; and a concrete block that serves as an abrupt “finish line.”

Raw eggs serve as vehicle occupants, and damage to them is measured and recorded at different speeds made possible by placing the track’s starting line on a higher rung of the ladder. Students are challenged to create cars with front ends weak enough to absorb the energy of a high-speed crash, yet strong enough to remain intact and protect the egg.       

By project’s end, students have learned to apply two physics concepts used in real-world vehicle safety engineering: momentum and impulse. Momentum is the mass of an object multiplied by its velocity, and measures the difficulty of stopping a moving object. Impulse is the net momentum change during a collision and is measured as the product of the average force exerted on an object.

“It really makes students confront themselves with their misconceptions about their chances of surviving a crash,” said Linda Jones, who serves as coordinator of the COE’s science and environmental education program. “They also learn about the vital role seat belts play in surviving a head-on collision.”

The Joneses’ article can be found at www.nsta.org, the National Science Teachers Association website.

    Source: Griff Jones, UF College of Education; gjones@coe.ufl.edu;   
    Source: Linda Jones, UF College of Education; ljones@coe.ufl.edu.
    Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu
    Writer: Stephen Kindland, staff writer, UF College of Education; skindland@coe.ufl.edu



FATE has Timmons on presidential track

Crystal Timmons

Crystal Timmons

Crystal Timmons, a UF professor-in-residence in the Duval County school district for the College of Education’s Lastinger Center for Learning, is the new president-elect of the Florida Association of Teacher Educators.

Her one-year term as president-elect, starting in October, puts her on track to automatically assume the presidency of FATE in 2015-16. She will continue serving on the group’s board of directors the following year as immediate past president.

“I’m asking for support and feedback from anyone who is involved with FATE to help us strengthen our mission to improve the effectiveness of teacher education,” Timmons said. “A strong state unit ultimately enhances the efforts of the national Association of Teacher Educators.”

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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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Smooth leadership transition for School of Teaching and Learning

The University of Florida College of Education’s School of Teaching and Learning, the hub of teacher preparation and K-12 educator advancement at UF, is undergoing a smooth change in leadership, with the former STL director working closely with her successor to ensure a seamless transition.

The college has hired one of its own, Ester de Jong, an associate professor of ESOL/bilingual education, to succeed Elizabeth “Buffy” Bondy, who has directed STL since 2008. Bondy stepped down May 16 after six challenging but fruitful years at the helm to return, full time, to her role as professor in the school’s curriculum, teaching and teacher education program.

“It is gratifying how Dr. Bondy and Dr. de Jong have worked together during this transition,” said Dean Glenn Good. “Ester should continue the tradition of excellence that the leadership of the School of Teaching and Learning is known for. Our faculty and their students are sure to flourish under her guidance. 

De Jong said her first priority as the new director “is to maintain the positive and collaborative culture in our school. I hope to support faculty in creative ways so they can be at the cutting edge in their areas of expertise locally, nationally and internationally.

Ester de Jong

Ester de Jong

“Together we can shape not only theoretical understandings about teaching and learning, but also policy and practice, particularly as it is unfolding for diverse learners.”

De Jong, who has an Ed.D. in literacy, language and cultural studies from Boston University, joined the UF education faculty in 2001. She is in the final year of a three-year term as the college’s B.O. Smith Research Professorship, which supports her study of teachers’ use and modeling of academic vocabulary and specific language structures into students’ oral language use.

She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in language and literature studies from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, her native country. From 1996-2001, she was the assistant bilingual director for Framingham Public Schools near Boston, and also taught as a lecturer at nearby Harvard University and Simmons College.

Her Framingham district administrator job is one of several leadership posts she has held. At UF, she has headed STL’s ESOL/bilingual academic program, served as principal investigator on several federal and foundation research grants, and chaired the college’s 2013-14 Faculty Policy Council. She also served on the board of directors for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association and was a member of a Florida Department of Education review panel for the state ESOL teacher exam.

Her  research interests include language policy, bilingual education and mainstream teacher preparation for bilingual learners. Last year, de Jong received the Award for Excellence in Research on Bilingual Education from the national Association of Two-Way and Dual Language Education (ATDLE). 

She is the lead investigator on one of the college’s most ambitious research efforts called Project DELTA (Developing English Language and Literacy through Teacher Achievement). It’s a seven-year, $1.2 million undertaking funded by the U.S. Department of Education to assess and advance the teaching of English language learners in Florida’s public schools.

De Jong published a book in 2011 titled “Foundations of Multilingualism in Education: From Principles to Practice” (Caslon Publishing), which focuses on working with multilingual children in K-12 schools. She is widely published and has served in editorial posts for several peer-review journals on bilingual and language education and policy. 

WATCH THE VIDEO: Message from Ester de Jong, the new director of STL

Bondy: now is ‘right time’ for change

Elizabeth "Buffy" Bondy

Elizabeth “Buffy” Bondy

After six years as STL director, Buffy Bondy said “it just feels like the right time” to make way for a new leader.

“My title has been both STL director and professor, but I haven’t been able to contribute as much as I should on the professor side,” Bondy said. “I want to do a better job as a professor, and that is what I really love.”

Bondy received her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from UF in 1984, worked at the College of Education as a visiting or adjunct instructor for five years, and joined the curriculum and instriuction faculty as an assistant professor in 1989. In 2008, she replaced Tom Dana as STL director when Dana became the college’s associate dean for academic affairs. Working with then-Dean Catherine Emihovich and her executive team, Bondy guided STL through the lion’s share of seven consecutive years of severe cuts in state spending on higher education.

From the start, Bondy said her focus was to create conditions favorable for STL faculty members and their students to excel. She continued to nurture the caring and collegial social climate that she had come to appreciate during her years on the faculty.

“Responding to the financial crisis, we’ve had to work in new ways and find new streams of revenue,” Bondy said. “Our goal has been smart programming, brilliant research and improved service.”

It took joint efforts between the dean’s office, the STL faculty and the school’s strategic collaborations with the Lastinger Center for Learning for both the school and the college to not only survive, but thrive.

During Bondy’s tenure as director, STL became a major player in the college’s expanding distance learning enterprise. Some of the new offerings in e-learning include an online M.Ed. program in language and literacy education and online doctorates in both education technology and in curriculum, teaching and teacher education. The blended Teacher Leadership for School Improvement degree has been named the nation’s top teacher education program by the Association of Teacher Educators.

Other advances while Bondy was on watch include shifting to a yearlong internship for ProTeach students and forging a multi-pronged partnership with Nanjing Xioazhuang University in China.

Bondy also garnered funding for vital building improvements in vintage Norman Hall, designed to group faculty members with common research interests together. These include renovated space in the Education Library basement for computer labs and offices for education technology faculty, and for new offices and work stations for STEM education faculty and doctoral students. She also added new infrastructure to help faculty researchers’ efforts to secure outside funding.

Bondy, who plans to take a one-semester sabbatical in spring of 2015, said she expects faculty and students in the School of Teaching and Learning to prosper under de Jong’s leadership.

“It is time for new ideas,” Bondy said. “Ester is extremely capable and a very quick study. She’s a top scholar, has strong leadership qualities and brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the job.”

   SOURCE: Ester de Jong, UF College of Education, edejong@coe.ufl.edu
   SOURCE: Elizabeth “Buffy” Bondy, UF College of Education, bondy@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER:  Larry Lansford, news and communications office, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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Waldron named associate dean for student affairs

WALDRON, NancySchool psychology professor Nancy Waldron, a UF College of Education faculty member since 1999, has been named associate dean for student affairs at the college.

Waldron’s appointment will take effect on June 30, when she will replace longtime COE administrator Theresa Vernetson, who is retiring after 41 years at the college as a student and employee.

Waldron also is the current associate director of the School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies. She previously headed the school psychology program and chaired the COE Faculty Policy Council.

Her core values and educational philosophy seem well suited for the student affairs post.

“The most rewarding aspect of my work as a faculty member has been mentoring and serving as an adviser to doctoral and specialist students,” she wrote in her letter of application. “A strong commitment to student advocacy and supporting individual needs has always guided my work with students.”

She has held several leadership positions in the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), while her research and scholarship activities have focused on the inclusion of students with disabilities, implementation of multi-tiered systems of support, and school psychology preparation.

Waldron has been a professor-in-residence at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School for that past 10 years, working collaboratively with school leaders and colleagues in the development of a model site for school psychology services and field-based experiences for graduate students.

Her scholarship and impact on the field has been recognized through her selection as a fellow of the Division of School Psychology of the American Psychological Association (APA).   

Everyone’s a mathematician at heart

Tim Jacobbe believes you’re a mathematician at heart—you just might not know it yet.

Forget the rote memorization of tedious formulas you may recall from your high school math classes. For Jacobbe, associate professor of mathematics and statistics education at the UF College of Education, math is far more than formulas: It’s a way of looking at the world

Jacobbe helps P.K. Yonge School fifth-graders on a math lesson.

Jacobbe helps P.K. Yonge School fifth-graders on a math lesson.

“I don’t think that people understand what math is,” Jacobbe says. “It’s about creating people that can solve problems in everyday life.”

And in a society increasingly driven by data, math is more important than ever, Jacobbe says. A solid understanding of statistics, which use a methodical process to analyze data, draw conclusions and interpret results, is particularly key to scrutinizing and solving real-world problems. Whether you’re deciding to change jobs, buy a house, or just making a pros and cons list, you’re using statistics—yet this discipline has long been overlooked in K-12 education.

Jacobbe is working to change that by training the next generation of teachers in statistics education. He once worked as a primary test developer for the advanced placement statistics program, but thought he could make a bigger impact in teacher education. At UF, he earned the college’s Undergraduate Teacher of the Year award in 2011, and he also leads a four-year, $2 million study funded by the National Science Foundation to develop better tests for assessing students’ statistical understanding.

His efforts to advance statistics education haven’t gone unnoticed by his peers. Jonathan Bostic, who earned a Ph.D. from UF in 2011 with Jacobbe as his co-adviser, says his former mentor is one of just a handful of experts widely recognized in the field. “There are very, very few folks like him in the United States,” says Bostic, now an assistant professor of mathematics education at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University.

Since 2009, Jacobbe has also devoted himself to helping teachers and students at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School transition to the new, more stringent Florida Standards. This work at P.K. Yonge has a personal component for Jacobbe: His wife of 15 years, Elizabeth, teaches at the school, and his 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, and 7-year-old son, Nathan, are both students there.

“We need to teach math in different ways,” Jacobbe says. “Math is used as a gatekeeper to keep kids out of certain careers. Everyone is capable of doing mathematics, they just need the opportunity.”

