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AERA recognizes multidisciplinary team with Best Paper Award

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) presented the Best Paper Award in the special interest group category of “Computer and Internet Applications in Education” to a multidisciplinary team of faculty and graduate students.

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Students Honored at 2019 Recognition Dinner

The College of Education recently hosted it’s 17th annual Recognition Dinner, honoring those who have contributed to the success of this past year.

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Blending passion with purpose

Counselor education alumna Emi Lenes (Ph.D. ‘18) has established a course title “Multicultural Mindfulness,” which will be internationalized and offered to UF students in fall 2019. Current counselor education graduate student Caleb Chambliss recently delivered a TEDx Talk titled “Representation: The Purpose of Your Story.”

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Donielle Geoffrion Receives FACES Graduate Student Scholarship Opportunity

Donielle Geoffrion was recently awarded the Florida Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (FACES) Graduate Student Scholarship Opportunity.

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Alayna Calhoun recognized by SRATE as David Watts Scholar

Alayna Calhoun, a UF Unified Elementary ProTeach preservice student, was recently recognized as a David Watts Scholar by the Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators (SRATE).

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Alisa Houseknecht awarded SACES Research & Best Practice Grant

Alisa Houseknecht, a doctoral candidate Counseling and Counselor Education program, was recently notified that she was awarded a Research & Best Practice Grant from the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES).

Jonte Myers awarded AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research

Jonte Myers, a doctoral student in special education at the University of Florida, was recently awarded a 2018-19 Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research from the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Myers is one of seven doctoral students from across the country that received this award.

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UF is feeder to leadership posts for LGBT counselor groups

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

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Gov. Scott appoints UF Higher Ed doctoral student

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

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Students honored for outstanding scholarship and superior accomplishment

The College of Education recently hosted its 16th annual Recognition Dinner, honoring those who have contributed to the success of this past year. Although there are many accomplishments from our students that are a great source of pride, three graduate and three undergraduate students have been identified after a rigorous selection process for their superior accomplishments during this academic year: Charlotte Bolch, Emilie Lenes, Jiahui Wang, Adrianna Escobales, Ellie Chenoweth and Paige Fitzpatrick.

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The Historical Perspective Of Being A Teacher

Doctoral candidate of Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education Elizabeth Currin has been awarded the Rothman Doctoral Fellowship for her interdisciplinary research as part of her dissertation, “Storied Stance: An Oral History of Long-Term Teacher Researchers in the Age of Accountability.” By focusing on the oral history of teachers during the final years of the 20th century, providing teachers with a platform for their experience during the “Age of Accountability,” Currin hopes her research will benefit future teachers by providing them with historical context.

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

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

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Six students honored for outstanding scholarship and professional work

The college bestowed the awards on April 21 at its annual recognition dinner, when COE alumni, donors, faculty and other supporters are invited to campus to hear updates about the college and honor the academic year’s high-achieving EduGators.

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Counselor Ed. volunteers reflect on Orlando Pulse nightclub tragedy

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John Super (center) watches the news with other volunteers in the LGBT Center in Orlando after the Pulse nightclub shooting.


Several months have passed since a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in what was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — a horrific tragedy the likes of which rarely strikes so close to the University of Florida.

While the trauma of the lives lost will long linger in the minds of survivors, family and friends of the victims, the aftermath also has brought the Orlando community together in a cause for hope and unity. Citizens donated blood, stood together on social media and held vigils.

They were supported by sympathizers across Florida and the country, including a contingent of students and faculty members from UF College of Education who personally visited Orlando to assist in the communitywide effort to provide counseling and mental health care to those affected by the deadly shooting.

“This event had a huge impact on me as a counselor, a student and a person,” said Rachel Henesy, a UF doctoral student in counselor education. “On a personal and professional level, I felt a responsibility to help in any way possible.”

About 30 UF volunteers

The UF effort was spearheaded by John Super, a clinical assistant professor of counselor education, who in the days after the tragedy helped recruit and organize about 30 UF counselors and students to travel to Orlando for one-on-one counseling sessions. They helped people coping with intense feelings — such as loss, anger and fear, provided referrals to local licensed therapists and served as an emotional outlet for those experiencing their darkest days.

It has been said that out of deep pain and grief there is hope and opportunity. That is what Super found when he asked his UF students and peers from around the state to contribute to the volunteer counseling efforts.

“In the beginning, there was a moment where I thought I could either volunteer or not,” Super said. “But I knew I had to do something, and at that moment I had no idea the magnitude the tragedy would become.”

Super worked with local volunteer counseling coordinators, including David Baker-Hargrove and Lindsay Kincaide of Two Spirit Health Services in Orlando, to develop a response plan. He also coordinated with Alicia Homrich, a professor of graduate studies in counseling at Rollins College in Winter Park, who provided resources and also recruited Rollins students, Kincaide said.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Central Florida served as the base of operations, with other free counseling locations established throughout the Orlando area, including LGBT-friendly bars. All told, nearly 700 people — ranging from licensed counselors, psychologists, pet therapists, interpreters and social workers — volunteered their time in the days and weeks following the shooting to assist hundreds of people from June 12 to July 4, Kincaide said.

Ties to the LGBT community

Super was well equipped to help with the grassroots counseling efforts. He has master’s in marriage and family therapy and a Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and has ties to Orlando’s LGBT Community Center. He also has Red Cross training in disaster response for mental health care and has conducted research in the identity development of LGBT individuals.

