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Contents Greetings from the Dean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 SETH News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 In the Spotlight. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Health Promotion Management. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 International Training and Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Special Education: Learning Disabilities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Teacher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Faculty Doings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 SETH at a Glance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24


This year’s report is written in the midst of campus-wide strategic planning, during which I’ve had the opportunity to discuss with my colleagues some of SETH’s achievements. I am proud that our students, staff, and faculty embrace American University’s commitment to social responsibility, as well as the effort to exploit our location in Washington, D.C. We are a community of public-focused teachers and learners, and our work is vital to the development of American University’s standing as a twenty-first–century model of engagement and service. Over the coming years, we hope to leverage our accomplishments to position the school as a leader on campus—and in Washington, D.C. We will be looking to our alumni for help in guiding students to pursue intellectually stimulating and professionally enriching studies and experiences. This report profiles the exciting accomplishments of 11 alumni, two students, and one adjunct professor, which we hope will inspire you. We also plan to expand and improve our activities, including new courses and academic programs, research endeavors, and outreach. Everything we do at SETH is grounded in four organizing principles: excellence, diversity, equity, and

community. The first principle, excellence, is the standard by which the other three are defined; it is the bar for our activities and curricula—and by which we measure individual achievement. Within this matrix, we recognize individual excellence as demonstrated by exceptional productivity—but also by commitment to innovation and creativity, social equity, and civic engagement, both local and global. I invite each of you—whether you are an alum, a friend of the school, or a current student—to share with me your vision for SETH. How, for example, do you think we should be using our resources and opportunities? The people of SETH, as this report illustrates, are vital not only to the future of American University but to the region and the world through their contributions. Where we go from here should be determined by how we can best use our strengths and employ our opportunities. All the best to you in the coming year.

Sarah Irvine Belson Dean, School of Education, Teaching, and Health



David Sadker Retires David Sadker’s retirement in spring 2008 marks 36 years of service to SETH. Since 1972, Sadker, with his late wife, Myra, managed more than a dozen federal education grants. Instrumental in developing the university’s master’s in teaching, he served as program director for several years. Sadker’s textbook Teachers, Schools and Society, now in its eighth edition, is a bestseller in the field of education. Nationally known scholars, the Sadkers advocated for gender equity in primary and secondary classrooms. Their book Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls was the culmination of years of research spent observing classrooms and interviewing teachers and school administrators. David Sadker’s many articles on the subject have appeared in both scholarly journals and popular magazines. Changes evident today in teacher training practices, professional development, and school curricula reflect the influence of the Sadkers’ work and writings. In recognition of their contributions to the field, the Sadkers have received awards from the American Educational Research Association, the American Association of University Women, and the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. Since his wife’s death, David Sadker has continued the couple’s work.

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He recently published Gender in the Classroom: Foundations, Skills, Methods and Strategies across the Curriculum (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2007), coedited with Ellen S. Silber. In May 2008, Sadker was named professor emeritus of education, teaching, and health. We wish him the best for a relaxing and productive retirement.





Stephen Vassallo, Alida Anderson, and Daniel Levin Join SETH Faculty With great pleasure, we introduce SETH’s newest faculty members, assistant professors Stephen Vassallo, Alida Anderson, and Daniel M. Levin. Stephen Vassallo joined the School of Education, Teaching, and Health in August 2008. He holds a PhD in educational psychology from Michigan State University. In his dissertation, Vassallo examined the conceptual complexities of teaching and self-regulated learning, using multiple perspectives—sociology, psychology, and philosophy— to explore the roles of choice, control, autonomy, and freedom. He presented his work at recent conferences of the American Education Research Association. Vassallo currently teaches Theories of Educational Psychology and Human Development, and Schools and Society. Alida Anderson, a member of the faculty since September 2009, received her PhD in special education from the University of Maryland–College Park. Her research and teaching interests include language development and literacy acquisition. She also explores the development and implementation of a response-to-intervention mathematics practice for teaching place value and number concepts to primary students with multiple language and learning needs. Anderson has presented her work at international conferences of the Society for the Scientific Study of

Reading, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the National Council for the Teachers of Mathematics. Daniel M. Levin also arrived in September 2009. He received his PhD in curriculum and instruction, with a specialization in science education, from the University of Maryland– College Park in 2008. Levin began his teaching career as a middle school science instructor and went on to teach high school biology, chemistry, science research methods, earth science, and environmental science. He spent nine years teaching in D.C.-area secondary schools. Prior to that, Levin worked as a research biologist at the National Institutes of Health and at Harvard University. He holds a BA in biology and anthropology from Brandeis University and an MA in teaching from Towson University. Levin teaches elementary and secondary science methods.





Providing Opportunities with Educational Readiness (P.O.W.E.R.) In June 2009, SETH and the Youth Services Division of the United Planning Organization (UPO) launched a new college readiness program—Providing Opportunities with Educational Readiness (P.O.W.E.R.)—for low-income seventh graders in D.C.’s Congress Heights neighborhood. The first four-week summer institute brought 20 boys to AU for some unconventional instruction in writing, research, math, science, and history. A cohort of 20 girls arrived in July. Academic director Stacie Tate and P.O.W.E.R. instructors Kristina Tharpe and Court Pearman designed the curriculum, which focused on social justice and student advocacy. Tharpe, a teacher at Truesdell Elementary School, recently became National Board certified after completing SETH’s National Board preparation courses. Pearman is enrolled in SETH’s MAT secondary English program and teaches at D.C.’s Coolidge Senior High School. Students met four days a week for the academic sessions. Subjects were presented in the context of a theme, which changed each week: for example, who we are, exploring our community, exploring our schools, and student advocacy. The P.O.W.E.R. classroom is interactive and experiential—and the approach is decidedly nontraditional. Tate’s writing and research curriculum included living history journals, poetry, oral history, community research, and self-guided reading. Tharpe taught math and science in the context of genealogy, community data (surveys and maps), and bioanalysis (blood type). Her students explored economics through the study of community businesses and resources. Pearman presented social studies by looking at different cultures and the influence of history and culture on world populations.

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Each afternoon, students worked in small groups with professional media instructors to learn the basics of graphic design, video journalism production, DVD authoring, and media literacy. Each student team produced a three-to-five–minute documentary about a social justice issue in their community. More than a technical exercise, the project taught students about what constitutes a strong community, the attributes of a functioning school system, and the benefits of student advocacy. Students presented their documentaries in August at a “red carpet” celebration on campus. Wednesdays were reserved for field trips that related to classroom topics. For example, students conducted community documentaries, filming the environment and interviewing residents and local politicians, such as a member of the school board. This project tied in with the program’s focus on student advocacy, community, and leadership. Other field activities included visits to the Anacostia Community Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Luray Caverns in Virginia. UPO and SETH will continue the partnership during the school year with Saturday workhops. P.O.W.E.R. participants will return to AU each summer until they graduate. A new cohort will join the program in 2011.



Adey Stembridge Heads to Columbia University In June 2008, Adey Stembridge, former director of SETH’s Collaborative for Urban Education Research and Development, left AU for a new post at Teachers College at Columbia University as senior research associate for the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching. As director of the collaborative, Stembridge implemented activities aligned with the goal of the collaborative: to create a joint enterprise composed of SETH, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), and D.C. social and health service agencies and community organizations. He worked with such community organizations as D.C. Voice and College and Career Connections to identify projects to improve schools and enhance educational opportunities for poor and low-income youth. Stembridge previously served for 10 years as director of the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which provides undergraduates from underrepresented groups with the requisite skills to get into and succeed in graduate school. Stembridge received his PhD from AU in spring 2008, after completing his dissertation on the experiences of first-generation students in liberal arts colleges. SETH continues to support the work of the collaborative. We wish Adey Stembridge well in his new endeavors.


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News Pedro Noguerra Speaks at SETH’s Alliance for Quality Urban Education (AQUE) Symposium

In February 2009, Pedro Noguera spoke to more than 150 educators from the AU and D.C. communities about reforming urban schools to meet the needs of students in the twenty-first century. Referring to his new book, The Trouble with Black Boys: And Other Reflections on Race, Equity, and the Future of Public Education, he discussed why most urban schools fail to support their lowest-achieving students. He also cited examples of schools in New York City and Chicago, where principals have created a supportive culture in which nobody is allowed to fail. This includes making available social services, when necessary, to a student’s family. Noguera is a professor in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. He is executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and codirector of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS). The next AQUE symposium is March 20, 2010. The keynote speaker is Sonia Nieto, professor emerita of language, literacy, and culture in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst.

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SETH Awarded New Transitions to Teaching Grant The first cohort of students for the new SETH Transition to Teaching grant began course work for licensure, under supervision of clinical faculty, in June 2008. Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education in October 2007, the grant provides funds to recruit, prepare, and retain qualified teachers in high-need D.C. public and public charter schools. Peer mentoring is also part of the process, whereby master teachers and new teachers meet in “learning circles” to develop content and instructional strategies.



committing facilitating

NSF Grant to Fund Math for America Fellows at AU “AU has a long history of educating and placing exceptional teachers in Washington, D.C., schools,” said Sarah Irvine Belson, dean of AU’s School of Education, Teaching, and Health. “Partnering with Math for America strengthens our connection to D.C. schools and underlines AU’s commitment to serving our community.” American University is one of only 10 universities in four cities across the nation—and the only one in the D.C. area— to partner with MfA. The Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE) launched MfA D.C. in 2008.

In mathematical terms, the demand for skilled math teachers is greater than the supply in Washington, D.C., public schools. According to the 2007 National Assessment of Student Progress, only 9 percent of eighth-grade students in D.C. public schools qualified as proficient or above in math. And the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent for Education reports that only 43 percent of “core subjects” mathematics lessons in D.C. schools are taught by qualified teachers. A $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation supporting a new partnership between Math for America D.C. (MfA D.C.) and American University will help shift the equation.

“This support from the NSF will be a huge boost for math education in D.C.,” said Maxine Singer, Carnegie president emerita and principal investigator on the grant. “Research shows that rigorous mathematics education in secondary school correlates with success in jobs and college.”

They also must fulfill a commitment to teach in D.C. public and public charter secondary schools for four years. During that time, each fellow will be assigned a personal mentor and participate in professional development activities. MfA D.C.’s goal is to recruit 34 fellows between 2009 and 2013. James H. Simons, mathematician and president of Renaissance Technologies Corporation, founded Math for America in 2004 “to improve the quality of mathematics education in the country’s public schools by recruiting, training, and retaining effective secondary school mathematics teachers.” Adapted from an article by Maggie Barrett at news/20090615_Math_For_America_Grant.cfm

The grant, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, covers graduate school tuition at AU, a stipend, and mentoring costs for the first 14 fellows meeting competitive selection requirements: an undergraduate degree in mathematics or a related discipline. On completion of the intensive graduate program, facilitated through SETH and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, fellows earn an MA in secondary school math teaching and certification to teach in D.C. schools.


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News SETH Launches Nicaragua Project: A Service Learning Experience for Preservice Teachers

In spring 2009, eight graduate and undergraduate education students from SETH traveled to Puerto Cabezas, a coastal town in Nicaragua, for a crosscultural collaboration with teachers at the Porteño School. Destroyed by Hurricane Felix in 2007, it was recently rebuilt. Now faculty and administrators are working to expand the curriculum and broaden community outreach. More than 500 local students, from kindergarten-age children to adults, currently attend the six-room school. Kimberly Palombo, project developer and SETH alumna (BA elementary education ’07 and MA special education ’08) visited Nicaragua in November 2008 to explore how AU students and faculty might help Porteño reach its goals—one of which is to become bilingual, which would make it the region’s only Spanish-English school. Palombo and her co-coordinator Amalie Gorbold, MA international training and education ’09, assembled a team to participate in the service learning project. SETH awarded full scholarships to six undergraduates—Jacob Choi ’09, Jacqueline Raseman ’10, Leslie Heister-Jones ’09, Melissa Gudiel ’11, Kait Brady ’10, Rachel Liscinsky ’11—and one graduate student, Kathryn Wooten ’10. Before their departure, the SETH team designed a project plan and professional development workshops for the Nicaraguan teachers. They also created innovative cultural and language courses for the 400 nonadult students of the Porteño School. The Nicaragua project challenged the SETH students to present ESOL teaching strategies in a culturally relevant way and also to teach culture and language to a new population.

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Their experience will enable them to better serve students in the immigrant communities of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. In turn, SETH’s outreach offered the teachers at Porteño a unique opportunity to learn innovative educational strategies—which ultimately will benefit the entire community. The next team of students will visit Nicaragua in spring 2010.

uniting experiencing teaching discovering

Curriculum Materials Center (CMC) and Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Collection Update The CMC is moving to the third floor (room 312) of the AU library. SETH faculty members and library staff are working to transform the center into a model classroom and teaching space, with easy access to the collections. A new LCD flat screen television will be available for interactive presentations. The CMC’s Larissa Gerstel Critical Literacy Collection has more than doubled in size since 2005 and now holds more than 3,000 volumes of multicultural juvenile literature. We will celebrate the reopening of the CMC on Alumni Weekend—Saturday, October 24, 2009. The event, “Reading Works: AU Alums and Literacy in D.C.,” will feature a presentation by SETH professor Stacie Tate and D.C. teachers, all of whom are SETH alums.


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“SETH’s outreach

offered the teachers at Porteño a

unique opportunity to learn innovative educational strategies,

which ultimately will benefit the

entire community.”

Spotlight in the


Meka Sales

MS in Health Promotion Management ’06

MS in Health Promotion Management ’02

Every day, Christine Schelble appreciates the core master’s course on quantitative assessment that she took at AU. As a research analyst and program manager at a small government contracting firm that supports the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, she regularly draws on her knowledge of statistical and research methods in her work, ensuring that states submit appropriate data on publicly funded treatment facilities in a timely manner.

Meka Sales is passionate about helping people live healthfully. She has found a way to do it in her job as a health care program officer for the Duke Endowment, a private foundation that supports projects related to higher education, health care, children’s welfare, and spiritual life in North and South Carolina.

“The multidisciplinary nature of the health promotion management program has allowed me to thrive in the professional world,” she says. “In addition to having the appropriate health-related knowledge for my job, I have strong analytic, communication, and business skills that allow me to contribute to multiple projects within my company.” Schelble’s master’s thesis, “Association between Physical Activity Behaviors and Type-2 Diabetes Status among Older Adults,” was published in 2008 by VDM.


A philanthropic organization may be an unusual place for a health promotion alumna to land— but not for Sales, whose parents have operated a nonprofit for 25 years. “The foundation world is exciting,” says Sales, “and I have the opportunity to engage in the health care system through strategic investment in the quality of treatment provided to North and South Carolinians, effect public health policy change, and work with other funders on topics that have serious implications for the health of the citizens we serve.” As a graduate student, Sales managed the health promotion program for AU’s National Center for Health Fitness. She subsequently served as assistant program coordinator for health promotion and workplace wellness. Sales plans to continue her work with African American communities and with people suffering with health problems.



coaching Steve Bennett

Chuck Reynolds

MS in Health Promotion Management ’95

MS in Health Promotion Management ’87

Two things attracted Steve Bennett to AU: the integration of the business and science of health promotion and the hands-on learning. With this dynamic foundation, he landed a job as operations manager at a new medical fitness center, part of Kalispell Regional Medical Center. He left there to serve as a health management consultant at BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, where he developed programs and services and worked with employer customer groups on employee health management strategies.

Chuck Reynolds is a principal and the president of employer practice for the Benfield Group, a health care marketing and consulting firm based in St. Louis, Missouri, that mainly handles pharmaceuticals, employer human capital, and patient advocacy. The company participates in research, strategy development, and support for marketing plan implementation for health clients. They also work with several large corporations, providing strategic communications support for their health management efforts.

Now, as director of industry marketing at HealthMedia Inc., Bennett is leading the effort to leverage technology not only to manage medical information but also to reach more people and effectively change behavior. What he loves, reports Bennett, is the company’s effort to market health and engage people while applying behavior science. “The field of health management is incredibly hot right now,” says Bennett. “Change is going to be dramatic in terms of technology and broadening how we look at health to include things like mental health issues.” As he sees it, there is no better place to prepare you for this exciting and dynamic industry than the program at AU.

“The greatest thing about my AU experience was that it provided me with two years of deep and broad exposure to health management in the trenches,” says Reynolds. “I started work at the Army Materiel Command two weeks before I even took my first class—and worked probably 30 to 40 hours a week all through my time at AU. That experience yielded insights into what makes people tick, with respect to their health, health behavior, and behavior change. It also provided a wonderful springboard to start my career.”



Spotlight in the

INTERNATIONAL TRAINING AND EDUCATION (ITEP) Homraj Acharya MA in International Training and Education ’03

Hom Raj Acharya grew up in Buddhi, a tiny village in Nepal near the legendary childhood home of Buddha. Acharya spent his mornings cutting grass and collecting firewood in the jungle, then went to school, where classes were held in the shade of a big tree. “Life was difficult,” he says. “Basically you were trapped. There weren’t many options.” Acharya felt desperate to escape. “Somehow, I knew education was the key.” He studied hard, became a teacher and an award-winning writer and novelist, and eventually was accepted to the University of Colorado–Boulder. After completing his degree, Acharya learned about AU’s master’s in international training and education program (ITEP). “The program is multidisciplinary,” he says. “It explores education and development from different perspectives. The professors do actual work in the field. It was perfect for me.” Acharya credits ITEP for providing the foundation he needed to develop a literacy project that is close to his heart. Books in Every Home, as he called it, provides Nepalese villagers with access to reading material, a precious resource in these parts. “In Nepal, especially in the rural villages, there are no libraries,” says Acharya. “The only books available are textbooks from school.” Through the project, books on every subject—from farming to health, even poetry—are delivered to villages, where readers are encouraged to make connections between what they read and their own lives. “I hope the program gives Nepalese some understanding about the power of education to improve their lives,” Acharya says. “Education is available to them, but for many villagers every day in the village is just like the next. School is just a


part of their daily lives. They don’t see it as a way to create new opportunities.” Acharya is an education policy analyst for the District of Columbia, where he reviews funding projects and researches emerging education issues for the mayor and the city council. “It is great to know that my work has a direct impact on children in the District,” he says. “In everything I do, in all the recommendations I’m a part of making, I try to keep their interests foremost in mind.” Back in the village of Buddhi, where his family still lives, Acharya’s parents are proud of their son. “They know I work for the government—and in Nepal, working for the government is a good thing, so they are happy. But I think if they understood more the nuances of what I do and how my work has a direct impact on the children of Washington, D.C., they would be even more impressed.” The original version of this article appeared in the College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Programs viewbook.

taking action

changing lives

Jenny Dickey MA in International Training and Education ’08,

Amy Simms MA in International Training and Education ’09

Jenny Dickey and Amy Simms each received a graduate student research grant from the Mellon Committee for the College of Arts and Sciences in spring 2008. The grant provides secondyear graduate students with funding for thesis or dissertation research and for preparation of external grant proposals. Jenny Dickey wanted to know more about the costs and benefits of short-term, international service-learning programs to hostcountry organizations. She developed her thesis with a focus on Sarajevo, Bosnia, where she had participated in a two-week ITEP practicum with UNICEF and the Step by Step Centre for Educational Initiatives to assess the Child Friendly Schools project. She spent three weeks in Sarajevo conducting fieldwork. What she gleaned from her research was a consensus among host organizations that the costs of these programs usually outweigh the benefits. Leading the list of issues was the shortage of skilled volunteers and the length of the programs, often too brief to complete the project. Input from her peers in the proseminar capstone course, she says, helped her shape her work in the field—and finish her thesis. “I felt the most academically challenged while writing my thesis and conducting this research and could not have done it without the support of ITEP and SETH faculty.”

Dickey now works as the Education Abroad promotion and outreach coordinator at Penn State University. Amy Simms has been in the field translating theory into action. Along with her Mellon grant to assess the U.S. State Department’s Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program, she got to conduct research in the Republic of Moldova, where she teamed up with SETH assistant professor Elizabeth Anderson. FLEX annually brings 1,200 high school students from the former Soviet Union to the United States to attend school for one year. Simms, a former teacher with the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, had helped her students prepare for the FLEX qualifying exam. As a graduate student, she wanted to determine whether the program was accomplishing its goals. Simms’s research revealed a trend: most program alumni elected to remain in Moldova rather than return to the United States. “The FLEX program helped participants see what they could do for their own country,” she said. She completed her thesis in spring 2009 and works as a program associate at the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) in Washington, D.C.



Spotlight in the

SPECIAL EDUCATION: LEARNING DISABILITIES Leah Danoff BA Psychology ’05, MA Special Education: Learning Disabilities ’07

In January 2009, the new Integrity School opened its doors to the children of Ongwediva, Namibia. A joint effort of Leah Danoff and a Namibian colleague, it is the culmination of everything she has worked for since her undergraduate days at AU. Early on, Danoff found a way to merge her passions: education and Africa. A psychology major with a minor in education, she traveled to South Africa with AU Abroad and subsequently opted to go for her master’s. She worked for two years at the Lab School of Washington, where she found inspiration for her school project. “If it were not for my graduate experience,” she said, “I would not be doing what I am doing.” In 2007, she joined the staff of the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help, landing an assignment at Ongwediva College of Education. Through her work as special education advisor, she discovered that the majority of students learned by rote through teacher-centered practices, with no opportunity to apply what they had memorized. “The children can tell you that two plus two is four,” said Danoff, “but when you probe deeper, they do not know how or why they got that answer.” Recognizing an opportunity to introduce a hands-on, learner-centered approach, Danoff and a colleague are starting small: two classrooms—one for children aged three and four, the other for ages five and six, with class size of 20 students maximum. They plan to add one grade each year until they reach full primary-school capacity. Funding is needed to recruit teachers and students, including orphans and vulnerable children, finalize the curriculum, and set up classrooms. Danoff hopes to attract student teachers from the Ongwediva College of Education. A partnership with SETH is in the


works so that AU students will be able to participate in internships or alternative breaks at the Namibian school. If you would like to make a contribution, please contact Leah Danoff at or visit

building inspiring

partnering believing TEACHER EDUCATION Jesse Nickelson Adjunct Professor, Director of International Baccalaureate Programs, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS)

Jesse Nickelson is something of a hometown hero when it comes to D.C. public schools. A graduate of District elementary and middle schools and Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, he taught history and social studies at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School for 11 years and now serves as an administrator at DCPS. While studying at Rollins College in Florida, Nickelson developed a passion for international travel and cultural exchange. His adventures include leading a group of Banneker students on a study tour to Korea, sponsored by the Korea Society’s Project Bridge, in 1999. He received an Intercultural Outreach Program scholarship in 2000, enabling him to participate in an intensive Korean-language course at Yonsei University in Seoul. In 2001, he toured Israel with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum master teacher program.

of participating District schools and students in the Model United Nations program. He has been an active proponent of cultural exchanges for both students and teachers. Nickelson’s goal for 2010 is to see the authorization of three D.C. elementary schools as International Baccalaureate primary-years programs and one middle school as a middle-years program. At present, Banneker is the only public school in Washington, D.C., authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization. Last summer, Nickelson began his doctorate in educational leadership and organizational management at the University of Pennsylvania. He still finds time to teach secondary social studies methods for alternative-route SETH students. “What I like about teaching new teachers,” said Nickelson, “is the ability to [have] direct influence on their development early in their career.” His own qualifications, he added, allow him “to have an easy dialogue with students about how they can improve teaching and learning in the District.”

In 2007, as director of social studies for DCPS, Nickelson was instrumental in implementing the D.C. social studies standards adopted in 2006. Through his work with Global Classrooms and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, he has increased the number



“Standardized testing drives the curriculum in DCPS . . .

but you also need to [teach] students through issues that are

relevant to them.�

Spotlight in the

Kenya Doyle MAT in Secondary Education ’08

Tom Bishop MA in International Training and Education ’08, Graduate Certificate Secondary Teaching ’08, Spring 2008 Ganek Family Student Teacher Mini Grant Awardee

In April 2008, Kenya Doyle, a ninth-grade social studies teacher at Ballou Senior High School in Southeast Washington, D.C., took five of her students on a 10-day trip to Ghana—an opportunity all too rare these days in high-need schools. It was funded largely by a $10,000 donation from the Kinsey Foundation. School officials brought in additional funding, as did the students themselves, who found support in the local community. “Our students are from a very high-poverty area of the city, but we still had students who raised as much as $1,500 on their own so that they could come,” said Doyle. The group, which included coworker Jessyca Jackson and several students from a New York City high school, explored markets, visited rural villages and former slave quarters, and hiked through a rainforest. Tom Bishop used the trip as the basis for an international education research project. The Ballou English teacher queried students before and after their travels about their crosscultural views. He found that the experience had indeed influenced their outlook. “Many kids at our school have never been outside of their neighborhoods,” said Bishop.


“These trips broaden their perspectives on humanity and open their minds.” Bishop hopes to leverage his study to garner support for a study-abroad summer program at Ballou. In spring 2008, Bishop was awarded a Ganek Family Student Teacher Mini Grant for Innovation in Education, enabling him to test out his behavior modification system. “Bishop Bucks,” as he calls it, is a token economy based on fake currency, which students earn by meeting established classroom expectations. Negative behaviors, such as showing disrespect, failing to bring a pen, or being chronically late or absent, garner fines. On the other hand, positive behaviors are rewarded with Bishop Bucks, which are good for buying a soda or a granola bar or other treats. When the group collectively earns $100, they can “buy” a pizza party. Read more about the Ganek Family Student Teacher Mini Grants at The original version of this article appeared in CAS Connections (Summer 2008). cas/connections/08summer2.cfm

Ariella Brodecki BA in Elementary Education ’08, MA in Special Education: Learning Disabilities ’09

Sometimes a student teacher comes along who makes memories. Ariella Brodecki’s thirdgraders at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda, Maryland, will not likely forget how she transformed their classroom into a bustling “world market” featuring crafts and other commodities from more than 10 countries. The objective? To introduce students to business basics—budgets, advertising, management, supply and demand—and how international goods are bought and sold, and also teach them something about geography and world cultures. Funded by a Ganek Family Student Teacher Mini Grant, and with the help of her colleagues and parents of students, Brodecki designed an economic simulation, based on role-playing and an interdisciplinary approach, in which the entire third grade

embracing transforming informing empowering

participated. Each class adopted a continent and students researched its countries and cultures. In small groups, they selected one country and one national product to make, market, and “sell”—to second-graders. At the close of the market, students discussed and analyzed the project. While Brodecki completes her master’s in special education: learning disabilities, she is interning at the Lab School of Washington, where she works with fourth graders. “This project helped me make the decision to go into the MA program, which has an arts-based approach to learning,” she explained. “[By] using a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach, I could see that every kid is great at something.” Established in 2007 and generously supported by Lynne Brenner Ganek, a member of the SETH clinical faculty, Ganek Family mini grants (up to $500) enable student teachers to test innovative projects in their assigned D.C.-area classrooms.

Cosby Hunt Participant, Strengthening the Teaching of American History ’04; Cooperating Teacher ’07

For D.C. public school students, the nation’s capital is a classroom without walls. Most teachers shepherd their students to Washington’s museums and the United States Capitol and other blockbuster sites. But teacher Cosby Hunt likes to shake things up a bit: he takes his students to a cemetery.

history, geography, and street law. And he coaches the tennis and debate teams. No stranger to AU, Hunt, in 2003 and 2004, participated in Strengthening the Teaching of American History—a graduate-level scholarship program for D.C. teachers of American history focused on strategies for improving student appreciation of the subject. In 2007, Hunt was the cooperating teacher for two SETH student teachers, who joined him in his classroom. He also participated in the summer Alliance for Quality Urban Education, which provides scholarships for content courses in the College of Arts and Sciences. Inspired by a social studies methods class, he designed a new curricular unit; in 2008, that unit became a Saturday academy sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History—and oriented around Georgetown’s Mt. Zion Cemetery, the District’s oldest interracial burial ground. During the six-week-long summer academy, 20 students from Bell Multicultural and the School Without Walls explored Mt. Zion’s history and memorial traditions. Hunt and the students designed a walking tour of the cemetery. “Can You Dig It? The Past, Present, and Future of Mt. Zion Cemetery” is one of 80 walks featured in WalkingTown, DC, an online project of Cultural Tourism DC.

A native Washingtonian, Hunt has taught social studies for 11 years at Bell Multicultural High School, where he also teaches advanced placement United States history, D.C. history, world



Faculty Doings In print Sarah Irvine Belson copublished two monographs for the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy: Financial Literacy for Youth with Disabilities with K. Mittapalli and H. Ahmadi and Health and Wellness Research Study: Access to Health Care with D. Klayman, M. Hale, M. Mochel, and T. Zaw. Fred Jacobs, Stephen Hundley, and Mark Drizin copublished Workforce Engagement: Strategies to Attract, Motivate and Retain Talent (WorldatWork, 2007). Adrea Lawrence, T. Winstead, E. Brantmeier, and C. Frey copublished “Language, Sovereignty, Cultural Contestation and American Indian Schools: No Child Left Behind and a Navajo Test Case,” Journal of American Indian Education


47:1 (2008). Lawrence’s review of Amelia V. Katanski’s Learning to Write “Indian”: The Boarding-School Experience and American Indian Literature appeared in History of Education Quarterly 48:2 (2008). Stacie Tate published a chapter entitled “Pieces of the Puzzle” in Dear Paulo: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach, edited by Sonia Nieto (Paradigm, 2008). Vivian Vasquez published “Doing Critical Literacy with Young Children: Using the Everyday to Take Up Issues of Social Justice and Equity in a Prekindergarten Setting,” New England Reading Association Journal 43:2 (2007). She also published “A Classroom with a View: Teachers, Multimodality and New Literacies,” Talking Points 19:2 (May 2008).

Speaker’s corner With the support of an IREX postdoctoral fellowship, Elizabeth A. Anderson spent three months conducting field research in the Republic of Moldova. In July 2008, she presented “Contested History, National Identities, and Shifting Borders in the Moldovan Classroom” at the Comparative Education Society in Europe in Athens. Brec Cooke presented “Law, Language, and Land: A Multimethod Analysis of the General Allotment Act and Its Discourses,” which he coauthored with Adrea Lawrence, at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association in March 2008. In April, Cathy Crocker participated on a panel of mathematics experts for the 2008 College of Arts and Sciences dean’s Mellon colloquium.

Robert Karch gave the keynote address at the Oswald Seminar Series International Benefits Symposium in February 2008. He was featured in the cover story in Health Promotion Practitioner (May/June 2008).

In 2007, Stacie Tate presented “From Critical Theory to Critical Literacy: Praxis Education in an Urban High School English Classroom” at the Eighth Annual Curriculum and Pedagogy Conference in Texas.

In June 2008 at AU, Erin O’Neill lectured on sports nutrition to the U.S. State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Tunisian youth basketball players.

In April, Charlie Tesconi presented “Fairness in Educational Opportunity: A Predicate for Freedom of Opportunity” at the 2008 Equity and Social Justice in Education Conference at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

In November 2007, Anastasia Snelling presented “Association between Physical Activity and Type 2 Diabetes among Older Adults” at the American Public Health Association National Conference in Washington, D.C. She and Jamie Swisher presented “2007 BestSelling Weight Loss Books: A Review” at the Art and Science of Health Promotion Conference in March.

In March, Stephen Vassallo gave two papers at the 2008 American Education Research Association Annual Meeting: “Using Socioeconomic Class Analysis of Case Study Data to Consider the Values Embedded in Self-regulated Learning” and “Using Foucault to Analyze Case Study Data of a Child Learning Academic Self-regulation: Opening a Critical Dialogue,” presented with Adam Greteman.




at a glance The School of Education, Teaching, and Health offers the following degrees:

UNDERGRADUATE • • • • • • •

BA in Elementary Education BA in Secondary Education BS in Health Promotion Minor in Special Education Minor in Education Studies Minor in Health Promotion Combined BA or BS and either MA in Special Education: Learning Disabilities or MA in Teaching (MAT) • Combined BS in Health Promotion and MS in Health Promotion Management

GRADUATE • MA in International Training and Education (ITEP) • MA in Special Education: Learning Disabilities • MA in Teaching (MAT): Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary, ESOL • Graduate Certificate in Teaching: Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary, ESOL • MA in Teaching (MAT) and MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution • MS in Health Promotion Management • Graduate Certificate in Nutrition Education • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction • Graduate Certificate in Curriculum and Instruction

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FACULTY Sarah Irvine Belson, PhD Dean

Daniel Levin, PhD Assistant Professor

Alida Anderson, PhD Assistant Professor

Peter Mehlert, MEd Assistant Professor

Elizabeth Anderson, PhD Assistant Professor

Erin O’Neill, PhD Instructor

Cathy G. Crocker, EdD Assistant Professor

Anastasia Snelling, PhD Associate Professor Associate Dean

Karen DiGiovanni, PhD Director, Teacher Education Certification Officer Marilyn Goldhammer, MA Instructor Frederic Jacobs, PhD Professor Director, Curriculum and Instruction Program Robert Karch, EdD Professor Director, Health Promotion Management Program Adrea Lawrence, PhD Assistant Professor

Stacie Tate, PhD Assistant Professor Charles Tesconi, EdD Professor Director, International Training and Education Program Vivian Vasquez, EdD Associate Professor Director, Early Childhood Education Program Stephen Vassallo, PhD Assistant Professor




Constance Chubb Educational Technology Specialist

Daniel Geiser Chalmer Gross Virginia Hawke Bernard Hodinko Paul Leedy Nicholas Long David Sadker Margaret Safrit Ralph Whitfield Associate Professors

William Coward Lynn Fox Franz Huber Craig Messersmith Lawrence Nyce Barbara Reimann

Lynn Cohen Associate Director International Training and Education Program Doris Dupuy Field Placement Coordinator Margaret Gallen Program Coordinator Amalie Gorbold Graduate Programs Advisor Adriana Mendez Assistant to the Academic Director AQUE Jan Post Grants and Contracts Coordinator

Danielle Gervais Sodani Special Projects Coordinator Kaye Williams, PhD Academic Director AQUE

PHOTOS COVER Leah Danoff and students, Integrity School, Namibia, 2009

PAGES 10–11 SETH students Kait Brady and Jacqueline Raseman, Porteño School, Nicaragua, 2009

PAGES 18–19 P.O.W.E.R. program participant, 2009

PAGE 23 Flags of hope at Dalai Lama event, American University, 2009

Jennifer Raspet Senior Administrative Assistant


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An equal opportunity, affirmative action university. UP10-135

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SETH Update, 2009 Fall  

Annual review from the School of Education, Teaching & Health at American University in Washington, DC.

SETH Update, 2009 Fall  

Annual review from the School of Education, Teaching & Health at American University in Washington, DC.