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;

     MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;

    WRITER: Nicole La Hoz, student intern, news & communications, UF College of Education,


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;

     WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;


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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;

WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;




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

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,; 352-273-4313

   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education;; 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

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,

Larry Lansford, Director, COE News & Communications,; 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.


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,


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,; (w) 352-392-1554, ext. 272

WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, COE News & Communications,; 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;
Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;





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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;

Writer: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;

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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,; 352-273-4265

WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education;; 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;
Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137;