In the days after the tragedy, Super tapped his counseling connections, Orlando ties and experience in crisis intervention counseling to help address the widespread grief and fear of area residents — including a large contingent of the gay and Hispanic communities. He posted information on social media sites and sent emails to UF students and counselors asking for their help. Most not only were willing to volunteer but also shared his message to recruit others.

Though so many felt shock and heartbreak, Super said he witnessed a tremendous amount of goodness, too. He saw graduate students counsel those affected by the tragedy, and he encouraged conversation among the students to share their stories and feelings, and learn from each other’s experiences.

“I experienced such an outpouring from master’s and doctoral students who were willing to give their time and really put themselves out there driving from Gainesville to Orlando every day,” he said. “They put their own feelings and grief aside in order to help those who most needed it.”

Henesy, the UF doctoral student in counselor education, said she was grateful that Super was able to assess what was needed and get UF students and his peers involved.

Another counselor education doctoral student, Philip Daniels, said the College of Education gave him the foundation and confidence to provide the support needed for those processing the event.

“One of the first thoughts that went through my head was competency,” Daniels said. “I asked myself, ‘can I really do this?’ Then, it dawned on me. This is what I am trained for. This was a moment when everything I have learned came together so I could serve others in their time of need.”

Super said LGBT counseling has long been a staple of UF’s counseling education curriculum. Diversity and social justice is weaved into all of the counselor education courses, and LGBT issues are addressed through role-playing and discussions in every foundational class and clinical experience.

“Historically, we were one of the first several counselor education programs in the nation,” Super said. “We’ve always had a strong social justice focus that is supported by the college and our profession.”


Source: John Super, UF College of Education; 352-273-4325; jsuper@coe.ufl.edu
Writer: Kelsie Ozanne, news and communications office, UF College of Education; kozanne@ufl.edu
Media Relations: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4173; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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Nepali PhD candidate cited for promoting global engagement

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Uttam Gaulee speaks at Turlington Plaza during a vigil to commemorate the earthquake victims in Nepal.

Nepal native Uttam Gaulee has scaled some impressive peaks as he has pursued a doctorate in higher education administration at the UF College of Education.

Earlier this year, he was one of 10 scholars nationwide chosen by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) to receive the 2016 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, which recognizes leadership ability in teaching and learning.

The AACU was impressed with Gaulee’s academic work and contributions to the university and the community. He represents “the finest in the new generation of faculty who will be leading higher education in the next decades,” AACU President Carol Geary Schneider wrote in a letter announcing Gaulee’s award.

In May, Gaulee defended his dissertation for a doctorate in Higher Education Administration with a research paper titled “American Students’ Experiences with their International Peers on Campus: Understanding Roadblocks, Enhancing Pathways of Global Engagement.”

He used surveys, interviews and focus groups to uncover roadblocks to improving global engagement among U.S. students. Despite the professed importance of “global competency” in an increasingly interconnected world, he found that most domestic students largely missed opportunities to create rich meaningful relationships with foreign students.

Gaulee’s interest in international learning stems from his personal journey, which began on the other side of the globe, in a valley not far from the world’s tallest mountains.

He grew up as the eldest boy of eight children in a poor family in the small city of Surkhet. His parents were subsistence farmers. No relatives had ever attended college. But Gaulee showed academic promise, became a star student and pursued a college degree while working as a high school English teacher.

In an interview, Gaulee laughed about how naïve he was and how limited his worldview had been.

“In Nepali, my name means the best,” Gaulee said. “And I grew up thinking my family is the best, my country is the best, my language is the best, and so on.  It wasn’t until I was able to cross those hills and was exposed to other parts of the world that I learned from people from many different countries.”

In time, he traveled to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, where he earned a master’s in education from Tribhuvan University and then to England for an international academic conference. This led him to apply for and receive a Fulbright Scholarship to earn another master’s degree, in education administration and policy studies, at the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2012, Gaulee came to UF, where he has worked closely with Dale Campbell, professor and coordinator of higher education administration, who chaired of his dissertation committee, and with David Miller, his committee co-chair and director of the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

Gaulee’s interest in improving global relationships has stretched across UF’s campus. He served as a graduate student senator to the Student Government and spearheaded the effort to rename the campus’ North Lawn the “Global Garden” to serve as a social space where U.S. and international students can gather and learn about each other’s cultures. The space also would display artifacts from around the world, highlighting UF’s commitment to creating a globalized community of scholars and students. The Student Government passed a resolution calling on the university to create the garden.

Miller said he first met Gaulee when he directed a task force that formulated the Learning without Borders: Internationalizing the Gator Nation initiative, a plan designed to improve student engagement in international learning experiences.

“Uttam has shown remarkable passion and leadership in creating opportunities for students to heighten their international awareness,” Miller said. “I expect he will continue to be a driving force in internationalizing student experiences at whatever institute of higher education he ends up in.”

Gaulee is on track to receive his doctorate in August and then he and his wife plan to return to Nepal. He is considering an opportunity to serve as a leader at a new university in his hometown in hopes of improving Nepalese and international higher education at large.

“I’m grateful for all the opportunities I have had to keep learning,” Gaulee said. “I want to help others to do the same, and inspire them to learn about different cultures and societies.”


Source: Uttam Gaulee, 412-805-4745
Writer: Charles Boisseau, news and communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449

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Dissertation proposal on police in schools earns Noble UF fellowship

Kenneth Noble

Kenneth Noble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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UF Anderson Scholars program honors 17 ProTeach students–most ever!–plus 2 faculty mentors

Seventeen COE ProTeach elementary education students have been named UF Anderson Scholars for their outstanding academic performances during their first two years at UF—the most education students to receive the award in recent memory.

Two education faculty members—Mary Ann Nelson and Caitlin Gallingane—also were recognized for the second year in a row for mentoring or inspiring several of the honored students.

Anderson Scholars awarded with highest distinction are, from left, Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

Anderson Scholars awarded with highest distinction are, from left, Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

The Anderson award is the highest recognition bestowed on undergraduate students for their academic excellence. 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 (high distinction); and 4.0 (highest distinction) during their freshman and sophomore years.

College of Education students receiving the Anderson Scholar award with highest distinction are Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

Education students awarded with high distinction are Simona Blanarikova, Lindsay Burn, Lauren Cassell, Autumn Finke, Felica Hanley, Margaret Kelly, Abby Newman, Caley Rappa and Alexandra Smart.

Scholars honored with distinction are Shannan Campbell, Sicily Guarisco, Cassandra Lussier, Tori Rubloff and Sydney Vail.

“Being recognized as an Anderson Scholar is a huge honor. It also reaffirms that our school takes pride in our accomplishments and that they recognize us for doing so,” said Krista Steele of Orlando. She said she hopes to teach first or second grade after graduation “and make a difference in students’ lives and the education field.”

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Mary Ann Nelson

Anderson Scholars faculty honoree Mary Ann Nelson is a special education lecturer; her colleague Caitlin Gallingane is a clinical assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning. Each student honoree can anonymously nominate one instructor for the faculty honor. Nelson actually has been selected three times overall for the faculty award.

“You go into teaching with the hope of inspiring students. It is always an honor when a student acknowledges any contribution you might have made in that direction,” Nelson said. “I love what I teach and who I teach and it is such a privilege to be a part of their professional training.  I think of them as junior colleagues and it pleases me to be able to share my knowledge and experience with them.”

Student winner Caley Rappa, also from Orlando, described faculty honoree Gallingane as “the teacher we all want to be when we grow up, not just as a professor but especially an elementary school teacher. I believe Dr. Gallingane is the heart and soul of the College of Education.”

GALLINGANE, Caitie (2013)

Caitlin Gallingane

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 Scholars award program 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.


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

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Leite and Collier win best paper award

Walter Leite

Walter Leite

Zachary Collier

Zachary Collier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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Doctoral candidate awarded KDPi scholarship for second straight year

Natalie Ridgewell

Natalie Ridgewell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Collier receives McKnight Doctoral Fellowship

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

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COE doctoral candidate Zachary Collier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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College honors five ‘outstanding’ students for 2014-15

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

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

Madison Buchert

Madison Buchert

Outstanding Undergraduate Student
Unified Elementary ProTeach
Madison Buchert

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

Shelby Boger

Shelby Boger

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



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

Julie Bokor

Julie Bokor

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

Natalie King

Natalie King

Outstanding Graduate Student
Leadership
Natalie King

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

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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.

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

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UF scholars program taps 7 ProTeach students, 3 faculty mentors

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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.

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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.

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

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Marissa Elordi

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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.”

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

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Gainesville Sun — Mom follows daughter to UF; gets master’s degree

The Gainesville Sun
12-19-14

Mom’s journey following daughter to UF culminates in master’s degree
The Gainesville Sun ran a feature story on 64-year-old Roxie Gordon, who followed her daughter, former UF tennis star and COE student Alexis Gordon–to UF as a student and in December received her master’s degree in mental health counseling from the COE.

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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.

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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.”


CONTACTS
   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

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Math educator grant aids ProTeach senior Rachel Andrews

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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Breast cancer doesn’t stop ed tech student from earning her doctorate

Chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and a regimen of pills to counteract the side effects of other prescriptions couldn’t stop Johanna “Jo” Kenney from earning her doctorate in education technology from UF while holding down a full-time job—in Texas.

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Jo Kenney, center, poses before her graduation ceremony with her parents Robert and Susan Kenney, in front of the statue of Gator mascots Albert and Alberta at UF’s Emerson Alumni Hall.

When Kenney was presented with an Ed.D. degree during the UF College of Education’s commencement on April 25 at the O’Connell Center, few people knew what the past 18 months had been like for the 41-year-old distance-learning student, who had just flown to Gainesville from San Antonio for the ceremony.

Kenney said “it hit me like a ton of bricks” when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in February of 2013 — three years into her doctoral coursework at UF.

“Time stood still,” she said. “I was in shock.”

But Kenney regrouped, and she and her doctors mapped out a treatment strategy that would allow her to keep her civilian job with the Department of Defense at Fort Sam Houston and continue working on her dissertation and coursework.  

“They told me 2013 was really going to suck, but then I’d be cured,” Kenney said.

 After the first three of eight chemotherapy sessions, Kenney successfully defended her dissertation proposal via Skype.

 A month later, she was asked to take over as interim head of the education technology department at the Medical Education and Training Campus — a joint military facility at Fort Sam Houston — when her boss of three years quit unexpectedly.

 In June, Kenney’s grueling year got more “sucky” thanks to federal budget sequestration. For 11 weeks she had to take off one day unpaid each week. The subsequent government shutdown resulted in Kenney being furloughed in October, when she was home recovering from the double mastectomy she underwent in September.   

 “And that’s the short version of all that happened,” Kenney quipped. “There were times when I wasn’t trying to take things one day at a time. I was surviving from moment to moment.”

 Through it all, she kept her eyes on the prize.

 In March of this year, Kenney summoned the strength to fly to Gainesville and  successfully defend her dissertation, titled The Future of Simulations in Allied Healthcare Education and Training: A Modified Delphi Study Identifying Their Instructional and Technical Feasibility.

Jo Kenney (center) poses with her family before UF's commencement for doctoral graduates. Pictured with her in front row are her mother, Susan Kenney, and her aunt, Carolyn Barczc; back row are her brother, Jeff Kenney, and her father Robert Kenney.

Jo Kenney (center) poses with her family before UF’s commencement for doctoral graduates. Pictured with her in front row are her mother, Susan Kenney, and her aunt, Carolyn Barczc; back row are her brother, Jeff Kenney, and her father Robert Kenney.

 “It’s very difficult to be articulate after you’ve had chemo,” she said. “My adviser and three other professors didn’t go easy on me, but they were patient. They gave me time to finish my sentences.”

 Kenney also has maintained a blog during her ordeal. Titled “Bring It On: A Journey Through Breast Cancer, Dissertation and Life,” the blog (http://whyshoulditbeeasy.blogspot.com) proved to be a source of healing. Laced with humor and a multitude of inspirational quotes from well-known people, Kenney learned from her readers that she wasn’t alone.

 “Survival is more than just putting one foot in front of the other,” she wrote on Feb. 7, 2013. “It’s laughing when you trip over your own feet. Laughter and friendship make even the worst days possible to deal with.”

 Another entry — made exactly one year later — summarizes Kenney’s future plans.

 “To face adversity and survive is wonderful,” she wrote. “But to use this journey to help others I think is the next part of the journey.”

 Kenney says she is feeling stronger every day, and that she is taking spinning classes to build up her stamina.

 “On a scale of 1-to-10, I’d give myself a 7 in terms of my overall health,” she said.  “I’ll be on a maintenance drug for 10 years, but at least I have more control over my situation. Now I can turn this into something positive.

“I’m looking for my next challenge at this point, but I’ll take my time looking for the right fit. I’d like to be a manager of instructional design, or a director of learning technologies or educational technology and innovation. Something where I can help support and improve the student experience.”


CONTACTS
   Writer: Stephen Kindland, UF College of Education, News & Communications, 352-273-4449, skindland@coe.ufl.edu
   Media Relations: Larry Lansford, UF College of Education, News & Communications, 352-273-4449, llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anderson Scholars 

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COE international students honored for academics, service

College of Education

Mary Brownell (back row, left) and Theresa Vernetson smile with (front row, from left to right) Nari Choi, Sungar Gurel and Yasemin Sert, three of the four College of Education recipients of a Certificate of Outstanding Academic Achievement from the UF International Center.

Four UF College of Education international students ­– Nari Choi, Sungur Gurel, Ahyea (Alice) Jo, and Yasemin Sert ­­– were recently honored with a Certificate of Outstanding Academic Achievement by the university’s International Center. 

The annual award recognizes international undergraduate and graduate students across the University of Florida who have achieved an exceptional record of academic work, scholarship and service to the UF community. 

Choi (from South Korea) is a doctoral student studying special education. She is also a research assistant in the College of Education’s CEEDAR Center, a national center to improve teaching and leadership supporting students with disabilities. Choi’s scholarship focuses on cultural linguistic diversity and students with disabilities. 

Gurel (Turkey) is pursuing a Ph.D. in research and evaluation methodology, in which he recently received his master’s degree. He is also pursuing a minor in statistics. Gurel has been involved as a researcher and paper author for a number of College of Education-based studies about how statistics are used in education. 

Jo (South Korea) is a pursuing her doctorate in ESOL and bilingual education. Since 2008, she has been involved in a U.S. Department of Education-funded grant for which she has helped plan, develop and produce professional development videos. Jo has also contributed to conference presentations related to the research. 

Sert (Turkey) is a doctoral student in mathematics education. She has taught pre-service teachers at the College of Education for five semesters, and has received consistently high rating each time. Sert is also participating in a research project on how technology can support algebra instruction.

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Student’s ‘best essay’ depicts post-WWII education mission in Japan

DSC_0096Kenneth Noble, a University of Florida College of Education doctoral student, will join most Americans this Saturday in remembering and honoring those who died in Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941—a date that President Franklin Roosevelt declared “will live in infamy” forever. The United States declared war on Japan the day after the attack and entered World War II. 

Noble, though, is just as interested in what happened after the war ended in 1945, when the United States and other Allied forces backed an effort to democratize occupied Japan and reform its education system. 

Scheduled to receive his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in social foundations of education in 2016, Noble recently received the Henry Barnard Prize from the national History of Education Society for an essay he authored about this post-war education mission to Japan. The prize honors the year’s best graduate student essay about the history of education around the world. Noble received a $500 stipend with the award and his essay will be published in an upcoming issue of History of Education Quarterly, the society’s flagship journal. 

Prior to enrolling at UF, Noble, 30, received two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees in history and social studies education from Mississippi State University in his home state. He also taught social studies at a high school in South Carolina for three years and was a teaching assistant at Mississippi State University for two years. As he pursues his doctoral degree at UF, Noble also teaches a course on the history of American education and another on social studies for diverse learners. 

His essay explores Charles S. Johnson’s role in the education mission in Japan, which lasted until 1952. Johnson was a prominent sociologist and the first black president of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. He was the only non-white member of the 27-member American committee of educators selected to participate in the Japanese reform effort. 

During the mission, Johnson, who was interested in civil rights and educational opportunities for black children, noticed that the United States was eliminating the barriers on education in Japan so that all people, regardless of racial, gender, religious or economic differences, could attend school. 

“Here we are promoting ourselves as the bastion of democracy, but in our own country we’re not really following those ideals,” Noble said. 

During this time in the 1940s and ‘50s, the United States enforced the Jim Crow laws, which legalized the segregation of black and white people. According to Noble, when Johnson returned to the United States, he focused on publicizing and eliminating that discrepancy between how the United States portrayed itself to the rest of the world and how the country actually functioned. 

“(Until now) the only people who ever read my work are my professors,” said Noble, whose research interests include post-World War II contexts, social justice and civil rights issues. “Now that I’ve written something that has a larger audience and has been deemed publishable and presentable, I feel like I’ve added to the realm of the history of education.”


CONTACTS
SOURCEKenneth Noble, doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, knoble3159@ufl.edu, 662-341-2671
WRITER: Alexa Lopez, news and communications office, UF College of Education, akl@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4137
MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, news and communications office, UF College of Education, llansford@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4137

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Education doctoral student recognized for mentoring efforts

NatalieKingNatalie King, a doctoral student in UF’s curriculum, teaching and teacher education program, is a recipient of the 2013 Graduate Student Mentoring Award given by UF’s I-Cubed program. 

King previously was a biology and chemistry teacher at Gainesville’s Eastside High School and an instructor for the UF College of Medicine’s Health Care Summer Institute. 

I-Cubed, which stands for Innovation through Institutional Integration, is a five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation to foster integration of all student-based research and training programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Their Graduate Student Mentoring Award recognizes graduate students who take time to help others succeed in their undergraduate or graduate studies or in K-12 classrooms. The award comes with a $500 cash stipend. 

“Natalie King exemplifies the true relationship that exists between a mentor and a mentee,” wrote Rose Pringle, an associate professor in science education, in her recommendation of King. Pringle is King’s faculty adviser. “The students in the Alachua County community are benefiting from her passion and her desire to have them succeed academically, pursue college aspirations and become engaged in STEM.” 

King’s passion for mentoring is evident in her experience over the years as a mentor for students of all ages. She first began mentoring for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Alachua County seven years ago. She has also designed a mentoring project for underrepresented middle school girls in the local Emerging Young Leaders program, as well as a curriculum for a summer enrichment program for K-12 students in Alachua County. 

“I had great role models and mentors growing up, so I made it my duty to personally mentor students in addition to creating mentoring programs involving the community,” King said. 

As a high school teacher, King encouraged her students to pursue college degrees and careers in science. Now, she mentors pre-service students during their practicum in the College of Education. 

King has been recognized several times for her mentoring, academics and scholarship. At UF, she is a Florida Education Fund McKnight Doctoral Fellow and a Graduate School Fellow. She also received a UF Presidential Service Award earlier this year.

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Counselor ed student honored by regional organization

RachelHenesyRachel Henesy, a UF graduate student in counselor education, has received the Outstanding Student at the Master’s Level Award by the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. 

The group is a division of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. The award honors master’s students who exceed the demands of their graduate program and show exceptional promise for a productive career in counseling. 

Henesy is pursuing her master’s and specialist degrees in mental health counseling at UF’s College of Education, where her focus is primarily on community counseling, adolescent development, counseling research, and social justice. She is currently an intern at the PACE Center for Girls, a Gainesville alternative school for adolescent girls. She also serves as co-president for the UF student chapter of Counselors for Social Justice and co-chair for the advocacy committee of UF’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the international honor society for students, professionals and educators in counseling. 

Rachel is a member of two faculty-led research teams and has worked as a student assistant on three grant-funded research projects. She has presented and co-presented at conferences held by the American Counseling Association, the Association for Assessment in Counseling and Education, and the Florida Counseling Association.

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Counseling group honors grad student for research, practice

MelanieVarneyMelanie Varney, pursuing her master’s and specialist degrees in mental health counseling at UF’s College of Education, has received the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling’s (AARC) 2013 Master’s Exemplary Research and Practice Award. The award recognizes the contributions a master’s student has made in scholarship and service that align with the group’s mission. 

Varney’s research focuses on multicultural issues in counseling, especially cultural identity development. She has been involved in the Pediatric Counseling Research Team at the College of Education and has studied educational issues affecting historically underperforming minority students. 

She has made two research presentations at the AARC conference and the American Counseling Association conference. Varney was the lead presenter at the ACA’s conference last year, a rare distinction for a master’s student. Varney has been invited to return to the ACA conference again as a co-presenter for an educational session discussing the trends in African American counseling literature that have been published in the past 20 years.

Varney has also excelled in her clinical experiences. She is currently completing her internship at the UF Counseling and Wellness Center. Previously, she was a counseling practicum counselor at the PACE Center for Girls, a local non-residential delinquency prevention program for young females. Varney is also currently employed as a crisis intervention consultant for UF’s Department of Housing and Resident Education.

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PhD candidate in elite company after winning national honor for aiding exceptional children

CrystalBishop2

Crystal Crowe Bishop, a University of Florida doctoral candidate in special education, joined some illustrious company with College of Education ties after receiving the 2013 J. David Sexton Doctoral Student Award from the Division for Early Childhood of the international Council for Exceptional Children.

Bishop joins a growing line of UF EduGators who have previously received the annual Sexton honor, which recognizes a doctoral student who has made significant contributions to young children with special needs and their families through research, higher education, publications, policy, and information dissemination. The award is named for J. David Sexton, who was a revered mentor and leader in the field of early intervention and early childhood special education.

Previous Sexton award recipients with links to UF’s nationally-ranked special education program include alumna Tara McLaughlin (honored in 2010), who now works as a senior lecturer at Massey University in New Zealand; alumnus Brian Boyd (2004), now on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill faculty; and Patricia Snyder (1991), director of the Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies who holds the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies. Snyder is Bishop’s doctoral adviser and also studied under Sexton while pursuing her own Ph.D. degree at the University of New Orleans.

The Council for Exceptional Children, which sponsors the award, is the world’s largest advocacy organization for students with disabilities.

“I first heard about this award when I was only a few months into my doctoral program, and I remember thinking ‘I hope I can be that kind of scholar someday,’” said Bishop, who hopes to find a post-doctoral research position after her graduation. “To receive the award is an affirmation of my commitment to this work, but it also motivates me to continue to make important contributions to the field.”

Working as a graduate research assistant at UF’s CEECS, Bishop’s focus is in improving instruction in early childhood settings, including strengthening the professional capacity of leadership personnel. Bishop is also investigating how early childhood policies are translated and enacted into practice.

She first became interested in helping children with disabilities as a youth worker in a group home for adolescents who had hearing impairments. Later, she became a teacher for infants and toddlers at an all-inclusive preschool, where she worked with children with special needs. One child’s parent, Barb Best, who nominated Bishop for the award, said Bishop was “more than ‘just a teacher’” to her students.

“Without a doubt, I would entrust her with my children’s lives,” Best wrote in her recommendation letter for Bishop.

Since then, Bishop has received her master’s degree in human development counseling from Vanderbilt University. Throughout her graduate studies, she has also been involved in several research projects funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. Further, Bishop has authored a number of academic articles, book chapters, and presentations related to her research interests.

Bishop’s commitment to serving young children through her research, policy work, and teaching experiences has left a lasting imprint. According to Snyder, her doctoral adviser, Bishop “exemplifies the essence” of the J. David Sexton Doctoral Student Award.

“Crystal embodies many of the scholarly and interpersonal characteristics that David possessed and that he valued in others,” Snyder said. “He would be proud that Crystal is a part of his extended ‘academic’ family.”

Bishop will receive the award Oct. 18 at the Division for Early Childhood’s annual international conference in San Francisco.


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

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College honors year’s outstanding graduate students

COE associate deans Tom Dana (left) and Thomasenia Adams (right) flank the college's Outstanding Graduate Student Award recipients (from left) Rachel Wolkenhauer, Kiwanis Burr and Amber Benedict at the college's recent Recognition Dinner.

COE associate deans Tom Dana (left) and Thomasenia Adams (right) flank the college’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award recipients (from left) Rachel Wolkenhauer, Kiwanis Burr and Amber Benedict at the college’s recent Recognition Dinner.

 

Congratulations to Rachel Wolkenhauer, Kiwanis Burr and Amber Benedict, selected as 2013 Outstanding Graduate Students at UF’s College of Education.

The winners hail from the doctoral degree programs in curriculum and instruction, higher education administration and special education, respectively. Their mini-profiles below show why they were selected:

Outstanding Graduate Student – Research
Rachel Wolkenhauer
 
Rachel is a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, as well as a graduate of the College of Education’s Teacher Leadership for School Improvement master’s degree program. For the past two years, she has also served as the graduate assistant and teacher in residence at the Lastinger Center for Learning. Rachel is highly esteemed by her superiors for her leadership, talents and contributions regarding research about teacher preparation and professional development. She has had a role in numerous publications, presentations and professional development activities. Rachel has also maintained a high GPA throughout these experiences and consistently exceeds expectations in her coursework. 

Outstanding Graduate Student – Leadership
Kiwanis Burr

Kiwanis is a doctoral student in higher education administration. She is committed to promoting social justice and equity, starting on the University of Florida’s campus. Through her service and leadership, Kiwanis has made an impact on the University Minority Mentor Program, which aims to encourage its minority or first-generation college students to complete a college degree. As program coordinator of the program, Kiwanis has improved its group activities and student retention rate. Her dedication to serving underrepresented youth is also mirrored in her continued service to the College of Education diversity initiatives.

Outstanding Graduate Student – Professional Practice
Amber Benedict

Amber is a doctoral student in special education. After years of experience in special education classrooms, Amber was moved to support current special education teachers through research, curriculum planning and professional development opportunities. She began her work through UF’s Literacy Learning Cohorts, a project aimed at helping special education teachers in Alachua and Clay counties better teach language alongside the core reading curriculum, as well as to increase intervention to students with disabilities. Later, Amber began a professional development project with third- and fourth-grade general and special education teachers in Clay County. Amber’s extraordinary work and leadership within these programs has made a significant impact on the practices of the teachers with whom she worked, as well as their students.

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Outstanding ProTeach undergraduates honored

Congratulations to Cristina Rossi and Kelly Craft, chosen as 2013 Outstanding Undergraduate Students at UF’s College of Education. Rossi is a May bachelor’s graduate from the college’s Unified Early Childhood program, and Craft is with Unified Elementary ProTeach.

Their impressive credentials summarized below explain why they were honored:

ROSSI, Cristina 2Outstanding Undergraduate – Unified Early Childhood
Cristina Ross
Cristina consistently excels in all areas of her academic life. Since 2010, she has earned UF President’s Honor Roll (for perfect 4.0 GPA) or Dean’s List (3.75 GPA or higher) awards each semester. Cristina is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Her professors have been impressed by her active participation in class and efforts to enact best teaching practices in assignments and in the field. Cristina is also a successful leader within UF and the community. She served this year as vice president of the Education College Council.

CRAFT, Kelly 2Outstanding Undergraduate – Unified Elementary ProTeach
Kelly Craft
Kelly takes every opportunity to work with children. At UF, she has maintained an outstanding GPA while working for two after-school programs and volunteering in programs for mentally- and physically-disabled children. A supervising classroom teacher assessed Kelly’s field teaching by writing in her report: “Wow, you’ve got a good one here!” Kelly’s passion for teaching is mirrored in her involvement in a number of professional organizations including the Kappa Delta Pi education honor society. She also represents her ProTeach cohort on the Student Advisory Council and is treasurer of UF’s women’s surf club and a certified lifeguard.

 

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COE Outstanding Female Leader is all-star on Gator soccer team, too

HollyKing

Elementary education senior Holly King knows how to be a leader, whether it’s for a classroom of elementary school students or a team of Gator soccer players.

Next month, she will receive UF’s Outstanding Female Leader award during her undergraduate graduation. King is part of the five-year elementary education ProTeach program and played as senior defensive midfielder for the university’s women’s soccer team, earning All-Southeastern Conference first-team and defensive player of the year honors.

“I was very surprised and feel very humbled to have received this prestigious award,” King said. “Our elite student body is filled with leaders and to be selected to represent them is a great honor.” 

During her studies, King demonstrated these leadership qualities by creating fun and engaging lesson plans and adapting if they failed, which presented similar challenges to those she faced as captain of the soccer team. 

“What I learned on the field translated into the classroom as a teacher when getting to know my students and their different levels of learning,” King said. 

Shane M. Lardinois

Photo by Shane M. Lardinois.

Her professors, too, have seen her growth and commitment in her academic work. For example, King tutored a struggling reader and was responsible for planning daily tutoring sessions with him. After six weeks, King helped the student gain eight reading levels.

“Holly was very dedicated, yet humble,” said elementary education professor Caitlin Gallingane, who had King for two of her reading courses. “She worked hard to fit together both her academic career and her soccer career and still meet the high expectations of her instructors, coaches, and peers. She will be a wonderful professional teacher and role model for her students.” 

King was also a strong leader on the soccer field. She was selected to the UF women’s soccer team’s leadership committee in her freshman year, on which she served for three years. By her senior year, King was named team captain. As captain, she led the team to the SEC Championship and the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. 

“I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches and teachers in the nation, which afforded me the opportunity to develop as a leader,” she said. “As a captain on our women’s soccer team, I adapted and adjusted to my teammates’ personalities in order to communicate appropriately.” 

Soccer coach Becky Burleigh told the Independent Florida Alligator that King’s leadership is a big asset to the team. 

“Having Holly on the team is like having a coach on the field,” Burleigh said. 

Read the rest of the Alligator’s profile about King and her leadership on and off the field here.

Photo by Shane M. Lardinois.

Photo by Shane M. Lardinois.

Doctoral student receives National Data Institute fellowship

 

ULMER, Jasmine (crppd, 2:2013)Jasmine Ulmer, a doctoral student in educational leadership, was selected as a fellow for this year’s National Data Institute on the datasets of the National Center for Education Statistics and National Science Foundation. 

 

The institute serves as an intensive introduction to using national data to support research on science, engineering and postsecondary education. The meeting will take place from July 14 to 20 in Washington, D.C. 

 

“I hope to gain an in-depth understanding of federal research policies and procedures,” Ulmer said. “I’m interested in learning more about how the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Education Statistics collect data on issues in postsecondary education that address the career pathways of teachers and school leaders.”

 

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STL doctoral fellow named national scholar for research, social justice promotion

JulieBrownJulie Brown, a UF doctoral fellow in curriculum and instruction, has been named as one of six Jhumki Basu Scholars by the National Association for Research in Science Teaching’s Equity and Ethics Committee.

Brown is a former high school science teacher and P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School’s elementary science coordinator.

At UF’s College of Education, Brown researches and designs professional development for secondary science teachers as a means of enhancing their ability to provide culturally responsive and inquiry-based instruction. Her STARTS – Science Teachers Are Responsive To Students – professional development model, for example, is designed to empower science teachers in high-need, urban school districts.

Brown’s professional development model is incorporated within a major partnership being forged between UF and the School District of Palm Beach County. It’s part of an ambitious effort to position the school system as a national leader in the recruitment and retention of master teachers in the STEM subjects who can lead their students to the highest levels of academic success.

“Science education must be accessible to all students,” Brown said. “Increasing culturally-responsive science education’s presence on a wide scale begins with teacher preparation.”

The Basu Scholars Program supports and nurtures promising young scholars who promote social justice. The program also provides scholars with a $700 research scholarship.

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UF doctoral candidate receives $20K grant for dissertation

LianNiuLian Niu, a doctoral candidate in higher education administration at the University of Florida, was awarded with a $20,000 grant from the Association for Institutional Research that will fund her dissertation research.

Niu is one of 10 doctoral students from across the country that received the dissertation grant, which is funded by the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Science Foundation and the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative.

In her research, Niu is exploring the predictors of college students’ enrollment patterns in science, technology, engineering and math majors by looking at students’ family socioeconomic status and financial resources.

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Academic women’s group taps doctoral candidate as ‘emerging scholar’

LaurenTrippLauren Tripp, a doctoral candidate in curriculum, teaching and teacher education, was recently honored by the Association for Academic Women as an emerging scholar for her dissertation research.

The association named Tripp as a finalist in its Emerging Scholar competition and will reward her with a $1,000 cash award. The award was created to honor outstanding female graduate students. Tripp will receive the award on March 27 at the Women’s History Month reception.

Tripp’s research investigates the academic success of first-generation black male college students from a high-poverty background. With her findings, she is developing a theory describing the resilience of these college students who are currently attending a large, public, predominantly white university. Tripp said their academic success could be attributed to past challenging teachers, strict discipline from family members, involvement in a gifted or honors program in elementary school, and having male mentors outside of their families.

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‘Rising star’ crafts plot to narrow learning gap

Sometimes, all it takes is a notable quote to inspire a person to seek change, lead reform and serve the community.

For University of Florida education doctoral student Jasmine Ulmer, the life-changing words were voiced by former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige: “In the greatest, wealthiest nation the world has ever known, nearly seven out of 10 fourth-graders in big cities and rural areas cannot read. It is our greatest failure as a nation. It is our failure as a people, and we must do something about it.”

At the time, Ulmer was an undergraduate at UF studying English and classical studies. But after stumbling upon Paige’s comments, Ulmer was driven to become a reading teacher and coach.

“After reading that quote, I was inspired to enter the College of Education upon graduation to earn a master’s in reading education,” said Ulmer, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2004 and her master’s degree the following year. “But once I entered the classroom to address challenges in literacy, I became aware of a broader spectrum of challenges that face the students, teachers and leaders in our schools.”

Today, Ulmer is pursuing her Ph.D. in educational leadership at UF, and her professors peg her as a rising star in Florida education policy with a desire to improve the learning gap in schools with the help of teachers and school leaders.

Along with several years of teaching experience, she has participated in a number of education policy projects, including the Florida Department of Education’s FCAT bias review committee from 2008 to 2011. In 2009, she was selected to serve as a U.S. Department of Education teaching ambassador fellow and got the opportunity to travel, speak with education policy makers and attend conferences.

Now she co-chairs the state education department’s teacher and leader preparation implementation committee, which makes recommendations to Florida’s Race to the Top committee about standards and learning targets for state-approved teacher preparation programs.

Ulmer began her upward journey in 2005 as a teacher who took on a variety of roles, from teaching second- and seventh-grade classes to serving as an elementary science coach.

She also found time to collaborate with district, state and federal officials on issues related to advancing the teaching profession.

“As an elementary classroom teacher I could affect 18 students at a time, and as an instructional coach I could influence a thousand students at a time,” she said. “Though I love my students and miss them very much, I felt the way I could best contribute to the profession was to support my students’ teachers on a larger scale.”

Ulmer believes one way the teaching profession can be transformed is through the development of career ladders that build upon teachers’ individual talents and interests. Then, she said, schools might be able to retain more teachers and create stronger internal systems of support.

“For example, some teachers might be able to spend more time mentoring other teachers, leading professional development, designing instruction, utilizing technology, working with the community, or collaborating with researchers on projects,” Ulmer said.

Ulmer’s colleagues and professors tout her as a major player in the future of Florida education. She hopes to focus her dissertation research on how the perspectives and experiences of educators can be better incorporated into educational policy and practice decisions.

“Jasmine has just been an exceptional addition to our class of college research fellows,” said Bernard Oliver, UF program coordinator in educational administration and policy. “Her experience and involvement with Florida’s Race to the Top initiatives provide our students and faculty in educational leadership with the most current thinking about preparing leaders for Florida’s future.”

Ulmer plans to graduate with her Ph.D. in 2015 and then work in academia or for a governmental agency.

“I see myself as one of many voices contributing to a larger conversation,” Ulmer said. “I’m relatively new to the field and feel fortunate for the opportunities that I’ve had, and I hope I’m able to continue making positive contributions.”


WRITER: Alexa Lopez, news and communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449
MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137