Ed. Leadership student is perfect fit for Fla. Legislature as intern, now staffer

Michael Hudson-Vassell always liked puzzles.

Mikes-1Last summer, the UF College of Education doctoral candidate was awarded the chance to work with the Florida Legislature to solve puzzles of public policy.

Hudson-Vassell was the only summer intern selected for the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, the evaluation arm of the Florida Legislature.

They apparently liked his work: He since has been hired as a legislative policy analyst in the office.

“Getting the position was a great feeling,” he said. “I knew the opportunity to get out into the real world and put into practice the things I learned in the classroom would be useful.”

Accepting a full-time job in Tallahassee has not hindered Hudson-Vassell’s doctorate process. The alumni fellow will earn his Ph.D. at UF in educational leadership, with a concentration in research and evaluation methodology, upon the completion of his dissertation.

Fortunately, he is not required to make the long trip to-and-from campus because he has completed all necessary coursework.

Hudson-Vassell said legislative interns gain experience working side by side with office staff members.

Throughout the summer, he performed document citing and analyzed educational programs and policies from all different angles, including legislative, procedural and financial.

Hudson-Vassell said he never realized the complexity behind the legislature system and the process of forming public policy.

“There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes by folks who you never hear about, which makes it even more interesting that I’m one of those people,“ he said. Thanks to extensive statistical training at UF, he has no trouble understanding and speaking intelligently about statistical analysis.

“It’s a good feeling to know that essential parts of your job aren’t going over your head,” he said.

He attributes his success to his mentor, Linda Behar-Horenstein, a UF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, COE professor of educational administration and policy and an affiliate professor with the College of Dentistry.

“She’s been instrumental throughout this process, not only in helping me learn the research techniques but also in encouraging me to move forward,” he said.

In turn, he left a lasting impression on Behar-Horenstein as her research assistant. The two became close after collaborating on several projects and still work together, coordinating over the phone and computer.

“Michael is incredibly diligent, and you can count on him to handle detailed work well. Not only will he get it done, but he will get it done perfectly,” she said.

Hudson-Vassell received his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2009 and his masters in educational leadership in 2011, both from UF.

At age 27, he is unsure of exactly where his career will take him; however, he is interested in developing public, specifically educational, policy. He said his experience with the Florida Legislature is already helping him to fulfill that goal.

“Right now the job is the perfect fit,” he said. “I am hoping the research I do there will help our legislative system work as well it possibly can.”

   SOURCE: Michael Hudson-Vassell, Legislative Policy Analyst; mike1987@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


COE responds to tragic death of Professor Emeritus Thomas Oakland

Thomas Oakland, Professor Emeritus (1939-2015)

Dr. Thomas Oakland, Professor Emeritus (1939-2015)

(Thomas Oakland, a beloved and world-renowned professor of school psychology at the UF College of Education from 1995 until his retirement in 2010, was killed on Wednesday, March 4, when, Gainesville police allege, a local man set Dr. Oakland’s house on fire after killing and stealing money from him. Police have a suspect in custody. Dr. Oakland was 75. Below is the College’s public statement issued by Dean Glenn Good in response to Dr. Oakland’s death.)

“We are shocked and deeply saddened over the passing of Professor Emeritus Thomas Oakland. The circumstances surrounding his death only compound our grief. Dr. Oakland was an exemplary world-class scholar in the field of school psychology, and a dedicated teacher, researcher and mentor to his students during his 15 years as a College of Education faculty member. We will continue to be inspired by his extraordinary commitment to the college and his profession, his caring and love for his family, compassion for his students and graduates, and his grace and humor . . . Professor Oakland was an international scholar and touched so many people throughout the world. He continued to stay connected with his former students and colleagues at UF after he retired. We will miss Professor Oakland greatly and he will be missed by many people around the world.”

— Dr. Oakland’s family has said plans will be forthcoming for a local memorial celebration of Dr. Oakland’s life. The COE will post the time and place when announced.
— Visit http://bit.ly/1C2lrWS to read The Gainesville Sun coverage of Dr. Oakland’s death and the arrest of the man charged with his murder.
— Visit http://bit.ly/1BOJSp9 for a TV news report from WJXT-TV 4 News (Jacksonville). It’s a 2:30 minute report, and some 40 seconds into it begins a heartwarming profile of Dr. Oakland with a phone testimonial from his son, Chris, who describes his internationally acclaimed dad as “a father figure for the world.”

THOMAS OAKLAND, PhD: A Brief Profile

Dr. Oakland worked as a professor of school psychology at the UF College of Education from 1995 until his retirement in 2010, when he was conferred the distinction of professor emeritus. He was a preeminent scholar in his field of study both nationally and worldwide.

He received UF’s Senior Faculty Distinguished International Educator of the Year Award in 2004, the same year he was given the prestigious distinction of University of Florida Research Foundation Professor. His scholarly work in more than 45 countries centered on psychological and educational characteristics of children and youth, applied psychological assessment, cultural diversity, international issues and professionalism in the school and education psychology fields.

Oakland said the most important part of his work was helping children to succeed in their education. He provided educational and psychological testing in schools in many developing nations, including the Gaza Strip near Israel, Mexico, Central America and Brazil, where he was a Fulbright Scholar and helped form the country’s national association of school psychology. One project involved creating a 10-week program for school psychology graduate students from UF and other institutions to gain fluency in Spanish and knowledge of Latin culture and educational methods.

Other honors Oakland received include the 2006 College of Education Lifetime Achievement Award and the college’s 2007 award for doctoral student mentoring and dissertation advisement. Several foreign universities named him honorary professor or professor emeritus after his collaborations with those institutions.

As a professor and mentor, Oakland encouraged his students to take a global approach in their studies and life in general, saying, “I encourage my students to acquire a world view on issues and not to be restricted only to those currently in vogue in our country.”

Oakland held numerous leadership positions with national professional groups, including presidencies for the International Foundation for Children’s Education, the International School Psychology Association and the International Test Commission. He also received honors for distinguished contributions and lifetime achievements and service from those and other groups, including the Florida Association of School Psychologists.

He has authored or edited 12 books, 100 chapters, 200 articles, and developed several widely used psychological tests. Oakland was board certified in school psychology and neuropsychology and had an active forensic practice. He was a member of the Task Force that developed the ethics code of the American Psychological Association.

Prior to joining the UF faculty, Oakland was on the education psychology faculty at the University of Texas at Austin for 27 years. He had master’s and doctorate degrees in educational psychology from Indiana University.

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Kramer named co-director of Institute of Higher Education

The University of Florida College of Education has named assistant professor of higher education Dennis Kramer to the new position of co-director of its UF Institute of Higher Education (IHE)—an appointment college officials say “further strengthens the institute’s commitment to higher-education policy research and scholarship.”

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Dennis Kramer

Kramer, an emerging scholar in state higher-education policy evaluation and economics, had worked as the institute’s associate director since he joined the UF faculty last August. In his expanded role, he will steer the institute’s research agenda and partnerships with Florida postsecondary institutions, and oversee externally funded research collaborations, and legislative and policy research projects.

Longtime IHE director Dale Campbell will remain as the other co-director, heading the institute’s strategic initiatives involving community college leadership development and support of best practices through the annual meeting of the Community College Futures Assembly, a national consortium of community college leaders founded by Campbell. He also will continue to coordinate UF’s higher education administration doctoral programs, which are recognized nationally as a leader in two-year and four-year postsecondary policy development and administration.

“I am extremely pleased that Dr. Kramer will be joining me to further strengthen the Institute of Higher Education’s role as the premier thought leader in the state and nation on critical issues in higher education policy and practice,” Campbell said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge in the area of intersecting public policy development with institutional decision-making.”

Kramer joined the UF faculty after receiving his doctorate in higher education economics and policy evaluation from the University of Georgia. He previously held a faculty appointment at the University of Virginia and also worked for three years as the senior research and policy analyst with the Georgia Department of Education, where he managed Georgia’s education policy development and evaluation research.

His research focuses on the economics of higher education, the evaluation of federal and state policy adoption, and the impact of state decisions on community colleges and four-year institutions. He specializes in advanced quantitative research methods for studying education-related policy questions and program evaluation. He has authored a number of scholarly articles on the economics of higher education, the role of financing of intercollegiate athletics, and the impact if financial aid policies on student decision-making.

Kramer cited the IHE’s longstanding reputation as an innovator and trend-setter in higher education administration as key to his joining the UF faculty. The late James Wattenbarger, UF professor emeritus and founding director of the IHE, is widely recognized as the “father of Florida’s community college system,” while Campbell has served as director for many years and steered the formation of the Futures Assembly consortium of state community college leaders and its national Bellwethers Awards program. UF’s higher education administration academic program is one of the inaugural Kellogg Foundation-funded Community College Leadership Programs.

“It is truly an honor to carry on the legacy of leadership established by Dr. Wattenbarger and furthered by Dr. Campbell, serving both the state and nation,” Kramer said. “Working with Dr. Campbell, we will continue to enhance the institute’s scholarly productivity by connecting our research with national postsecondary policy interests and local institutional needs.

   SOURCE: Dennis Kramer, Ph.D.; 352-273-4315; dkramer@coe.ufl.edu
   SOURCE; Dale Campbell, Ph.D.; 352-273-4300; dfc@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu



Undergraduate Teacher of Year is model for aspiring teachers

Put simply, Kristen Apraiz – recently named the COE’s Undergraduate Teacher of the Year — makes lasting impressions in the classroom.

Kristen Apraiz10 (cropped)“After completing seven semesters at the University of Florida, [Dr. Apraiz] is one of the best professors I’ve ever had,” senior Paulette Santa-Parzons wrote in one of several nomination letters that helped determine the winner. “She practices what she teaches. The activities she presents in class are engaging, thought-provoking and applicable to our future classrooms.”

Apraiz, who taught for two years as a COE graduate student before earning her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction last year, now serves as a clinical assistant professor and teaches mathematics education in the Unified Elementary ProTeach program.

Prior to that, the Cape Coral, Fla., native spent seven years teaching math at charter and public schools in Florida, and her athletic ability came in handy when she coached varsity swimming for four years at New Smyrna Beach High School.

Apraiz is now eligible for this year’s University Undergraduate Teacher of the Year Award, but that’s not something the married mother of a 14-month-old daughter has time to think about.

“I love my job already, so being recognized by my students is icing on the cake,” said Apraiz, who earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Florida State University. “As a teacher, you never know where you stand with your students, but those letters – they were so honest, so sincere. They just overwhelmed me.”

Apparently the feeling is mutual.

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2015 Undergraduate Teacher of the Year Kristen Apraiz (lefrt) works with elementary ed. student Taylor Goyette on a lesson in teaching math in an inclusive elementary classroom.

“Dr. Apraiz was constantly offering us specific support and praise when we shared our thoughts or answers,” wrote Briana Shustari, who had Apraiz for two undergraduate ProTeach courses. “This showed us the importance of treating our future students with this same encouragement and kindness, [and] it motivated us to continue to put in our best effort and made us feel that our contributions were of value.”

Apraiz says it’s important that she knows who her students are, not just as education majors, but as young adults who have lives outside the classroom.

“It just seems natural to me,” said Apraiz, whose teaching origins go back to early childhood when she would teach her stuffed animals how to add and subtract. “I mean, we’re all going to be in the same room for a semester. Why wouldn’t I want to know who they are?”

No arguments there, either.

“She takes the time to ask us how we are doing in our other classes and within our practicum,” pre-service student Raina Weismantel wrote in her nomination. “Anyone who has had Dr. Apraiz for a professor knows that you are always welcome to visit her during her office hours for not only math help, but for emotional support as well.”

Put simply, it all adds up for a math education professor whose students make lasting impressions as well.


Special ed. colleagues share national honor for teacher education achievements

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) honored University of Florida special education professors Mary Brownell and Paul Sindelar with its 2015 David G. Imig Award for distinguished achievement in teacher education on March 1 at the group’s annual meeting in Atlanta.

Paul Sindelar

Brownell and Sindelar were cited for making significant, lasting contributions to educator development and teacher education policy and research, both individually and working together. The Imig Award is named for the AACTE president emeritus.

In 2013, following decades of successful collaborations on several national projects studying and supporting special education teachers, Brownell and Sindelar co-founded the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center. Erica McCray in UF special education also is a co-investigator.

The groundbreaking center, based at UF’s College of Education and funded through an unprecedented five-year, $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, is helping multiple states strengthen their standards and methods for preparing, licensing and evaluating their teachers and school leaders who serve students with disabilities.

BROWNELL, Mary (2-2015)

Mary Brownell

AACTE is one of several national organizations and advocacy groups in special education and teacher preparation partnering on the CEEDAR Center project.

“Mary and Paul’s impressive contributions to research and leadership in special education teacher quality have influenced teacher education policies and practices, and doctoral scholarship, nationally and globally,” said Jean Crockett, professor and director of the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies. “What is especially impressive is their deep engagement with the cultivation of the next generation of teacher educators and researchers.”

Past collaborations for the two colleagues include co-directing two other federally funded national centers at UF—the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development (NCIPP) and the Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education (COPPSE). They also have worked together advising congressional education committees on proposed bills concerning the preparation and assessment of special education teachers.

   SOURCE: Mary Brownell, professor of special education, UF College of Education; 352-273-273-4261; mbrownell@coe.ufl.edu;
   SOURCE: Paul Sindelar, professor of special education, UF College of Education; 352-273-273-4266; mbrownell@coe.ufl.edu;
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, news and communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;



Art Sandeen, student affairs icon, publishes eighth book

Arthur “Art” Sandeen’s 26 years as head of University of Florida student affairs and 14 years as a College of Education professor translate well into writing.

Art SandeenSandeen recently published his eighth book, “Making Change Happen in Student Affairs,” to share valuable advice with university administrators all over the country. The 240-page book focuses on ways student affairs administrators can best cater to today’s generation of college students.

He co-wrote the book with Margaret Barr and George McClellan, the former heads of student affairs at Northwestern and Indiana University, respectively.

According to Sandeen, student affairs leaders must learn to adapt to changing environments and increased expectations from the public and their own institutions. One of the biggest issues lies in how university student affairs will adjust to the increase in residential and face-to-face campuses moving online.

His book advises student affairs leaders to strive for self-sufficiency, achieving initiatives through their own inventiveness rather than depending solely on their institutions for money and other resources.

Sandeen, served as vice president for student affairs at UF from 1973 to 1999, when he became a professor of higher education administration at the College of Education. He has “retired” three times but continues to teach part-time in the higher education administration program. He previously was dean of students at Iowa State University. In 2014, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators honored Sandeen with its Distinguished Pillar Award for his longtime service to students and university communities. He also has published more than 50 journal articles and 21 book chapters.

Although not exclusively about the University of Florida, Sandeen said many of the ideas in his latest book were influenced by his work in UF student affairs and teaching at the College of Education.

“My experiences at this institution have shaped, and continue to shape, my idea of what student affairs should be now and in the future,” he said.

His latest book, published by Jossey Bass, is available online at google, amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online book retailers.

   SOURCE: Arthur Sandeen, Professor, UF College of Education; sandeen@ufl.edu
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu


Education Week — P.K. Yonge School shines in UF lab school role

Education Week
P.K. Yonge School
While many university-affiliated, K-12 laboratory schools are turning into private schools or closing their doors due to budget constraints and reorganization, a story in Education Week profiles P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School at the University of Florida as a shining example of a school that lives up to the original vision of the American laboratory school–where teachers and university researchers actively collaborate to “develop and spread instructional innovation.” P.K. Yonge director Linda Hayes is quoted extensively.


WUFT-TV — Dean Good interviewed re: Norman Hall renovation funding

UF College of Education seeks renovation funding for historic Norman Hall
WUFT-TV interviewed COE Dean Glenn Good for a 98-second story about the apparent support COE officials have received from the Florida Board of Governors to seek funding for much needed repairs and restorations to Norman Hall.


Huffington Post — Why some Florida school principals still spank students

Huffington Post
Why some school principals in Florida still spank students
The Huffington Post posted a story quoting UF special education professor Joe Gagnon and other sources about the ineffectiveness and counter-productivity of using corporal punishment on students. The story is based on Gagnon’s research with UF professor Brianna Kennedy-Lewis, and was developed into a news release distributed nationally by the COE and UF news and communications offices.


Diverse practitioners headline Education Career Night April 8

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Four College of Education alumni will offer career advice that extends well beyond teaching during the college’s annual Education Career Night set for April 8 at the Reitz Union Auditorium.

The event is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is open to all.

Panel CollageThis year’s four-member panel will share wisdom they each have gathered along four distinctly different career paths. Panel members include Tina Calderone, school board member at Seminole County Public Schools, Jayne Ellspermann, principal of Ocala’s West Port High School, Steve Freedman, executive director of the Institute for Child Health Policy of the State University System of Florida, and Skip Marshall, vice president and CTO of Tribridge, a technology services firm.

Calderone, who received her Ed.D in educational leadership in 1999, was elected to the Seminole County School Board in 2010 and served as board chairman in 2011-2012. She has established a diverse and successful career that includes education, marketing, sales, public relations, fundraising and training. Previously, she worked as a college administrator at Stetson University and the University of Florida, and an adjunct instructor at both Seminole State College and the University of Central Florida.

Ellspermann received her M.Ed. in educational administration and supervision in 1983. Recently, the National Association of Secondary School Principals recognized her as Principal of the Year. During her 11 years as principal of West Port High, she changed the school’s entire philosophy by spearheading a college-going culture personalized for students. Under her leadership, course failure has nearly disappeared, the graduation rate has jumped 15 points and participation in activities has increased seven-fold to nearly 70 percent.

Freedman earned his BAE‘ 95 and MAE‘97 in education, and went on to receive his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1983. When he’s not working as an executive director, he doubles as a USF professor of pediatrics, political science and public health. Previously, he was a professor of child health policy at the University of Florida for over 20 years. His lifetime achievements warrant his distinction as one of a handful of non-physicians elected to fellowship in the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Marshall earned everything at UF from his BAE’ 95 in education to his MBA ’09 in business management at UF. He can be considered as the brains behind many online learning operations. He specializes in instructional design theory, integrative content design, learning program solutions and learning systems integration. He is a former faculty member at the University of South Florida and a teaching and technology fellow at the University of Florida.

Following the panel discussion, UF’s award-winning Career Resource Center is hosting “Careers in Education” Career Fair in the Reitz Union Ballroom from 5 to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit: https://education.ufl.edu/alumni/career-night/.

   SOURCE: Jodi Mount, Associate Director of Alumni Relations & Events, UF College of Education; jmount@coe.ufl.edu 
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu


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Social studies ed. graduate named district’s top teacher

David Fields, a 2008 M.Ed. graduate in social studies education, has been named the Clay County (Fla.) School District’s Teacher of the Year.

Fields has been teaching advanced placement U.S. history and American government at Orange Park High School for the past seven years, and also designed a sports history course that requires students to research the history of a pro franchise or college team.

“I learned that being passionate about my profession helps to get students to buy into the subjects I teach,” Fields said. “Sometimes I think it’s crazy that I get paid to work every day and talk about subjects that I’m so interested in – whether it’s Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement or how instrumental he was in saving football from extinction in the early 1900s.

“The Secondary ProTeach program at UF gave me the tools to enter my classroom on Day 1 as a consummate professional,” he added. “I need to adapt to new technology and content so I can meet the needs of students in the 21st century.”

David Fields2

Students from Clay County (Fla.) Teacher of the year David Fields’ advanced placement U.S. History class show their support during a recent ceremony held at Orange Park High School.

Fields’ former social studies education professor, Elizabeth Washington, said she wasn’t surprised to learn of Fields’ selection as Teacher of the Year.

“Dave was very committed to making his lessons culturally relevant and engaging,” Washington said. “He was always

very passionate during classroom discussions — always willing to think through challenging issues and make thoughtful contributions.”

Fields, who also earned bachelor’s degrees in history and political science with a minor in secondary education at UF, will go on to compete to become Florida’s Teacher of the Year.

Clay Today, a weekly newspaper in Clay County, ran a recent article on his latest honor.


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Life’s a balancing act for COE student and former Gator All-America gymnast

Life's a balancing act banner

Just as she maintained perfect equipoise on the balance beam during a stellar career as a Florida Gator gymnast, UF elementary education master’s student Mackenzie Caquatto has remained centered as an athlete, big sister, teaching intern and role model.

“Growing up, my parents always made sure that school came first,“ said Caquatto, a five-time collegiate All-American. “But being a college athlete has also taught me good time-management skills. I’ve done a lot of homework on airplanes, and I’ve had a lot of late-night study sessions — but I always get my work done.”

Last semester was particularly challenging for the aspiring special education teacher who helped lead the 2014 Gator gymnasts to their second straight national championship. While “Macko,” as her teammates called her, spent most of the fall semester teaching a fifth-grade class at Alachua Elementary School near Gainesville, she also attended four ProTeach classes and served as a student coach on the gymnastics team.

Caquatto was a volunteer tutor last year at a summer camp for children with reading disabilities.

Mackenzie Caquatto was a volunteer tutor last year at a summer camp for children with reading disabilities.

She also was a volunteer tutor for children with reading disabilities at a four-week summer camp last year, further demonstrating her resolve.

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was 5 years old, so I’ve been willing to do whatever it takes to get there,” Caquatto said. “But it doesn’t really feel like I’m sacrificing anything because I love what I do.”

The 5-foot-1 superstar from Naperville, Ill., expects to graduate with her M.Ed. degree in December and is thinking about ways to balance her considerable athletic talent with a teaching career.

“Being a student coach has led me to think about coaching at the college level,” she said. “But I also think about coaching younger athletes. I love working with kids of all ages, whether it’s 6-year-olds or 20-year-olds.”

Caquatto said she recently experienced the vicarious thrills that come with coaching when she witnessed her younger sister, Bridgette, a junior All-American gymnast for the Gators, score a 9.95 to share the uneven bars title during a season opening win against Ball State. Bridgette also won the floor exercise title for the first time in her career with a 9.925.

“We’ve been supportive of each other all our lives, and sometimes it’s tough to watch each other compete,” Mackenzie said. “Sometimes we just have to look the other way or hide behind someone, but I managed to watch ‘Bridgey’ nail two of her routines against Ball State. I couldn’t have been any happier for her.”

Call it balanced reciprocity, but the bar on the uneven bars already had been set for Bridgette, who witnessed Mackenzie score a perfect 10 in that event last season – something only six others Gators have done.

Mackenzie said her sister was in tears after seeing the scoreboard.

“I’m sure I’ll do the same thing when she gets a 10,” big sister said.

The mutual support spills over into academics.

“I was always better at English and social studies, and Bridgey excelled in math and science,” Mackenzie said. “She’s always been very disciplined when it comes to studying and academics, so she makes a great study buddy during midterms and finals.”

Mackenzie also says that being in the ProTeach program has prepared her for the “real life” experiences she expects to encounter in her teaching career.

“I remember the first time I presented lessons in front of 20 children,” she said. “It was nerve-wracking, but not because it was difficult or I was scared of the kids. I just wondered if they’d understand.

“The whole point of a lesson is for all the students to understand the concept you’re presenting, and you have to keep in mind the way each student learns and have a back-up plan if they don’t understand. It feels like winning a competition when it works, but if it doesn’t, well then it’s kind of like going back to practice and fixing whatever went wrong and making it better.

“But now that I’ve got more experience creating lesson plans and using different teaching methods, I feel ready to handle my own classroom,” Caquatto said with typical confidence. “I feel like I’m better prepared for becoming a winner in the classroom.”

Chances are she’ll score a perfect 10 there, too.

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


Professor emerita of counselor ed. named ACA Fellow

The world’s largest nonprofit organization representing professional counselors has awarded College of Education professor emerita Mary Ann Clark with one of its highest honors.

Mary Ann Clark1Clark, a full-time UF faculty member in counselor education from 2000-2014, will be inducted as an American Counseling Association Fellow on March 14 at the organization’s annual conference in Orlando.

The prestigious distinction is given to those who make significant contributions to the counseling field through teaching and training, professional practice, scientific achievement and governance.

Jacqueline Swank, a colleague in counselor education, nominated Clark for the award.

“She has shown an unwavering commitment to the counseling profession for nearly 40 years, demonstrating excellence in all areas possible,” she said.

Clark received her Ph.D. in counselor education from UF in 1998. Just two years later, she returned to the college as a faculty member.

With more than 100 publications and professional presentations, Clark receives national and international recognition for her scholarly endeavors. Her research agenda focuses on gender differences in cross cultural educational achievement and social development.

At UF, Clark was named the Graduate Faculty Teacher of the Year in 2008 and the B.O. Smith Endowed Professor Research Professor for 2006-2008.

Clark still teaches at the college on a phased retirement schedule, working full-time in the fall, but on leave during the spring semester.

   SOURCE: Mary Ann Clark, Professor Emerita of Counselor ed., UF College of Education; maclark@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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UF scholars program taps 7 ProTeach students, 3 faculty mentors


Gisselle Morrobel (l-r), Lauren Harris and Amy Strong.

Seven COE ProTeach undergraduates have been named UF Anderson Scholars for their outstanding academic performances, and three faculty members have been recognized for mentoring several of the honored students.

Anderson Scholar certificates are given campuswide by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to students who have earned cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.90 (with distinction); 3.95 (with higher distinction); and 4.0 (with highest distinction) during their first two years at UF.

This year’s Anderson Scholars from the COE are Elizabeth Bee, Marissa Elordi, Lauren Harris, Olivia Montero, Gisselle Morrobel, Amy Strong and Mallory Wood.

COE faculty honorees are Mary Ann Nelson, special education lecturer; clinical assistant professor Caitlin Gallingane; and Ashley MacSuga-Gage, visiting assistant professor of special education.

All seven students are majoring in elementary education, and two of them – Montero and Morrobel – received Anderson Scholar certificates With Highest Distinction.


Olivia Montero and Elizabeth Bee.

“Being an Anderson Scholar means never losing sight of the goal of your hard work,” Montero said. “It means having people to support you and your studies to reach your goal. I couldn’t have done any of this without the encouragement and prayers of my family, fiancé, and friends.”

Morrobel couldn’t agree more.

“It’s an honor and a symbol of perseverance and dedication in pursuing my dreams,” she said.

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

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

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


Faculty mentors honored were Mary Ann Nelson (l-r), Ashley MacSuga-Gage and Caitlin Gallingane.

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Marissa Elordi


Mallory Wood

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

Amber Benedict1

Amber Benedict

College of Education alumna Amber Benedict (PhD ‘14,
special education) will head for San Diego this spring to receive the prestigious Student Research Award for Qualitative Design from the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division for Research.

The council is the world’s largest organization of special education professionals and educators.

Benedict, who has been serving as a post-doctoral associate in special education for the COE and its Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR Center) since earning her doctorate last August, is the fourth student of COE doctoral faculty adviser Mary Brownell to receive the award in the past six years. Previous recipients and their current institutions were Melinda Leko (University of Kansas), Mary Theresa Kiely (St. Johns University), and Alexandra Lauterbach (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

“It’s no accident that Dr. Brownell’s students repeatedly win this award,” Benedict said. “She works tirelessly to ensure that multiple grants operate concurrently, and she has modeled for us relentlessly while pursuing funding and support for large-scale research and technical assistance.”

“Her positive leadership has altered my life’s trajectory,” Benedict added. “Because of her high expectations, I’ve developed the knowledge and skills to be a strong teacher educator. And now I’m carving out a path for myself as a special education researcher.”

Benedict’s award is based on her dissertation, Learning Together: Teachers’ Evolving Understandings During Ongoing Collaborative Professional Development, and will be presented during the CEC’s national conference in April.

“I want to focus on ensuring that students with learning disabilities and other struggling learners have access to high-quality instruction,” Benedict said. “One way to do that is to demonstrate that teachers’ professional learning opportunities can increase student achievement in the area of literacy.”

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


Business school taps science ed. professor as Entrepreneurship Fellow

Griff Jones1

Griff Jones, clinical associate professor of science education

Griff Jones, a clinical associate professor of science education at the University of Florida College of Education, has been selected as an Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow by the UF Warrington College of Business Administration’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Jones, who serves as director and principal investigator for the Florida STEM Teacher Induction and Professional Support (STEM TIPS) initiative, received the honor based on his proposal to expand the scope of STEM TIPS, which he began developing two years ago after receiving a $2.3 million grant from the Florida Department of Education.

The innovative program addresses the challenges of retaining beginning math and science teachers in grades 6-12 through use of an online, mobile-ready coaching and professional development platform. Implementation and field-testing is under way in several Florida school districts, including Duval, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, as well as 15 districts comprising the Northeast Florida Educational Consortium.

Funding for the initial platform has run out, but as an Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow, Jones will be able to continue its development by adding a viable, self-sustaining business plan created through a subscription-based model to ensure sustainability and continuous improvement of the STEM TIPS program.

“I’d like to expand the scale of our model to assist institutions and organizations across the nation in their efforts to prepare highly qualified and passionate STEM teachers for K-12 schools,” Jones said. “And I’d like to provide ongoing support to new teachers that will enhance their professional development and keep them in the classroom.”

Jones received his Ph.D. and M.Ed. degrees in science education from UF after earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Florida Southern College. He taught science at P.K. Yonge, UF’s K-12 developmental research school in Gainesville, for 20 years before becoming a full-time COE faculty member in 2007.

Jones specializes in designing effective, inquiry-based interdisciplinary science programs, and has authored several highly successful and nationally disseminated science textbooks, curriculum guides, online-course materials and science lab teaching materials.

He has collaborated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to develop several award-winning educational films focusing on STEM applications in analyzing car crashes that are used by thousands of teachers throughout the U.S. He also has received statewide and national recognition for his efforts as a K-adult science educator, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching awarded by the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.


Higher ed. alumna joins college administration in Jamaica

UF higher education administration alumna Zaria Malcolm (PhD ’11) was recently appointed vice principal of academic affairs and institutional advancement at Excelsior Community College in Kingston, Jamaica.

Malcolm, a native of Jamaica, earned her doctorate at UF with a concentration in qualitative research methodology.

“The program and degree from UF was the best possible preparation for the work I’m doing now,” she said.

During her UF studies, Malcolm received major scholarships, including the Graduate School Fellowship, the university’s most prestigious graduate student award. The fellowship program is intended to recruit the most qualified students to pursue graduate-level study and research at UF.

She attended UF under a special Fulbright scholarship awarded to select students who come to UF from abroad to pursue their graduate studies with an expectation that they will return to their home country upon graduation and contribute to national development.

“I always had it in the back of my mind that I was going home to contribute to Jamaica’s education system,” she said.

As an administrator, Malcolm has a special interest in providing more opportunities for both students and faculty at Excelsior to receive international exposure and experience.

“In the field of education, I think we need to help to develop not just national citizens but global citizens,” she said

Malcolm said she has a lifelong connection to her alma mater and appreciates the Gator Nations’ involvement with the rest of the world. With such a wide reach, she believes the higher education program at UF can contribute to the development of educational leadership not just in the United States, but internationally.

“There are really good people and programs in the College of Education,” she said. “I think we need to highlight that in order to take the Gator Nation even higher.”


   SOURCE: Zaria Malcolm,vice principal of academic affairs and institutional advancement , Excelsior Community College; zariamalcolm@gmail.com 
   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


Statistics Ed. doctoral student selected as CADRE fellow

Douglas Whitaker, a UF doctoral fellow in statistics education, is one of 10 recipients selected as a 2014-15 fellow for the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE), a collaboration between the National Science Foundation and the non-profit Education Development Center.


The CADRE fellowship program serves as a capacity-building experience for early career researchers and developers currently working on NSF Discovery Research projects.

As a CADRE fellow, Whitaker will gain increased exposure to research, examine the effectiveness of STEM education initiatives and help build a network of STEM professionals from across the country.

“The fellowship is part award and part professional development,” Whitaker said. “Its aim is to help early-career researchers fill in their gaps.”

Whitaker began his UF doctoral fellowship at the College of Education in 2012 and is expected to graduate in August 2016. He works as an instructor and research assistant in UF’s statistics education program. His current research involves the assessment of statistical concepts and educator preparation for the teaching of statistics in the middle- and high school grades.

After graduating, Whitaker plans to pursue a higher-education career in mathematics education. He recognizes the College of Education as a significant part of his professional development and planning.

“The degree program I’m in really emphasizes the principle of career trajectories,” Whitaker said. “This perspective has helped me plan for the future and shape my views about where I was, where I am and where I want to be.”

   SOURCE: Douglas Whitaker, UF doctoral fellow in statistics education; whitaker@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


In Memoriam: Cecil D. Mercer, Ph.D., special education ‘giant’

MERCER, Cecil--pic from websiteCecil D. Mercer, a giant in his field during his 31 years (1974-2005) on the College of Education’s special education faculty, passed away at home on Nov. 21, 2014, after a long battle with Lyme disease. He was 71.

In 1998, Dr. Mercer became the first College of Education faculty member to be promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor at UF. His nationwide studies of how various states were defining the term “learning disability”—and how their educators were using the term to identify and place students—led to improvements in many states and to more stringent oversight at the federal level. His research in mathematics yielded evidence to support systematic and explicit instruction for students with learning disabilities. He was a three-time recipient of the college’s Teacher of the Year Award and was named Doctoral Adviser/Mentor of the Year in 2001.

Dr. Mercer was the type of versatile, forward-thinking scholar that a university program needs to forge an enduring national reputation. That may explain why UF typically commanded a top 15 spot among special education programs in the yearly U.S. News national rankings during his tenure at UF.

He retired in 2005 after 31 years of teaching and research in a number of areas, including learning disabilities, mathematics, reading and effective teaching principles.

Perhaps the best measure of a scholar is the impact he’s had on both his students and his profession. Dr. Mercer is a three-time recipient of the college’s Teacher of the Year Award. He also was one of the most widely recognized names in the field of learning disabilities. His nationwide studies of how various states were defining the term “learning disability”—and how their educators were using the term to identify and place students—led to improvements in many states and to more stringent oversight at the federal level.

His research in mathematics yielded evidence to support systematic and explicit instruction for students with learning disabilities. He has published seven editions of his best selling text, Teaching Students with Learning Problems, considered one of the leading texts on instructing students with mild disabilities.

Dr. Mercer’s complete obituary can be viewed at http://www.williamsthomasfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Cecil-Mercer-2/#!/Obituary.

Dr. Mercer’s written philosophy on the importance of mentoring doctoral students remains posted on the UF Graduate School’s website since he received the UF Doctoral Mentoring Award for 2001-2002. You’ll find it at http://graduateschool.ufl.edu/academics/cecil-d-mercer.

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Spotlight shines thrice on Prof. Pringle as top science teacher educator

PRINGLE, Rose1With three major awards in less than three months, UF COE associate professor Rose Pringle is solidifying her reputation as one of the top science teacher educators around.

Over a recent six-week span, she received a regional award from the Southeastern Association of Science Teacher Education (SASTE), and state honors from the Florida Association of Teacher Educators (FATE) and the Florida Education Fund (FEF).

“This is affirmation that my colleagues not only notice what I’m doing, but value what I’m doing,” she said.

Pringle traveled to Savannah in late September to receive the John Shrum Award for excellence and leadership in the education of science teachers at the SASTE annual conference. A week later, in early October, FATE bestowed Pringle with the Mary L. Collins Teacher Educator of the Year Award at its annual conference in Boca Raton.

When Nov. 9 rolls around, Pringle will accept the 2014 William R. Jones Outstanding Mentor Award from the Florida Education Fund, which promotes educational advancement for historically underrepresented groups. The Jones award honors exceptional faculty mentors from Florida colleges and universities who have empowered students in FEF’s McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program to complete their Ph.D. degree and prepare for a successful career in academia.

Pringle’s own graduate students were behind her nominations for all three awards. According to UF science education doctoral student Natalie King, colleagues and students alike turn to Pringle for mentorship.

“She has proved to be a caring mentor who leads by example and with humility,” King said.

PRINGLE, Rose3cDoctoral student Natalie Ridgewell said Pringle “strengthens both our program and field, and she helps to create an outstanding learning community.”

Pringle works with her faculty colleagues and doctoral students to develop, implement and evaluate teaching curricula consistent with education reform efforts for 21st century science learning. While teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, she has garnered more than $7 million in federal and state grants at UF to support her research and professional development work with practicing teachers.

Her research includes the exploration of preservice 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’s also determined to increase the participation of minorities, especially girls of African descent, in science and mathematics.

“My goal is to have students in every science classroom in Florida be engaged in doing science in ways that are meaningful and equitable for all learners,” she said.

Pringle has been a COE faculty member since 2000 and has twice received the college’s Teacher of the Year Award.

   SOURCE: Rose Pringle, associate professor, UF College of Education; rpringle@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4190
   WRITER: Candice Wynter, communications intern, UF College of Education; cwynter@ufl.edu
   MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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Dean Good named to elite Abu Dhabi teacher education panel

UF College of Education Dean Glenn Good has been appointed to the blue-ribbon International Advisory Panel for the Emirates College for Advanced Education (ECAE), a teacher education and school development center affiliated with the Abu Dhabi Education Council.

Dean Glenn E. Good

Dean Glenn E. Good

Good joins an elite four-member panel that also includes education leaders from the Institute of Education at the University of London, the National Institute of Education-Singapore, and the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

His appointment occurs as UF’s College of Education and its Lastinger Center for Learning are adding a third year to a formal partnership with the Abu Dhabi group that is yielding unprecedented teacher advancement and exchange programs between the two institutions. The alliance supports efforts by the United Arab Emirates to prepare a fresh generation of educators for the new economy of Abu Dhabi.

Dean Good has accepted several key leadership posts over the past year, including committee and panel positions with the American Educational Research Association and the American Association of Universities.

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P.K. Yonge Spanish teacher honored for ‘excelencia’ as part of Hispanic Heritage Month

Excellence – or excelencia – in education is clearly evident in the teaching and learning activities occurring in Grisell Santiago’s Spanish classroom at P.K. Yonge. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed.

SANTIAGO, Grisell 2

Grisell Santiago

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera presented Santiago and two other honorees with Hispanic Heritage Month Excellence in Education awards at the 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month reception at the Governor’s Mansion Oct. 2. Santiago won the teaching honor for the high school grades.

Celebrated since 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 and recognizes traditions, culture and contributions of Hispanics and Latino Americans. The Excellence in Education award recipients are nominated by students and peers and receive $1,500 donated by Volunteer Florida.

Seňora Santiago, as she is known around the P.K. Yonge campus, has taught at UF’s K-12 developmental research school for nine years and distinguishes herself as a dedicated, engaged and creative educator. She also serves as vice president of the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese and will move up to president in 2015.

In collaboration with the world languages department at UF, Santiago hosts an annual teaching workshop for Sharing Best Practices for the World Languages Classroom. She also implements new and innovative methods of teaching and learning, as evidenced by her participation in the P.K. Yonge Blended Learning project. The project was featured this fall on the documentary video series “A School That Works,” produced by Edutopia.org, an education reform website produced by the George Lucas Foundation.

Muy Buena, Sra. Santiago!


UF higher ed. alumna named YTC dean

UF higher education administration alumna Monique Perry was recently appointed dean of enrollment services at York Technical College. York Tech is a two-year community and technical college outside of the Charlotte, North Carolina area.


As dean, she oversees student recruitment and admissions, academic records, the college-wide call center, and financial aid.

She earned her Ed.D. in higher education administration with a concentration in community college leadership from UF in 2013.

“The depth of knowledge, exposure and the support of the UF network I developed there helped make me competitive for my current position,” Perry said. “Our program focused on developing us as a total package.”

Perry’s research interests include the impacts of the multi-generational workforce on higher education and its ability to attract and retain future leaders, especially millennials. Her dissertation at UF included research on millennial faculty workplace preferences and their impact on job satisfaction.

“My legacy is to not only help develop people in higher education, but also make sure that I contribute to programs, initiatives and guidelines that help make students successful,” she said.


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Math educator grant aids ProTeach senior Rachel Andrews

Rachel3 5x7

UF ProTeach senior Rachel Andrews

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

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

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

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

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


State, regional groups honor Pringle as top science teacher educator

Two major professional groups of teacher educators have honored University of Florida College of Education faculty member Rose Pringle with their top science teacher educator awards for 2014.

PRINGLE, Rose3bPringle, a UF associate professor in science education, received a state honor from the Florida Association of Teacher Educators (FATE) and a regional award from the Southeastern Association of Science Teacher Education (SASTE).

Pringle traveled to Savannah, Ga. to receive the John Shrum Award for excellence in the education of science teachers at the SASTE annual conference Sept. 26-27.

A week later, FATE presented Pringle with the Mary L. Collins Teacher Educator of the Year Award at its conference Oct.4-5 in Boca Raton for her significant contributions to teacher education in Florida.

“This is affirmation that my colleagues not only notice what I’m doing, but value what I’m doing,” she said.

Pringle teaches science education courses to college undergraduate and graduate students both face-to-face and online. She helps develop, implement and evaluate teaching curricula consistent with education reform efforts for 21st century science learning.

According to Natalie King, UF science education doctoral student, colleagues and students alike turn to Pringle for mentorship. Pringle oversees graduate teaching assistants in the College of Education who use curricula she has developed over the years.

“She has proved to be a caring mentor who leads by example and with humility,” King said. “She not only recognized my passion, but also tapped into my potential to be a successful graduate student and an advocate for change in science education.”

Through mentorship, Pringle has developed meaningful relationships with many of her doctoral students. King nominated her for the SASTE award and UF doctoral student Natalie Ridgewell nominated Pringle for the FATE award.

“In every capacity, Dr. Pringle strengthens both our program and field, and she helps to create an outstanding learning community,” Ridgewell said.

Pringle has garnered more than $7 million in federal and state grants at UF to support her work. Her special research interests include elements of effective science instruction, assessment and increasing 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.

“My goal is to have every science classroom in Florida have students studying science in ways that are meaningful and equitable for all learners,” Pringle said.

These recent awards aren’t Pringle’s first recognition as a premier teacher educator. A COE faculty member since 2000, she is a two-time recipient of the college’s Teacher of the Year Award, selected in 2002 and 2000.

   Source: Rose Pringle; rpringle@coe.ufl.edu; 352.273.4190
   Writer: Candice Wynter, College of Education Office of News and Communications; cwynter@ufl.edu; phone 813-317-8735.

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Ed. Leadership alum honored as nation’s top principal

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

Jayne Ellspermann

Jayne Ellspermann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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ACA taps rising leaders from UF counselor education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Statistics scholar fills ‘big data’ faculty posts at COE, new UF institute

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—A  Harvard-trained statistical researcher and expert in online network modeling has filled one of the College of Education’s four faculty positions created in support of the University of Florida’s preeminence initiative to become one of the nation’s top 10 public research universities.

THOMAS, AndrewAndrew C. Thomas, a research scientist in statistics at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), will become an associate professor in the Research and Evaluation Methodology program at UF’s College of Education. His appointment takes effect in January.

Thomas, who received his doctorate in statistics from Harvard in 2009, also will join a campuswide consortium of faculty scientists in landmark “big data” studies at the new UF Informatics Institute, one of UF’s major preeminence initiatives. The institute’s big-data science initiative is one of 28 high-potential areas of science and scholarship targeted by UF for investment of state preeminence funds. 

The Informatics Institute unites a team of educators, engineers, scientists, artists, natural scientists and other UF faculty researchers in an ambitious push to harness the vast amounts of data now generating in the world and apply them to advancing a wide range of vital areas in education and the social sciences.

“Ninety percent of data that exists today was created in the last two years. Collecting and analyzing immense amounts of data has been a challenge up to now,” said UF education dean Glenn Good. “Dr. Thomas’s expertise in online networks and large data management align well with our efforts to harness informatic analysis and apply it to resolve societal issues. At the College of Education, his contributions will help us better understand national education trends and conduct large-scale effectiveness studies of best  teaching practices.”

Thomas, currently an affiliate faculty member of CMU’s Living Analytics Research Center in Pittsburgh, has focused his investigations on the formation and workings of complex online networks and measuring peer influence between members on a social network. At CMU, he worked on collaborative university-industry studies designed to improve the handling and examination of large data sources, including new sources such as education.

“Much of my recent work focuses on network models that give us information about the individuals themselves who belong to the network,” said Thomas, who has worked at CMU since completing his Harvard Ph.D. studies. “The richness of multiple networks in education, through students in classrooms and teachers in schools, makes this an exciting area of development that I will continue to pursue at the University of Florida.”

Thomas said he looks forward to being part of the collaborative effort at the UF Information Institute where “the trick will be developing computational systems that can cope with large volumes of data.”

Thomas has made numerous presentations and published several research reports, including an encyclopedia article on network modeling. He has applied his statistics know-how to a wide range of fields including political science, public policy, demography, environmental engineering and sports. The Canadian native, a huge ice hockey fan, last year co-authored an article in the Annals of Applied Statistics on statistical approaches for measuring individual player contributions in hockey games. 

Thomas brings two large research grants on network modeling with him to UF worth more than $640,000 combined—one from the National Science Foundation and another from the federal Institute of Educational Sciences.

He said he’s also excited about continuing his teaching and mentoring in the evolving field of data science education at UF.

The big data informatics project is one of three College of Education initiatives that UF administrators targeted for investment of preeminence funds, to the tune of $3.8 million. The other two involve optimizing early childhood development and advancing personalized online learning.

The Florida Legislature in 2013 identified UF as the state’s preeminent university and is giving the university $15 million a year for five years to spend on improving areas that would help it become one of the nation’s top 10 public research universities. The Legislature gave UF another $5 million this spring for the push.

UF President Bernie Machen has pledged to match the state money with $75 million in private donations and spend $150 million on recruiting 120 world-class and up-and-coming faculty to strengthen UF’s research and academic missions.

    SOURCE: Andrew Thomas, PhD, acthomas@stat.cmu.edu, 412-268-3556
    WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137


Kumar’s online learning article makes ‘journalistic’ history

Swapna Kumar, a clinical assistant professor of educational technology at the College of Education, has added another published article to her CV — but this one comes with a bit of history.

KUMAR, Swapna3Kumar’s “Quality Considerations in the Design and Implementation of an Online Doctoral Program” appeared as the first of eight articles in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Online Doctoral Education, which went online in June. The biannual e-journal features outstanding scholarly contributions in online doctoral education from researchers around the world.

“It’s a ‘Dos and Don’ts’ kind of an article about how to offer a quality online doctoral program,” said Kumar, who coordinates the online doctoral program in the COE’s educational technology program. “If it’s thoughtfully designed, online learning can make a huge difference in the lives of professional adults.

“They tend to work really hard and apply what they learn,” she added. “It’s satisfying to see them grow professionally and make a difference with their research.”  

Journal editor Gregory T. Bradley said Kumar and other leading online education scholars were invited to submit articles for the launch of the Summer 2014 edition.

“Dr. Kumar’s article is of tremendous value to our readers because quality considerations are at the core of accredited online institutions,” Bradley said. “The content has resonated with faculty and administrators who are involved in designing online graduate programs.”

Kumar mentors graduate students and teaches courses on distance learning, blended learning, technology integration and educational technology research. Her article in the Journal of Online Doctoral Education can be found online at http://jode.ncu.edu.


    Source: Swapna Kumar; swapnakumar@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4175. 

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

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

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Ed. psychology scholar awarded prestigious UF Research Foundation Professorship


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

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

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

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

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

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

SHDOSE director Harry Daniels might disagree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Source: David Therriault, UF College of Education; therriault@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4345.
    Media Relations: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
    Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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Second Preeminence Professor appointed in early childhood studies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


UF alum Neuhard named president of FSCJ Kent campus

Ian Neuhard (Ed.D. ’13) will be the new president of the Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Kent campus beginning July 14.

Neuhard, who has served as dean of baccalaureate programs for the past seven years at Indian River State CollegeIan Neuhard--headshot 2 in Fort Pierce, Fla., said his experience at UF provided the impetus for landing his new position.

“Earning my doctorate last year was a key aspect of my successful candidacy,” he said. “I have the faculty at the College of Education to thank for all the hard work, advice and assistance they provided as I worked to complete the program and achieve this next important step in my career.”

Neuhard majored in higher education administration at UF. He received his master of professional studies degree in community services administration from Alfred University in New York in 1997.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in English language arts education at the University of Central Florida in Orlando after receiving an associate in arts degree from Valencia Community College, also in Orlando.


Ocala alumna honored as Florida’s top school principal

EduGator alumna Jayne Ellspermann (MEd ’84, education leadership), the principal at West Port High School in Ocala, is Florida’s “Principal of the Year” according to the Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA).

Jayne Ellspermann

Jayne Ellspermann

FASA singled out Ellspermann based on her rich experience and longevity in public education and for raising academic scores at West Port.

Ellspermann is known for her focus on student achievement, staff training and campus pride. She recently instituted a “Power Hour” for students, empowering them to make informed choices for clubs and activities, and has seen her campus transform into an “A” school with the highest scores in the district. She also brought a college program to West Port, enabling students to earn their associate’s degrees on campus before graduating from high school.

Ellspermann joined Marion County Public Schools in 1980 as a high school social studies teacher. She rose through the ranks as testing specialist and assistant principal at two schools.  She received her first principal appointment in 1992 and served in that capacity at Romeo Elementary, Osceola Middle, and West Port Middle schools before moving to West Port High in 2004.

She earned a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Georgia and a master’s in educational administration from the UF College of Education.

Ellspermann now represents Florida in the 2015 MetLife / NASSP National Principal of the Year competition.

FASA represents nearly 11,000 education administrators to support professional goals and enhance the quality of education. 


FATE has Timmons on presidential track

Crystal Timmons

Crystal Timmons

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

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

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

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

Patricia Snyder

Patricia Snyder

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

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

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy

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

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

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

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

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


Phi Beta Kappa taps four ProTeach students

Four COE students have been invited to join Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and best known academic society that recognizes outstanding academic achievement.


Katherine Romero

Katherine Romero, Kate Logan and Kaitlin “Katie” Stults — all of whom are enrolled or formerly enrolled in the COE’s ProTeach program – have accepted the invitation after being considered by a selection committee from the UF College of Liberal Arts and Science. Michelle Hajian says she plans to formally accept in the near future.

The majority of PBK members come from the CLAS, making UF “unusual but not unique” with its policy of considering students outside that college, according to Ira Fischler, professor emeritus in the UF Department of Psychology and chairman of the Phi Beta Kappa membership committee.

“The College of Education invitations serve as a tribute to the quality of instruction and mentorship the invitees received from UF education faculty,” Fischler said.  

COE dean’s office officials submitted names of 13 prospective Phi Beta Kappa members to the committee, which bases its decisions on grade point average; breadth of study and a minimum of 36 hours of “spread”  coursework outside the student’s major discipline.

Kate Logan1

Kate Logan

Not surprisingly, all four COE students have led busy academic lives. 

Romero expects to receive her master’s degree in December with a dual major in elementary and special education. She was named an Anderson Scholar before earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education last December, graduating with a 3.97 grade point average while being recognized as one of two students named Outstanding 4-Year Scholar with Honorable Mention.

A native of Florida, Romero is a first-generation college graduate whose parents are from Peru.

“I am not ashamed to share that my family immigrated illegally in the 1980s to this country in hopes of a more prosperous future,” she said. “I am beyond proud to be a part of an incredible university, and I have chosen a career path that my family was initially skeptical of because they thought I was “too bright” to just be a teacher. I am taking the road less travelled, and it’s making all the difference.”

Katie Stults1

Kaitlin “Katie” Stults

Stults received her bachelor’s degree in May and already is taking online courses as part of UF’s ProTeach Elementary Education master’s degree program. She plans to receive her master’s within a year — with financial help from the William T. Phelps scholarship she recently received from the COE.

As an undergrad, Stults maintained  a 3.97 grad point average and was presented with the Unified Elementary ProTeach Student of the Year Award. She also was named an Anderson Scholar, and was given a Lancaster Scholarship Award and a Delta Kappa Gamma Society international scholarship.  

Stults accomplished all that while serving as president of Kappa Delta Pi, an international education honor society.

“My mother joined Phi Beta Kappa in 1979 at Mary Washington College,” Stults said. “From a young age she instilled in me the importance of academic excellence and taught me to live by Phi Beta Kappa’s motto, ‘Love of learning is the guide of life’ — and I’m grateful for that.”

Michelle Hajian

Michelle Hajian

Logan is an enthusiastic teacher who is dedicated to helping students reach their full potential. She recently was named an Anderson Scholar and received her bachelor of arts degree in May with a 3.90 grade point average.

Logan has strong communication skills and is comfortable incorporating technology for student and teacher use.

“I was surprised to see my invitation to Phi Beta Kappa,” she said. “I had heard about the society before and was honored to have been invited. I accepted the invitation because I felt that this could be a great way to connect with people who have similar professional goals as I do as I enter my own career.”

Hajian earned a 4.0 GPA while enrolled in the ProTeach program, and already has begun working on her master’s degree in education at UF after receiving her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in May.

“I plan to have my master’s degree next spring,” Hajian said. “I haven’t formally accepted my invitation to join Phi Beta Kappa, but I’ll definitely be accepting that honor in the near future.”

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SPC honors EduGator alumna-donor Helen Gilbart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New COE autism scholar will work with early childhood studies center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Adams, Vernetson named to FLDOE review panel

Alyson Adams3

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

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

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

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

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

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


Top teacher for undergraduates never doubted her destiny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Spirt of Susan B. Anthony Award fit for a King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New education technology professor to head UF Online Learning Institute

BEAL, Carole

Carole Beal

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The University of Florida College of Education has hired a leading authority on technology-based learning as a professor of education technology who will also head UF’s new Online Learning Institute, one of UF’s major preeminence initiatives.

UF Education Dean Glenn Good announced May 21 the appointment of Carole R. Beal as a faculty professor in the college’s School of Teaching and Learning. Beal currently is a professor of science, technology and the arts at the University of Arizona’s School of Information. Her UF appointment begins Aug. 16.

Beal’s research focuses on the development and use of advanced online learning techniques—particularly in math and science—that improve access to education for all learners including minorities and students with disabilities. Good said Beal’s expertise “not only strengthens the college’s education technology program, but also aligns with the mission of UF’s Online Learning Institute.”

“We will aggressively pursue cutting-edge research and future-focused technological approaches to e-learning tailored to each individual student,” Good said.

The interdisciplinary, four-college OLI is charged with finding ways to improve student learning by merging the teaching sciences and what is known about the brain with the technology that delivers education at a distance. Collaborating researchers will come from the colleges of Education, Engineering, Journalism and Communications, and Fine Arts. UF’s Digital Worlds Institute and UF Online, one of the nation’s first totally online undergraduate degree programs, also are involved.

Beal, who becomes the OLI’s founding director, has a doctorate in psychology from Stanford University, but she also has held professorships in psychology and computer science at Arizona and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and in engineering at the University of Southern California. She also was a psychology professor at Dartmouth College.

She worked on one of the early online tutoring systems in mathematics in the 1990s and has garnered continual research funding for the past 15 years from major funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the federal Institute of Education Sciences and the U.S. Defense Department.

One of Beal’s projects, called Animal Watch Vi, involves developing a virtual tutoring system in math with accompanying books of braille to make online learning accessible for students with visual impairments. The three-year project is supported by an IES grant worth $1.4 million.

Andrew McCollough, UF associate provost for teaching and technology, said Beal has forged a place “on the cutting edge of research in the learning sciences and the field of personalized e-learning.”

“It is fortuitous that the College of Education attracted a leading scholar like Dr. Beal who also expressed a desire to work with the Online Learning Institute,” McCollough said. “The institute involves four colleges and they all agreed that Carole Beal was the right match for directing the institute.”

The OLI is a key component of UF’s campaign to establish itself as one of the nation‘s top 10 public research universities. Multidisciplinary research of personalized e-learning techniques has been targeted by UF administrators for investment of “preeminence funds” allocated last year by the Florida Legislature to support UF’s top-10 effort.

“I was drawn to the University of Florida by the opportunity to join a group of scholars who will collaborate on research and funding pursuits on a large scale. My experience in integrating the learning and computer sciences seemed a good complement to the existing expertise of my new colleagues at UF,” Beal said.

Much of Beal’s latest research merges education with neuroscience, which dovetails well with the OLI’s plans to collaborate with the university’s McKnight Brain Institute and other UF health science disciplines. She has been working to improve “intelligent” tutoring technology and exploring how technology can make online learning accessible to students with special needs.

“In my investigations, I have found that students who appear disengaged in the traditional classroom are often among the most active learners in the online learning setting,” Beal said.

“The coming decade will be an incredible opportunity to merge education with neuroscience,” she added. “Academic programs that take advantage of this connection will rise in national and international stature and lead the way in making online learning accessible to all students.”

SOURCE: Carole Beal, crbeal@arizona.edu, 520-576-4553
SOURCE: Andrew McCollough, UF associate provost, amccollough@aa.ufl.edu; 352-392-1202
SOURCE: Glenn Good, dean, UF College of Education, ggood@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4135
WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137



WJCT Public Radio: Suzanne Colvin–Quality education for all

WJCT-FM Public Radio
Suzanne Colvin interview

The COE Office of News and Communications worked with the UF University Relations/Communications Office in connecting Dr. Suzanne Colvin with WJCT Public Radio on one broadcast interview and two print stories that appeared on the station’s website. Colvin spoke about “The Quest for Quality Education For All: Mending the Broken Trust.”

LINK: http://news.wjct.org/post/quest-quality-part-ii-mending-broken-trust

Note: Dr. Colvin’s interview responses are three minutes and 49 seconds (3:49) into the interview and last about one minute. Click the listing bar just to the left of the halfway mark to find it.


UF honors COE graduate Willis Holcombe with 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award

UF College of Education graduate Willis Holcombe, who has provided a lifetime of illustrious service to his country and to Florida’s higher education systen, received the 2014 UF Distinguished Alumnus Award during the COE’s annual Recognition Banquet held April 11 at the UF Hilton. 

Willis Holcombe

Willis Holcombe

Holcombe served as a marine captain from 1969 to 1972, and went on to graduate from UF with a master’s degree in education in 1972 and a Ph.D. in college administration in 1974. He made a lasting impact at Broward and Brevard community colleges. As vice president at Brevard (1981-87), he promoted a culture of academic integrity and collaboration. In two stints at Broward, Holcombe held a number of posts until he was named president in 1987– a position he held for 17 years.

Holcombe was named interim president of Florida State College at Jacksonville in December of 2012 after coming out of retirement in 2006 to serve as interim president at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. He also “unretired” to serve as chancellor of the Florida College System for four years, supporting the growth of baccalaureate degrees at Florida’s community colleges.

He recently helped lead a six-month strategic planning effort by the UF Institute of Higher Education, part of the College of Education. Holcombe facilitated focus groups and brainstorming sessions involving more than two dozen IHE alumni, graduate students and national leaders in higher education administration.

Holcombe began his higher education career as a 1973 recipient of the W.K. Kellogg Fellowship at UF, studying under James Wattenbarger, widely recognized as the father of Florida’s community college system. In 2003, Holcombe received the Dr. James L. Wattenbarger Award from the Association of Florida Colleges; and in 2011, he was presented with the association’s inaugural Willis Holcombe Leadership Award.

“I’ve known Willis Holcombe for 20 years and believe he has followed in Dr. Wattenbarger’s footsteps as the lead architect of the new Florida college system,” said IHE director Dale Campbell. “He carries a great deal of respect from his peers. He’s very deserving of this award.”

Holcombe has received more than 25 fellowships and honors during his 40 years in education. He served on the Florida Articulation Coordinating Committee for 19 years and is a strong advocate for international education, having served three terms as national chairman of the College Consortium for International Studies. He also has served on the boards of many community groups and was a torchbearer for the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta.




School psychology alum receives Outstanding Graduate Leadership Award

Jason Gallant

Jason Gallant – PhD ’11 School Psychology

Jason Gallant, who earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in school psychology from UF’s College of Education, has been given the college’s 2014 Outstanding Graduate Leadership Award. Among numerous achievements, he was recognized for tripling the number of families served during his first year as chief psychologist at the Boys Town Central Florida Behavioral Health Clinic in Oviedo, Fla.

Gallant received his latest honor during the COE’s 2014 Recognition Banquet, held April 11 at the UF Hilton. He says his focus on improving the lives of youth through early identification of behavioral problems was inspired by his mother, an elementary school teacher who he says had “a genuine passion and enthusiasm for giving children the gift of knowledge.”

Gallant grew up in Fort Lauderdale and earned his B.S. from Florida State University in 2004. He received his master’s in 2007 and his doctorate in 2011 from UF.

“I truly appreciate the faculty at the College of Education,” Gallant said. “The faculty, staff and my peers helped me to become the person and professional I am today.”

Gallant completed his pre- and post-doctoral fellowships in behavioral pediatrics at the Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health in Omaha, Neb. His personal interests include health and fitness, traveling and spending time with Lola, his Jack Russell terrier.


Five graduating students honored for outstanding achievement

Five UF College of Education students – two in graduate school and three undergrads — have been honored for their academic and professional achievements as part of the COE’s 2014 Recognition Banquet. The annual event was held April 11 at the UF Hilton.

Timothy Wilson, a doctoral candidate in higher education, received the Outstanding Graduate Leadership Award after demonstrating his leadership skills while serving as the only student on the campuswide Internationalization Task Force. The committee represents 16 UF colleges charged with creating a globally aware campus environment that prepares UF students to succeed in today’s international marketplace.

Wilson also has spent the past three years serving more than 300 community college presidents, administrators and trustees in program planning and implementation of the Community College Futures Assembly, an annual public policy summit sponsored by the COE’s Institute of Higher Education.

Other winners included:

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 11.26.30 AMJulie Brown, a doctoral candidate and graduate fellow in curriculum and instruction. Brown was presented with the Outstanding Graduate Research Award for her work that addresses professional development as a vehicle for supporting culturally responsive and reform-based science instruction.

She independently secured funding from the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, and the National Association for Research in Science Teaching has recognized her as a Basu Scholar. Brown’s professional development model for science teachers has been incorporated within a major partnership between UF and Palm Beach County Schools. She also serves as a mentor for aspiring science and mathematics teachers.

Brown earned her master’s in science education from UF, graduating magna cum laude, and is a magna cum laude bachelor’s graduate of Rhode Island University.

BURNS, Jamey 10-09 045Jamey Burns, a graduate student who serves as the educational programs coordinator for the UF Lastinger Center for Learning. Burns, who also is a student in the Professional Practice doctoral program, was given the Outstanding Professional Practice Award.

She works closely with high-poverty schools in districts throughout Florida to provide inquiry-based professional development for hundreds of instructional coaches, teachers and principals. Focused on sharing her work, Burns has co-authored a book and written another book chapter on teacher inquiry, and has presented at seven state and national conferences. She earned her master’s degree in special education and her bachelor’s in elementary education from UF.


Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 11.32.10 AMLida “Kate” Smiley, described as an exceptional student whose enthusiasm about her chosen career as an early childhood professional stand out. Smiley was honored as the Outstanding Undergraduate Student because of the high standards she has set for herself as a learner and a teacher.

Though she has a quiet demeanor, Smiley’s passion for teaching is demonstrated in class activities, discussions and cooperative assignments. She has a 3.9 grade point average and is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Education honor society. Smiley also is active in the Education College Council and the Florida Education Association, and serves as media coordinator for the Florida Swimming and Diving Club.


Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 11.38.12 AMKaitlin “Katie” Stults, a bright and highly motivated student with a 3.97 grade point average. Stults, who is a Lancaster Award recipient and was recently named a UF Anderson Scholar, was named Unified Elementary ProTeach Student of the Year by the college.

Stults also has been awarded a Delta Kappa Gamma Society international scholarship, and is president of Kappa Delta Pi, an international education honor society. She is a Golden Key Honor Society member, and took classes at prestigious King’s College in London, England, as part of a study abroad program.

Stults also taught at a primary school in Paris, France, as part of UF’s “Teach the World” study abroad program.

, , ,

International group honors Special Ed researcher for 2nd straight year

Mary Brownell

Mary Brownell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*          *          *


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

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


STL professor recalls ‘Cosmos’ host Carl Sagan as star among the stars

It’s a small cosmos.

Sevan Terzian

Sevan Terzian

Sevan Terzian, an associate professor in the College of Education’s school of teaching and learning (STL), grew up knowing Carl Sagan, the vastly popular astronomer of the 1970s and ‘80s who was the host of the original 1980 “Cosmos” TV series on PBS that delved into the origins of our universe.

Sagan died in 1996 but his “Cosmos” series was resurrected this month by producer Seth MacFarlane, a science enthusiast whom many know as the creative force behind the animated TV sitcom “Family Guy.” According to a recent CNN news report, the updated series of “Cosmos” and its “ship of the imagination” — piloted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson — received excellent reviews after the first of 13 episodes aired on Sunday, March 9 on Fox, the National Geographic Channel and their affiliates.

Terzian knew Sagan because Terzian’s father, Yervant, was chairman of the astronomy department for two decades at Cornell University, where Sagan taught after being denied tenure at Harvard University.

“Not many people know that about Sagan and Harvard,” said Terzian, whose father has edited seven books, including Carl Sagan’s Universe. “Sagan was a family friend. I met him when I was about nine years old, before he had become really popular.

Carl Sagan, original "Cosmos" host

Carl Sagan, original “Cosmos” host

“Carl was a man of enduring hope,” added Terzian, who also heads STL’s graduate studies program. “He wanted to share his knowledge in ways that would help resolve social problems by helping humankind to understand its place in the universe. ‘Cosmos’ elevated his visibility greatly, and it’s remarkable how popular he became globally.”

Terzian also remembers – with a smile and a chuckle — when “Cosmos” first aired.

“I’m pretty sure it was a Sunday night because my younger sister and I wanted to watch the Muppets,” he said. “I was 11 years old, and we only had one TV. No one had VCRs back then, and I remember my father insisting that we watch ‘Cosmos’ because he needed to be able to answer questions about it the next day, in case anyone in the astronomy department asked him about it.

“So ‘The Muppet Show’ got preempted,” Terzian added with a laugh. “But I ended up really enjoying ‘Cosmos.’ I didn’t know it at the time, but it helped me to grasp the notion that science and history really matter — enormously.”

Terzian would go on to graduate from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in history, and later receive a master’s degree in history from Indiana University before earning two Ph.Ds — in American studies and the history of education – in 2000, also at IU. He joined the UF education faculty in 2004.

Terzian’s book, “Science Education and Citizenship: Fairs, Clubs and Talent Searches for American Youth,” was published by Palgrave Macmillan in January 2013.

Institute hires emerging scholar in higher education policy, economics

The University of Florida’s higher education administration program has appointed a new assistant professor with more than a decade of research experience in higher education economics and policy, especially at the state level.

KRAMER, Dennis (crppd)

Dennis A. Kramer II

Dennis A. Kramer II, an acting assistant professor of higher education at the University of Virginia, will join the UF College of Education faculty in August and serve as the associate director for the college’s Institute of Higher Education. Kramer specializes in advanced quantitative research methods for studying such issues as the impact of financial aid policies on secondary and postsecondary success, and the economic influences on the college choice process. He also has a strong research interest in institutional decision-making and financial issues and trends in college athletics. 

Prior to his University of Virginia post, Kramer worked from 2010-2013 as a senior research and policy analyst for the Georgia Department of Education, where he managed Georgia’s policy development and evaluation research. He also has been an adjunct instructor at Georgia State University. 

He served as the graduate policy and research fellow for the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics from 2008-2010. His analysis of intercollegiate athletic spending and student-athlete academic success has been reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside HigherEd and numerous academic publications and news media outlets.

Kramer is due to receive his doctorate in higher education economics and policy evaluation in May from the University of Georgia Institute of Higher Education. He received his M.Ed. in postsecondary administration and educational policy in 2008 from the University of Southern California and has a bachelor’s in psychology from San Diego State University.

“This opportunity at the University of Florida will enable me to not only work with high-quality faculty and graduate students, but also to engage in scholarly research that can contribute to both state and national education policy development,” Kramer said.

Kramer currently contributes on a $500,000 research grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the impact of physical activity on academic achievement and social behaviors. He recently completed a study analyzing effective school disciplinary practices, funded by the National Association of State Boards of Education.

“Dennis Kramer is an emerging scholar in higher education research and policy analysis,” said Dale Campbell, head of UF’s higher education administration program and the Institute of Higher Education. “He will help us continue our rich tradition of scholarship and leadership development as we look to shape the future in today’s rapidly changing world of higher education.”

   SOURCE: Dennis A. Kramer II; dkramerii@gmail.com; 714-514-6442
   SOURCE: Dale Campbell, director, UF Institute of Higher Education; dfc@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4300
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137