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UF gift from novelist James Patterson creates 8 scholarships in elementary education

PattersonIt should come as no surprise that James Patterson, one of America’s current top bestselling authors, has a passion for books and reading, and he supports those who do the same.

But the plot thickens. Patterson believes one way to champion books and reading for children is by supporting our future teachers, which explains why his Patterson Family Foundation has donated $48,000 for scholarships benefiting eight elementary education students at the University of Florida.

“I was especially impressed by the teaching program at UF’s College of Education,” said Patterson, who lives in Palm Beach. “As a Floridian myself, I know UF is committed to quality in education, and I want to help these students who are eager to become great teachers.”

Patterson has sold more than 275 million copies of his books worldwide and has received and been nominated for numerous awards. He also holds the Guinness world record for most hardcover fiction bestselling titles by a single author. 

His foundation’s gift to the college will award eight incoming elementary education students with a $6,000 scholarship for the 2013-2014 school year. The scholarship recipients will be obligated to submit a written essay by the end of the academic year in which they describe how they plan to apply what they have learned in their teacher education program within their future classrooms.

“Great teachers are at the core of our democracy,” said Elizabeth Bondy, the director of the college’s School of Teaching and Learning. “This gift will enable dedicated college freshmen to become practitioner scholars who will educate our youth and lead ongoing efforts to strengthen schools and society.”

The Patterson Family Foundation has provided scholarships to undergraduate and graduate education students at more than 15 colleges across the United States. The author and his wife also support scholarships at their alma mater universities, Manhattan College, Vanderbilt University and the University of Wisconsin. 

Patterson, author of best-selling suspense-thriller series like Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club and Michael Bennett, is also the current bestselling author in the young adult and middle grade categories.

SOURCE: Sabrina Benun, Hachette Book Group, 212-364-1487,
SOURCE: Elizabeth Bondy, School of Teaching and Learning, UF College of Education, 352-273-4242,
MEDIA CONTACT: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137,
WRITER: Alexa Lopez, news and communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449,


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


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.


COE researchers out in force at AERA’s massive annual meeting

(Click here for PDF listing of UFCOE presentations)

For years, the massive annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association has been a hotbed of the latest research and new ideas about teaching-and-learning practices and policies. This year, some 65 UF College of Education faculty and students participated in the 2013 meeting April 27-May 1 in San Francisco, joining 14,000 other education scholars from 75 nations. 

This year’s meeting theme focused on the relationships of education and poverty—how education theory, research, policy and praxis contribute to alleviating economic, intellectual and moral poverty.

Mirka Koro-Ljungberg...4 AERA presentations

Mirka Koro-Ljungberg              …4 AERA presentations

More UF education scholars, from multiple disciplines, attend AERA’s annual meeting than any other professional gathering. The EduGator contingent in San Francisco included 34 college faculty and 31 graduate students participating in presentations, panel discussions and association-related business meetings.

The UF presentations included hot education topics such as:

  • The effect of charter schools on student achievement
  • How neighborhoods contribute to children’s language and literacy development
  • Games and simulation courses in education technology
  • Analyzing the urban middle school transition and persistently disciplined students
  • Does teacher preparation for English Language Learners matter?
  • Leadership standards and accountability in Florida: Do they address poverty and social justice issues?
  • Supply and demand context for special-education teacher preparation reform
  • Writing instruction: What do preservice teachers know?

The busiest COE faculty attendees were Walter Leite and Mirka Koro-Ljungberg (both from research and evaluation methods), with four presentations each. Mary Brownell (special education), Ester de Jong (ESOL/bilingual education), Bernie Oliver (education leadership) and Albert Ritzhaupt (education technology) each made three presentations.

The complete AERA annual meeting program is available online at

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


Eight education majors named ‘Anderson scholars’

Faculty mentor honoree Dustin Jones, center, poses with four of the eight Anderson Scholars (pictured from left): Brenna Burke, Janelle Lopez, Date Logan and Katie Stults.

Eight College of Education undergraduates have received a prestigious campus-wide award for academic achievement, and an education faculty member was recognized for his mentorship of several of the honored students.

The College of Education student recipients are ProTeach elementary education majors Brenna Burke, Kate Logan, Janelle Lopez, Alexandra Ramlow, Katherine Romero, Carolyn Smith, and Katie Stults; and ProTeach early childhood education major Jennifer Standsfield.

Mathematics education instructor Dustin Jones, who was nominated by Logan and Lopez, was chosen as an Anderson Scholar Faculty Honoree. Jones is a visiting clinical assistant professor and just finished his first semester at the university.

The students were awarded the Anderson School Certificate of Distinction, High Distinction or Highest Distinction, which is given by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to UF students who have maintained a full, uninterrupted course load and at least a 3.90, 3.95 or 4.00 GPA, respectively, during their first two years at the university.

“It is nice to be recognized for my efforts during my first two years and to know that my accomplishments have not been overlooked,” Lopez said. “I’m glad that my fellow education majors and I have been distinguished as high-achieving students, and I hope we can represent all education majors as hardworking and talented students.”

The Anderson Scholar Faculty Honoree recognizes professors who have mentored Anderson scholars.

“It warms my heart to be identified by my students as inspiring and influential,” Jones said. “These eight Anderson scholars are well on their way to becoming successful teachers who will inspire and influence the next generation of students.”

The Anderson scholar and faculty honoree awards are named after James Nesbitt Anderson, who served as the first dean of what used to be the College of Arts and Sciences between 1910 and 1930. The award was initiated a few years ago by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in part because of the historical role the college has played in the education of undergraduate students during their first two years at UF.

UF-honored student-teacher excels in both roles in the classroom

When 21-year-old Carla-Ann Brown isn’t exploring Gainesville’s culinary diversity or teaching herself how to knit, she is excelling in the classroom, both at the college’s Norman Hall and in fourth grade at Terwilliger Elementary School where she is an intern.

Brown was named an “Outstanding Four-Year Scholar” during summer commencement when she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, a 3.97 GPA and various awards and honors. Now, she is a graduate student at UF studying elementary education.

Brown credits the University of Florida’s teachers, opportunities and connections for her successes.

“UF offers so many experiences and so many placements so that you can become a well-rounded teacher,” she said.

Above all, Brown’s most rewarding academic experiences happened in the classroom, and not when she was the one behind the desk.

One of her favorite memories as an undergraduate was her first time interning in a classroom. That was the moment she was finally able to apply her academic work to pursuing her dream career.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but now I think I have more knowledge and more experience that I can share with my students,” said Brown, who wants to teach fourth grade, particularly gifted students who are sometimes overlooked because “teachers feel they don’t need the help or extra attention.”

Brown said what makes her unique as a teacher is how she connects with her students.

“I try to be relatable to my students because I know from experience that if what they’re learning is not relatable to their real-life situation, then it’s not going to have an impact on them whatsoever,” Brown said.

Her inspiration for this attitude is her sixth- and seventh-grade language arts teacher in her hometown of West Palm Beach.

“He was so excited about what he taught and I think that’s what drew me in,” Brown said. “I want to have as big as an influence on my students as he did.”

Meanwhile, underneath Brown’s passion and hard work lies “a young person with an older person mentality” who spends hours watching the Food Network and loves to sew,” she said.

Brown even hopes to incorporate cooking and sewing into teaching math and reading to her future fourth graders.

“It would make things more fun and interesting,” she said.

WRITER: Alexa Lopez, 352-273-4449,
MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137,

Social studies organizations names UF alumna ‘Teacher of the Year’

UF College of Education alumna Kassie Erenstoft was named the Dr. Theron Trimble Teacher of the Year among elementary school teachers by the Florida Council for the Social Studies.

The council is a professional organization of social studies educators aimed at promoting social studies instruction in the state.

Erenstoft graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the College of Education. She has been teaching at Spessard L. Holland Elementary School in Bartow, Fla., since 2006. In 2011, Erenstoft was a finalist for Brevard County’s Teacher of the Year award for her engaging and meaningful classroom techniques and her role in connecting teachers with best practices across the district.