Jacobbe’s desire to create opportunities for kids extends beyond math: It’s also a key element of the charity he founded in honor of his nephew, Caleb Jacobbe, who passed away from cancer in 2006 at the age of 8. Caleb’s Pitch aims to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families, bringing collegiate athletes into hospitals to visit with sick kids and organizing “syringe art” sessions, where children turn the medical implements into painting tools.

“Our mission is to help kids have fun while they’re going through that stuff,” Jacobbe says.

Whether honoring his nephew’s memory or giving teachers the tools necessary to help students excel, Jacobbe’s driving principle boils down to one simple formula: “I have a passion for helping people.”

Writer: Sarah L. Stewart (special to the College of Education)

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New COE autism scholar will work with early childhood studies center

REICHOW, Brian (jpeg). JPGThe University of Florida College of Education has appointed an emerging scholar of behavioral interventions for young children with autism and developmental disabilities to its faculty.

Brian Reichow, assistant professor of community medicine and health care and research director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Connecticut Health Center, will join the UF faculty on July 7 as an associate professor in the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies. He also will be affiliated with the UF Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies (CEECS), a universitywide program based administratively in the College of Education.

Reichow will join another multi-college effort focused on “optimizing early childhood development and learning experiences”—one of the research focuses of UF’s state-supported “preeminence initiative” to become recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 public research universities.

“I’m excited about joining these interdisciplinary opportunities with colleagues across campus,” said Reichow, who with his current UCHC post also holds an adjunct faculty position at Yale Child Study Center at Yale University. “They will allow me to continue and expand my work with young children who have disabilities to ensure they and their families achieve best outcomes.”

Reichow’s research focuses on advancing evidence-based practices for helping children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities of the nervous system and identifying support services to assist these children and their families achieve best outcomes.

He is also collaborating with the World Health Organization to develop identification and intervention programs for young children with neurodevelopmental disorders in lower- and middle-income countries through the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme. 

“Dr. Reichow is a well-respected scholar with an impressive record of accomplishments in this field,” said Patricia Snyder, co-director of the UF CEECS and holder of the Lawrence endowed chair in early childhood studies. “His research and teaching will complement our collaborative work with colleagues across the college and university, particularly research that directly connects to practice in early childhood studies.”

Reichow earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in early childhood special education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. He has a bachelor’s in elementary education and psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He came highly recommended for the UF position from Fred Volkmar, an endowed professor and director of the Yale Child Study Center at Yale University, where Reichow was a postdoctoral associate from 2008 to 2010 and was a faculty member from 2010 to 2013.

“In the time I’ve known (Brian), he has become a leader in the field of evidence-based treatments in autism,” Volkmar wrote in a letter of recommendation for Reichow. “For a relatively young investigator, he has been remarkably productive . . . and his work has stimulated the field.”

Reichow has authored some 40 peer-reviewed publications, 15 book chapters and has edited several books. He is the book review editor for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and serves on the editorial board of four scholarly journals in the field.

SOURCE: Brian Reichow, reichow@uchc.edu; breichow@alumni.unc.edu; 203-824-6973

UF SOURCES: Patricia Snyder (patriciasnyder@coe.ufl.edu) and Maureen Conroy (mconroy@coe.ufl.edu); UF College of Education and the UF Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies; 352-273-4291

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


Adams, Vernetson named to FLDOE review panel

Alyson Adams3

Alyson Adams, clinical associate professor in the COE’s School of Teaching and Learning, and Theresa Vernetson, assistant dean of student affairs, have been named to the Florida Department of Education’s statewide review panel charged with advising the Florida education commissioner on revisions to protocol standards for district professional development systems. 

Their appointments to the Professional Development Protocol Revisions Update panel helps to position the COE as a frontline player in the development of state education policies and practices as they relate to Learning Forward — formerly known as the National Staff Development Council.

“Florida has an intensive cycle of reviews of professional development practices and policies in each school district,” said Adams, who also is chief learning officer for the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning. “Dr. Vernetson was on the team of people who conceptualized this more than 10 years ago, and they’re pausing the process to review the entire set of statewide professional development standards as well as the review process.”

Adams and Vernetson both plan to attend the first in a series of five or six panel meetings on June 6 in Orlando.

 As clinical associate professor, Adams works within job-embedded graduate programs for practicing educators focused on teacher leadership and practitioner research in local contexts. Her work with the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning includes professional development initiatives for teachers in high-poverty schools throughout the state.

Although retiring later this month after 41 years at the College of Education as both a student and long-time administrator, Vernetson will continue serving on the FLDOE review panel.


Top teacher for undergraduates never doubted her destiny

Something about COE clinical associate professor Penny Cox’s destiny “clicked” four decades ago when the college’s recently named Undergraduate Teacher of the Year overheard a conversation between her mother and a stranger in Jacksonville, Fla.

“We just moved into a new house and our washing machine wasn’t set up, so my mother and I went to a laundromat,” said Cox, a special education faculty member. “My mother and a special education teacher got to talking, and something the teacher said just clicked for me. I was only 12 years old, but I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”

True to her word, and to herself, Cox went on to earn her undergraduate and master’s degrees in special education at the University of North Florida before spending the next 17 years teaching special education in Jacksonville’s public schools system.

Feeling the need for a change but wanting to remain in her field, Cox went on to earn her Ph.D. in special education at UF in 2001. She has been a COE faculty member ever since, and was instrumental in developing the COE’s Teach Well online degree program, which prepares teachers and aspiring teachers of all backgrounds to work with students with disabilities.

Cox also stays busy by serving as the COE’s special education program coordinator and playing an advisory role to students in the Unified Elementary ProTeach program, as well as graduate students pursuing dual certification.

Cox also has touched the lives of non-education majors, including Cassidy Langford, an occupational therapy student who completed one of Cox’s courses in teaching children with disabilities.

“Thanks to her influence, I want to work as an occupational therapist in a school district,” said Langford, who went on to serve as one of Cox’s teaching assistants and will begin her senior year this fall. “Dr. Cox’s teaching is unique. I felt her passion for special education and that passion shines through in her teaching.

“I can still remember and reference the guest speakers we had in my class and how they impacted me during their lecture — and that was almost four years ago.”

Jean Crockett, director of the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies, referred to Cox as a “fearless instructor who readily rises to the challenge of teaching new courses and large numbers of students” in one of five letters of recommendation submitted to the Teacher-of-the-Year selection committee.

Also, according to Crockett, Cox was among the first special education faculty members to become proficient in distance education course delivery.  

“She has generously shared her knowledge and enthusiasm for distance learning, and has helped many of her colleagues … achieve a better sense of efficacy in online teaching,” Crockett wrote.

Cox says her award serves as an incentive to continue being innovative.

“The more you learn, the more you don’t know,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve had some really good students, and our ProTeach program really whips them into shape for their careers as teachers. Principals at many different schools throughout Florida speak highly of our graduates.”


UF honors Special Ed’s Stephen Smith for mentoring Ph.D. students

Ask University of Florida special education doctoral candidate Donna Pitts to describe Stephen W. Smith, her faculty adviser and supervisor on two federal research grants on which she works as a research assistant, and she can give you two answers.

Professor Smith picks a shady spot on the front lawn of Norman Hall to review a spreadsheet with second-year doctoral students Michelle Cumming and Kristin Merrill.

Professor Smith picks a shady spot on the front lawn of Norman Hall to review a spreadsheet with second-year doctoral students Michelle Cumming and Kristin Merrill.

There’s her academic response: “Dr. Smith has been an encouragement at every step (of my doctoral experience), and is always available as teacher, trainer, mentor and adviser.”

And there’s the deeply personal side: “Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with cancer, and through the diagnosis, treatment and recovery Dr. Smith supported me with the utmost of compassion and encouragement. I am honored to have such an accomplished, caring and supportive individual as my adviser and committee chair.”

Pitts’ remarks are atypical in that her tough but triumphant battle with cancer figures into her UF doctoral experience. But many of Smith’s current and former students echo Pitts’ comments about the personal attention and compassion he imparts on his students.

That explains why Smith, one of the College of Education’s most prolific researchers and grant generators, is one of just six University of Florida professors to receive its 2014 Doctoral Mentoring Award. The campuswide honor recognizes excellence, innovation and effectiveness in mentoring doctoral students through their final dissertation projects. Each year, the UF Graduate School awards faculty recipients with $1,000 for use in supporting their doctoral students.

“I believe the most critical aspect of education is the development of indeplendent learners,” Smith said. “I find mentoring, advising and supporting doctoral students in their work the most challenging and satisfying part of my professional duties.”

Jean Crockett, director of the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies, said Smith’s commitment to excellence in doctoral education “has been a significant factor” in the graduate program’s high national standing. (U.S. News and World Report rates UF’s special education program fifth nationally in its latest survey of America’s best graduate schools.)

In his 25-year academic career, Smith has generated more than $10 million through 26 research and training grants. For the past 16 years, his research has focused on developing new teaching tools and strategies to help students self-regulate their disruptive impulses and aggressive actions in the classroom.

At UF, Smith has received three teaching awards, a Top 100 UF Researcher award, and has served twice as a UF Distinguished Research Professor. He has served as a panel scientist for the federal Institute of Education Science’s social and behavioral education research division since 2008.

In 2012, his research advances earned him a prestigious three-year appointment to the college’s Irving and Rose Fien Endowed Professorship, which comes with money supporting doctoral student hires and technical assistance.

Over the years, Smith’s research and training projects have funded the dissertation studies of more than 30 Ph.D. students, not only in special education but also in school and educational psychology, research and evaluation methods, school counseling, and curriculum and instruction.

Smith draws his doctoral students into the research and teaching process—writing grant proposals, participating in team research meetings and working with senior faculty researchers on novel projects, presentations and research papers. A number of his students have received competitive scholarships and fellowships funding their dissertation research projects in collaboration with Smith’s investigations, and many often rise to leadership roles and learn to mentor each other.

In a letter supporting Smith for the mentoring award, UF second-year doctoral student Michelle Cumming cited Smith’s “infectious passion for the field.”

UF 2012 Ph.D. graduate Gregory Taylor, a special education instructor at the University of Ilinois, recalled  how in his first semester at UF Smith enlisted him to co-author a research manuscript that resulted in his first peer-reviewed academic publication. That experience, Taylor said, “infused confidence about my writing abilities that motivated me to complete my (doctorate) degree.”

Another of Smith’s former students, Christopher Van Loan, now in his sixth year as assistant professor at Appalachian State University, wrote: “As I have reflected back on my early career, I realize that his advice still guides me in most professional decisions.”

Smith believes successful mentors “must have the courage to hold students to high standards” and craft mentoring situations that enable students to acquire the skills they need.

“Mentors must have the insight to recognize the skill set that students bring to the table, and support them in developing their strengths while attending to some of their needs,” he said.

   SOURCE: Stephen W. Smith, UF College of Education, swsmith@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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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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   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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UF Anderson Scholars program taps 5 COE students, 3 faculty mentors

Five UF College of Education undergraduate students – all elementary education majors – have been named Anderson Scholars as a result of their high academic achievement, and three COE faculty members were honored for their mentorship.

The honored students are seniors Michelle Hylton and Lauren Wong; and juniors Zoey Bloom, Shelley Wolf and Megan Zucker.

Wolf, Wong, Zucker and Bloom received certificates of highest distinction for maintaining grade point averages of 4.0; and Hylton was given a certificate of distinction for earning a GPA between 3.90 and 3.94.

Education faculty honorees, who were nominated by students, are Ruth Lowery, associate professor of children’s literacy; Maryann Nelson, special education lecturer; and David Therriault, assistant professor of education psychology.

The Anderson Scholars award — established by the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to recognize outstanding academic achievements by undergraduates in their first two years of enrollment – is open to all UF students. The award is named in honor of James N. Anderson, who served as the first dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1910-1930), after whom Anderson Hall is named. The award is considered a true mark of academic distinction.

Anderson Scholars 








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Art Sandeen, student affairs icon, honored as Distinguished Pillar in student personnel

In Arthur “Art” Sandeen’s 26 years as head of UF student affairs and 14 years as a College of Education professor, his love and advocacy of students gave the university community a friend and leader they knew they could count on. 

These traits help explain why the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) has chosen Sandeen to receive its 2014 John Blackburn Distinguished Pillar Award for his service to students and university communities. 

SANDEEN, Art (12-2013)_0009The award recognizes a past “Pillar of the Profession,” a title awarded by NASPA, who has continued to grow and strengthen the student affairs field. Sandeen was named a Pillar of the Profession in 1999. He will receive the Blackburn award at NASPA’s annual conference in March. 

Sandeen has been a professor of higher education administration at the College of Education since 1999. Prior to teaching at UF, Sandeen was an administrator of residential services at Michigan State University in the 1960s. Then, he was a professor and the dean of students at Iowa State University. In 1973, Sandeen joined the Gator Nation as the vice president for student affairs. 

UF’s Division of Student Affairs now honors Sandeen’s legacy through the Art Sandeen Outstanding New Professional Award, which is given annually to a student affairs staff member that exemplifies the values that Sandeen modeled: “dedication to the profession, a love for students, commitment to mentoring others in the profession, and a commitment to academic excellence.” UF’s student government also recognizes one faculty member each year with the C. Arthur Sandeen “Improving the Quality of Life” Award. 

Between 1999 and 2004, Sandeen served as coordinator of the graduate program in student personnel in higher education at the College of Education. But since 2004, Sandeen has “retired” three times, but something continues to draw him back to university life. He has been teaching part-time and serving on doctoral advisory committees since he first retired. 

“I have loved working with students at Michigan State, Iowa State and UF,” Sandeen said. “I strive for strong connections with my students because I think that is what you’re supposed to do if you care about students and about what they’re doing, and if you are trying to be of assistance to them in any way.” 

When wearing his professor hat, Sandeen teaches his students that establishing trusting relationships with students is one of the most important aspects of working in student affairs. He also advises his students to “be willing to change with the times.” 

Sandeen is exploring the latter quality in a new book he is writing with Margaret Barr, the former head of student affairs at Northwestern University. The book, which is the second to be published by the duo and Sandeen’s eighth overall, will focus on ways that student affairs administrators can best cater to today’s generation of college students. According to Sandeen, one of the biggest issues lies in how university student affairs will adjust to the increase in residential and face-to-face campuses moving online. 

Sandeen is also the author of three monographs, more than 50 published articles, and 21 book chapters. He received his bachelor’s degree in religion and psychology from Miami University in Ohio, and his master’s in college student personnel administration and a doctorate in administration and higher education from Michigan State University. 

He says he became intrigued by student affairs as a college student at Miami University in the late 1950s. At the time, Sandeen was very involved in campus life through his leadership positions in student government, Greek life and other organizations. He also worked in the dean of students office, where he met the vice president of student affairs. 

“I didn’t know anything about this field except what I learned from my involvement on campus,” Sandeen said. “But when the vice president of student affairs encouraged me to consider student affairs, I did, simple as that. I have loved it and have been very lucky.” 

The field of student affairs also opened up opportunities for Sandeen that met his interests in civil rights and social justice. After Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Miami University in the late 1950s, Sandeen realized that getting involved in student life meant getting involved with social issues. 

“I was a philosophy major, I loved ideas, and I was raised in a family in which we had a great concern for people and for rights,” he said. “During the Civil Rights Movement, I hated the injustice and I saw student affairs as a way to get involved in such social efforts.” 

Sandeen thinks that college students’ participation in campus activities is directly related to the quality of education they receive. According to Sandeen, “people learn in a variety of settings and different ways,” like dance groups, cultural organizations, honor societies and student media. At UF, students can choose from nearly 1,000 student organizations. 

“Students I’ve known over the years who get involved in something can learn more about themselves and different backgrounds and cultures, as well as how to get along with other people,” Sandeen said. “There’s a good deal of evidence that the students who really learn how to do those things aside from getting a degree are more likely to be successful in their lives.”

Source: Art Sandeen, sandeen@ufl.edu
Writer: Alexa Lopez, UFCOE News & Communications
Media Relations: Larry Lansford, Director, News & Communications, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137


Education technology professor receives best paper award

RITZHAUPT, Albert 2008Albert Ritzhaupt, an associate professor of educational technology at UF, received the best paper award at this year’s Informing Science + IT Education (InSITE) conference in Porto, Portugal. 

InSITE is a conference sponsored by the Informing Science Institute, a professional association in information and communication technology. 

The paper was a joint effort between Ritzhaupt and Grandon Gill, a professor of information systems at the University of South Florida, where Ritzhaupt earned his Ph.D. Gill was the principal investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded study and Ritzhaupt served as a consultant on this grant program. 

Their research investigated the effectiveness of using authentic case-based instruction in an information systems course at USF. 

According to Ritzhaupt, most information systems students are preparing for eventual jobs as technology managers and want to learn how to make effective business and technology decisions. In the case-based approach that Ritzhaupt and Gill studied, teachers simulate authentic cases by asking students to take on the role of a protagonist and make decisions related to information systems, like choosing what kinds of technology to use to develop a business. 

The researchers found that case studies are an effective means of teaching based on their evaluation of student perception and achievement.


College honors 5 newly retired faculty: Algina, Clark, Echevarria-Doan, Sherrard and Spillman

2013 Retired Fac Group

College of Education Dean Glenn Good (second from right) celebrates with retired faculty (from left to right) Drs. James Algina, Peter Sherrard, Mary Ann Clark and Silvia Echevarria-Doan at the college’s Retired Faculty Luncheon on Oct. 16.


The College of Education on Oct. 16 honored five newly retired professors who have made significant contributions to their students, their professions and research fields, and the EduGator community. 

Dean Glenn Good hosted a reception at his home for all retired faculty in the area to recognize the newest members of their ranks. They are Drs. James Algina (research and evaluation methodology); Mary Ann Clark, Peter Sherrard and Silvia Echevarria-Doan (all in counselor education), and Carolyn Spillman (Teacher Leadership and School Improvement). 

View photos of the event by clicking here.

The following mini-profiles represent just a small sampling of their many career achievements and the impact they each have had on the college, their students and in their professions. 


ALGINA, James 041Dr. James Algina
Professor of research and evaluation methodology 

James Algina has been on the College of Education faculty for 35 years, chairing the foundations of education department from 1983 to 1995. He was named a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor in 2001 and is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and of the American Psychological Association. He has authored more than 130 refereed articles, two books, eight book chapters, and six encyclopedia articles. Algina has been the editor of the Journal of Educational Measurement and associate editor of the American Educational Research Journal. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Rhode Island and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts in psychometrics and statistics. 

Algina says one of the most rewarding parts of his career was the time spent working with doctoral students and faculty. He has served as the supervisory chair for 20 doctoral students and co-chair for five. He was also a supervisory committee member for almost 200 doctoral students in 22 doctoral programs and for 44 graduated master’s thesis students. His dedication earned him a UF Doctoral Mentoring Award in 2009. 

CLARK, Mary Ann (11-08)Dr. Mary Ann Clark
Professor emeritus in counselor education, school counseling program coordinator 

Mary Ann Clark has been teaching in counselor education at UF since 2000, serving as the school counseling program coordinator for five years. She has chosen phased retirement and will continue as a part-time instructor in counselor education. Her research has focused on male underachievement in public education, counselors as educational leaders, factors in the success of poor and minority students, international collaboration, and school-university partnerships. The College named Clark the 2006-2009 B.O. Smith Research Professor, and the 2008 Graduate Faculty Teacher of the Year. She has participated in more than 100 presentations and publications since 1997, and she has been involved in a number of professional organizations and committees. 

Clark worked for 13 years as a school counselor and administrator with the U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools on military bases in England. She received her bachelor’s in psychology from Wake Forest University and her master’s in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina. She graduated from the UF’s College of Education with her specialist and doctoral degrees in counselor education. 

Echevarria-Doan, SilviaDr. Silvia Echevarria-Doan
Associate professor of counselor education 

Silvia Echevarria-Doan has been a member of the counselor education faculty for 20 years. She has decided to go on phased retirement to continue as part-time faculty. She headed that program area in 2011-12 and has coordinated the marriage and family counseling track for the past seven years. She has also served as clinical coordinator of the Advanced Family Couple and Family Clinic since 1994. She has presented worldwide at professional conferences and has received numerous awards for her scholarly work in areas such as family resilience and strength in family therapy, multicultural issues in family therapy, qualitative research methodology, and relationship violence. 

Echevarria-Doan is an affiliate faculty member for UF’s Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research. She is president of the North Central Florida Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is a clinical fellow and an approved supervisor in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She is dually licensed as a marriage and family therapist and clinical social worker in Florida. She has a bachelor’s in psychology, a master’s in social work, and earned her Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy at Purdue University. 

imgresDr. Peter A.D. Sherrard
Associate professor emeritus of counselor education 

Peter Sherrard has been with the College of Education since 1986, when he began teaching in the marriage and family therapy and mental health counseling programs. Previously, he worked as a counseling psychologist for several university counseling centers, including six years as director at Kansas State University, one year at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and five years as training director for the psychology internship program at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. At those schools, he also served as an adjunct assistant professor in their respective counselor education graduate programs. Sherrard has more than 40 years’ experience as a marital and family therapist in both agency and independent community practice. 

Sherrard has been involved in dozens of publications, presentations, workshops and professional societies. He has served on the Florida 491 board that administers two of the licenses that UF counselor education students can qualify for, and is a former president of the American Association of State Counseling Boards. He earned his Doctor in Education degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and completed his marriage and family training at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kan. 

Carolyn SpillmanDr. Carolyn Spillman
Clinical assistant professor, professor-in-residence in Collier County for TLSI program

Carolyn Spillman was a professor-in-residence in Collier County for the college’s Teacher Leadership for School Improvement program for three years, recruiting, teaching and mentoring teachers from high-needs schools across the county. She has spent almost 50 years as an instructor in elementary, secondary and post-secondary classrooms. She taught childhood education at the University of South Florida for 20 years, an also taught at Florida Gulf Coast University, which last year honored her with professor emeritus status. 

Spillman has published a number of journal articles and conference papers with her colleagues. She was a member of several professional organizations and is a former president of the Florida Association for Childhood Education International. 

She received her bachelor’s degree from High Point College and graduated from the University of North Carolina with a master’s in elementary education and a doctorate in child development and family relations. She also completed post-doctoral coursework at the University of South Florida at Fort Myers and at Tampa, as well as East Carolina University.

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


Regional group honors Swank as outstanding pre-tenure counselor educator

Jacqueline Swank

Jacqueline Swank

Jacqueline Swank, a UF assistant professor in counselor education, has been honored with the 2013 Outstanding Pre-tenure Counselor Educator Award by the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision.

The group is a division of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. The award recognizes individual faculty instructors in the field who are showing exceptional progress in the early stages of their academic career. 

Swank is considered an emerging leader in counselor education among her colleagues. In her past three years at the College of Education, she has collected six awards for her research and practice and is a principal investigator in three grant-funded projects. Her research interests include counselor development and supervision, assessment related to counseling, creative intervention in counseling, and children and adolescents.

Swank is also well known for her service on several professional committees and organizations and as a dedicated mentor for graduate students.


Six new professors join College of Education faculty

UF’s College of Education this year welcomed six new additions to its faculty: Kristen Apraiz, Kristina DePue, Nicholas Gage, Ashley Macsuga-Gage, Diane Porter Roberts and Rachel Wolkenhauer. 

KristenApraizKristen Apraiz is a clinical assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, in which she teaches elementary mathematics education courses. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from Florida State University. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in mathematics education at the College of Education. Previously, she taught mathematics for middle and high school, as well as adult education, for eight years. Apraiz’s research is focused on education for pre-service mathematics teachers. 



Kristina DePue is an assistant professor of counselor education in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education. DePue graduated from Vanderbilt University with both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She received her doctoral degree in counselor education from the University of Central Florida. There, she led a multi-year study in the Community Counseling Clinic that focused on counselor development and supervisory relationships. Her personal and research interests include helping individuals struggling with dependence from alcohol and other drugs. 



Nicholas Gage is an assistant professor of special education in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Goddard College, and an additional master’s degree from the University of Missouri. He graduated with his Ph.D. in special education from the University of Missouri. Gage worked at the University of Connecticut’s Center for Behavioral Education and Research as an Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow. His research is focused on identifying policies and practices at the national, state, local and classroom level to support the academic, social and behavioral needs of students with or at-risk for emotional and/or behavioral disorders. 



Ashley Macsuga-Gage is a visiting clinical assistant professor of special education in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in special education. In addition to her doctoral studies, she also earned two additional graduate certifications in positive behavior interventions and supports and program evaluation. Macsuga-Gage’s research interests include the implementation of class-wide and school-wide positive behavior support practices. 



Diane Porter Roberts, or “DP,” is an assistant clinical professor of personnel in higher education in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies. She has served as the program coordinator and director of the student personnel in high education graduate program since 2008. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees in education from Appalachian State University. She received her Ph.D. in higher education administration from UF’s College of Education. Prior to joining the College of Education full time, she worked for UF’s Department of Housing and Residence Education for 18 years. Her research specialties include the competencies of professional and graduate housing staff, living learning communities, college student learning outcomes assessments, and advising student organizations, among others.   


Rachel Wolkenhauer is a clinical assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, in which she teaches about culturally-responsive classroom management. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of South Florida, and her master’s and doctorate degrees in curriculum and instruction from UF’s College of Education. She recently published the book “Inquiring into the Common Core” with College of Education professor Nancy Fichtman Dana and Jamey Bolton Burns, a program coordinator for the Lastinger Center for Learning. Her primary research interest is in practitioner inquiry for teacher professional development.  


Faculty pair awarded annual research grant from College of Education

UF faculty co-researchers, Jacqueline Swank and Joseph Gagnon.

UF faculty co-researchers, Jacqueline Swank and Joseph Gagnon.

UF faculty co-researchers Jacqueline Swank and Joseph Gagnon will share the College of Education’s 2013-2014 College Research Incentive Fund Award. The annual CRIF grants are awarded to faculty with promising research projects that are likely to attract additional funding in the future. 

Swank is an assistant professor in counselor education and Gagnon is an associate professor in special education. 

The one-time $40,000 award will finance Swank and Gagnon’s survey of mental health policies and procedures within American juvenile correctional facilities. Swank is the principal investigator of the grant and Gagnon is the co-PI.

The project blends Swank’s research interests related to mental health issues among at-risk adolescents and Gagnon’s educational study of juveniles in correctional facilities.

 The pair’s goal is to obtain data they could use in seeking further funding for their research, particularly from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Institute of Mental Health.


7 COE faculty receive promotions

The College of Education congratulates professors Alyson Adams, Gary Boulware, Penny Cox, Kara Dawson, Timothy Jacobbe, Erica McCray and Albert Ritzhaupt, who received promotions effective this fall semester.


Alyson Adams

Adams, from the School of Teaching and Learning and the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, is now a clinical associate professor. Her research interests include studying the impact of professional development on teacher practice and student achievement and the impact of job-embedded graduate programs.

Gary Boulware

Gary Boulware

Boulware is an economics and American government instructor at P.K. Yonge, the College of Education’s K-12 laboratory school. He was promoted to the position of assistant professor.

Penny Cox

Penny Cox

Cox, the graduate coordinator for the college’s special education program, is now a clinical associate professor. She teaches courses in Unified Elementary ProTeach and the Teach Well online master’s program. 

Kara Dawson

Kara Dawson

Dawson, who teaches educational technology, was promoted to professor. Her research focuses on the impact of technology on student achievement and teaching practices. 

Timothy Jacobbe

Timothy Jacobbe

Jacobbe is now a tenured associate professor in mathematics education. His research interests relate to statistics and mathematics teacher education. 

Erica McCray

Erica McCray

McCray, from the School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies, received tenure and was promoted to associate professor. Her research focuses on teacher quality and faculty development in the context of diversity. 

Albert Ritzhaupt

Albert Ritzhaupt

Ritzhaupt is now a tenured associate professor of educational technology. His research interests include the design and development of technology-enhanced learning environments and technology integration in education.





Graduate teaching honor goes to educational foundations professor

TERZIAN, Sevan05 024Since he joined the UF College of Education faculty in 2000, Sevan Terzian has been repeatedly commended by his peers and students as an exceptional teacher and accomplished academician.

Most recently, Terzian, an associate professor in social foundations of education, received the college’s 2013 Graduate Faculty Teaching Award for his teaching and mentorship of graduate education students. The award came with a $2,000 stipend. 

“This award is a reflection of the high quality students that we have,” said Terzian, who also heads graduate studies for the college’s School of Teaching and Learning. “The honor has helped me understand even more that graduate education includes, yet also transcends, the classroom.”

Over the years, Terzian has received a number of teaching honors, including the College of Education Undergraduate Teacher of the Year and UF Teacher of the Year in 2008. He was also awarded a UF Research Foundation Professorship for 2009-2012. 

His research on the history of the American high school has landed his work in a variety of publications and earned him several grants over the years. This year, he published his first book, Science Education and Citizenship, which explores the history of science fairs and extracurricular school science programs.

“Dr. Terzian is known as a strong advocate for students, and shepherds them through their research activities and their efforts to present and publish their work,” said Elizabeth Bondy, director of the School of Teaching and Learning.

A college faculty committee chose Terzian for his latest honor based on high and consistent ratings by his students on end-of-course evaluations and strong letters of recommendation from his students and peers.

“I have worked with many wonderful faculty members in several departments since I came to the University of Florida for graduate school in 2006, but Dr. Terzian’s commitment to teaching and mentoring is unparalleled,” education doctoral candidate Jess Clawson wrote in her recommendation of Terzian. 

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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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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.


   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


Two statistics education journals choose UF math ed professor for editor posts

JACOBBE, Tim 014Tim Jacobbe, a UF assistant professor in mathematics education, has been appointed as the founding editor of the Journal of Statistics Education’s new department on research in K-12 statistics education, as well as an associate editor for the Statistics Education Research Journal.

Jacobbe will serve as an associate editor for the latter publication until 2016. His editorship at the JSE is for an indefinite period.

At the College of Education, Jacobbe is the principal investigator for a $2 million National Science Foundation-funded project focused on creating high-quality testing instruments in statistics.

Jacobbe has been an education faculty member since 2008. He previously was an assessment specialist at Educational Testing Service where he became one of the primary test developers for the AP Statistics program. He was also an author for the books “Bridging the Gap Between Common Core State Standards and Teaching Statistics” and “Developing Essential Understanding of Statistics for Teaching Mathematics in Grades 6–8.”

Children’s literacy professor to serve on committee that selects nonfiction book award

Dr Lowery1Ruth McKoy Lowery, a UF associate professor of children’s literacy, was recently appointed to the selection committee for the National Council of Teachers of English’s (NCTE) Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction in Children’s Literature. She will serve on the committee for three years. 

Lowery’s teaching and research focuses on literature for children and adolescents, immigrant and multicultural literature and education, and preparing pre-service teachers to teach diverse student populations.

The NCTE committee mainly selects the recipients of the annual Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children and promotes the use of nonfiction children’s books in the classroom. 

The national council is dedicated to improving English and language arts education.


Fulbright scholar in special education to study juvenile corrections schools in South Africa

JosephGagnonJoseph Gagnon, a UF associate professor of special education, will spend seven months conducting research and lecturing at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of the Fulbright Scholar Program. 

Gagnon’s research often focuses on improving the education and literacy of incarcerated youth. In Cape Town, he will study the current educational policies and practices within juvenile corrections schools. 

According to Gagnon, the United States and the Republic of South Africa are first and second in the world with the highest the number of incarcerated youth. But researchers and experts have noted problems in the countries’ education services for these youth, “despite its importance for youth to transition back to school, the community and workforce,” Gagnon said. 

For example, in South African juvenile corrections schools, there is inconsistency in the provision of individualized programming, coursework and vocational education, as well as a lack of important resources needed for education, Gagnon said. 

Gagnon has written or contributed to about 14 different academic publications, in which he identifies characteristics of the United States’ education system for incarcerated youth and evaluated its policies and practices. However, in the Republic of South Africa, “there are far fewer analyses of the juvenile correctional education program,” he said. 

“Clearly, both the United States and Republic of South Africa could benefit from a more in-depth study of their individual systems of juvenile justice education, as well as comparisons across countries, in order to develop and promote effective policies and practices,” Gagnon 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 Scholar Program provides academic opportunities abroad to prominent university faculty and professionals

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Professor receives international honor for impact in special education

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—University of Florida education professor Mary Brownell, a leading scholar and policy expert in special education and teacher preparation, has received a top honor from the world’s largest advocacy organization for students with special needs.

Mary BrownellThe Teacher Education Division (TED) of the Council for Exceptional Children presented Brownell with the 2013 TED/Pearson Excellence in Teacher Education Award at the council’s annual meeting in San Antonio, April 3-6. The council is the largest international professional organization in special education with more than 30,000 members.

The annual award goes to an individual who has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to teacher preparation in special education, the cultivation of future leaders in the field, or leadership in scholarly work and legislative advocacy.

Brownell, who joined UF’s College of Education in 1991, has made a significant impact in all three areas. She has received numerous university and college honors for teaching and student mentoring, has held an endowed professorship, has co-directed three national centers addressing special education personnel policies and practices, and has advised national law and policy makers on improving the standards and practices of teacher preparation in special education.

She is the college’s top-funded researcher, with phenomenal success in attracting major federal grants on some of the most vital issues in education. She has generated more than $36 million in federal funding from the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs and its Institute of Education Sciences. Last fall, OSEP awarded $25 million—its largest grant ever—to Brownell and her UF co-researchers Paul Sindelar and Erica McCray. The funding supports their effort to create a national CEEDAR Center (Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform) at UF, charged with restructuring and improving teacher preparation in special education in 20 states.

Brownell is just as prolific in disseminating her researching findings, to the benefit of her peers, as evidenced by her authorship of three books and dozens of book chapters and articles in refereed journals, and countless conference presentations and invited addresses. She recently collaborated on editing a handbook of research on special education teacher preparation.

“Mary is the most important contemporary scholar of special education and teacher education,” Sindelar said. “She is a brilliant scholar, an accomplished researcher, a demanding teacher and a gifted and committed mentor. The full measure of her impact on classroom and special education teachers, students with disabilities and other struggling learners will not be known for years to come.”

After more than two decades at UF, Brownell’s scholarly productivity and international reputation have helped the University of Florida join the top-tier of American special-education teacher preparation programs. Special education perennially leads all College of Education program areas in research funding and currently rates sixth nationally in its specialty in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of America’s Best Graduate Schools.

Brownell’s sterling research record may be her most measurable accounting, but her students, past and present, might argue that her teaching and mentorship deserve equal billing. At UF, Brownell has directed multiple research and training projects that provided funding for more than 40 doctoral students not only in special education, but also in curriculum and instruction, school psychology and educational psychology. In 2010, she received a university-wide, doctoral-student mentoring award.

“Developing a serious research agenda focused on teacher quality issues and engaging other scholars in that agenda is of great importance to me,” Brownell said after the CEC award ceremony. “I hope others see me not only as an individual researcher but as a scholar who encourages and helps others to become engaged in this work.“

It’s obvious how her students see her: In award nomination letters, Brownell’s first doctoral student, now a teacher educator, refers to Brownell’s “ability to inspire with deep-rooted passion for her career.” Another recent graduate credits Brownell’s support for her success in winning two nationally recognized dissertation awards and helping her land a highly competitive, tenure-track teaching position.

Sean Smith, associate professor in special education at the University of Kansas, writes in his letter: “As a scholar, I recognize (Dr. Brownell’s) critical work, and as a parent of a school-aged child with a disability I rely on her work when I engage educators working with my son.”

Brownell is the fourth UF special education faculty member to receive the Excellence in Teacher Education Award. Previous recipients were current faculty James McLeskey in 2010 and Paul Sindelar in 2001, and former faculty member Vivian Correa in 2006. Last’s year’s recipient, Fred Spooner of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, also has UF ties: he worked and studied at the College of Education for three years in the late 1970s as a doctoral research fellow and research assistant.

   SOURCE: Mary Brownell, professor, special education, UF College of Education, mbrownell@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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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.”


New York Times cites Higher Ed professor’s research on college student debt


Pilar Mendoza, a University of Florida assistant professor in higher education administration, was quoted in a New York Times article Feb. 9 about college costs and student debt.

The Times article cited Mendoza’s research findings, published last year in The Journal of Student Financial Aid, showing that students pursuing degrees who work fewer than 30 hours a week in a job were 1.4 times more likely to graduate within six years than students who spent more than 30 hours a week working.
Mendoza pointed out, though, that working less comes with financial consequences.
“You have two choices,” Mendoza was quoted saying of students whose families could not or would not contribute to their college costs. “You either work or you acquire debt.”

Emihovich named fellow in anthropology society

University of Florida education professor Catherine Emihovich has been tapped as a fellow in the national Society for Applied Anthropology in recognition of her scholarly contributions and leadership in anthropology and the social sciences.

Dean Catherine Emihovich


Emihovich is a professor of research and evaluation methodology in the College of Education and served as its 12th dean from 2002-2011. She is a past president of the Council on Anthropology and Education within the American Anthropological Association, and a past editor of Anthropology and Education Quarterly.

While minoring in anthropology and education, she has a doctorate in educational psychology and a master’s in measurement and statistics, both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research publications and presentations—on topics such as children’s language use, literacy issues and race, class and gender equity issues—reflect her dual interests in education and anthropology. Emihovich has published three books and numerous scholarly articles and has presented more than 100 papers at conferences worldwide.

Since stepping down as dean to return to full-time teaching and research, Emihovich has revived the college’s Center for Community Education, serving as director and reshaping its focus to promote collaborative, community-based “action research” and policy change in education, health and social services.

The interdisciplinary Society for Applied Anthropology, founded in 1941, promotes the application of the social sciences to contemporary problems.  Its membership includes specialists and researchers in anthropology, sociology, social geography, nutrition and social psychology.

The society’s cadre of fellows that Emihovich joins serves in an advisory and counseling role to the group’s officers and board of directors.


UF teacher inquiry ‘ambassadors’ create buzz in Netherlands, Belgium

The buzz created by UF education Professor Nancy Dana’s passionate advocacy and best-selling books on “practitioner inquiry”—or action research, a burgeoning strategy in teacher professional development and school reform—is crossing international borders.

Dana revs up the crowd of school leaders attending her teacher-inquiry presentation in Oostende, Belgium.

Dana and Rachel Wolkenhauer, a UF doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, recently presented three workshops on teacher inquiry for 130 students, education faculty and practicing teachers at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the southern Netherlands.  Their presentations were featured recently in the university’s primary magazine in an article titled “Inquiry Inspiration Day.”

The article mentions discussions they had with Dutch officials about forming an exchange between faculty and students at UF and the Fontys School of Teacher Training for Secondary Education.

“Our time at Fontys included an exchange between Rachel and two doctoral students at Fontys where they shared their dissertation work with one another resulting in powerful conversation about teacher education.  These are the types of interactions that we imagine will enrich and enhance students’ experiences at both institutions” Dana said.

The College of Education duo also conducted workshops in Oostende, Belgium on their trip, where Dana presented three keynote addresses about the inquiry process at a conference for over 200 school leaders.

Dana is one of America’s top scholars in the field of action research, a self-reflecting process in which teachers and principals assess their own practices and then share what they learned with their peers to improve student learning.

Dana has coached the action research of thousands of educators from school districts across the state and nation—and globe—and has published nine books and more than 50 journal articles and book chapters on teacher and principal professional development and practitioner inquiry.

Two of her books—guides to classroom research and coaching inquiry-based learning communities in schools, respectively—were best sellers. The latter guide was chosen 2008 Book of the Year by the National Staff Development Council.  She recently published an electronic version of her 2010 book, “Powerful Professional Development: Building Expertise Within the Four Walls of Your School.”

Dana has a new book, Digging Deeper Into Action Research: A Teacher Inquirer’s Field Guide, due out in February and is writing another one with Wolkenhauer and COE adjunct lecturer Jamey Burns on using teacher inquiry as a mechanism to translate the common core state standards into practice.

Dana’s publisher, Corwin Press, has an author’s website for her at: http://www.corwin.com/authors/522546.

Dana holds the prestigious designation of UF Research Foundation Professor and works with the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning, helping to redesign professional development programs for several Florida school districts with practitioner inquiry at the core.

Wolkenhauer also works with the Lastinger Center as a trained Master Teacher while pursuing her doctorate.

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


Eight education majors named ‘Anderson scholars’

Faculty mentor honoree Dustin Jones, center, poses with four of the eight Anderson Scholars (pictured from left): Brenna Burke, Janelle Lopez, Date Logan and Katie Stults.

Eight College of Education undergraduates have received a prestigious campus-wide award for academic achievement, and an education faculty member was recognized for his mentorship of several of the honored students.

The College of Education student recipients are ProTeach elementary education majors Brenna Burke, Kate Logan, Janelle Lopez, Alexandra Ramlow, Katherine Romero, Carolyn Smith, and Katie Stults; and ProTeach early childhood education major Jennifer Standsfield.

Mathematics education instructor Dustin Jones, who was nominated by Logan and Lopez, was chosen as an Anderson Scholar Faculty Honoree. Jones is a visiting clinical assistant professor and just finished his first semester at the university.

The students were awarded the Anderson School Certificate of Distinction, High Distinction or Highest Distinction, which is given by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to UF students who have maintained a full, uninterrupted course load and at least a 3.90, 3.95 or 4.00 GPA, respectively, during their first two years at the university.

“It is nice to be recognized for my efforts during my first two years and to know that my accomplishments have not been overlooked,” Lopez said. “I’m glad that my fellow education majors and I have been distinguished as high-achieving students, and I hope we can represent all education majors as hardworking and talented students.”

The Anderson Scholar Faculty Honoree recognizes professors who have mentored Anderson scholars.

“It warms my heart to be identified by my students as inspiring and influential,” Jones said. “These eight Anderson scholars are well on their way to becoming successful teachers who will inspire and influence the next generation of students.”

The Anderson scholar and faculty honoree awards are named after James Nesbitt Anderson, who served as the first dean of what used to be the College of Arts and Sciences between 1910 and 1930. The award was initiated a few years ago by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in part because of the historical role the college has played in the education of undergraduate students during their first two years at UF.

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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.”


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.

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


UF education, dentistry schools team up to sharpen dental faculty’s teaching skills

For years, University of Florida education scholar Linda Behar-Horenstein has dreamed of helping UF dental faculty sharpen their teaching skills and chairside manner as they perform precise dental procedures on their patients.

Behar-Horenstein, who has been teaching at the College of Education Department of Educational Administration and Policy since 1992, has always had an interest in the communication between health-care teaching professionals and their students and patients.

Her dream was realized when the College of Dentistry recently received a five-year $2.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Behar-Horenstein, co-principal investigator for the grant, has been working with the College of Dentistry since 1996, when she was asked

to observe the extent to which faculty were promoting critical thinking skills in clinics. Today, she is an affiliate professor in the college’s Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science, as well as a Distinguished Teaching Scholar in both the colleges of Education and Dentistry.

The grant’s focus is on enhancing faculty’s teaching repertoire through instruction, and incorporating cultural competency and motivational interviewing, among other skills that are important for serving dental patients. The dental school received another grant three years ago worth $3.5 million aimed at providing pre-doctoral dentistry students with similar patient-centered skills.

“The idea is to help develop new and better skills in our faculty,” said Frank Catalanotto, who first invited Behar-Horenstein to the college about 16 years ago when he was dean. Catalanotto is the co-principal investigator for the grant. “If the grant is successful, our students will be better dentists when they go out into practice. Better dentists are going to improve the health of the public.”

Behar-Horenstein first became fascinated with professors’ differing teaching styles after taking a course with a frustrating professor in graduate school. When she realized she would have to teach herself the material, Behar-Horenstein started studying the styles of all her instructors, making a mental inventory of strategies that either promoted or prevented student learning.

“This issue is very important to me because I think professors’ research and training greatly affects the teaching that their students receive,” said Behar-Horenstein.

Over the years, she has traveled across the country showing instructors how to teach critical thinking and active learning skills. Behar-Horenstein now enjoys discussing with UF dentistry professors how to be engaging, interactive and productive in their teaching.

“The grant supports faculty in teaching pre-doctoral students how to become patient-centered in their communication,” Behar-Horenstein said. “If faculty haven’t had the opportunity to learn these teaching skills, it will be very difficult to model that.”

As a co-PI for the latest federal grant, Behar-Horenstein will lead online classes, webinars and presentations for faculty and help them with research projects and surveying their progress in the classroom and clinical learning environments

“I’m an internal resource because they can come to me seeking counsel or advice,” Behar-Horenstein said. “Talking with a colleague who understands teaching sometimes opens doors for others who may be experiencing challenges and reassures them that it’s really OK. We all go through this. Being an instructor requires growth and reflection.”

SOURCE: Linda Behar-Horenstein, distinguished teaching scholar and professor at UF College of Education, distinguished teaching scholar and affiliate professor at UF College of Dentistry; lsbhoren@ufl.edu; 352-273-4330

WRITER: Alexa Lopez, new media coordinator, news and communications, UF College of Education; aklopez@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4449

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


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.

PDK recognizes UF professor as ‘International Emerging Leader’

Crystal Timmons, UF clinical assistant professor in education, was named one of 22 “International Emerging Leaders” by Phi Delta Kappa International. Every year, Phi Delta Kappa International, an association for professional educators, recognizes leading educators under the age of 40.

Timmons is a professor in residence for the Teacher Leadership for School Improvement degree program in Duval County, a project of the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning.


New Fien Professor finding ways to reduce disruptive classroom behavior

Disruptive, anti-social behavior in the classroom—such as openly defying the teacher’s instructions or bullying a classmate—has been a major concern of school systems for years. Studies show the single most common request for assistance from teachers is related to behavior and classroom management.

Research also shows that students in disruptive classrooms tend to make lower grades and do poorer on standardized tests.

That’s why University of Florida special education professor Stephen Smith has, for nearly 15 years, studied new teaching tools and strategies to help students self-regulate their disruptive impulses and aggressive actions. His research advances have earned him a prestigious appointment to the Irving and Rose Fien Endowed Professorship at UF’s College of Education. The three-year post, worth $120,000 in salary supplements, doctoral student hires and technical assistance, supports veteran faculty members with a track record of successful research aimed at helping “at risk” learners in kindergarten-through-high school, mainly at high-poverty schools.

The College of Education announced Smith’s appointment on Tuesday (Aug. 14).

In his 23-year academic career, Smith has generated more than $10 million through 26 research and training grants–$8.5 million of that since he joined the UF faculty in 1990. His Fien Professorship research will expand the breadth and scope of two federally funded studies he is conducting under highly competitive grants awarded over the past two years by the Institute of Education Services, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

One Fien-funded initiative calls for vital post-test analysis, involving 68 classrooms, of a social problem-solving curriculum—called “Tools for Getting Along”—that Smith and colleagues designed to help at-risk upper elementary students regulate their own aggressive behavioral tendencies. His team also will conduct a pilot study to test the curriculum’s effectiveness on small groups of at-risk students who require more personalized and intensive intervention.

“We are developing lessons that tap self-control skills such as monitoring your thoughts, inhibiting impulses, planning better and adapting to changing situations,” Smith said.

These high-level skills, known collectively by cognitive scientists as “executive functions” (or EF, for short), “are fundamental to helping students set personal goals, control their emotions and improve their social problem-solving abilities,” he said.

Smith also will test new training techniques to help middle school students with significant behavioral problems to tap into three specific EF skills—working memory, attention flexibility and impulse control—to counter their emotional and behavioral disorders.

“Up to 10 percent of middle school students have significant behavioral issues that merit some attention outside of what is normally provided in our educational system,” Smith said. “There aren’t many intervention resources available for these students that are effective and teacher-friendly. Our comprehensive program will provide long-term instructional impact.”

The college’s Fien Professorship was created in 1998 through a $600,000 gift by Irving Fien, founder of Fine Distributing, a Miami-based food distribution company. He made the donation to honor his wife Rose, who had died the year before. Irving, once an at-risk student himself, died in 2004.

At UF, Smith has received three teaching awards, a University Research Award, and has served twice as a UF Distinguished Research Professor. He has served on the federal Institute of Education Science’s social and behavioral education research scientific review panel since 2008.

The Fien appointment also recognizes Smith’s commitment to teaching and student mentoring. He teaches graduate level courses in special education research, emotional and behavioral disorders and principles of prevention science in education. He has published with doctoral students on 19 research papers and has hired 21 Ph.D. students as research assistants on his federally funded research grants.

Overall, Smith is the author of 14 professional books and book chapters and more than 60 journal articles and manuscripts.

He is on the executive board of the Council for Exceptional Children’s division for research and is a past president of Teacher Educators of Children with Behavioral Disorders. He has a doctorate in special education from the University of Kansas.

Smith’s appointment keeps the Fien Professorship in his family for three more years: His wife, Mary Brownell, also a UF special education professor, was co-holder of the post from 2008-11.


    SOURCE: Stephen Smith, professor, UF College of Education,  352-273-4263; email swsmith@coe.ufl.edu
WRITER: 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.


   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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Researcher-author on teacher ‘inquiry’ tapped for elite UF professorship

University of Florida education professor and best-selling author Nancy Fichtman Dana, recognized nationally for her research and books on novel strategies in school reform and professional development for educators, has been named a UF Research Foundation Professor for 2012-2015.

Dana, a professor in the College of Education’s School of Teaching and Learning, is one of 33 UF faculty scholars selected for the prestigious posts. The University of Florida Research Foundation awards the professorships annually to tenured faculty who have a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that is likely to lead to continuing distinction in their fields. The three-year award includes a $5,000 annual salary supplement and a one-time $3,000 grant to support their research.

Dana is one of the nation’s top scholars in the field of “practitioner inquiry” or action research, a novel approach to professional development for teachers, principals and other school administrators.  The process involves educators assessing their own practices, and then sharing what they learn with their peers to foster “whole school” improvement and enhanced student learning.

“Teachers are in the best position to identify problems in the classroom and find workable solutions. Rather than having outsiders come to schools and tell them how to fix their problems, we’re encouraging schools to take charge of their own professional development,” Dana said. “We coach them on becoming more reflective, analytical and critical of their own teaching, and then taking action to improve their classroom practices.”

“This self-reflecting and sharing process,” she adds, “allows schools to improve from within.”

Dana has coached the action research of thousands of educators from school districts across the state and nation, and has published eight books and more than 50 journal articles and book chapters on teacher and principal professional development and practitioner inquiry.

Two of her books—guides to classroom research and coaching inquiry-based learning communities in schools, respectively—were best sellers. The latter was chosen 2008 Book of the Year by the National Staff Development Council.  She recently published an electronic version of her 2010 book, “Powerful Professional Development: Building Expertise Within the Four Walls of Your School.”

Her publisher, Corwin Press, has an author’s website for Dana at: http://www.corwin.com/authors/522546.

Dana’s research on practitioner inquiry forms the core of the college’s innovative, on-the-job Teacher Leadership for School Improvement graduate degree program, which the Association of Teacher Educators cited as the 2011 Distinguished Program in Teacher Education.

“Dr. Dana is an exceptionally productive scholar and she continues to probe the possibilities and impact of practitioner inquiry, extending her work to special education teachers and the use of the latest Web technologies,” said Elizabeth Bondy, director of UF’s School of Teaching and Learning.

Dana is working with UF education colleagues Cynthia Griffin (in special education) and Stephen Pape (mathematics education) to develop and evaluate an extensive online professional development program for third through fifth grade teachers focused on the teaching and learning of math. Their work is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences.

Dana has a doctorate in elementary education from Florida State and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from State University of New York at Oswego. In 2009, the New York Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the New York Association of Teacher Educators dually presented Dana with the New York Teacher Impact Award.

Dana joined UF’s education faculty from Penn State in 2003 and directed UF’s Center for School Improvement through 2010.  She received the national ATE organization’s Distinguished Research in Teacher Education Award in 2005.

More recently, she has helped the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning redesign professional development programs for several Florida school districts, with practitioner inquiry at the core.

She said her future research activities will focus on gauging the effectiveness of practitioner inquiry on K-12 virtual school educators, and on helping general and special education teachers use action research to meet the mathematical learning needs of all students, including those with disabilities.



   SOURCE: Nancy Dana, professor, UF College of Education, ndana@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4204

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

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Smith Professorship study will benefit English language learners

Elementary school students learning English as a second language will benefit from groundbreaking research by University of Florida education professor Ester de Jong, in new studies supported by her recent appointment to the College of Education’s prestigious B. O. Smith Research Professorship.

While occupying the three-year post, de Jong will investigate ways that elementary teachers can best help young English language learners (ELLs) bridge the language gap in order to succeed in school. Her research focuses not on conversational English but on the “academic language”—the language of school, textbooks and testing—that is vital to school success. 

The B.O. Smith endowed professorship supports new, cutting-edge research of promising education faculty who are preparing to go up for full professor. It carries the potential for $3,000 annually in research funding and a $5,000 yearly salary stipend, renewed year to year based on research progress, for a total award package of $24,000. Appointments last three years and are staggered so a new professorship is awarded annually.

Cynthia Griffin in special education is the other current B.O. Smith Professor. The professorship’s namesake is a former UF education faculty member in curriculum and instruction.

de Jong, an associate professor in bilingual and ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) education, said mastering academic language proficiency is essential for all students, but especially for bilingual learners still acquiring English. She said their learning is best supported when teachers purposefully develop academic language.

 “Current research primarily focuses on academic language development at the secondary-level content areas. This study will take place in two partnering second-grade, dual language classes in a Duval County elementary school. Spanish is the language of instruction in one class and English in the other classroom,” said de Jong, a UF faculty member since 2001.

Recent studies show that more than a third of fourth-grade ELLs are behind their white peers in math and nearly half are behind in reading. More and more, researchers view ELL students’ lack of access to the development of academic language as a leading influence on academic achievement.

de Jong’s study will involve multiple teacher interviews and videotaped observations of teacher-student exchanges during classroom lessons in both Spanish and English.

“The findings,” de Jong said, “will contribute to our understanding of academic language in the classroom and will support effective professional development for teachers working with English language learners.”

de Jong, who speaks fluent Dutch, English and Spanish, is a nationally recognized authority in dual language education. She has published several research articles on the topic and is the sole author of the 2011 book, “Foundations of Multilingualism in Education: Principles to Practice.” She has an Ed.D. degree in literacy, language and cultural studies from Boston University.

 “Dr. de Jong’s research funded by the B.O. Smith Professorship addresses a major gap in the international literature on bilingual education,” said Elizabeth Bondy, director of UF’s School of Teaching and Learning. “Her findings will position her to be competitive for significant additional external funding and will enhance the professional development of teachers working with English language learners.”

de Jong in 2009 was awarded a College of Education Faculty Enhancement Opportunity grant worth more than $35,000 to fund activities to enhance her expertise in the research, policy and practice of teaching in multilingual contexts. She used her added expertise to build on her current $1.2 million study (with co-researchers Maria Coady and Candace Harper) examining teacher effectiveness with students in Florida schools who speak English as a second language.

The B.O. Smith study continues research conducted in 2009-2010 in a dual language school in Massachusetts, sponsored by a $40,000 Spencer Foundation research grant.

SOURCE: Ester de Jong, associate professor, UF College of Education, 352-273-4227; email edejong@coe.ufl.edu 
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu


Washington ‘Knight-ed’ for quest to revive civic learning, citizenship involvement

Professor Elizabeth Washington

As part of a $3 million campaign to strengthen civic learning and involvement, UF education  professor Elizabeth Washington was recently named a Knight Effective Citizens Fellow by the university’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service to help develop and test a novel online civics course for UF undergraduates.

Washington will join a work group of newly appointed Knight fellows in the project in an effort to strengthen students’ civic knowledge and involvement in democratic citizenship activities. After evaluation at UF, the online course will be made available to universities across the nation.

The course development is one of five civic-learning projects funded by a $3-million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant also supports four other initiatives promoting civic involvement including the use of social media, ways to engage public discussion and evaluation of current civic learning and engagement programs.

With severe school budget cutbacks and the emphasis on standardized tests mainly in reading, science and math, Washington said the amount of time and effort devoted to teaching subjects such as civics, American history and government is seriously declining in public schools.

Washington is a national expert and advocate for civics education and citizen involvement. She is a professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at the College of Education and a Senior Fellow with the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and the Bob Graham Center, where she works to improve civics education standards in Florida.

As a Knight fellow, she will work with one of her former students, Emma Humphries, who was hired by the Graham Center upon completion of her doctoral degree earlier this year to fill the grant-funded position of assistant scholar in citizenship. Humphries will coordinate the fellows’ work group and its course development activities.

The Bob Graham Center was created in 2008 by former Sen. Graham to give UF students an opportunity to experience political leadership and involvement outside of the classroom and a firm grounding in democratic government. The Knight fellows are working on the course curriculum with plans to offer the course to UF students in next spring.

UF’s ‘Go Math’ professor is ESPNU success story

(View ESPNU video)

UF mathematics education professor Thomasenia Adams may be well known in her field–as author of the nationally circulated “Go Math” textbook series, for example, or as the College of Education’s first African-American woman tenured professor. Or, as the college’s newly appointed associate dean for research and faculty development.

But you wouldn’t expect Adams to be the subject of a four-minute profile on ESPNU, a television channel that specializes in college sports. That’s where you can find her this week, though, on the channel’s special academic series, “SEC Stories of Success.” The program profiles “heroes” in academics from the campuses of the Southeastern Conference universities.

ESPNU’s profile of Adams aired Thursday (May 31) at 5 p.m., but it’s still available on the network’s website at http://ftp.winnercomm.com/clients/SEC/AS2/SEC_UF.mov. The spot depicts Adams’ emergence from a child who hated math to the nationally prominent mathematics scholar she is today. She has been a UF education faculty member since 1993 and  her “Go Math” textbook series is used in schools around the nation.

Adams has been working with UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning to bring its award-winning Master Teacher Initiative to math and science educators in secondary schools around the state, and she also served on a state Department of Education panel charged with updating Florida’s Sunshine State Standards for mathematics at the K-12 level. She is a 2010 graduate of the Higher Education Resource Services Institute for Women in Higher Education, an elite leadership program for women professors and administrators.


    SOURCE: Thomasenia Adams, professor in mathematics education and associate dean for research and faculty development, UF College of Education, 352-273-4116; tla@coe.ufl.edu

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

Colleen Swain is Undergraduate Teacher of Year

To start each semester, Colleen Swain, an associate professor in curriculum and instruction, spends about 15 minutes with every student in her two classes, asking about their lives and goals as future educators and using their feedback to help her create tailored, real-world examples of teaching situations to model and discuss in class.

“I probably do some things that take up enormous amounts of time, but I find it so important,” Swain said.

She shows students that she practices what she preaches. To Swain, getting to know her students personally is an extremely effective teaching method.

Her desire—and success—in connecting with her students helps to explain her recent selection as the College of Education’s 2012 Undergraduate Teacher of the Year.

Swain teaches instructional methods and classroom management in the School of Teaching and Learning’s five-year ProTeach program, which allows students to earn a master’s degree in subject-area teaching–such as English, history, math and science–and qualify for a Florida Professional Teaching Certificate at the middle-grade and high school levels.

In describing her teaching philosophy, Swain says she bases her lessons on three objectives: to inspire and challenge students, support their academic efforts and provide in-depth experiences.

“Professor Swain lives and breathes education and connecting with her students,” said Carmen Roberto, a student in Swain’s Effective Teaching in Secondary Classrooms course.

When Roberto mentioned she was having difficulty writing her lesson plans, Swain immediately met with her to discuss her problem areas. Swain stuck with her until Roberto showed she had grasped the process and was ready to proceed.

Last summer, Swain was one of three UF educators selected to participate in the college’s Shewey Scholars program, in which they collaborate with Alachua County middle school teachers to research and discuss middle-school reform issues and strategies.

She also co-coordinates the college’s popular, job-embedded Teacher Leadership for School Improvement (TLSI) graduate degree program, a key component of the UF Lastinger Center’s groundbreaking Master Teacher Initiative which won the Association of Teacher Educators’ coveted Distinguished Program in Teacher Education Award.

Swain has been on the college faculty since 1997and served as both associate director and graduate coordinator of the School of Teaching and Learning from 2005 to 2009.

Her interdisciplinary Ph.D. from the University of North Texas focused on curriculum instruction, adult education and computers in education. It reflects on her interests in teacher practice and influence by policies, technology issues in the classroom and equity of available resources to students.

Whether teaching undergraduates, advanced-degree students or practicing teachers, Swain commits herself to her classes and teaching craft.

“I strive to inspire my students,” Swain said, “and let them know that whatever career they select, whatever they do, they are important and can make a difference in people’s lives.”




     SOURCE: Colleen Swain, associate professor, UF College of Education, (w) 352-273-4226; cswain@coe.ufl.edu

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

    WRITER: Nicole La Hoz, student intern, news & communications, UF College of Education, nicdyelah@ufl.edu


Professor elected president of nation’s largest counseling association

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—Cirecie West-Olatunji, an associate professor of counselor education at the University of Florida’s College of Education, has been elected president of the American Counseling Association, the nation’s largest counseling professional organization. She will serve one year as president-elect beginning July 1 and will start a one-year term as the group’s 62nd president on the same date next year.


West-Olatunji has held leadership positions at the branch, division and national levels of the ACA, which has more than 43,000 members. She currently serves on the association’s executive committee and on the governing council as a representative of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development. She is a past president of the latter group.

She joins an impressive lineup of national leaders from UF’s counselor education program, spanning several decades. The program is ranked second nationally in its specialty area in the U.S. News & World Report’s survey of America’s Best Graduate Schools, and has consistently held a Top 5 national ranking since the mid-1990s.

“Dr. West-Olatunji continues the long-held tradition of UF counselor education faculty serving as national and international leaders of the profession,” said UF education dean Glenn Good, who also has a counseling background.

West-Olatunji said she expects the ACA to be dealing with several major emerging trends during her presidency—including the globalization of counseling and new counseling theories based on patients’ cultural backgrounds, learning how emotional responses to traumatic events (such as natural disasters) can contribute to psychological distress, and “a flurry of theories related to counseling young children age 5 and younger.”

“The next decade in counseling will be very exciting times in which counselors will need to be more responsive than ever,” she said.

West-Olatunji’s research specialty is in multicultural counseling and the role of cultural identity in the psychological, emotional and educational development of socially marginalized students. She has worked with local school communities to improve supportive parenting practices among students in low-income African-American families.

With an unusually high number of natural disasters occurring worldwide in recent years, she has been promoting the need to train more practitioners who can provide counseling for victims of disasters and their surviving family members and friends. She has taken graduate counseling students to New Orleans to assist in post-Katrina disaster recovery efforts. (She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in counselor education from the University of New Orleans.)

She also has organized national teams of counseling students, faculty and practitioners to travel to South Africa and Botswana for community-based counseling of HIV and AIDS patients.

After visiting post-earthquake Haiti and other recent disaster sites, West-Olatunji has designed a new online certificate program in disaster counseling at UF for licensed mental health professionals and state-certified school counselors drawn to the field. She is developing a training model that can be used in places like New Orleans, Port Au Prince, Haiti, and Japan, and is planning a trip to Latin America for another outreach trip next year.

She has received numerous awards for research and service to the profession from groups such as the AMCD, Florida Counseling Association, Counselors for Social Justice, and the Association for Black Psychologists.


     SOURCE: Cerecie West-Olatunji, associate professor, UF College of Education; (w) 352-273-4324; cwestolatunji@coe.ufl.edu

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


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Early-childhood service award has special meaning for Patricia Snyder

When Patricia Snyder, who heads the University of Florida’s Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, recently received the Mary McEvoy Service to the Field Award from the international Division for Early Childhood, she cherished both the recognition and the associations with McEvoy and previous award recipients.

Patricia Snyder portrait

Patricia Snyder

The McEvoy award annually recognizes a community member, parent or professional who has made significant contributions, on a national or international level, to early intervention and early childhood special education that improve the lives of young children with special needs, their families, or those who work on their behalf. The DEC is a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, the largest international organization of professionals in the field.

McEvoy, the former director of the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota, was a nationally respected researcher and advocate in early childhood studies. She was one of seven passengers who died with Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone in a 2002 plane crash on their way to a political debate and funeral service. She was 49.

“Mary McEvoy set the bar high for those of us in early-childhood-studies science, policy and practice. Those who have previously received the award named in her honor have raised the bar even higher,” Snyder said. “Much of what we envision for our center at the University of Florida is influenced by the work of Mary, her colleagues, and previous award recipients, which makes this honor even more meaningful.”

Snyder is the inaugural occupant of the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies at UF’s College of Education. Prior to her UF appointment in 2007, she was the founding director of the Early Intervention Institute at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and subsequently was the director of research at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Child Development for two years.

UF Education Dean Glenn Good said Snyder’s selection for the McEvoy Award reflects UF’s national leadership role in early childhood studies. “Dr. Snyder spearheaded the creation of the university’s center for excellence in 2010 by mobilizing the university’s top specialists in early childhood studies for collaborative research and training activities.

“She has worked to create exceptional interdisciplinary programs and projects for her entire career.”

Snyder interacts with a toddler at Baby Gator.

The new center she heads has quickly gathered some early momentum. While UF’s Baby Gator Child Development and Research Center serves as the hub for model demonstration and training activities, Snyder set up the center’s administrative and research offices in newly renovated quarters in the College of Education’s Norman Hall.

Joining Snyder on the center’s interdisciplinary leadership team are Baby Gator director Pam Pallas, education professor James Algina, associate scholar in education Kelly Whalon, and UF pediatrics professors Marylou Behnke and Fonda Davis Eyler. World-class scholar Maureen Conroy also was recruited back to UF for a leadership team post. Conroy promptly landed a $4 million federal grant to examine the efficacy of a social and behavioral intervention in early learning settings. The center also has hired its first research scientist, Tara McLaughlin, a December doctoral graduate of UF’s early childhood-special education program with several national research and editorial honors.

Prominent businesswoman Anita Zucker, a 1972 UF education graduate, kept the momentum building last year when she pledged $1 million to create an endowed professorship in early childhood studies.

In the research arena, Snyder is working on a $6 million federal grant to expand a job-embedded, advanced degree track in early childhood studies and teacher leadership for teachers in Miami-Dade schools. She recently completed a highly competitive, $1.3 million federal grant to study the impact of professional development on preschool teachers’ instructional practices. In early February, she and her colleagues received a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship training grant from the Institute of Education Sciences.

“We are developing new early learning interventions in collaboration with local, state and national partners and supporting the next generation of early-childhood studies leaders and researchers,” Snyder said.

She served as editor of the Journal of Early Intervention from 2002-2007.  Barbara Wolfe, a professor emeritus at the University of St. Thomas, says the high standards Snyder set as editor “played an important role in how early childhood intervention research is viewed and used by others.”

Snyder also advises state and federal early-learning commissions and is a local volunteer for United Way and the Children’s Movement of Florida.

“Pat has had a major impact on the field (of early childhood studies), has contributed significantly to the development of future leaders in our field, and has made a difference in the lives of children and families,” Wolfe wrote in nominating Snyder for the McEvoy Award.

Several of her doctoral students lauded Snyder in their nomination letters for her effective mentorship and the collaborative research opportunities she offers. Concerning her leadership style, Snyder says that among her leadership mantras are to “lead quietly, competently, and by example.”

“I consider it the supreme compliment when peers and practitioners say the quality of their work is enhanced through their collaborations with me, my colleagues, and our students,” Snyder said. “At the end of the day, my litmus test for the work we do is how much it improves services and supports for young children and their families.”


SOURCE: Patricia Snyder, the Lawrence Endowed Professor in Early Childhood Studies, UF College of Education, 352-273-4291; patriciasnyder@coe.ufl.edu

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




STEM education professor named AAAS Fellow

Kent Crippen, associate professor of STEM education in the College of Education, has been named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow along with five other University of Florida professors. Crippen was elected to the association’s Section on Education for his contributions to the field of science learning.

AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society, has elected Fellows since 1874 for their work in advancing the field of science. Each potential Fellow must be nominated by three current Fellows, the CEO or a steering committee of AAAS.

Crippen is with the college’s School of Teaching and Learning and serves as a science instructor for the UF Teach program, which enlists UF’s brightest science and math majors and prepares them to teach effectively. He was the 2010 recipient of the Online Learning Innovator Award for Important Research, presented by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and serves as co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Science Education and Technology.

He came to UF in 2011 from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he was associate director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education for 10 years.  Crippen received his Ph.D. in administration, curriculum and instructional technology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


Higher ed professor co-authors policy brief to help Latino males attain college degrees


University of Florida education researcher Luis Ponjuan has co-authored a policy brief distributed nationwide on Tuesday (Nov. 29) by the national Institute of Higher Education Policy that offers a blueprint for clearing the overwhelming barriers that Hispanic-Latino boys face on their educational journeys towards a college education.

The brief, titled “Men of Color: Ensuring the Academic Success of Latino Males in Higher Education,” is the first in a series of planned publications focusing on “men of color’ in higher education, produced by IHEP’s Pathways to College Network, an alliance of national organizations that advance college opportunity for underserved students.

The “Men of Color” brief, written by Ponjuan and Victor Sáenz, assistant professor of higher education at the University of Texas at Austin, outlines actions that organizations and communities can take in developing interventions to reverse the oppressive educational trends of Latino males.

“Our blueprint promotes rigorous new research and the use of evidence-based policies and practices that align efforts across middle school, high school and higher education in enhancing college access and success for underserved students,” Ponjuan said.

To download free copies of the policy brief, visit IHEP’s website at www.ihep.org.

The Institute of Higher Education Policy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that develops and supports research activities promoting access to and success in higher education for all students.

Latinos are now 15 percent of the U.S. population. Yet Latinos, or Hispanics, earn only 6 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, according to the American Council on Education. This is significantly less than whites, blacks and Asians. Latino males also have one of the lowest high school graduation and college enrollment rates in the country.

“While research on Latino males is limited and only points to the many challenges facing them, there exist a few promising practices that promote these students’ advancement in education—all the way from elementary to secondary and through postsecondary,” said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper.  “We present real-life interventions that can be taken advantage of today to help strengthen the educational success for all Latino males.”


   SOURCE: Luis Ponjuan, assistant professor and director, UF Institute of Higher Education, UF College of Education, lponjuan@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4313

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


Professor emeritus pens new book: ‘Why Korean Education is Leaving America in the DUST’

During his 44-year education career, William Hedges, a retired professor emeritus at UF’s College of Education, alternated public school teaching with university teaching in order to “stay in the real world.” A former Fulbright Scholar, he didn’t like what he saw as he observed how America had fallen behind other nations in the education of its young people. In his words, “the widespread ignorance of the American people is alarming.”

Hedges recently published a book, “Why Korean Education is Leaving America in the DUST,” to show just what the American public elementary school of the 21st century must become if the U.S. is to continue as a leader in the free world.

Always outspoken on matters of education and politics, Hedges is critical of the teacher unions, the short teaching day and teaching year in the U.S. compared with other nations, and the treatment of education by American lawmakers as a political football.

He doesn’t merely point out obvious problems, though. With the progressive South Korean education system as a model, he offers a blueprint of 33 specific recommendations for improving our schools. Hedges spent three years working directly with Korean teachers in their schools and has studied their education system continuously for many more years.

Just one startling comparison Hedges points out: Over one-third of American students never finish high school; over 93 percent of Korean students complete high school.

Bill Hedges

Hedges, 87, who spent the final 20 years of his academic career at UF until his retirement in 1991, puts his money where his mouth is. He and his wife, Robbie, have donated nearly $2 million to UF’s College of Education in a charitable remainder trust to support research to help marginal K-12 learners.

“Why Korean Education…” is published by Xlibris Corp., one of the pioneering print-on-demand, self-publishing companies, and is available on Amazon.com.

Earlier this year, Hedges published his autobiography titled “From Life in the Hamptons to a Life of Poverty in Arkansas,” also published by Xlibris.


: William D. Hedges, professor emeritus and supporter, UF College of Education, wmdhedges@yahoo.com

Larry Lansford, Director, COE News & Communications, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137


Wood chairing National Education Finance Conference

Craig Wood, a UF professor in higher education administration and co-director of the college’s Center for Education Finance, is chairing the 2012 National Education Finance Conference, set for May 2-4, 2012, in San Antonio, Tex.The national conference is being offered through UF’s Division of Continuing Education.

Wood is a leading scholar in the field of financing public education. He serves as executive director of the American Education Finance Association and as the executive editor of the Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy.