Ritzhaupt named editor of FJER

Albert Ritzhaupt, UF assistant professor in educational technology, has been named editor of the Florida Journal of Educational Research, the official publication of the Florida Educational Research Association. Ritzhaupt joined the College of Education faculty last year after teaching instructional technology at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.


PKY’s Santiago named state’s top Spanish Teacher

Grisell Santiago, head of P.K. Yonge’s Spanish department, was named 2011-12 Teacher of the Year by the Florida chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

Award winners are selected based on rapport with students, student achievement, involvement in study abroad programs, contributions to school or district language programs, and service to FAATSP and other professional organizations.

A native of Puerto Rico, Santiago has taught at P.K. Yonge for seven years and holds a master’s in Spanish literature from the University of Central Florida, where she taught prior to joining P.K. Yonge. Santiago teaches Spanish II and IV, AP Spanish Language and AP Spanish Literature. She also sponsors the Hispanic Honor Society and the International Club and serves as regional director for the Florida Foreign Language Association overseeing Alachua, Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy and Volusia counties.

Grisell has conducted teacher research and presented projects on grammar and reading strategies at the UF College of Education’s Teacher Inquiry Showcase. Her students have represented P.K. Yonge at the UCF SAGA Annual Colloquium and the Northeast Florida World Language Festival.


Ed tech’s Kumar shares outstanding e-learning paper award

Swapna Kumar

Co-authors Swapna Kumar, clinical assistant professor in educational technology, and Marilyn Ochoa, assistant head of the Education Library in UF’s Norman Hall, recently won the Outstanding E-Learn Paper Award from the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.

Kumar coordinates the online Ed.D program in educational technology and realized the need for library instruction for first-semester doctoral students. The paper outlined a needs assessment and their findings on how to better prepare online students to access and evaluate available research.

Ochoa accepted the award and presented their paper in October at the World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare and Higher Education in Hawaii. She has been a librarian at the Education Library since 2007.


Ed tech scholar named to EU panel on lifelong learning

Catherine Cavanaugh, UF associate professor of education technology, has been named to the International Advisory Panel for the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme multi-year project examining innovative ICT-enhanced learning initiatives, http://www.virtualschoolsandcolleges.info/


Fla. staff development group honors Asst. Dean Vernetson

The Florida Association for Staff Development recently presented its Distinguished Service Award to UF College of Education assistant dean for student affairs Theresa B. Vernetson for her dedicated service to high-quality professional development.

The FASD, which promotes and encourages the work of staff development contacts at the state’s various school districts, cited Vernetson’s work with pre-service teachers, numerous school districts and her service on many state Department of Education committees and teams, including her role in the most recent revisions to the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices.

Vernetson is a charter member of FASD and has served as the group’s president, treasurer and longtime member of the board. She is serving her last term on the board and will continue to work on the annual conference planning team.

Since 1981, Vernetson has held various positions within the College of Education, including director of extended services; director of professional development and communications; director of educational outreach and communications; and assistant dean for educational outreach and communications.

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College fetes engaged scholarship efforts of faculty, local educators

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

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

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

A list of the winners follows:

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

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

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

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

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

COE Faculty Award (School of Teaching and Learning)

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

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

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

Graduate Student Award

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

University Award

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

School District Award

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

Mendoza presents at Colombian university’s anniversary conference

Pilar Mendoza

Pilar Mendoza, UF professor of higher education administration, was one of three presenters at the international conference July 7 celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Center for Research and Development in Education at La Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

Mendoza is a member of the center’s International Advisory Board. She is teaching a four-credit seminar on educational leadership during July to K-16 administrators.

Learn more:


CIFE main site:

CIFE announcment of the conference:

Mendoza’s summer class:

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P.K. Yonge research head named school’s new director

(Listen to related WUFT-FM radio news report)

GAINESVILLE, FL — Lynda Hayes, director of research and outreach at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and an affiliated university school professor at the University of Florida’s College of Education, has been named the new director of the school.

Lynda Hayes

She will assume her new position July 1, according to UF education dean Catherine Emihovich, who announced Hayes’ appointment Monday (May 16). Hayes succeeds Fran Vandiver, who retired in April after 13 years as director. P.K. Yonge has served as the K-12 laboratory school of the College of Education since 1934.

Hayes is a Triple EduGator—earning her bachelor’s (1981) and master’s (1986) degrees in childhood education, and her doctorate (1992) in curriculum and instruction, all from UF’s College of Education.

She has worked at P.K. Yonge for 24 years in several teaching and administrative positions. A serious researcher herself, Hayes has garnered more than $35 million dollars in external funding in her career. She’s a recognized leader in Florida school reform, having worked with hundreds of schools and district leaders to implement research-proven teaching methods for aspiring and practicing teachers in public schools.

“P.K. Yonge is poised to make important contributions to the local, state and national conversation about improving K-12 public education for all students, with a progressive 21st century approach to personalized learning,” Hayes said. “Our success will depend on furthering our partnership efforts with faculty scholars in the College of Education and across the University of Florida, and continuing our relationship with the Florida Department of Education.”

Hayes has worked closely with UF education researchers on numerous cutting-edge projects and holds an affiliated faculty position with the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies. She said she hopes to heighten P.K. Yonge’s role at UF in broader impact programs and research efforts in the vital STEM fields–science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Hayes’ three-year appointment will begin July 1 and continue until June 30, 2014, when the next dean of the College of Education may exercise the right to reappoint her for an additional term. (Dean Emihovich is stepping down Aug. 14 and a national search is currently underway for her replacement.)

Hayes said she will continue to collaborate with college and UF administrators in developing a teacher evaluation system for P.K. Yonge that meets the requirements for federal Race to the Top funding and Florida Senate Bill 736 (creating a statewide teacher merit pay plan). She will work with interim school director Eileen Oliver as she prepares for her new responsibilities.

“We were fortunate to find someone with Lynda’s credentials and experience,” Emihovich said. “Given her long history with P.K. Yonge, she understands where the school must go next to realize the vision of being a premier developmental research school at a major research university.”


SOURCE: Lynda Hayes, newly appointed director, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, lhayes@pky.ufl.edu; (w) 352-392-1554, ext. 272

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

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Special ed researcher is first to receive provost’s junior faculty award


University of Florida special education researcher Joseph Gagnon recently became the first College of Education faculty member to receive the UF Provost’s Excellence Award for Assistant Professors.

The annual honor recognizes up and coming junior faculty members from several colleges across campus for excellence in research. The award comes with a $5,000 stipend that recipients can use to fund travel, equipment, graduate students and other research-related expenses.

Gagnon is garnering national attention for his innovative research linking youths with emotional-behavioral disorders and learning disabilities and the services provided in juvenile correctional facilities and psychiatric schools. His research has been published in top journals in the field including Exceptional Children, Journal of Special Education, and Journal of Child and Family Studies and he frequently presents and national at international conferences.

A UF education faculty member since 2007, he has garnered nearly $3 million in external research grants and has served as the principal Investigator or co-PI on five highly competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences and other prestigious organizations.

He has developed an impressive record of collaboration with UF faculty experts in law and medicine and holds an affiliated faculty appointment with the law school’s Center on Children and Families. He also serves as an expert consultant for several states’ juvenile justice systems under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice.

He received a College of Education Faculty Scholarship of Engagement Award in 2010 for his research on educational policies and programs for students in confinement. He also has published extensively on mathematics instruction for secondary students with emotional disorders and learning disabilities.

Gagnon has a doctorate in special education-behavior disorders from the University of Maryland at College Park.


SOURCE: Joseph Gagnon, assistant professor in special education, 352-273-4262; jgagnon@coe.ufl.edu
Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu





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Special ed prof Holly Lane named 2011 Outstanding Graduate Teacher

Having earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in special education from the University of Florida, it’s understandable how Holly Lane, an associate professor in special education, can relate so well with her UF students at any stage of their college experience.

Her commitment to her students also explains why she was selected as the 2011 Outstanding Graduate Teacher at the College of Education.

Holly Lane...Outstanding Graduate Teacher

“(Dr. Lane) demonstrates her commitment to excellence by devoting her time to working closely with junior scholars,” says recent doctoral graduate Ailee Montoya (PhD ’10, special education). She also commended Lane for “helping minority students succeed in higher education.”

Lane taught special education in public schools for eight years in three North Florida counties before joining UF’s education faculty in 1994. She combines her strong teaching commitment with a penchant for landing major research and leadership grants, often in support of doctoral students in special education.

She has received two leadership grants since 2008 from the U.S. Department of Education to fund 12 doctoral students in special education, and she developed two new doctoral seminars on reading intervention research and literacy teacher education. She also has contributed to the development of a new doctoral student orientation program and served as the faculty advisor for the doctoral student organization.

Some of her former doctoral students are now award-winning faculty members in their own right at top-tier education programs such as the universities of Washington, North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Virginia.

Lane also has secured grant support and developed a series of online courses for master’s and specialist students in education, mainly in the field of literacy intervention for students with disabilities.

Her research interests include the role of teacher knowledge in student reading achievement, video models of effective teaching, and the effects of tutoring on preparedness in teaching struggling readers. She has published a multitude of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and a book.

“Reading is a cornerstone for a child’s success in school and throughout life,” Lane explains about her chosen research specialty area.

She currently holds three large federal grants related to literacy intervention and teaching:

—  an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education for Project LITERACY: Literacy Intervention in Teacher Education for Reaching all Children and Youth;

—  she is co-principal investigator on a $1.5 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences for Project LIBERATE: Literacy Based on Evidence through Research for Adjudicated Teens to Excel;

—  and, she is the PI for a $1.2 million grant from the Office for Special Education Programs for Project RELATE: Research in Early Literacy and Teacher Education.


Source: Holly Lane, associate professor, special education, UF College of Education; 352-273-4273; hlane@ufl.edu

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

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UF taps Griffin for prestigious research foundation professorship

Cynthia Griffin

University of Florida special education professor Cynthia Griffin, recognized nationally for her research on teaching mathematics to students with disabilities, has been named a UF Research Foundation (UFRF) Professor for 2011-2014.

Griffin, a top-funded research professor in the College of Education, is one of 33 UF faculty scholars selected for the prestigious professorships. The UF Research Foundation awards the professorships annually to tenured faculty who have made recent contributions in research and have a strong research agenda 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.

“Dr. Griffin has risen to national prominence for her scholarly leadership in linking mathematics education and special education, and she brings prestige to our school and college,” said Jean Crockett, director of special education, school psychology and early childhood studies (SESPECS) at the College of Education.

Griffin is building an impressive track record for winning highly-competitive federal grant funding for her studies. She currently holds $2.3 million in research and doctoral training grants from the prestigious Institute for Education Sciences.

She received an $800,000 doctoral leadership training grant in 2008 from the U.S. Education Department’s office of special education programs to prepare four doctoral students in special education and math instruction. That same year, the College of Education awarded Griffin with a three-year, B.O. Smith Research Professorship to study how teachers’ content knowledge and classroom practices in mathematics influenced their students’ learning.

She and co-researchers last year received a $1.5 million grant from IES to develop and refine an online professional development program targeting practicing general and special-education elementary teachers who teach math to students with learning disabilities.

Griffin became a full-time UF education faculty member in 1990 and is the college’s associate director for research and graduate studies in SESPECS.

She is co-author of a text on inclusive instruction due to be published in 2012 by Guilford Press. Since 2006, Griffin has published 18 research articles in leading scholarly journals including the Journal of Educational Research, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Teacher Education and Special Education.


SOURCE: Cynthia Griffin, professor in special education, ccgriffin@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4265

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

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Jacobbe in math education named top undergraduate teacher

Mathematics education instructor Tim Jacobbe has been named the 2010-11 Undergraduate Teacher of the Year at the University of Florida’s College of Education, with a faculty selection panel citing his outstanding ability to help his students see the connection between research-based math concepts and their use in teaching practice.

Tim Jacobbe

“The list of ways Dr. Jacobbe and his course prepared me for the real world in elementary education goes on and on,” wrote one student in nominating Jacobbe, who is an assistant professor in the college’s School of Teaching and Learning. “This was a professor who knew what information, skills and support were truly the most important for educators to be successful in the classroom.”

The selection committee, chaired by science education professor Rose Pringle, also praised Jacobbe’s efforts in involving students in “Family Math Nights” at local, high-poverty elementary schools. The event brings together the schoolchildren and their families for an evening of fun math games and learning. Jacobbe also teaches a math methods class to the elementary students, which provides additional supervised teaching opportunities for his UF preservice students.

His work with local, high-need elementary schools in 2010 earned him the college’s Faculty Scholarship of Engagement Award for the School of Teaching and Learning.

“Dr. Jacobbe’s engaged scholarship activities not only support our future elementary math teachers but also benefit hundreds of schoolchildren from low-income families who are often marginalized in today’s education system,” said UF Education Dean Catherine Emihovich.

Jacobbe studies the impact of these efforts on preservice teachers and elementary student learning and disseminates his findings so other educators might benefit.

His research also addresses teachers’ preparation to teach statistics and the use of collective grading as a professional development experience. His interest in statistics education grew from his experience working as an assessment specialist at Educational Testing Service, where he was a primary test developer for the Advanced Placement statistics, SAT, GRE and Praxis programs.

“My research relates to exploring the most effective methods to impart changes in the way mathematics is taught, particularly at the elementary school level,” Jacobbe said.

He came to UF in 2008 from the University of Kentucky education faculty. He has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in mathematics education from Clemson University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Bowling Green State University.


SOURCE: Tim Jacobbe, assistant professor, math education, UF College of Education, 352-273-4232; jacobbe@coe.ufl.edu
Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu