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FROM THE DEAN Welcome to the 2018-19 edition of The TORCH magazine! Florida State University was most influential in my personal and professional development during my time as a doctoral student, and I am beyond thrilled to return to my alma mater as the next dean of the College of Education. As a first order of business, I want to express my sincere gratitude to my predecessor, Dean Emerita Marcy Driscoll, who successfully led the College to new heights during her 13 years of decanal service. Marcy hired 80% of the faculty and staff in the College today, and the College is now clearly positioned as a national and global leader. You can read more about her accomplishments on page 44. Thank you, Marcy, for all you have done to support FSU, and we wish you the very best for your upcoming retirement in December! In our first meeting of the 2018-19 academic year, I told the College faculty and staff, “Your success is my obsession.� This obsession most certainly extends to alumni and friends of the College as well. If you have recently received an award or promotion, we want to know about it! Please send your news to education.communications@fsu.edu. Our College is only as good as the success of our students and alumni, and we want to share your successes with others. In the meantime, enjoy the latest issue of The TORCH!

Damon P. S. Andrew, Ph.D., FNAK Dean and Professor, College of Education Florida State University






Signature Research BootCamp 2017 Awards Ceremony



ecoming a professor is a difficult proposition that requires years and years of additional academic work for simply the chance to become a professor. As difficult as it is to become a professor, it is more difficult for women and minorities, and women of color have it even harder. One of the most recent studies conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics on minority representation among faculty found that women of color were underrepresented in academia, both in tenure-track positions and tenured positions; only 3.6% of black women were in tenure-track positions, and 2.3% of black women held tenured positions. With those statistics in mind, it’s easy to understand the necessity for groups like Sisters of the Academy (SOTA). Tamara Bertrand Jones, associate professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies at Florida State, and six others started SOTA in 2001 with the goal to support and facilitate the success of black women in academia. Beyond a networking opportunity, SOTA also offers a number of programs designed to help women of color navigate unique


challenges facing academics. One of their most popular offerings is the signature Research BootCamp, which is a one-week intensive program for doctoral students and junior scholars to develop research projects. During this time, SOTA senior scholars help junior scholars with their manuscripts for publication, as well as provide advice on how to secure tenure or promotion. SOTA also offers an intensive grantsmanship workshop, writing clinic and retreat, mentorship programs and more. “SOTA has provided me a sense of confidence and ability to do this work as an academic, as a researcher, as an educator,” says Lisa Green-Derry, adjunct professor for the Division of Education and Counseling at Xavier University of Louisiana. She has attended a number of the Research BootCamps and writer retreats. Even her husband became a proponent of SOTA. “Whenever we are among other women who are pursuing their terminal degrees, he talks about how he has witnessed the confidence of many of our Sisters—myself included—change


Dr. Tamara Bertrand Jones

after we have been with the senior scholars. He literally talks about it all the time.” “I’ve been a participant and have hosted [the intensive grantsmanship workshop] at Teachers College [Columbia University] where I’m currently professor and associate dean, so I’ve been very much

the University of South Florida. Bertrand Jones believes that the more diverse academia becomes, the better it is for everyone. “Diversity accomplishes lots of different things. One is you get a diverse group of people together, they have different life experiences that shape the way they approach problems. It shapes the way they approach engaging with each other.

An Evening with Dr. Yaba Blay

immersed in the work of SOTA,” says Felicia Moore Mensah, who has also served as the president of SOTA. “I tell people I’ve grown up literally and academically through SOTA.” “I had a conference recently and a number of women from SOTA were in my sessions cheering me on, rooting me on, and that was really refreshing. We’re meeting for dinner just to reconnect. It’s really a community, and a community I’m very thankful for,” says SOTA member Devona Pierre, assistant director of faculty diversity at

“I think it also increases the diversity of thought,” Bertrand Jones continues. “People can say, ‘You can bring any three people together and we’re not going to have the same experience,’ and I would agree with that. That is the basis of diversity, a diversity of experience and thought, but when you start to add layers of oppression on top that, I think, magnifies the diversity, magnifies the experiences even more…. Having all of those folks with different experiences meet enriches the solutions to problems that we come up with. It enriches our ability to connect with different people.” Over the years, SOTA has grown and even started offering a special Black Male Research BootCamp, but the focus ultimately remains on supporting women of color and ensuring that they have a group of welcoming, collaborative individuals. After all, women of color in particular face unique challenges that few others experience. The pressure of academia,

the challenge of applying for funding or writing a dissertation, all coupled with the lack of representation and isolation can present them with increased difficulty to an already challenging profession. Bertrand Jones talks more about these challenges facing black women. “Women felt that they were alone,” she says. “There were things that they were experiencing that were unique to their experience, but when they came to be with other women they recognized, ‘You know what? I’m not alone. That experience is not unique to me.’ But because they were one of a few or one of the only women or black in their departments or institutions, it created this isolation for them that was only exacerbated by their thoughts of their experiences being unique to them.” Isolation is a dangerous thing, particularly for a new professional looking to work her way up in academia. “When you are the only person, either a person of color, the only black person, the only woman or particularly the only woman of color in a department or program, you don’t have someone to talk to about what that intersectionality of identity looks like because women, white women and black men have a very different perspective of experiences than black women do, even though there is a shared race with black men and shared sex with white women,” says Bertrand Jones. “That, I think, for black women was something that wasn’t always acknowledged or addressed. One of the particular things that SOTA tries to do with the professional development that we put on is making sure that identity is center in that experience for women.” SOTA also helps black women deal with other specific challenges. For example, many women of color conduct research on identity, whether cultural, gender or racial identity. Unfortunately, Bertrand Jones believes that researching identity “is not always understood by everyone in the academy.” Women of color are often questioned about their “motivation behind doing that kind of work as well continued...



as having to articulate why that kind of research is important when we don’t ask other people why their research particularly is important.” Instead of shying away from conversations about race and identity, SOTA tries to foster them, says Bertrand Jones. “We have conversations about what it means to be black and female, black and a woman in academic spaces. That’s something that carries over into your research, that carries over into your self-confidence, that carries over into your productivity. If you are not aware of what those identities experience, then you may not know that that is core to that person’s experience.” SOTA has made progress in helping women overcome and deal with these challenges, but Bertrand Jones says the organization still wants to do more. She explains how the conditions for women of color in academia have improved in some ways and still need to be addressed in others. “We still have to have conversations that the inequity does exist,” says Bertrand Jones, “but now I think people are more engaged in conversations about what do we do about [that inequity]? I think for a lot of institutions, they don’t know what to do because equity is a huge issue and it touches across multiple populations, and because the experiences of one population may not


be the same as another. Sometimes institutions need to respond in ways that are not always equal. We confuse equity with equality, and they’re very different.”

“SOTA has provided me a sense of confidence and ability to do this work as an academic, as a researcher, as an educator,”

- Dr. Lisa Green-Derry

The way that SOTA has brought black women together has also changed, thanks to the technological advances over the last two decades. “Before, the ways that women would share their stories might be with close colleagues or friends, so those stories remained within those tighter, inner circles,” says Bertrand Jones. “Now, with social media, there’s a much broader, wider platform for people to share their stories. And then we also have video to backup those stories, so it makes those personal accounts even more credible—or incredible—than when


they were being just shared as stories in a book or stories in a research article that only a few people get to read.” It’s more than just technology that has changed over the decades. Social attitudes are also evolving. In an era of social media movements, SOTA tries to help people change the way they think about scholars. For many people, the idea of a scholar is an old, white male. Movements on social media have tried to change that perception by showing that scholars come from diverse backgrounds and research a wealth of topics. Despite all the challenges that women of color face in academia, Bertrand Jones is encouraged by the progress SOTA has made and the network they have built to support current and future women. She offers advice to women thinking about entering academia: “I would say understand why you’re doing this. Know your personal purpose. In those moments when you’re struggling, in those moments when it’s tough or when others are making you question why, you can go back to that reason why and that can serve as your home base, that can serve as a source of inspiration, motivation--a continued sort of food to help sustain you on your journey to where you’re going.”


HERO: An Interview with Emily Botta Name: Emily Botta Degree Level: Bachelor’s Program: English Education Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Why did you choose FSU? I was initially a science major. FSU had a really good program, but I knew in the back of my mind that I was probably going to go into teaching, and FSU also had a really great program here. I’ve always loved kids and working with kids, so I knew that teaching was something I could get into eventually. I just didn’t know if I was going to teach science or English. FSU was a good place for both, so I knew that even if I switch, I’d still be in a safe place for it. What do you like specifically about the College of Education? I love my cohort, everyone in the program. We’ve become such great friends and they’re just amazing. We’re so close and we just relieve that stress with each other. All of my professors have been wonderful. Dr. Tenore has really been a positive influence and he’s challenged me particularly to think outside of my comfort zone, especially how I would teach things to students. He actually encouraged me to continue the process of the President’s Humanitarian of the Year award. What I do to me is very normal, like the amount of volunteering, but I didn’t quite realize that it’s not; it’s a lot more than average. I think the College of Education program has been very supportive and it’s given me a lot of opportunities. I love our field placements. I worked with refugee students from Africa this semester at Leon County with another person in my major, and it was just incredible. It was very interesting to learn about the different cultures, and our students didn’t necessarily have a formal education when they got here, so we really just built from the ground up. Having that opportunity is something I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. What are some of your favorite moments at FSU so far? There are two that I think of. When I was a freshman, I started the Menstrual Hygiene for the Homeless project, which collects menstrual products for the homeless community of Tallahassee. We gathered all those materials for the community. Since then, we’ve gathered over 13,000 items. I just remember the first day I was bringing all the items in to the shelter, and the people’s faces just lit up because it’s such a taboo topic to talk about and a lot of

people don’t bring in those donations. The second favorite moment happened recently at Relay for Life. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in September. I remember the moment when they did the Survivor’s Lap in the beginning, and I was with my mom and her boyfriend and my step brother. The Relay for Life people said, “Okay, all survivors, please come up,” and she just walked up and I was just so proud of her. Her being there was just incredible. Practically all of the community came together for something so important. I never thought I’d be affected by cancer so that was really amazing. What inspired you to start volunteering? I’ve been volunteering since I was a kid. I was in Girl Scouts and we would volunteer a lot, and then in high school, I got into volunteering. I remember continued... THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE


working at the soup kitchen and everyone was just so grateful, and everyone working there was so sweet. It was a wonderful feeling. I was very lucky that I’ve never been homeless and I don’t have any critical matters in my life that would inhibit me to pursue an education. I’ve been very lucky in a lot of ways. I feel that it’s necessary to give back because not everyone is lucky and I shouldn’t take that for granted. What was it like volunteering overseas? I volunteered in Asia. I was backpacking through Cambodia and Thailand for about a month and a half, and I worked with endangered animals, agriculture, sustainability—that kind of area. It was such an eye-opening experience. I was researching different volunteer opportunities and before I knew it, I was packing a backpack to go to Asia for two months with people I had never met before. I had no clue what I was getting myself into with the people, but it turned out to be such an incredible group. I’m actually going to one of their weddings in September. Going somewhere completely different, I learned about all of the history of


these areas and a lot of the different people, and I learned about their customs and we followed all of their traditions, especially clothing, which is such a simple thing. I couldn’t show my knees or my shoulders, so when we were working in 95-degree weather in the middle of July, I had to wear jeans and t-shirts. That was just something small that I took for granted here in America. Also, all the work we did was so important and I loved all of it, so to come back to America just made me open my eyes up to all the different stuff that happens outside of America. That fueled my passion to do a lot of the volunteering I do in Tallahassee. If you were talking to someone interested in volunteering, where would you say is a good place to start? I’d first ask them what they’re passionate about. For me, I’m very passionate about children and homeless advocacy. I want to encourage people to do what they’re passionate about. Don’t wait for someone else to join you, just do it on your own, but encourage others to come out.


What are some of the things you like to do in your spare time? Volunteering, obviously, but I also really love running, being outside, hanging out with my friends. I love my roommates a lot so we always go on adventures. We bike a lot, go to the reservoir, and live outside. I read also, but I try to be outside as much as possible. Do you know what you want to do after you graduate? Ideally, I would like to go into the Peace Corps for a little time after I graduate because I don’t feel like I’ll ever be as mobile as I will be right after graduation. If that doesn’t work out, I would love to teach in a high school and just teach books that I feel are very important in today’s time. I would love to teach really anywhere in Florida, wherever I get hired. I’m not going to be picky when I first start. Ideally, I would like to move to North Carolina and teach there. I just love it up there because they have seasons, but it’s not too cold.

student spotlight

SARAH GONZALEZ Name: Sarah Gonzalez Degree Level: Bachelor’s/Master’s Program: Special Education Hometown: San Antonio, Texas


When did you discover your passion for your field?

I discovered my passion for special education my senior year of high school. I had registered to be a peer tutor for the students with disabilities at my high school. This is where I met one of my good friends and he changed my life forever. Through working with him and a few of our peers, I realized that this is what I was meant to do forever. It was truly the first thing I was really good at, and all the ESE teachers commented on how naturally teaching these kids came to me. I am so lucky that I found my calling so early in life and have loved every opportunity I’ve had to become the best teacher I can be.


Why did you choose Florida State University?

I first came to Florida State when my cousin and his wife had their first child. At first, I used a college visit as an excuse to get out of school, but as soon as I stepped on campus, it felt like home. When I decided I wanted to be a special education teacher and found out about the amazing combined bachelor’s/master’s program at FSU, I decided I needed to go to college here. I also had the dream of participating in research on autism; learning about FSU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, or UROP, doubly sealed the deal. My sophomore year, I was able to achieve this dream through UROP and the College of Education. I have been so fortunate to have parents that support me every step of the way and have made my dreams of going to an out of state school possible.


What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I like to read for pleasure. I like all kinds of books, but right now I’m on a nonfiction kick. I like reading books about psychology, gender, and race. It can be hard to find the time to read a book during the semester, but I try to make time for myself to read at least once a week. When I’m home, my favorite thing to do is spend time with my family. I only get to see them a few months out of the year, so my time with them is always precious. My favorite thing to do with my family is go out to eat. San Antonio has some of the best food, so I always make it a priority to eat as much of it as I possibly can!


Describe your most memorable moment at FSU.

The most memorable experience I’ve had at FSU would be when I brought my dad to my Service Scholars evening. Service Scholars is a four-year scholarship program that focuses on community service and leadership. In the program, we are required to do 75 hours of community service each semester and reflect on the impact we make by engaging in our service. Each month we have a meeting to challenge us in our service and explore what is currently going on in the world. The Service Scholars program is such a big part of my college experience and it was really special to have my dad see what goes on in our monthly meetings. It was very exciting to have my biological family collide with my FSU family. The most memorable moment of this evening was when the assistant director of the

program introduced himself to my dad and told him he has blessed everyone with his offspring. Both me and my dad almost shed a tear. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how warmly everyone welcomed my dad and how much he enjoyed participating in the evening’s events.


Tell us a fun fact about yourself.


What do you hope to accomplish with your degree?

One fun fact about me is that I often deceive people with my size. I only stand at 4 feet 11 inches, but this doesn’t stop me from being unstoppable. I can leg press almost 200 pounds and love lifting weights at the gym. Something a little less healthy that I can do is eat an entire Little Caesar’s pizza all by myself! People are always shocked at how much I can do and eat since I’m so tiny!

With my degree, I hope to become an elementary special education teacher. I believe a lot of our students with disabilities do not reach their full potential because no one challenges them, so I want to set high expectations for my students from the very beginning. I plan to challenge my students just the right amount so they can be the best they can be. I also want to work with students with severe disabilities. Kids with severe disabilities are the ones who got me interested in special education in the first place, so it’s only fitting that I continue to serve them. These are the students that need the most attention and challenge, and I think that I will be able to provide them with both.



student spotlight

BEN PEREIRA Name: Ben Pereira Degree Level: Master’s Program: Sport Management Hometown: Berkley, Massachusetts


When did you discover your passion for your field?

I discovered my passion for sport administration very early on in my life. I can remember in eighth grade for our middle school capstone project, we had to create a poster board about what we wanted to pursue for a profession after high school. At the time, I thought being a sport administrator was too aspirational, but I knew deep down what my ultimate goal was, and that was to work in sport. Once I got to college, I learned quickly that a degree in sport management was a path to a career in the industry. While I realized early on how tough the industry would be to break into, I could not subdue my passion for it. I eventually graduated with my bachelor’s degree in sport management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst before deciding to pursue my master’s here at Florida State.


Why did you choose Florida State University?

I had never really thought to pursue a master’s degree and had anticipated taking a job right after graduation, but during my senior year, I worked on research with FSU sport management alumna, Dr. Elizabeth Delia (Ph.D. ’15), and she encouraged me to further


hone my research skills and attend Florida State. I chose Florida State because I knew that the faculty here are world-renowned for their research, and I particularly wanted to work with the department chair, Dr. Jeffrey James. I visited the program before finally deciding it was the right move for me. After meeting with Dr. Katie Flanagan and Dr. Jason Pappas, I immediately felt a connection to the program and could feel their passion for teaching and developing young professionals almost instantly. Pappas also worked hard on securing an internship for me before I even enrolled as a student. I knew that if he was willing to go to bat for me based off just my application credentials, then when he actually got to know me as a professional he’d be even more impressed and would help me secure an opportunity postgraduation. I left that trip knowing that this program would be the right fit for me, and I can now say in hindsight that I was 100% right.


What do you like to do in your free time?

In January of this year, I founded the Foundation for Diversity and Inclusion in Sport (FDIS). The organization seeks to empower students of diverse backgrounds through personal and professional development using a series of acclaimed speakers from


the world of athletics. Throughout my undergraduate research, I learned about a lot of the demographic-based discrimination that occurs in the industry of sport. Sport lags behind a lot of modern industries with its administrative representation, and the homogeneity of these organizations is regressive. Throughout my early sport career, I’ve embraced the role of an activist and have used my voice and my platform with FDIS to try to tear down some of the barriers and regressive norms that exist in the world of sport, such as racism, sexism and homophobia. Unsurprisingly, as a sport management major, I’m also a huge sports fan. I’m loyal to my Boston roots and love to cheer for my Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, and now that I’m in Tallahassee, I’ve fully bought into the Seminole fandom!


Describe your most memorable moment at FSU.

I’d have to say my most memorable moment at FSU was the very first meeting we had for FDIS. Just a few months back, the organization was just a small idea I had. To watch it develop and grow into an inaugural event with 70+ students, faculty, athletic administrators, and local sport industry members attending was incredible. Not to mention we

“After meeting with Dr. Katie Flanagan and Dr. Jason Pappas, I immediately felt a connection to the program and could feel their passion for teaching and developing young professionals almost instantly. ”

were able to secure a phenomenal first speaker in FSU’s senior associate athletics director and senior women administrator, Ms. Vanessa Fuchs. She shared poignant, powerful and honest stories about her career and her journey through the industry of sport as a female in a maledominated industry. The local ABC affiliate (WTXL) was also there to cover the event. I remember sitting on my couch the next night watching the 11:00 p.m. nightly news showing a piece on the event. It was so rewarding to not only see my hard work pay off, but to see a project that is so important and timely for our society, like FDIS, receive such great support from the local community. It was really a proud moment for me. I cannot wait to see how FDIS grows in the subsequent years; I truly believe it will play an important role for future students.


Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m a proud first generation American. I will be forever indebted to my father and my grandparents for leaving their life in their home country, Portugal (more specifically, the Azores – a small set of islands owned by Portugal in the Atlantic), to allow for the next generation of Pereiras to pursue the American dream. My dad was only a toddler at the

time of the move, so it was my grandparents who sacrificed the most. They relocated their lives to Fall River, a small, blue collar mill city in southeastern Massachusetts. They did so without having a job lined up or speaking a lick of English. My grandmother worked as a seamstress in a mill and my grandfather as a laborer for a cement company. They lived very modestly in a small, twobedroom apartment with their six children, most of whom did not have the financial luxury to pursue a higher education degree, let alone a graduate degree like myself. Above my bed I have an Azorean flag hanging on my wall. Every morning when I wake up, I am reminded of the sacrifices they made for me that allowed me to pursue the American dream. I will be forever indebted to them for their selflessness.


of a collegiate athletic department. I’m a leader at heart, and based on my experiences in my undergraduate career, in the industry so far, and as the president of FDIS, I know that is where I am able to best use my skill set. Regardless of where my career takes me, I do know that I don’t ever want to relinquish my voice or my activism for changing the industry of sport for the better. In every step of my career, I will always work to ensure that the industry is accessible and fair to all, regardless of their race, gender, or sexuality.

What do you hope to accomplish with your degree?

My background and passion is in sport marketing, so I hope to land a job after I graduate in that sector of the sport world, whether it be on the collegiate, professional, or private side of the industry. Eventually though, and the real reason I felt that pursuing a master’s degree was the right move, I’d like to be an administrator of sport, whether it be as a president of an organization or an athletic director THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE


student spotlight

DAWN MATTHEWS Name: Dawn Matthews Degree: Doctoral Program: Higher Education Hometown: Newark, Delaware


When did you discover your passion for your field?

I think like so many people in higher education, my passion for the field happened haphazardly. I worked as a resident assistant and graduate assistant while earning my bachelor’s and master’s at Virginia State University. To this day, these are still some of my best (and most characterbuilding) memories. During my last year in that role, I began to really think about making higher education a career. I’ve always loved helping others and see such value in education at all levels. In college, there is so much growth and development that happens for students and I enjoying being a part of that. My grandparents and my parents ingrained the value of education in my siblings and me very early on, so I have been fortunate in that regard. I feel very blessed to have people in my family who see the value in college and how it benefits the individual and their community. With every student I interact with, I feel like I am passing those values on. It is really the driving force for me to keep pushing.


Why did you choose Florida State University?

I actually started coursework as a nondegree seeking student with classes in sociology and higher education.


Midway through that first semester, I knew that Florida State University’s higher education program was a good fit for me. The faculty have been so supportive not only for me as a fulltime employee and part-time student, but also in their concern for my overall well-being. That’s priceless to anyone pursuing a doctoral journey. The diversity of the students and faculty in the program was also appealing to me. Having role models in faculty and peers who will challenge my way of thinking but also support my research interests is a luxury that not all programs can offer, but FSU manages to do it seamlessly. This is evident based on the commitment that alumni of the program have to the department and to all of us in the doctoral pipeline. The alumni, or “LifeNet,” of the higher education program at FSU are just on another level. As an employee at the university, I was able to see firsthand that some of the most successful people at the institution and throughout the country were graduates of the program. It has been encouraging hearing from graduates who also want to see you be successful and can offer advice. Knowing that I will always be a part of that LifeNet reaffirms that I made the right choice in FSU.



What do you like to do in your free time?

Well, as a mother, full-time professional and doctoral student, I don’t have a tremendous amount of free time. I do try to decompress and regroup as often as possible by watching a good movie or Netflix series. Most of my free time is allotted for my family. We love trying all the restaurants that Tallahassee has to offer. I’m a huge “foodie” and have a Tallahassee restaurant bucket list that seems to grow regularly. We’ll also visit nearby beaches and parks for some fresh air and sunshine. I try my best to unplug from work and school in those instances because for me, fresh air and good food are at the core of self-care. I try and keep it simple and make sure that I actually feel free during that time.


Describe your most memorable moment at FSU.

There are so many to choose from! I think some of the best moments have been late nights studying with some of the other doctoral students with whom I have developed great relationships. Having a shared identity with students of color who are juggling this process, battling impostor syndrome, and also balancing life has allowed us to be a true support system to each other. We

“Having role models in faculty and peers who will challenge my way of thinking but also support my research interests is a luxury that not all programs can offer, but FSU manages to do it seamlessly.”

even deemed ourselves the “Cocoa Scholars,” which was a great way of describing the salient components of our identity being people of color and scholars. Being able to be authentic about the challenges of being a doctoral student and celebrate victories and life events with them has been great. My time with them has been instrumental in helping me get this far in the program. Another memorable moment would be during my pregnancy. My professors were so helpful and accommodating that it made it my transition to being a new mom and balancing school and work as non-stressful as possible. Being so far from my family, it was comforting to feel like the people in my life (co-workers, professors and classmates) were supporting me. Bringing my son to study sessions, meetings with professors, and campus events have shown me how fortunate I am to be at FSU in the College of Education where it is so accepted.


and humbling to be around such accomplished women who are committed to service and invested in efforts to provide more positive images of Black womanhood in the media. I love being on stage, performing and the whole world of pageantry.


What do you hope to accomplish with your degree?

It may seem cliché, but I really just want to continue improving the lives of students and making a positive impact in my community. I think anyone working in education has to be committed to students, because the work we do is not easy and can sometimes be thankless. I am confident that my degree will offer many opportunities for me to continue doing the work that I love and build relationships with other like-minded professionals. I hope to fill a void in the literature that surrounds the experiences of students of color and continue advocacy for minority-serving institutions and programs.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve done several pageants in my life, and held the title of Miss Black Florida USA 2015. I competed for the Miss Black USA title and placed in the top ten, which was so amazing! It allowed me to build connections with other successful, driven and talented Black women. It was phenomenal THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE


Tirta Empul Temple in Bali



INDONESIA In August of 2017, I traveled to Sentani, Indonesia, to work with middle school math students. Sentani is located on the Papua island of Indonesia and is about 45 minutes away from the larger city of Jayapura. I chose to travel to Sentani because a former classmate and FSU COE alumna, Wiwik Mulyani, teaches math to 7th and 8th grade students in a local middle school. Wiwik had shared with me that her students were struggling to learn their basic math facts, so off I went on the journey of a lifetime.

After traveling for many hours, I arrived in Sentani and saw the first glimpses of my home for the next two weeks. The small town is located in the valley, surrounded by mountains and a lake. The first thing I noticed was the traffic – lots of motorcycles and crazy driving! Before leaving the U.S., I used part of the scholarship money to purchase math manipulatives to gift to Wiwik upon my arrival. I brought her red and yellow counters for working with positive and negative integers, flash cards for basic

Students in SMP N2 Sentani Middle School Math Class



View of SMP N2 Sentani school

Para Ulun Danu Bratan Temple in Bali

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Leah is a doctoral student in the curriculum and instruction: mathematics education program.

Prambana Temple in Yogyakarta

math operations, multiplication and division bingo games, and fraction tiles to help students understand fractions conceptually. Wiwik was extremely grateful for these gifts as items like these are not available for purchase in Indonesia. Each day at the school, we would implement different activities. Wiwik teaches two 7th grade classes and two 8th grade classes, with each grade level having an advanced class. The grade and class level determined which activities we attempted each day. The students were eager and excited to work with the manipulatives; however, the biggest hit of all was the multiplication and division bingo games. The students loved yelling “BINGO!� once they had filled their cards up!

In addition to working with the students, I also had the opportunity to showcase the manipulatives to the other math teachers at the school. Everyone was appreciative and excited to have these new tools to use in their classrooms. The teachers were so excited they actually played a few games of bingo themselves! Seeing the students and teachers engage with and get excited about using the math manipulatives was one of the most rewarding parts of the trip. These students had never had any sort of concrete application to the mathematical foundations they were learning in the classroom. It was amazing to see their eyes light up with excitement about making math fun. Aside from my time spent in the classroom, Wiwik and I were able to

Leah with all the math teachers at SMP N2 Sentani school

travel to other parts of Indonesia and do a little sightseeing. There are so many beautiful temples in Indonesia and I enjoyed learning about the culture and history along the way. My hope is that the math manipulatives I left behind will continue to be used for years to come and that students gain a better understanding of mathematics by using them – and maybe have a little fun, too. This trip was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I am forever grateful for my experiences in Indonesia. Thank you to the generous donors who made this tremendous opportunity possible. Thank you as well to Dr. Jakubowski for overseeing the project and especially to Wiwik Mulyani and her family for opening their home to me and allowing me to be a part of their lives for two weeks.

Students at SMP N2 Sentani school using fraction tiles in math class



From left to right: Felicia Ciappetta, Elizabeth Platt, and Maria Beatriz Mendoza




Platt spent three weeks in Angola in 2010. The southwest African country was colonized by the Portuguese in 1492, gained independence in 1975, and is still recovering from a civil war that followed in the aftermath of independence. During the period of colonization, Angolans used Portuguese instead of their tribal languages. Following their independence, the country made a push to transition to English. Part of Platt’s assignment was to help train teachers and revise the curricula of English faculty at the Universidad Agostinho Neto (UAN) and the Escola Nacional de Administração

(ENAD), both located in the capital of Luanda. During her time in Angola, Platt developed a number of contacts and made new friendships with colleagues. One such friendship was with Chionga Nunes, a teacher at ENAD. Platt and Chionga bonded over the World Cup, ate lunch together, and stayed in contact even after Platt left Africa. Platt recounts her experience working in Angola, the friendships she made and the important work they conducted to preserve an important part of Angolan history.

Angola, Luanda City Seaside

ABOUT THE AUTHOR As an associate professor in the FSU College of Education, Dr. Platt taught courses and conducted research on second/ foreign language learning, curriculum and instruction in the multilingual/multicultural education (MMED) program. During retirement, she has worked abroad as an English language specialist with both Fulbright and the U.S. Department of State, and locally as an ESL/literacy volunteer within the community of refugees from Central Africa.


ince I left Angola, Chionga has kept me informed about his career, as well as his opinions about the NBA Finals and the intervening World Cup tournaments. In about 2015, he told me that he and his teaching colleagues had collected short stories and folk tales from their respective elder relatives in rural villages and were writing them in English for their students. Most urban Angolans are now out of touch with their native villages, especially the younger generations who know little about the traditional rural cultures from which their relatives came, their lives being imbued with popular Western music, TV and comic books. Later, Chionga wrote that he and the other teachers had completed an anthology of stories and accompanying communicative activity lesson plans that would become a textbook for their English classes,



and they were seeking an editor. So, beginning in the summer of 2017, three FSU/MMED graduates and I set about editing 12 of the stories and their plans, keeping in touch with the team in Angola when we had questions. We editors wanted to be certain that our edits captured the meanings the teachers tried to represent in their stories, as well as some of the stylistic elements that reflect the oral tradition of African storytelling. Chief anthology editor, Maria Beatriz Mendoza, teaching faculty at the FSU Center for Intensive English Studies, sent the entire anthology to Angola in the spring of 2018 with the expectation that the students would read the anthology during the next semester. The teachers would pilot-test the materials, solicit student responses to them, return them for a final edit and search for a publisher.

English in secondary school, the authors believe it is important to start with those who will be teachers. In an email about the recent World Cup tournament, Chionga expressed his preferences for the teams he was supporting. He commented that he would never support Portugal because of the harsh imposition of their language on the Angolans, resulting in the displacement of so many tribal cultures and languages. He went on to say, “Angola became politically independent in 1975, but in my opinion and linguistically speaking, it remains a Portuguese colony.” To be sure, Portuguese still dominates in the schools, and only a few tribal languages are used in remote areas of the country.

Chionga’s explanation of his resentment of the Portuguese language helped me understand at a deeper level the reason for – and importance of – the anthology, and made me appreciate the trust the authors had placed in us to perform the important editing task. What I draw from this experience is that had it not been for our personal relationship, our annual conversations around the NBA Finals and our quadrennial commentary about the World Cup tournaments, Chionga and I would probably not have remained in touch, and we here at FSU in Tallahassee might never have glimpsed traditional African culture in such an intimate way.

Unfortunately, Chionga and his colleagues only recently received permission from their school’s administration in the summer of 2018; however, that permission essentially resulted in the approval of a new literature-based, communicative English curriculum that the teachers hope will replace the grammar and skill-based approach to language teaching in Angola (the one I had encountered as a consultant eight years earlier). The anthology will be used by second-year university students who are being trained as secondary school English teachers. Although the final goal is to introduce African stories as a means to learn THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE




ideo games will rot your brain.” Anyone who grew up playing video games probably heard this common refrain from an adult at some point. For Dr. Valerie Shute, however, video games hold the key to revolutionizing the classroom. Shute, who is the Mack and Effie Campbell Tyner Endowed Professor of Education in FSU’s Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, is an accomplished researcher and avid gamer. Recently, she was selected to help develop the internationally recognized Programme


for International Student Assessment, which is used by many countries to shape their education policies. Talking to Shute, however, you might hear her mention her many professional accomplishments in the same breath as her favorite moments in video games. “Portal 2 is one of my all-time favorite games,” Shute says. She loved the game so much that she wrote a number of papers on the game’s design and teaching ability. Shute makes a point to differentiate between all games and what she


deems to be good games. “I contend— and this is based on research on game design—that good games are a system,” Shute says. Through her research, she has identified six areas that define a good game: interactive problem solving, specific goals and rules, adaptive challenges, good controls, ongoing feedback and sensory stimuli. “The idea is that when all of these elements come together, it makes for a very engaging, almost magical experience where you want to play and replay games and solve really

goes so far, then you overcompensate and draw a giant mass and it hits the ball and overshoots the mark— you’re learning about the functional relations between mass and force and acceleration by playing the game.”

Physics Playground in D.C. IES PI meeting

hard levels because reaching goals is such a rewarding experience,” Shute says. She realized that a good game embodies everything that should also be found in the learning process. “Good games are engaging,” Shute says. “You have to apply all sorts of different competencies in order to succeed in the game. Games are also ubiquitous. Everybody plays, especially kids. Ninety-four to 99% of kids play games.” Eventually, Shute decided to combine her knowledge of assessment and the learning process with her passion for video games. The result is Physics Playground. Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the educational game aims to help educators assess and teach the basic laws of Newtonian physics. Shute aimed to create something that students would enjoy interacting with on a regular basis. She wanted to create an experience like her favorite games that would not only be educational, but also fun. Physics Playground is a nonlinear physics game featuring two different modes of play. Both modes have the same objective: get a green ball to a red balloon. In the sketching mode, players draw basic machines

like ramps, levers, pendulums and springboards. All of these machines function exactly as they would in the real world and allow students to navigate the ball through the terrain to their goal. In the manipulation mode, players alter environmental factors, like gravity and air resistance. Unlike most video games, students can jump around from level to level depending on their experience. For example, if a student understands the concept of a particular level, they can skip ahead a few levels for greater challenges. The reverse can also be said if students discover a level is too difficult. Like most video games, students are trying to achieve a good score. The game rewards both gold and silver medals depending on the student’s performance. Unlike a traditional video game, however, students also absorb important concepts about the laws of physics while trying to get the best results.

Educational video games have become more and more popular over the years, but Shute wants to go further than what most games offer. “How can we possibly think about embedding assessments into these kinds of environments [i.e. video games] without mucking up the fun factor?” Shute wondered. That’s where stealth assessment comes in. Instead of just demonstrating core concepts of physics, Shute and her team have devised this system that evaluates and informs the teacher just how much students understand the lessons. Ultimately, she hopes that it can help educators in modern classrooms. For Shute, it is important that this system works in real time so educators could understand their students’ progress as they work. “School shouldn’t have to stop normal instruction to take a test,” Shute says. continued...

Dr. Valerie Shute

“When I was in high school, I memorized the equation, F=ma, long enough to put it on a test to get my A, but it meant diddly squat. It meant nothing to me,” Shute says. “When you’re playing the game and you’re creating a pendulum, and you have a little mass on the end and it hits the ball and the ball only THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE


“The thing about stealth assessment is that it’s continual and invisible. It’s seamless and ubiquitous.” Unlike traditional tests which, require teachers to interrupt lesson plans to assess their students’ progress, stealth assessment works constantly. As students interact with Physics Playground, the game tracks a number of metrics, including attempts, solutions and even creativity while factoring in the difficulty of the level. The teacher knows exactly how well their students understand core concepts. The prospect of moving away from traditional testing is something both teachers and students can get behind. In Shute’s research, both boys and girls reported that they enjoyed playing the game. Perhaps even more exciting for educators, Shute found that students showed a significant increase from pretest to posttest scores in as little as four hours of time with Physics Playground. Teachers will also appreciate the dramatic reduction in the amount of grading. Another exciting feature of stealth assessment systems like Physics Playground is the ability to measure characteristics that most test makers find hard to assess. Shute’s system can evaluate more intangible concepts, like creativity, persistence and conscientiousness. It accomplishes this by looking at a variety of factors and metrics. For instance, if a majority of students used the same simple machine (like a ramp) to solve a particular level, and student X solved the same level but with a different simple machine (e.g., springboard), the system would estimate student X as having derived a more creative solution relative to other students. The technology behind Physics Playground is still improving, but the program itself can already do a number of impressive feats. The system can identify what type of simple machines the students use in the levels with 98% accuracy compared to a human’s review. In fact, virtually everything is logged by


the stealth assessment system for use in analysis later. Shute also has started integrating formalized learning supports in Physics Playground, accommodating students who are struggling and need additional help understanding concepts or help with the specific level. Her team is also tracking affective states, which the system can use to provide encouragement and other types of affective support.

traditional lessons. “I could see [Physics Playground] as supplemental or part of the curriculum. The idea is that there are tons of excellent curricula out there already and I don’t want to change any of that. I just want to do away with the stupid tests,” Shute says with a grin. “The games are just one kind of vehicle. Stealth assessments can live within anything. It doesn’t even have to be a digital game. We’ve done it with just people talking.”

“The thing about stealth assessment is that it’s continual and invisible. It’s seamless and ubiquitous.”

“I’m not proposing that everyone has to use games. This is one avenue that can enhance your understanding of physics, promote persistence and problem-solving skills and more,” Shute says. Opening up another way for students to learn can help ensure that all students understand the subject matter. Shute also believes that games like Physics Playground can be created not only for other physics competencies, but for other subjects as well.

For all the work she’s done on Physics Playground and developing the stealth assessment system, Shute does not see either as a means to replace traditional curriculum. Despite the fact that Physics Playground does teach physics concepts, Shute doesn’t think that such games should replace

Researchers and innovators like Shute are shaping the future of the classroom by embracing this evolving medium and molding it to help educators. Perhaps someday Shute will get her wish and it will be tests, not video games, that will fade from a student’s everyday life.

-Dr. Valerie Shute




The theory? If students were exposed to government and civics courses earlier, they will be more engaged in democracy. Florida, wanting to avoid a repeat of 2000, decided to enact mandatory middle school civics courses via the Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Education Act. Most of the country—39 states—requires a government or civics class for high school students, but requiring a civics class in middle school is less common. Of course, good intentions might not lead to good results. That’s where researchers like Dr. Jane Lo come in. Lo is an assistant professor of social science education in the School of Teacher Education at Florida State University. Her particular focus is on political engagement of youth and social studies curriculum development, so it only made sense that she would be one of the researchers studying the effects of a middle school civics course. Furthermore, this research directly follows a previous project she worked on: developing the high school civics course. The goal of the Sandra Day O’Connor Act was to expose children to civics concepts at a younger age. Lo

By Jo sh Du ke

Perhaps the most infamous instance of this civic disengagement occurred in 2000 during the presidential election. The eyes of the nation turned to Florida as the democratic process came to a halt; regardless of the desired outcome, both sides of the political divide could agree that the lack of participation among the electorate constituted a major problem. Politicians in Florida vowed to do better, and the state government quickly came up with a solution: more civics education.


merica is a country “of the people, by the people, for the people,” as Abraham Lincoln once said. In order for the country to function properly, Americans need to be engaged, whether through volunteering, voting, activism or other civic responsibilities. Unfortunately, engagement in America isn’t always ideal.

acknowledges that getting students involved in civic processes and democratic ideals earlier in their education potentially increases their interest and participation in civic responsibilities. “There are several studies that show this relationship that the more you know about politics, the more you tend to engage,” Lo says. “That’s through voting, through volunteering in the community, through engaging. The wisdom has been that, if nothing else, we need to get kids to know about stuff because that could potentially lead to them participating in more ways.” However, Lo believes that a civics class earlier in life only solves part of the problem. “A lot of people right now think of the high school course as an inoculation. You’ve got to have it, make sure you have that course, make sure you register to vote, and then we

send you off into the world, and I think people started realizing that that’s not enough.” The addition of the middle school civics course might prepare students earlier, but Lo worries that it might not do enough to get children excited and engaged in civic duty. “The middle school model is unfortunately like an inoculation and a booster.” Better than thinking about giving students a dose of civics and kicking them out the door, Lo and others in the field of civic education have a different idea: an exposure model. “What we would love to see is that students are starting to develop notions of what it means to live within a community in a society, the responsibilities we have for one another, and all of that builds up into what we see.” continued...



An exposure model would include integrating civic concepts throughout a child’s entire education, as early as elementary school or even kindergarten. “There is a lot of work being done about school climate and the democratic processes that kids engage in school, helping them think about how democracies work,” Lo says. “It’s not simply understanding that the majority votes for somebody, but talking about issues of equity and justice so they don’t just think democracy is majority rule.” Shifting to an exposure model addresses a few primary concerns that researchers like Lo have about the current model. One of the largest issues that students face is what is referred to as the civic opportunity gap. Lo explains: “Kids in wealthier neighborhoods tend to get a higher quality civic course than kids in lower-income neighborhoods. We’re already starting to see some of those trends in middle school—how kids think about civic engagement and their roles in civic activity are already beginning to be informed.” By shifting the focus to a more constant exposure to civics, students can possibly overcome the civic opportunity gap. Although her research into earlier civics courses is still in its infancy, Lo has identified another problem that students face today, something she has coined the civic debt. “If I teach you that all men are created equal, for some students that totally makes sense,” Lo says. “They’ve

“The goal isn’t to push an agenda but to help students understand the beliefs that they have—and, more importantly, why other beliefs exist.” -Dr. Jane Lo



Dr. Jane Lo

always had an equitable understanding of the world. Whereas if I tell ‘all men are created equal’ to a different group of students who have never seen that to be true, they’ll disagree.” To overcome this civic debt, she recommends examining the content of the civic education rather than just how early the civic classes take place. As Lo says, “It’s not just when kids get exposed; it’s what they get exposed to.” Since certain populations of students might have a harder time recognizing civic concepts in their reality, Lo suggests starting dialogues with those students: “Rather than just saying ‘all men are created equal,’ in what ways do we see that not being the case and why not? We should be encouraging these students to question and critique some of these ideas so that they recognize the ideal instead of believing it is this unapproachable notion or somebody’s lying to them— showing that [the ideal] is potentially achievable if you get the right people in office or leverage the processes of government.”

Another way to overcome the civic debt is to highlight real-world examples of self-empowerment. Lo points to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students in the aftermath of the Valentine’s Day shooting as an example. “They might be saying we’re young in these ways and we might not be able to do certain things, but we understand the processes enough. We can talk to lobbyists, we can gather momentum, we can get allies on our side, so we can try and push for change.” Lo acknowledges that the plight of the Parkland students is a unique case. “They, of course, are going after really, really big national legislation to do so, but you can imagine elementary-aged kids or middle school kids pushing for change in their community. That happens, even if they’re not old enough to vote.” (It should be noted that Lo does not have a particular political agenda when it comes to encouraging students to be more involved in the political process. As Lo says, “The goal isn’t to push an agenda but help students understand the beliefs that they have—and, more importantly, why other beliefs exist.”) Young people getting involved in political movements seems to be the trend these days, but 10 to 15 years ago, the narrative was very different. The common description of young people was apathetic, but Lo says that only paints part of the picture. “There are some scholars who would argue that apathy was never the problem. It’s not that kids didn’t care. They either didn’t see themselves as actors—even if I care, I don’t know what I could do—or secondarily, they saw [civics engagement] as something older adults do. It’s not that they were apathetic; it’s just that they didn’t grow into political participants until a certain age.”

Apathetic or not, there is inarguably an increase in student political activity compared to the last decade or so. While Lo cautions that it is difficult to make definitive statements about a moment while living in that moment, she does think that social media might have an impact on students’ increased political engagement. “Kids are discovering their own ways of understanding and looking at news stories—for good and for bad, because some of it is fake news, filtered, or skewed,” Lo says. “If you think about 10 to 15 years ago, you only had several sources of news. Now, kids are on Twitter and get that information right away from news sources and agencies, so they are more hyperaware.” Social media also has the ability to bring people together around common causes, both physically and online. However, Lo is quick to acknowledge that social media has its limitations, and researchers are still looking at the connection between these highly visible protests and actual policy change. Lo would also like to see a greater focus put on media literacy, especially if students are going to start becoming involved in a political movement after reading about it online. “Because everything is so accelerated now, it becomes more important than ever for young people to recognize when they’re being duped and when they’re being misled. Unfortunately, we see more of that now than we ever had before.”

intrinsically interested at all, but maybe we can trigger their interest and get them to dig more into it. Then there’s potential for them to become more involved because they’re already invested in the process.”

Ultimately, Lo recognizes that there is no magic bullet solution to improving civic engagement; however, she is excited to continue her work and study how students react to the changes in civic courses in Florida. “A lot of the work that we’re trying to do as civic educators is to say, ‘How do we boost that engagement? How do we boost that interest?’ We can’t manipulate this cycle, especially if someone isn’t




oday is just another school day for Professor Fengfeng Ke’s students. After boarding a bright yellow bus, they drive down the familiar streets until they reach the school. There’s a particular excitement today, as they have a field trip to one of their favorite destinations: a western town, complete with Conestoga wagon, general stores, and dusty streets. But first, the students have to get through the school day. As the students exit the bus, a teacher appears. Literally, she appears out of thin air. None of the students are fazed by this aberration. These students, who have volunteered for Ke’s research, see people appear and disappear all the time; that’s because, unlike typical students, these students are exploring a virtual world, where buildings and people pop-in as they load into the program. Each student sits behind a computer, controlling a virtual avatar, communicating over voice chat or text chat, and emoting using a list of pre-defined gestures. Another difference between Ke’s student volunteers and a traditional classroom? All of these students are also diagnosed with high-functioning autism, formerly called Asperger’s Syndrome. Once or twice a week, these volunteer students meet with Ke and her team. The students are generally in 5th-7th grade. Ke, who is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, carefully observes the students via her own in-game avatar. As both observer and creator of this virtual world, Ke hopes that she



can build much more than a virtual playground; she hopes that she has created a safe environment for children with high-functioning autism to practice their social skills. The idea to create a virtual training environment came to Ke after her experience teaching a graduate student with Asperger’s. The student was excellent at coursework but suffered in navigating social situations both in and outside of the classroom. “Because of his unique way of communicating, he couldn’t market himself like other people,” Ke says. “It made me feel a little bit frustrated because I knew he was wonderful and capable of coming up with wonderful instructional design projects.” The student would receive interviews but had difficulty advancing further in the job process because of his difficulty in communicating. While no two cases of high functioning autism are entirely the same, struggling to communicate is a common problem for those diagnosed. Children with Asperger’s struggle to recognize the subtle shifts in tone and speech that convey emotional meaning. As they get older, they might understand social interactions better but Dr. Fengfeng Ke

may still have difficulty interpreting more complicated communication, such as nonverbal cues. Like many disorders associated with the autism spectrum, there is no cure for Asperger’s, although early intervention and support programs can help improve outcomes. Ke envisions virtual reality as one of these resources that could potentially help children with high functioning autism feel more comfortable communicating. The program is easy to use, secure, and safe, since Ke and her team control who can access the virtual world. Each child receives a secure login to the program, which can be opened on nearly any computer with an internet connection. After logging in, children control their avatar, which they have customized, to participate in the day’s activities. These activities allow children to practice social interactions with each other, instructors, and non-playable characters (NPCs), which can be scripted to perform basic routines or puppeteered by one of the instructors. Whenever possible, Ke and her team try to schedule sessions so that children interact with one another. For the purpose of Ke’s research, the children engage in focused gaming and roleplay, as well as collaborative design. Focused gaming and roleplaying includes recreating common social interactions within the program. For instance, students might interact with others in a virtual cafeteria or library. They can also participate in games within the virtual world, like the traditional Chinese game, Go. While they engage in this roleplay or play games, students are practicing their communication skills. These exercises are particularly useful, since of the most common symptoms of high functioning autism is a tendency to focus on one’s self and engage in one-sided conversations. Navigating a game’s rules or roleplaying forces the students to think about the other participants in these social exchanges.

reality. In these instances, students can change the virtual world around them, designing buildings and making important decisions. Because the platform is open ended, students and instructors work together to build the world, and have created a bustling virtual landscape across a number of settings, including a western world, an underwater city, a ski resort and more. The catch with collaborative design is that students must work together, which can pose a challenge for children with high-functioning autism. For instance, if a student wishes to make a new bus stop, they must talk to someone acting as a designer to agree upon a design, and then they contact the contractor to place the structure in the world. This forces the students to interact with others and, again, practice their social skills, learn how to negotiate, and manage the opinions of others in their groups. Ke has found that students love designing the world around them— almost as much as parents of these students love the results. Ke has analyzed performance and behavioral data, as well as self-reported data and parental-reported surveys. “Based on pre- and post-comparisons and also cross-subject comparison, we are confident that VR helps,” Ke says. “We also interview the parents informally, either face to face or conferencing on

video chat, to understand how they feel their kids are changing, and so far, most of the feedback is positive. [Their children] have been much more competent in being able to initiate social interaction.” “A common pattern is that children with high-functioning autism are not motivated or interested in initiating conversation,” Ke continues. “Sometimes they’re not skilled in initiating in conversation naturally with strangers or people they don’t feel comfortable with. This is the part where we feel like VR has really helped a lot.” Their excitement for this virtual world translates into an overall improvement in their social skills in the real world. A possible reason for this increased willingness to initiate conversation, Ke suggests, is the additional avenues of communication inherent in virtual reality programs. While popular social media platforms like Facebook focus on written communication, for individuals with high-functioning autism, text-based communication can limit their ability to connect. If those individuals are comfortable communicating through text, then this limitation is not a problem, but for those who prefer a different means of interaction, they can either struggle through text-based communication or continued...

Students also engage in collaborative design, which especially leverages the unique possibilities of virtual THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE


reality socialization is just beginning. “Currently we focus on children with high-functioning autism. We think it can be expanded to children on the other end of the autism continuum.” Her current research already hints that virtual reality social training could help children across the autism spectrum. There is also evidence that her virtual reality socialization could help older children; some of the study’s participants are older than their grade level due to being held back in school.

Role-playing in a fish & chip store.

simply not engage. Virtual reality, comparatively, has a number of ways to communicate since it is a much more visual way of communicating. Through emotes, participants can perform non-verbal gestures that are easy to understand and are standardized, limiting some of the nuance that makes real-world equivalents more difficult to decipher. They also can communicate via voice or text chat. This multi-method communication channel opens up the opportunity for socialization. Virtual reality also offers an avenue of self-expression that other communication channels lack. For instance, Ke’s research group have responded strongly to customizing their own avatars. Children choose their outfits and overall appearance to their liking. This positive self-identity encourages children to interact with others and gives them confidence. Interestingly enough, it is also the limitation of technology that has helped some of Ke’s students become acclimated to methods of communication that they might not otherwise feel comfortable using. “At the beginning, sometimes the children are nervous about typing and they don’t want to type,” Ke says. “However, if one of the kids has a headset that does not work or the volume is too


low, they have to use the text chat. We notice that they are willing to do so.” Regardless if everything works perfectly or if students have to adapt to the technology, Ke sees virtual reality as an effective tool to help those with high-functioning autism understand different communication strategies. “Sometimes [the students] tend to be dominant. ‘I have a good

“They all share some common symptoms and needs, but at the same time, they are so different in who they are and what they need.”

-Dr. Fengfeng Ke

idea and I think it is good,’” Ke says. Their interactions devolve into “my way or the highway” moments. Her virtual reality program has helped resolve this ultimatum mentality, particularly after the children engage in a collaborative design session. Ke hopes her research into virtual


Ke also wants to expand the program to children developing typically. She believes that this would help children understand autism better. “They will understand there are different ways of thinking, different ways of communicating.” Additional avenues of research include integrating motion capture technologies, and Ke and her team have already begun experimenting with using Microsoft’s Kinect–an advanced camera that captures movement and translates it to on-screen animation nearly instantly–in the virtual reality. As Ke continues to work with the virtual reality program, she hopes to keep improving it. “Right now, when we think about special education research, we still kind of group children and we think they all share the similar patterns or symptoms, which was not necessarily true when I collected the data and analyzed the participants’ performance. They all share some common symptoms and needs, but at the same time, they are so different in who they are and what they need.” Ke and her team continue to refine the program by data mining, allowing them to create a virtual world that better adapts to the needs of those in it. Eventually, Ke hopes she can create a cost-efficient tool that professionals can use to help children across the autism spectrum. Regardless of where the future takes her virtual world, Ke’s volunteer students will continue to enjoy building a world of their own—and building something even more important: confidence in communicating with those in the real world.

SANDRA “SANDY” BARKER By Brian Hudgins Reprinted from the FSU Alumni Association’s VIRES magazine (Spring/Summer 2018)


triving to be one of a kind meant Sandy Barker and her peers faced some growing pains, but the goal of contributing to improved mental health kept Barker focused on forging a new path. Barker is the director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine. The center’s Dogs On Call therapy-dog program provides a living lab for researching the benefits of human-animal interaction. Barker witnesses the effect dogs have on a daily basis. “You can’t walk through a medical center with a dog and not see people smiling,” says Barker, who received the FSU College of Education’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001. Dogs on Call enables canines to comfort patients and staff members throughout the VCU Medical Center:

pediatrics, oncology, psychiatry, emergency medicine, rehab and palliative care. The center was established in 2001, and services have gradually expanded over 17 years. “When we were first asked by University Counseling Services to provide therapy dogs during exams, a record 1,000 students attended,” Barker says. “We still provide that twice each semester, and our research documents reduced student stress.” Due to infection control issues, the center programs are limited to dogs as opposed to cats or other animals. When Barker addresses questions about business-based use of resources, she has a fellow FSU graduate ready to lend advisement. Husband Randolph Barker (B.A. ’73, M.A. ’74, Ph.D. ’76), an emeritus faculty member at VCU in business, contributes his knowledge. “I come from a counseling and research background, so it is important to have that business perspective,” Sandy Barker says. The center also contains a teaching component for medical students and residents. It is an interdisciplinary team effort by Barker, the staff and 90-plus therapy-dog teams and many campus departments. “There was never a time when someone closed the door and said, ‘That’s crazy!’” she says.

Top: Therapy dog Nash and Dogs On Call volunteer coordinator. Left: Therapy dog Dahlia with her handler. Right: Sandy Barker and Tippie.



DO IT NOW Remembering Prudence Mabry By Kevin Derryberry

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show any fellow human being, let me do it now.” Stephen Grellet (1773-1855)


rs. Prudence “Prue” Ronan Mabry, class of 1967, lived by the motto “do it now,” and dedicated her life to spreading kindness and helping families of special needs children. Mabry lost her battle with cancer in the fall of 2017, but thanks to the generosity of her family, the Prudence Ronan Mabry Endowed Scholarship in Special Education will continue her life’s work. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed legislation to



support Teachers of Exceptional Children. The legislation committed unprecedented federal resources to the growing field of special education by creating scholarships that enabled young teachers the opportunity to show the families of students with special needs kindness and attention. With this expansion of resources and push towards special needs equality, Mabry saw the opportunity to earn her degree and help her fellow human beings by working in special education. Living by her motto of “do it now,” she made her decision, enrolled in classes at FSU, and in 1967, earned her degree in special education from the College of Education. The same year she graduated, Mabry married U.S. Air Force Pilot Charles Mabry. She served with her husband for a total of 22 years in the Air Force, until she once again turned to her motto of “do it now” and found the opportunity to raise her sons, Jeff and Scott. Once the boys were grown and starting families of their own, Mabry decided to continue her career. While others may have enjoyed retirement and playing with her four grandchildren, Mabry saw the opportunity to show more kindness to her fellow human beings and opted to return to the classroom full-time. All told, her career spanned more than 30 years of commitment to special education as a teacher in public schools in Colorado, California, and finally Florida. She worked in schools and homes teaching children, their

parents and other teachers how to help special needs children achieve their greatest potential and overcome adversity. Friend and colleague Dr. Sally Shinn writes that Mabry’s name “was always spoken with a smile and reverence for who she is, what she knows and shares with others. She is famous among many in our community who are too burdened down with day to day challenges and puzzles of parenthood.” Last summer, Mabry’s nephew, Rob Sheets, reached out to the FSU Alumni Association with an urgent request for a commemorative brick honoring his Aunt Mabry to be placed in Westcott Plaza. Mabry had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, so her nephew asked if we could please, “Do it now.” The FSU Alumni Association rushed the brick and placed it near the bricks of both Sheets and his mother and Mabry’s sister, Norma Ronan Chafin (’64), and a replica brick was sent to Mabry in the hospital. Mabry passed from this world on October 27, 2017 having touched the lives of over a thousand students and parents. Moved by Florida State’s actions to honor our alumna, Charles, Jeff, Scott and friends and colleagues of Mabry decided to create the Prudence Ronan Mabry Endowed Scholarship in Special Education to continue her legacy and extend her kindness for generations to come. The Prudence Ronan Mabry Endowed Scholarship in Special Education supports undergraduate students at Florida State University who may be inspired by Mabry’s example and dedicate their careers to helping special needs students overcome adversity and achieve their full potential. Preference for the scholarship goes to students from Brevard County, where Mabry taught, with secondary consideration going to students from the contiguous counties of Florida’s Space Coast. Mabry’s scholarship joins the Norma Ronan Chafin Endowed Scholarship, her sister’s scholarship that supports math and science education majors from the Tampa Bay area, as the second Ronan sister scholarship. Together, the Ronan sisters support central Florida students from coast to coast. Should you wish to support the Ronan sisters’ scholarships or learn how you can create a scholarship of your own, please follow Mabry’s direction and “do it now” at give.fsu.edu/education. THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE




Margaret K. Lewis turned 100 in April. Lewis is an alumna of the FSU College of Education and benefactor of the Margaret K. and Fred S. Lewis Endowed Scholarship for special education at Florida State University. She is also the namesake of Margaret K. Lewis School in Millville, Florida, a school for children with disabilities in Bay District Schools.

1960’s Mike Martin (B.S. Physical Education ’66) became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA baseball history on May 5. Martin surpassed the previous record of 1,975 wins held by the late coach Augie Garrido. Martin is one of just four baseball coaches in NCAA history to win at least 1,500 games in Division 1 play. He is already a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.


Melina Benton (B.S. ‘76, M.S. ‘78) was named by the Florida State University Alumni Association as one of the six new directors to its National Board of Directors. Benton is the president and CEO of Vyne Corporation, which handles secure healthcare communications. Benton has also been named one of the “Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT” by Health Data Management for three years in a row, and was also recognized by the FSU College of Education’s Distinguished Alumni Awards in Business and Industry. Mary B. Coburn (M.S. Counseling and Human Systems ‘76, Ed.D. Higher Education ‘92) was honored by the FSU Board of Trustees, who voted to rename the FSU Health and Wellness Center after her. Coburn was the key figure in implementing the university’s Healthy Campus initiative and expanded the responsibility and services of the Health Promotions Office of University Health Services, which became the Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness (CHAW).


Janice Gilchrest (B.S. Elementary Education ‘70) spent seven years writing for The Ledger, Lakeland, Florida’s local newspaper. She collected these columns and published them in a book, “Recollections of a Teacher’s Turn.” Mona Jain (M.S. Science Education ‘71) was honored by the Manatee County Board of Education and will have a soon-to-beconstructed middle school named after her. The middle school will be built in the Lakewood Ranch community in Manatee County and is expected to be completed in 2019. Joseph G. Joyner (B.S. Physical Education ‘77) was formally inaugurated as president of Flagler College. Joyner had served as the college’s president since July, but the ceremony in February marks the formal start to his leadership. Previously, Joyner held the position of superintendent of the St. Johns County School District.

M.L. “Cissy” Petty (M.S. Higher Education ‘80, Ph.D. Higher Education ‘85) was named the inaugural dean of the student experience at George Washington University. Previously, Petty was the vice president for student affairs and associate provost at Loyola University New Orleans.




Cheryl D. