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UF professor named editor of journal

Kakali Bhattacharya, professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education, has been chosen as the incoming editor of the journal Departures in Critical Qualitative Research. 

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Endowed professor raises the bar on teaching English language learners

Bilingual Ed. scholar Maria Coady fills a prestigious endowed Fien professorship that allows her to expand her landmark multilingual studies aimed at helping at-risk English language learners at rural high-poverty schools.

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UF is feeder to leadership posts for LGBT counselor groups

Faculty member John Super and two students in UF’s nationally ranked Counselor Education program have been elected officers of the Florida Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling (FALGBTIC).

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Gov. Scott appoints UF Higher Ed doctoral student

Gov. Scott has appointed John D. Hooker II, a UF doctoral student in Higher Education Administration, to the Higher Education Facilities Financing Authority of Florida.

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EduGators awarded editor posts at national journals

COE faculty scholars Albert Ritzhaupt and Cynthia Griffin have been awarded editorships of leading research journals in their respective disciplines. Alumna Melinda Leko (PhD ’08) also landed a editorship alongside Griffin, her former UF professor.

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Higher Ed assistant professor gets UF excellence award

UF has honored Justin Ortagus, a faculty researcher in Higher Ed Administration and Policy, with its 2018 Excellence Award for Assistant Professors. He also is the new director of the UF Institute of HIgher Education.

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AERA honors UF Special Ed professor for impactful research

Special Education professor Stephen W. Smith, one of the College’s most prolific researchers and federal grant generators, has been chosen to receive the Distinguished Researcher Award from the Special Education Research special interest group of the American Educational Research Association.

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Counselor Ed student shows early promise in the ‘right career path’

Montana Sewell, a third-year M.Ed/Ed.S. student in Counselor Education, has been chosen to receive the 2018 Outstanding Entry Level Student Award from Chi Sigma Iota (CSI), an international honor society for the counseling profession.

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UF scholar doubles up on national honors for advancing learning disabilities field

Prof. Mary Brownell is feted twice for leading reform efforts in Special Education teacher preparation.

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Counselor Ed. professor doubles up on national laurels

Shon D. Smith, clinical assistant professor in Counselor Education, has recently drawn national attention in his field for two major achievements involving separate divisions of the American Counseling Association (ACA).

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Learning disabilities group honors UF Special Ed grad

UF Special Education alumnus David Allsopp (MEd ’90, Specific Learning Disabilities; PhD, ’95, Special Education), has been named the Sam Kirk Educator of the Year by the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA).

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World’s largest education research group honors UF grad school dean

Henry “Hank” Frierson, associate vice president and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Florida with a faculty appointment at the College of Education, has received the Presidential Citation from the American Educational Research Association.

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COE doctoral student honored for ‘teaching tolerance’

Cody Miller and one of his ninth-grade English students.

Cody Miller and one of his ninth-grade English students.

Ninth-grade students at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School are starting the school year today in the classroom of a language arts teacher who has recently gained state and national attention for his effective instructional methods.

Cody Miller, 27, who is in his fourth year teaching ninth grade English language arts, reaches far and wide for inspiration to teach writing and literature to students — and it is paying off.

Miller was one of five U.S. educators honored for excellence by the Southern Poverty Law Center at a July ceremony in Montgomery, Alabama.  The center’s Teaching Tolerance project says it selects K-12 teachers who excel at reducing prejudice and supporting equitable experiences among students for the $2,500 biennial award.

Miller also was among a select group of Florida instructors ranked by Florida Department of Education for having the highest impact on the academic growth of their students during the past three years.

In addition to teaching high schoolers, Miller is pursuing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in English education from UF College of Education.

In an interview, Miller talked about his teaching philosophy and the methods he uses to engage students in literature and language arts.

“Helping students become both writers and readers and understanding that literacy and literature is a way for them to gain autonomy and power in society really drives my English language arts curriculum,” Miller says.

He credits Paulo Freire, an influential Brazilian educator and thinker, for being a big influence. Freire emphasized dialogue with students and concern for the oppressed.

Miller says students aren’t empty vessels, that education is a relationship between teacher and students as opposed to a “banking model” in which the educator makes deposits into the mind of the student.

Educator Rudine Sims Bishop, a professor of emeritus at Ohio State University, who pioneered what she called a “windows and mirrors” concept to children’s literature, also has influenced Miller.

“Students should be able to have literature and poetry and narratives that act as mirrors so they can see themselves and windows so they can see other people’s experiences,” Miller says.

He tries to set this foundation from the first day of class when students exchange personal letters with him about their learning experiences and later as they “co-create” the curriculum for the class.

In addition to classics such as “Romeo & Juliet,” Miller assigns texts like “If You Could Be Mine” by Sarah Farizan, an Iranian-American who writes about a teenage lesbian in Tehran, where homosexuality can be punished by death. Such books inevitably become a rich source of dialogue and study among students and often gives them the courage to tell their own stories in and out of the classroom, Miller says.

In a recent video about Miller, several of his teenage students were asked to describe him in one word. Among the responses: “woke” (meaning aware of injustices), “intelligent” and “decolonial.”

Miller co-sponsors the “De-colonizing Club,” a lunchtime discussion group open to all students to explore globalization and how colonialism and the dominant U.S. and Western culture has influenced their identities. He also leads school-wide professional development on creating inclusive spaces and curriculum for LGBTQ students.

After he completes his doctorate degree, expected in 2009, Miller wants transition to a career as a professor of English education. “I would eventually like to work with future teachers and think about how I can broaden my sphere of influence,” he says.

Source: Cody Miller, 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449

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COE alumna Stacy Ellis named new UF Baby Gator director

COE alum Stacy Ellis (right) succeeds retired director Pam Pallas as Baby Gator director.

COE alumna Stacy Ellis (right) succeeds newly retired Pam Pallas as UF Baby Gator director.

After conducting a national search, the University of Florida has named a College of Education alumna as the new director of Baby Gator Child Development and Research Centers at UF.

Deciding the best candidate was already on staff, the university appointed Stacy Ellis, formerly the associate director for organizational operations at Baby Gator. She is a 2008 education doctoral graduate in curriculum and instruction.

Her promotion became effective June 17. Ellis succeeded Pamela Pallas, who retired after 13 years as Baby Gator director. Pallas also was a clinical associate professor in early childhood studies at the College of Education.

With Pallas at the helm, Baby Gator went through a growth spurt that saw it blossom into a nationally recognized center. Baby Gator is known both for its innovative daycare services and its collaboration with UF faculty researchers in cutting-edge early childhood studies.

In 2010, Baby Gator became the hub of the research activities for the new UF Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, which last year was renamed after COE alumna and major donor Anita Zucker. Ellis replaces Pallas on the center’s leadership team.

Before receiving her doctorate in education, Ellis earned her master’s in family, youth and community services in 2002 and her bachelor’s in human resource development in 1999, all at UF.

Ellis originally joined Baby Gator in 2004 as a teacher in the two-year-olds class and then rejoined in 2008 after completing her graduate degree. She quickly moved up the ranks from teacher, assistant director of educational programming, associate director for organizational operations, and now director.

Ellis says her major focuses as she steps into the new role will be to increase salaries for Baby Gator teachers, introduce new research based practices, and build on Baby Gator’s long-standing relationship with the College of Education and the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood studies.

“We have a model demonstration program that is nationally recognized,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to expand on that and push Baby Gator towards innovation in the early childhood field.”

Pallas said that Ellis’ knowledge, experience and ideals, from both her College of Education theoretical background and her years of practical experience at Baby Gator, made her the top candidate for the position.

“I know she will help grow, achieve and maintain Baby Gator’s well-deserved recognition under her tenure as director,” Pallas said..

When Pallas arrived in 2003, Baby Gator was enrolling around 80 students and had only one location. Now, Ellis takes over a center that enrolls 333 children across their three centers and maintains a long waiting list.

Ellis will oversee Baby Gator’s continued growth as it strives for preeminence in the field and is working cooperatively with the Anita Zucker Center and community agencies to partner in unique ways.

Writer: Kelsie Ozanne, news and communications office, UF College of Education; kozanne@ufl.edu
Media Relations: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4173; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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Dissertation proposal on police in schools earns Noble UF fellowship

Kenneth Noble

Kenneth Noble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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School finance leader named 2016 Distinguished Alumnus

Henry Boekhoff

Henry Boekhoff

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

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

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

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

Humble beginnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life-long learner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Valerie Mendez-Farinas

Valerie Mendez-Fariñas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albert Ritzhaupt

Albert Ritzhaupt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Special ed. alumni cited for early research success

Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd

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

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

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

Elizabeth Bettini

Elizabeth Bettini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristy Moody, principal of Jamerson Elementary

Kristy Moody

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

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

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

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

For more see:

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International group recognizes UF professor as year’s outstanding science teacher educator

Rose Pringle2

International spotlight shines on Rose Pringle

University of Florida education scholar Rose Pringle has been recognized as one of the world’s top science teacher educators after receiving an international award as 2015 Outstanding Science Teacher Educator of the Year.

The Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE), an international professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in science teacher education worldwide, awarded Pringle its top honor at the group’s recent annual conference in Reno, Nev.

Along with the accolade, Pringle, an associate professor in science education at the UF College of Education, received a $500 stipend, plaque and a tribute in the awards issue of the Journal of Science Teacher Education.

Pringle, who has garnered more than $7 million in federal and state grants during her 15 years at UF to support her research of science teacher education, said the award validates her mantra that all teachers-in-training should also act as researchers.

“Increasing science achievement among all K-12 learners will only occur when science educators truly become engaged with and demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of the science of teaching,” Pringle said.

Her research includes the exploration of future teachers as science learners, the development of science-specific teaching methods for prospective and practicing teachers, and translating these practices into engaging science experiences for all learners. Pringle also is determined to increase the participation of minorities, especially girls of African descent, in science and mathematics.

Working with Lynda Hayes, director of UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, Pringle is a co-principal investigator on a $5 million grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation, designed to transform middle-school science education in Florida. The project, known as U-FUTuRES (University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science), involves creating cadres of highly trained science teacher leaders around the state who will educate and energize other teachers in their school districts with a new kind of science teaching.

The effort, started in 2011, so far has resulted in 35 Florida teachers earning advanced degrees in science education and currently applying their skills as highly trained Science Teacher Leaders in their own schools and districts.

The UF researchers have received a follow-up NSF grant to scale up the science education reform program for schools and districts throughout Florida and in other states.

“My goal is to have every student in Florida be engaged in science learning in ways that are meaningful and equitable for all learners,” Pringle said. “The College of Education is impacting and making a difference in science education throughout Florida and beyond.”

Jennifer Mesa, who was mentored by Pringle throughout her time as a doctoral student at UF, nominated Pringle for the award based on her dedication to helping other teachers improve the quality of science education.

“Dr. Pringle is a gentle soul, but a fierce teacher educator,” said Mesa, who now works as an assistant professor in education at the University of West Florida. “She will not let any teacher leave her presence without learning something new that can benefit student learning.”

Pringle, who has led the development of a new master’s degree and certificate program in science education at UF, is no stranger to professional accolades. Last year, she received three state and regional honors for excellence in teacher education or outstanding student mentoring – from the Florida Association of Teacher Educators, the Florida Education Fund and the Southeastern region of ASTE. She also is a two-time winner of the College of Education’s Teacher of the Year Award.

    SOURCE: Rose Pringle, UF College of Education; 352-273-4190
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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Associate Dean Adams honored for outstanding mentoring of minority PhD students

Dr. Thomasenia Adams, Associate Dean

Thomasenia Adams

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

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

The award comes with a $500 stipend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Dana

Nancy Dana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Leite and Collier win best paper award

Walter Leite

Walter Leite

Zachary Collier

Zachary Collier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Blue Wave volleyballers do it again — state champs

PK Yonge's state champion volleyball team.

Back row: Eric Marshall (assistant coach), Chad Davis (head coach), Jac’cara Walker, Sammy Mueller, Amanda Phegley, Gabby O’Connell, Kiki Sermons, Joe Deluca (assistant), Donald Guynn (assistant). Front row: Jaq Mueller, Makayla Brouillette, Cameron Childs, Jayda Teasley, Emmani Hill.


The news bears repeating.

P.K. Yonge’s girls volleyball team did it again. For the second year in a row the Blue Wave girls’ volleyball team won the Florida high school state championship.

The team capped off its sparkling season by sweeping Palmer Trinity in straight sets in the state Class 3A finals on Nov. 13 at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena in Orlando. See the story in the Gainesville Sun. It is the fourth state volleyball championship in Blue Wave history, and follows last year’s Class 4A win.

Displaying grit, dedication and sportsmanship, this Blue Wave team can stake its claim to being one of the best — if not the best — in school history. The Blue Wave’s only loss this season was to Jesuit of Portland, Oregon, in the finals of the Nike Tournament of Champions. The nationally ranked team has won 50 straight against Florida teams.

“There is no arguing how great this team was,” Head Coach Davis told The Gainesville Sun. “It is something I will always look back with pride on.”


The team was led by senior outside hitter Jac’cara Walker, who was recognized as the Class 3A Volleyball Player of the Year and the runner-up for all classes by the Florida Dairy Farmers.

In his third year as head coach, Davis won both the Class 3A and all-classes Coach of the Year awards.

What’s next?

Several Blue Wave players plan to play at the next level:

  • Walker has committed to play at Marshall University.
  • Senior Gabby O’Connell signed national letter for a full scholarship to the University of North Florida.
  • Senior Sammy Mueller signed with the University of Tampa.
  • Sophomore Amanda Phegley committed to Penn State.

P.K. Yonge is the UF College of Education’s developmental research school. Learn more.

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College of Education scholars named Global Fellows

Walter Leite Brian Reichow
Walter Leite Brian Reichow

Two College of Education scholars are among 10 University of Florida faculty members selected for a new program designed to enhance the university’s international research excellence.

Associate professors Walter Leite and Brian Reichow were recently named Global Fellows by UF’s International Center.

Each fellow will receive $4,000 for travel and expenses to collaborate with researchers abroad on an international research project. They also will work with a faculty mentor who will receive a $1,000 honoria to provide guidance and feedback, and participate in a series of workshops hosted by the Office for Global Research Engagement about working internationally.

The International Center created the Global Fellows program to increase the number of faculty who participate in global activities, promote faculty investigators’ international research and build a cohort of scholars to serve as campus leaders in international activities.

Leite’s specialty is working with extremely large data sets with lots of variables to find the evidence of whether educational programs are effective.

He is an associate professor in the college’s research and evaluation methodology program. A native of Brazil, Leite intends to use the Global Fellows resources to create a National Science Foundation grant proposal and collaborate with scholars at Brazil’s National Institute of Educational Research to create a method of analyzing student achievement data on samples from Brazil and the United States.

“My medium- to long-term goal is to engage in multiple projects with educational statisticians in Brazil that will involve research grants as well as exchange of scholars and doctoral students between the University of Florida and Brazilian universities,” Leite said.

Reichow, who joined the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies last year through UF’s state-backed preeminence initiative, has extensive experience on international projects. An associate professor of special education and early childhood studies, he serves as a technical advisor for the World Health Organization. He has worked with WHO colleagues around the world to develop guidelines and training materials to assist children with developmental disabilities and their families, with an emphasis on helping children and families in low-resource settings.

Reichow intends to use the support of the Global Fellows Program to expand his work at the WHO.

“The parent skills training program I have been developing with the WHO continues to expand. Recently, we began training across eight provinces in China,” said Reichow, “and, early next year, we are launching pilot trials in other countries across Africa and Asia.”


  • Writers: Charles Boisseau, News & Communications, 352-274-4449; and Linda Homewood, Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, 352-273-4284
  • Media Liasion: Larry Lansford, Director, News & Communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137



Pop some popcorn and ease into Sevan Terzian’s new book on American education in popular media

Sevan Terzian with his latest book, featuring several UF education alumni contributors

Sevan Terzian with his latest book, featuring several UF education alumni contributors

What iconic character types spring to mind when you think of your school days: Playground bully or rope-jumping queen? Jocks and cheerleaders? Freaks and geeks? Despotic principal? Inspirational teacher or professor?

Are your most vivid school memories totally of your own experiences, or might they be shaped—at least partly—by the powerful media images depicting school in literature, film, television and music?

Well, “make some popcorn, find your favorite chair, and ease into this delightful collection of essays that charts the historical evolution of popular portrayals of American schooling.”

That is the advice of Benjamin Justice, associate professor of education and history at Rutgers University, in his review of a newly published volume co-edited by Sevan G. Terzian, an associate professor and director of graduate studies in teaching and learning at the University of Florida College of Education. The book also features essays by several other UF-educated scholars.

In the book, “American Education in Popular Media: From the Blackboard to the Silver Screen,” co-editors Terzian and Patrick A. Ryan, a 2008 UF graduate in curriculum and instruction/English education and now an education professor at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., examine how popular media have represented schooling in the United States over the course of the 20th century.

So, what’s your favorite flick, TV show, or book depicting the schooling life? Dead Poet’s Society? To Sir With Love? Dangerous Minds? Beavis and Butthead? Rock and Roll High School? Glee? How about Catcher in the Rye or the Saturday Evening Post?

You’ll read about these and so many other familiar depictions in American Education in Popular Media. But the 217-page volume is more than a fun media stroll down School Days Memory Lane. The 10 essays collected and edited by Terzian and Ryan explore prevalent portrayals of students and professional educators while addressing contested purposes of schooling in American life.

But keep the popcorn close by. It’s a fun read.

Readers, beware, though. “This book will sneak up on you,” opines reviewer Donald Warren, professor emeritus in education history and policy at Indiana University. “The no-holds-barred historical examination of American education helps us remember and rethink—after all, we all went to school. And it exposes in provocative detail the durable imprint of media on the education of the public.”

“This book project originated from research seminars and collaborations with Ph.D. students in our School of Teaching & Learning whose interest in the educative dimensions of American popular culture continued to grow,” Terzian said. “They envisioned a thematically coherent volume of essays, and we are pleased with the result.”

Co-editors Terzian and Ryan also teamed up on the book’s opening essay on Popular Media Representations of American Schooling from the Past, and Ryan also wrote a chapter on The Sacrificial Image of the Teacher in Popular Media, 1945-59.

Three other essays were penned by UF doctoral graduates in curriculum and instruction, as follows:

  • Andrew L. Grunzke (PhD ’07, specializing in foundations of education), now an associate professor at Mercer University, writes on The Importance of Teaching Ernest: The Fool Goes Back to School in Television and Film Comedies in the Late Twentieth Century;
  • Bob Dahlgren (’08, social studies education in 2008), an associate professor of social studies education and chair of curriculum and instruction at the State University of New York at Fredonia, writes on Prosaic, Perfunctory Pedagogy: Representations of Social Studies Teachers and Teaching in 1970s and 1980s Movies;
  • Amy Martinelli (PhD ‘15, social foundations of education) writes on Fears on Film: Representations of Juvenile Delinquency in Educational Media in Mid-Twentieth Century America; she now is an adjunct lecturer in communication studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Other contributors include leading education scholars Kate Rousmaniere (Miami University of Ohio), Dan Perlstein (UC Berkeley) and Dan Clark (Indiana State University), and emerging education history scholars Heather Weaver (University of Sydney, Australia) and Michelle Morgan (Missouri State University).

American Education in Popular Media Is published by Palgrave Macmillan, a global academic publisher and part of Macmillan Science and Education, and can be purchased in hardcover or e-book on the publisher’s website.

   SOURCE: Sevan Terzian, UF College of Education; 352-273-4216; sterzian@coe.ufl.edu;
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, Director, COE News & Communications, UF College of Education;352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;



Welcome New Faculty Members

The College of Education welcomes eight new faculty members hired to start the current academic year, bringing with them fresh viewpoints and new expertise in the vital fields of counselor education, elementary education, higher education administration, literacy education, and school psychology. Below are mini-bios of each listing their “vitals” including prior degrees, work experience, research interests and other noteworthy factoids . . .




Shon Smith, assistant professor, counselor education (Ed.D., counselor education, Duquesne University)

  • Comes to UF from: Webster University’s Metropolitan campus in Orlando, and he previously taught at the Tampa, Sarasota and St. Petersburg campuses, where he was the college’s state director of counseling programs and an adjunct associate professor in counselor education since 2011.
  • Research interests: Multicultural counseling, clinical supervision, counseling education programming, leadership and advocacy within the counseling paradigm and working with military personnel and families.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Smith is past president of the Florida Counseling Association and chairs the American Counseling Association Southern Region. A veteran, he has been deployed to three continents as a combat medic.



Aki Murata, associate professor, elementary mathematics education (Ph.D., Northwestern University, learning sciences)

  • Comes to UF from: University of California-Berkeley, where she was assistant professor of elementary education.
  • Research interests: Elementary math education, teacher education, teacher professional development, cultural and social contexts in education, comparative education, qualitative research.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Murata has at least 10 published articles in Japanese and numerous others in English in top-tier education journals, and has given plenary talks in several countries.
Ortagus3 (web)



Justin C. Ortagus, assistant professor of higher education (Ph.D. Pennsylvania State Univ., higher education)

  • Comes to UF from: Pennsylvania State University, where he recently earned his Ph.D. in higher education with a cognate in business management and organization.
  • Research interests: Applying quantitative methods to examine the growing influence of online education and technology in higher education and other crucial issues facing colleges and universities.
  • Noteworthy: Ortagus Received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in educational leadership from UF.


Isaac McFarlin, assistant professor of higher education administration and economics (Ph.D. Northwestern University, economics)

  • Comes to UF from: University of Michigan, where he was an assistant research scientist with the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow.
  • Research interests: Community colleges; affirmative action; school facilities; school choice; labor market returns to postsecondary education.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. McFarlin is principal investigator on two Institute of Education Sciences research grants focusing on school facilities and community college tuition subsidies. His interests are salsa, adventure travel, and cycling.


Cliff Haynes, clinical assistant professor, student personnel in higher education /higher education administration (Ph.D., Higher Education Administration, University of Florida)

  • Comes to UF from: University of Florida, where he was a staff member in the Department of Housing and Residence Education for eight years.
  • Research interests: include living-learning programs, faculty engagement in out-of-class interactions with students, student activism, and the use of qualitative research in assessing student engagement and learning.
  • Noteworthy: As a UF Ph.D. student Dr. Haynes co-authored a research report in the International Journal of Doctoral Studies illuminating how female doctoral students can find balance and life satisfaction in the multiple roles they play.




Kathryn Ann Jacob Caprino, clinical assistant professor in literacy (Ph.D., Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, education (culture, curriculum and change)

  • Comes to UF from: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she recently completed her Ph.D. while serving as a graduate assistant, an iPad integration professional development facilitator and research assistant.
  • Research interests: Teacher education, English education, teaching of writing, children’s and young adult literature, student teaching supervision, rhetoric and composition, new literacies, digital literacy, critical literacy.
  • Noteworthy: Caprino is a reviewer for several publications in the field of English education.


Angela M. Kohnen, assistant professor in literacy (Ph.D., Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis, English education)

  • Comes to UF from: Missouri State University, where she was coordinator of English Education for undergraduate and graduate programs in the MSU English department.
  • Research interests: The teaching of writing, teacher professional development, disciplinary literacy.
  • Noteworthy: Kohnen co-authored a book, “Front-Page Science: Engaging teens in science literacy,” in 2012.




Joni D. Williams Splett, assistant professor in school psychology (Ph.D., University of Missouri, school psychology)

  • Comes to UF from: University of South Carolina, where she was a post-doctoral Research Fellow on USC’s School Mental Health Team.
  • Research interests: Universal behavior screening, multi-tiered systems of support, social-emotional interventions, and interdisciplinary training and collaboration in school mental health.
  • Noteworthy: Dr. Splett is a licensed psychologist and strong advocate for children’s mental health services, including serving as two-time co-chair of the South Carolina School Behavioral Health Conference.
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Doctoral candidate awarded KDPi scholarship for second straight year

Natalie Ridgewell

Natalie Ridgewell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Pemberton

Don Pemberton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UF Research Foundation recognizes education scholar with elite professorship

LEITE, Walter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

New staff developments in COE Development-Alumni Affairs

Brian Danforth and Xan Anderson ...  new look to COE development team

Brian Danforth and Xan Anderson … a new look to the COE development team

New staff developments are evident in Development and Alumni Affairs at the UF College of Education, starting with the promotion of Brian Danforth as the new director of the combined DAA and News and Communications offices.

Danforth, who served as COE associate director of development for the past two years, replaces Maria Gutierrez Martin, who accepted a position in July with the UF Foundation after four years as COE’s senior director of DAA-NC.

M. Alexandria (“Xan”) Minton Anderson has been hired to replace Danforth in the role of assistant director of development. She worked for the past year as assistant director of development for the office of annual giving at the UF Foundation.

“Xan (pronounced “Zan”)  brings us front-line and annual giving development experience, along with a great deal of energy, drive and passion for UF,” Danforth said. “I’m excited about her ability to strengthen and expand the relationships we have with our alumni and friends base.”

Anderson is a 2011 cum laude graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in food and resource economics. The Ft. Pierce, Fla., native also has a master of business administration degree from Rollins College, with concentrations in entrepreneurship, marketing and international business.

Anderson, whose mother, Misty Padrick Minton, is a 1981 science education graduate of the college, said she is “beyond excited” about her new job.

“The College of Education makes such a positive impact on our education system every day,” she said. “I am thrilled to work with such an incredible team and will give it everything I’ve got.”

Xan, a third-generation Gator, recently married Brian Anderson, who holds bachelor’s, master’s and juris doctor degrees from UF. She enjoys Gator football, baking, dancing, hunting, spending time with her family, and “anything on the water.”

Danforth is a South Carolina native with a strong background in college fundraising. He previously worked for three years as director of annual giving at Mars Hill College in North Carolina and four years in the same position at Texas Lutheran University in San Antonio. He later was named to the San Antonio Business Journal’s annual list of Top 40 Under 40 Rising Stars of San Antonio.

Danforth received his master’s degree in entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University in 2008 and has a bachelor’s in computer science from Mars Hill College.

He and his wife, La’Zendra, who is associate director of events in the UF Foundation’s alumni affairs office, have two boys, ages 3 and 2. Danforth says he enjoys playing drums, watching sports, spending time with his family and trying new restaurants.

“Brian has an excellent track record and he’s highly motivated,” COE Dean Glenn Good said. “He has his eye on the future and will continue building upon the solid foundation established by his predecessors.”

Brian Danforth, bdanforth@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4141

   Source: Xan Anderson, xanderson@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4144


Robin Rossie receives second Adviser of the Year award

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

Robin for web

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Rossie, it’s all in a day’s work.

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

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

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


Laughter, accolades highlight farewell party for Harry Daniels

More than 70 well-wishers packed the Norman Hall Terrace Room recently to say farewell to Harry Daniels, a popular counselor education professor whose engaging nature is rivaled only by his soft demeanor.

Daniels web1

Harry Daniels (center) enjoys a moment while being roasted during his retirement party held in the Terrace Room.

After devoting 49 years of his life to education – including 19 years as a teaching professor, department head and mentor to many doctoral students at the UF College of Education – Daniels is retiring.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to work with students that look to me for guidance and direction, Daniels said before Thursday’s party, where he was lovingly “roasted” by several colleagues. “Some of them have been brilliant, but I’ve always believed that I’d know when it’s time to retire. Now that I’m 71 years old, that time is here.

“Counselor education is an intense profession, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he added. “I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by great friends, a loving family and wonderful colleagues.”

Among those blessings is Paul Sindelar, who took a few jabs at Daniels’ golf game, recalling the different nicknames his longtime friend had earned during their Sunday outings at local courses.

“He was quite a slicer,” and more often than not, his ball would end up on the other side of a fence along the fairway,” Sindelar said as Daniels sat nearby, hiding his face in his hands. “We started calling him Chain Link.”

Daniels also bore the name “Hotel Harry Daniels” – a reference to the Doubletree Inn — after one of his shots ricocheted off two trees in a wooded area, where he apparently spent a great deal of time.

Aside from the ribbing, virtually everyone who spoke of Daniels described him as a man who has remained as dedicated to his family as he has his profession.

“Above all, he’s a devoted husband, a doting father and a completely enamored grandfather,” said Special Ed. Professor Holly Lane, referring to Diane, Daniels’ wife of 48 years; their two married daughters and a baby grandson.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northern Iowa, Daniels received his Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of Iowa in 1978. He taught history and other subjects in public schools for several years, and came to UF in 1996 to head the Counselor Education department.

After 11 years in that capacity, Daniels returned to the classroom, but went on to serve as the director of the COE’s School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

During his tenure as chair, UF’s Counselor Ed. program ranked among the top five programs nationally in its specialty every year in the U.S. News and World Report’s ‘s annual survey of America’s Best Graduate Schools. The program held the top spot in the 1997 rankings, and continues to receive high rankings.

But there’s no way Daniels’ unassuming nature allows him to take credit for the program’s success.

“I came in here with a great group of colleagues,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s about our program.”

Perhaps Counselor Ed. program director Ellen Amatea said it best in a written farewell message about the soft-spoken Daniels.

“Your good humor, patience and willingness to listen to us will be missed,” Amatea wrote. “Not only have you been a very inspiring and encouraging teacher and leader, you have been a staunch advocate for the counseling profession and for our counselor preparation program.

“Thank you for all you have contributed to our Counselor Education program,” she added. “We will miss you.”

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


‘Good’ news: UF leader listed among most influential education deans in U.S.

Four years into his job at the College of Education, Dean Glenn Good has been ranked No. 14 on a list of The 30 Most Influential Deans of Education in the United States by Mometrix Test Preparation, a Texas-based company that produces test preparation products worldwide.

College of Education Dean Glenn Good

The Mometrix rankings are based on a number of factors, including state and national awards and honors, education program rankings, individual degree program rankings and the level of pay received by each institution’s teacher alumni.

Good was recognized for his spotlight on research, where he has focused on gender issues in education, counseling interventions and psychosocial well-being. He is a fellow of four divisions of the American Psychological Association, with one of those divisions twice selecting him as Researcher of the Year.

Good also was named mentor and advisor of the year during his tenure at the University of Missouri, where he also received the university’s highest teaching honor.

Since his arrival at UF in 2011, the COE has made unprecedented leaps in the U.S. News and World Report’s national rankings of America’s Best Graduate Education Schools. The college is Florida’s top-ranked education school and ranks first among Southeast region public institutions. COE faculty researchers have generated more external grant funding than ever before, and Good has worked with faculty to gain substantial “UF Preeminence” funding allotted by the Florida Legislature for three priority research initiatives involving the College of Education.

The college last year also received a $5 million donation — the largest in its 109-year history — to name and endow the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies.

During Good’s tenure also has led AC Online to name UF as the No. 1 school in the U.S. for having the best online teaching degree, and StartClass to name the COE as having the sixth best early childhood education teaching degree.

More recently, Good was appointed to the blue-ribbon International Advisory Panel for the Emirates College for Advanced Education in Abu Dhabi. He also serves in elected leadership positions with three national organizations: Learning and Education Academic Research Network (LEARN); the institutional representative group of the American Educational Research Association; and the education college deans group of the elite American Association of Universities.

 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.

UF education students seize learning opportunities in Teach the World program

Sixteen UF education majors recently returned from Europe, where they took part in this year’s Teach the World study abroad program by spending two weeks at the prestigious Marymount International School in Paris, France.


UF Teach the World director Russell Robinson (left) and 16 Teach the World students say hello — Gator style — from Paris, France.

Teach the World is a joint venture between the UF College of Education and the university’s College of the Arts. More than 100 students have spent time in Europe since the program’s inception five years ago by UF music education Professor Russell Robinson and his wife, Brenda.

Russell Robinson, who has been a consultant and speaker for numerous international school conferences around the world, said the focus of the program – which alternates each year between Marymount and the Ambrit International School of Rome in Italy – is to provide student interns with cultural and educational experiences in English-speaking international school environments.

“Their experiences can be life-changing,” Robinson said. “Ambrit and Marymount are high-achieving schools for students in pre-K through eighth grade, and they both have about 500 students that represent over 30 countries.

“It’s been a privilege to see how quickly UF students grasp the many teaching opportunities that come with that kind of diversity,” he said. “The reviews of our interns by the teachers at the host schools have been extremely positive, and that’s helped to make Teach the World a highly selective study abroad program.”

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

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Collier receives McKnight Doctoral Fellowship

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


COE doctoral candidate Zachary Collier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Crystal Timmons

FATE president-elect Crystal Timmons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NSF fellowship is just the latest achievement for UFTeach alum Xavier Monroe

Monroe Xavier3Xavier J. Monroe, a 2013 UF graduate, belongs on a UFTeach student recruitment poster.

And that’s even before he was awarded a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship in STEM education and learning research recently from the National Science Foundation.

While Monroe was still a UF undergraduate double-majoring in civil engineering and history, and also minoring in African Studies, the College of Education in 2011 enrolled him in yet another degree program–its new UFTeach mathematics education minor.

For someone with Monroe’s drive, what’s one more degree program, right?

The UFTeach minor degree programs in math or science education together are one of the pillars of the college’s STEM education reform strategy. The goal of UFTeach is to enlist top science, technology, engineering and math majors and prepare them to teach effectively in one of those vital STEM disciplines at the middle or high school grade levels.

Monroe personifies what UFTeach is all about. After simultaneously earning all four UF degrees—the two majors and both minors, the east Gainesville native and former Florida Academic Scholar went on to obtain his master’s in educational leadership and policy a year later from the University of Michigan.

He’s now poised to start his second year of Ph.D. studies in educational policy at Stanford University, coinciding with his selection as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

After Monroe completes his doctorate, he said he’d like to become a college professor and conduct education research in areas such as school transformation, policies and practices that will improve student achievement, the role of family and community partnerships with public schools, and issues of equity and access in STEM education, particular for underrepresented minorities.

Monroe said he’s grateful for the impact that UFTeach has had on his education philosophy and career path.

Monroe poses with a group of kids he met in Kano, Nigeria, where he conducted research as a UF undergraduate.

Monroe poses with a group of kids he met in Kano, Nigeria, where he conducted research as a UF undergraduate.

“The level of training and guidance from UFTeach equipped me with tools to succeed in the classroom as a pre-service teacher and in my local community work as an after-school instructor,” Monroe said. “This was also the beginning of my transition to the education field.”

“Education requires a great sense of humility, passion and the ability to partner with families and communities to best meet the needs of students, particularly our most vulnerable students,” he added.

Monroe said he vividly remembers something that UF STEM education instructor Kent Crippen said one night in class: “Students do not need your sympathy, they need you to teach them in ways that help to address the issues they face.”

Monroe’s fellowship was one of only 16 awarded by NSF in STEM education and learning research. The fellowship will support his study of the influence of teachers relating teaching content to the cultural backgrounds of their students.

Associate professor Crippen said Xavier’s fellowship award “is a significant accomplishment for a UFTeach alumnus and demonstrates the scope and broader impact of the program.”

SOURCE: Xavier Monroe, monroexj@stanford.edu
SOURCE: Kent Crippen, UF College of Education; 352-273-4222; kcrippen@coe.ufl.edu
WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;



College gives research team ‘incentive’ to create better reading assessment tool

Corinne Huggins-Manley says it was a “total team effort” that led to her receiving a College of Education-funded grant to continue promising research aimed at developing an effective reading assessment tool that teachers can use to help students improve their reading ability.

CRIF team9

CRIF research grant team members Corinne Huggins-Manley (front), Amber Benedict (from left), David Miller and Mary Brownell.

She said researchers also could use the tool to advance reading theories and assist in measuring effects of teacher professional development

Huggins-Manley, an assistant professor of research and evaluation methodology, said the $39,900 awarded to her and three colleagues – David Miller (REM), Mary Brownell (special education) and Amber Benedict (special education) – through the COE’s College Research Incentive Fund (CRIF) will be used to pay for additional help from graduate students, participant incentives and honorariums for multiple field experts.

“CRIF is such a great program,” Huggins-Manley said. “The funds allow, in part, for some relief from teaching in order to dedicate the necessary time and effort to this research project.”

The annual award is based on the team’s proposal, “Development of a Diagnostic Assessment of Morphological Awareness,” which itself could morph into a software program that would take current reading proficiency tests that estimate overall reading levels to a diagnostic level by measuring which of five skills – derivation, decomposition and prefix, inflected ending and root comprehension – individual students possess.

“Our goal is to take the reading-level data that is used now and transform that into something more specific, more skills-focused,” Huggins-Manley said. “It’s an assist tool that will provide teachers with additional information about their students’ reading skills and researchers with the ability to study skill-level reading constructs.

“Our research has the potential to make a profound impact in the classroom,” she added. “Teachers will have the skill-level information they need to plan teaching strategies for individuals or groups of students. They’ll be able to implement empirically-driven approaches that can help them both address students’ needs and accentuate students’ strengths.

“It’s a total team effort all the way.”

   Source: Corinne Huggins-Manley, assistant professor of research and evaluation methodology; amanley@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4342
   Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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College honors five ‘outstanding’ students for 2014-15

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

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

Madison Buchert

Madison Buchert

Outstanding Undergraduate Student
Unified Elementary ProTeach
Madison Buchert

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

Shelby Boger

Shelby Boger

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

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

Julie Bokor

Julie Bokor

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

Natalie King

Natalie King

Outstanding Graduate Student
Natalie King

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

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’72 grad Renee Tipton Clift honored as 2015 UF Distinguished Alumna

Renee Clift

Renee Clift

The University of Florida has selected noted teacher education innovator Renee Tipton Clift, a 1972 graduate of the UF College of Education, to receive its 2015 UF Distinguished Alumni Award.

Clift, a professor and dean at the University of Arizona College of Education, will be recognized at UF’s commencement on May 1 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

She has been a highly influential figure throughout a stellar education career spanning four decades.

“Dr. Clift is noted not only for her innovation, renown and expertise in teacher education, but also for her capacity to build partnerships across educational institutions, policymakers and government agencies,” COE professor emerita Dorene Ross wrote in nominating Clift for the award. “This kind of leadership has direct impact on thousands of teachers and their students and demonstrates the highest levels of leadership.”

After receiving her bachelor’s in education from UF, Clift taught high school English for eight years in Florida. She went on to receive a master’s in educational administration from Stetson University and her Ph.D. in curriculum and teacher education from Stanford before launching her teacher education career at the University of Houston. She also has served on the University of Illinois education faculty, where she was the executive director of the Council on Teacher Education and headed the school’s Novice Teacher Project.

Clift has left her mark at every stop, where she studied or taught, and in her profession at large.

She’s known for her research investigating factors that affect the process of learning to teach—for pre-service teachers, professional development for practicing educators, and education leadership. Her current projects include Communities as Resources for Early Childhood Teacher Preparation (CREATE), a field-based, early childhood teacher prep program; making common core state standards for mathematics accessible to teachers; and an ongoing study that employs self-study methods to examine the impact a college dean can have on program development.

A prolific writer, Clift has co-authored two books, co-edited three others and has contributed 31 book chapters, including chapters in two of the most prestigious and influential books in teacher education–Handbook of Teacher Education and Studying Teacher Education: The AERA Consensus Panel. She has author and co-author citations for numerous journal articles.

“I’ve frequently relied on Dr. Clift’s published work to inform my own scholarship,” wrote UF teaching and learning professor Elizabeth Bondy. “Renee is able to write for multiple audiences, including university researchers, teacher educators, policymakers and classroom teachers. This special talent helps to explain the wide-ranging influence of her professional contributions.”

Not surprisingly, Clift has won numerous professional honors, including the Outstanding Research in English Education Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (twice, and the Hans Olsen Outstanding Teacher Educator Award from the Association of Teacher Educators.

She has held several leadership positions for the two most prominent professional teaching organizations–the Association of Teacher Educators and the American Educational Research Association.

Clift said her coursework and experiences during her bachelor’s studies at UF’s College of Education helped to shape her teaching philosophy and career path. She said her greatest takeaway was discovering that “I can always learn from my students because teaching is more about listening, discussing and interacting then about telling. I learned how to involve students in my classroom activities.”

As for advice to preservice teachers-in-training or novice teachers in their first years of teaching, she offers these words of wisdom: “Teachers are instructional organizers. It isn’t about you and what you do, it is about your students, how you engage them, and how your classroom allows them to learn and develop.”

CONTACT: Larry Lansford, News & Communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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

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

HUGGINS, Anne (Aug 2012)_2 2

Corinne Huggins-Manley

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

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

Albert Ritzhaupt

Albert Ritzhaupt

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

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

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

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

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

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


Next HDOSE director has priorities in mind for school

David Miller doesn’t plan to make immediate changes when he takes over as director of the COE’s School of Human Development and Organizational Studies, but the longtime COE professor of research and evaluation methods has a few priorities he’d like to set.

David Miller2

David Miller

“HDOSE has some great people, so I’d really like to see us increase the quantity and quality of our research productivity and scholarship,” said Miller, who in late May will replace retiring counselor education Professor Harry Daniels, who has served as school director since May of 2012.

Miller also would like to take on the ambitious if not daunting task of adding faculty.

“The number of our tenured tracks has fallen the past few years, partly through attrition but mainly because of budget cuts,” he said. “We’ve been doing more with less, so it wouldn’t hurt to look for ways to add quality people.”

Quality is an operative word for Miller, who embraces the university’s Preeminence initiative and in 2011 began serving as director of UF’s Quality Enhancement Plan, a requirement for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

As a QEP team member, Miller has been directing a campuswide initiative called “Learning Without Borders: Internationalizing the Gator Nation” that seeks to enhance the learning environment for undergraduate students by increasing awareness of the university’s global nature. The project calls for curricular enhancement, faculty training, a speaker program and a new international scholar program.

Miller looks to parlay that experience into his new role as director of HDOSE, which he describes as a “cohesive section of great faculty members” comprising several programs, including Counselor Education, Educational Leadership, Higher Education Administration, Student Personnel in Higher Education, Research and Evaluation Methodology and Educational Psychology.

“I see my position as being more administrative than academic,” Miller said. “I hope we can continue moving forward as a single unit.”

Miller also is director of the COE’s Collaborative Assessment and Program Evaluation Services (CAPE), which was established to support grant funding in the social sciences by providing expertise in evaluation, assessment and research design for scholars across the UF campus.

A UF education faculty member since 1998, he served for seven years as chairman of education psychology. His research interests include large-scale assessment and psychometrics (the science of measuring mental capacities and processes).

Miller has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in educational research and evaluation, and a bachelor’s degree in math and psychology, all from the University of California, Los Angeles.

David Miller, dmiller@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4306
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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

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

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

Gage was honored at the APBS International Conference in March.

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

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

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

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

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


International group recognizes COE professor as outstanding educator in addictions counseling


Kristina DePue

Kristina DePue, a COE assistant professor of counselor education, has been named the 2015 Outstanding Addictions and Offender Educator by the International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors.

COE Counselor Education Professor Harry Daniels told judges in a lengthy nomination letter that DePue has received very high instructor ratings from students who see her as approachable and knowledgeable.

“She incorporates unique, activity-based techniques into her classes,” Daniels wrote. “Counselor Ed faculty members [have] asked her to expand our addictions program and create more classes that could be woven together to form a certificate program in addictions counseling.”

DePue, who received undergraduate and master’s degrees at Vanderbilt University before earning a Ph.D. in counselor education at the University of Central Florida, said she was “truly humbled” to be recognized for doing what she loves.

“My passion for addictions research and teaching is undeniable,” she said. “The reality is that all counselors will work with addictions in their careers, and we all enter this field with a variety of personal and professional experiences. My job is to help students learn about themselves so they can truly be in a position to help others.”

DePue was honored at an IAAOC breakfast during a recently held American Counseling Association convention in Orlando.

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


Service for Thomas Oakland set for March 28

Thomas Oakland, Ph.D.

Thomas Oakland, Ph.D.

A Celebration of Life service for retired school psychology Professor Emeritus Thomas Oakland will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 28, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville. Everyone is welcome to attend and a reception will follow the service. The Oakland family has requested that guests dress comfortably and not wear black.

Dr. Oakland, an internationally renowned school psychologist, test developer, teacher, mentor and beloved humanitarian, died March 4 at his home in Gainesville. He was 75.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Dr. Thomas Oakland International School Psychology Fellowship at the University of Florida (www.uff.ufl.edu/appeals/Oakland). The fellowship was established to support international students in school psychology and U.S. students who have an interest in working internationally.

To view Dr. Oakland’s complete obituary and post online condolences, visithttp://bit.ly/1EN4n5g.