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.


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).

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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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COE co-hosts Social Justice Summit

The UF COE co-hosted its 2nd Social Justice Summit: For the Gator Good on Jan. 26-27 on campus. The summit brought together scholars and experts from multiple disciplines, members and advocates of marginalized groups, and other concerned individuals from the university and community to discuss priorities and set aggressive action strategies for eradicating social and racial injustices and biases in the greater Gainesville area.


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.


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.


College honors 5 newly retired faculty: Algina, Clark, Echevarria-Doan, Sherrard and Spillman

2013 Retired Fac Group

College of Education Dean Glenn Good (second from right) celebrates with retired faculty (from left to right) Drs. James Algina, Peter Sherrard, Mary Ann Clark and Silvia Echevarria-Doan at the college’s Retired Faculty Luncheon on Oct. 16.


The College of Education on Oct. 16 honored five newly retired professors who have made significant contributions to their students, their professions and research fields, and the EduGator community. 

Dean Glenn Good hosted a reception at his home for all retired faculty in the area to recognize the newest members of their ranks. They are Drs. James Algina (research and evaluation methodology); Mary Ann Clark, Peter Sherrard and Silvia Echevarria-Doan (all in counselor education), and Carolyn Spillman (Teacher Leadership and School Improvement). 

View photos of the event by clicking here.

The following mini-profiles represent just a small sampling of their many career achievements and the impact they each have had on the college, their students and in their professions. 


ALGINA, James 041Dr. James Algina
Professor of research and evaluation methodology 

James Algina has been on the College of Education faculty for 35 years, chairing the foundations of education department from 1983 to 1995. He was named a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor in 2001 and is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and of the American Psychological Association. He has authored more than 130 refereed articles, two books, eight book chapters, and six encyclopedia articles. Algina has been the editor of the Journal of Educational Measurement and associate editor of the American Educational Research Journal. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Rhode Island and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts in psychometrics and statistics. 

Algina says one of the most rewarding parts of his career was the time spent working with doctoral students and faculty. He has served as the supervisory chair for 20 doctoral students and co-chair for five. He was also a supervisory committee member for almost 200 doctoral students in 22 doctoral programs and for 44 graduated master’s thesis students. His dedication earned him a UF Doctoral Mentoring Award in 2009. 

CLARK, Mary Ann (11-08)Dr. Mary Ann Clark
Professor emeritus in counselor education, school counseling program coordinator 

Mary Ann Clark has been teaching in counselor education at UF since 2000, serving as the school counseling program coordinator for five years. She has chosen phased retirement and will continue as a part-time instructor in counselor education. Her research has focused on male underachievement in public education, counselors as educational leaders, factors in the success of poor and minority students, international collaboration, and school-university partnerships. The College named Clark the 2006-2009 B.O. Smith Research Professor, and the 2008 Graduate Faculty Teacher of the Year. She has participated in more than 100 presentations and publications since 1997, and she has been involved in a number of professional organizations and committees. 

Clark worked for 13 years as a school counselor and administrator with the U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools on military bases in England. She received her bachelor’s in psychology from Wake Forest University and her master’s in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina. She graduated from the UF’s College of Education with her specialist and doctoral degrees in counselor education. 

Echevarria-Doan, SilviaDr. Silvia Echevarria-Doan
Associate professor of counselor education 

Silvia Echevarria-Doan has been a member of the counselor education faculty for 20 years. She has decided to go on phased retirement to continue as part-time faculty. She headed that program area in 2011-12 and has coordinated the marriage and family counseling track for the past seven years. She has also served as clinical coordinator of the Advanced Family Couple and Family Clinic since 1994. She has presented worldwide at professional conferences and has received numerous awards for her scholarly work in areas such as family resilience and strength in family therapy, multicultural issues in family therapy, qualitative research methodology, and relationship violence. 

Echevarria-Doan is an affiliate faculty member for UF’s Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research. She is president of the North Central Florida Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and is a clinical fellow and an approved supervisor in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She is dually licensed as a marriage and family therapist and clinical social worker in Florida. She has a bachelor’s in psychology, a master’s in social work, and earned her Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy at Purdue University. 

imgresDr. Peter A.D. Sherrard
Associate professor emeritus of counselor education 

Peter Sherrard has been with the College of Education since 1986, when he began teaching in the marriage and family therapy and mental health counseling programs. Previously, he worked as a counseling psychologist for several university counseling centers, including six years as director at Kansas State University, one year at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and five years as training director for the psychology internship program at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. At those schools, he also served as an adjunct assistant professor in their respective counselor education graduate programs. Sherrard has more than 40 years’ experience as a marital and family therapist in both agency and independent community practice. 

Sherrard has been involved in dozens of publications, presentations, workshops and professional societies. He has served on the Florida 491 board that administers two of the licenses that UF counselor education students can qualify for, and is a former president of the American Association of State Counseling Boards. He earned his Doctor in Education degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and completed his marriage and family training at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kan. 

Carolyn SpillmanDr. Carolyn Spillman
Clinical assistant professor, professor-in-residence in Collier County for TLSI program

Carolyn Spillman was a professor-in-residence in Collier County for the college’s Teacher Leadership for School Improvement program for three years, recruiting, teaching and mentoring teachers from high-needs schools across the county. She has spent almost 50 years as an instructor in elementary, secondary and post-secondary classrooms. She taught childhood education at the University of South Florida for 20 years, an also taught at Florida Gulf Coast University, which last year honored her with professor emeritus status. 

Spillman has published a number of journal articles and conference papers with her colleagues. She was a member of several professional organizations and is a former president of the Florida Association for Childhood Education International. 

She received her bachelor’s degree from High Point College and graduated from the University of North Carolina with a master’s in elementary education and a doctorate in child development and family relations. She also completed post-doctoral coursework at the University of South Florida at Fort Myers and at Tampa, as well as East Carolina University.

WRITER: Alexa Lopez, news and communications office, UF College of Education; 


Regional group honors Swank as outstanding pre-tenure counselor educator

Jacqueline Swank

Jacqueline Swank

Jacqueline Swank, a UF assistant professor in counselor education, has been honored with the 2013 Outstanding Pre-tenure Counselor Educator 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 recognizes individual faculty instructors in the field who are showing exceptional progress in the early stages of their academic career. 

Swank is considered an emerging leader in counselor education among her colleagues. In her past three years at the College of Education, she has collected six awards for her research and practice and is a principal investigator in three grant-funded projects. Her research interests include counselor development and supervision, assessment related to counseling, creative intervention in counseling, and children and adolescents.

Swank is also well known for her service on several professional committees and organizations and as a dedicated mentor for graduate students.

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Counselor ed study links life stressors to students’ reading scores


From left: Harry Daniels, a professor of counselor education, Dia Harden, a 2010 doctoral graduate (who participated in UF’s original “geo-demographic” study), and Eric Thompson, who received his doctorate this summer. (File photo)

As researchers across the country continue the search for early indicators of academic failure and dropouts, University of Florida education researchers are paying particularly close attention to warning signs predicting reading test scores.

Eric Thompson, a summer doctoral graduate in counselor education at UF’s College of Education, recently completed his dissertation research in which he dissected the causes of a reading achievement gap found among Alachua County students in third through 10th grades.

According to Thompson, the cause of low reading achievement may be rooted in how vulnerable a student has been to stressful circumstances in life, including a low socioeconomic level, minority status, and even low birth weight, which affect academic performance.

One of Thompson’s most significant findings is a striking difference in students’ achievement based on their socioeconomic status.

“Students living in low socioeconomic environments are more likely to encounter more risk factors and experience fewer supports,” Thompson said.

Although this research finding may not surprise some, Thompson said, he and his co-primary investigator Harry Daniels, a professor of counselor education, were able to uncover and describe exactly why such performance gaps occur. 

Their studies showed that the least affluent students scored about 300 points less than their more affluent peers on the FCAT reading exam. Thompson also discovered that most affluent groups started with very high scores in the third grade, while the least affluent students started very low and stayed low throughout their schooling. 

Low socioeconomic level was primarily determined by looking at each student’s family and community lifestyles based on spending patterns, credit card data and other related information. 

However, Thompson’s research showed that students with a low socioeconomic level have also experienced other stressful life circumstances. Compared to students with a middle- to a high-socioeconomic level, the least affluent students were born at a lower birth weight; had parents who were younger and “potentially less mature” when the students were born; had parents with a lower level of education and a higher rate of unemployment; and are currently enrolled in schools with a higher percentage of students with free-and-reduced lunch and a larger population of minority students.

“It would appear from the onset that these students are at more risk for poor academic performance than those in the more affluent group,” Thompson said.

For his doctoral research, Thompson studied students’ reading scores between 2004 and 2011 and tracked trends based on four variables: each student’s biological qualities like gestational age and ethnicity, characteristics about each student’s family including parents’ education, the student’s school demographics, and the lifestyles of those in the student’s community. Thompson calls this the “individual-family-school-community model.”

“You have growth and maturation in the biological domain, including genetics and personality, and the social domain, which includes family, school, community,” Thompson said. “Within this intersection, you have risk and protective factors that relate to stress. The cumulative effect of stressors like poverty, family life and peer stress accumulates through time and can inhibit learning.”

The study also showed that not only did these individual, family, school and community characteristics differ among socioeconomic groups, but their influence on academic risk also differed. For example, minority status and the presence of minority students in their school did not affect affluent students’ performance. Thompson said that students living in a low-socioeconomic environment may receive fewer social and academic supports.

Thompson’s recent research is a follow-up of a 2010 “geo-demographics” study by a UF team that documented a profound correlation between home location, family lifestyles and students’ achievement on state standardized tests.

“While school improvement and teaching quality are vital, we are demonstrating that the most important factor in student learning may be the children’s lifestyle and the early learning opportunities they receive at home,” Daniels said.

Thompson and Daniels hope their findings shed light on the increasing need to tailor classroom and counseling activities so each student’s individual needs are being met.

“It would be irresponsible to treat every child the exact same way because every student comes from a different background and experience,” Thompson said. “We need to ask ourselves, ‘How do we help students develop a lifestyle conducive to academic success? How can we adjust the delivery of education to meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds?’”

SOURCE: Eric Thompson, doctoral graduate in counselor education from the UF College of Education, 352-328-9571,
SOURCE: Harry Daniels, professor of counselor education at the UF College of Education, 352-273-4321,
WRITER: Alexa Lopez, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137,

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Counselor ed graduate receives UF distinguished alumnus award

The University of Florida is honoring Arthur M. (Andy) Horne, a 1967 College of Education master’s graduate, with a 2013 UF Distinguished Alumnus Award 

Horne, who earned his M.Ed. degree at UF in counselor education, was feted at the college’s recent, year-end recognition banquet and will receive the award May 4 at UF’s spring commencement ceremony.

UF Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient Andy Horne poses with COE senior development director Maria Martin at the college's recent Recognition Dinner.

UF Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient Andy Horne poses with COE senior development director Maria Martin at the college’s recent Recognition Dinner.

Horne is a dean emeritus and former Distinguished Research Professor in counseling psychology at the University of Georgia College of Education. He made his mark in education, though, long before retiring in 2012 from his five-year deanship.

Horne was already known for his nearly three decades of research on troubled families and ways to prevent and deal with male bullying and aggressive behavior in schools. Just since 1999, he received more than $7 million in federal grant support to develop and steer the Bully Busters program, designed to reduce violence and bullying in middle schools. His popular 2006 book, Bully Prevention: Creating a Positive School Climate, resulted from that project.

At UF, Horne earned bachelor’s degrees in English education and journalism (1965) before receiving his master’s in counselor education. His first teaching job was at Howard Bishop Junior High in Gainesville. He received his Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University in 1971.

Horne was on the faculty and directed training in counseling psychology at Indiana State from 1971-89 before joining the Georgia faculty, where he headed the counseling psychology department and training program before becoming dean.

Among numerous leadership posts, Horne is past president of the American Psychological Association’s division of group psychology and group psychotherapy and is the current president of the Society of Counseling Psychology. He is a fellow in numerous divisions of the APA and the American Counseling Association.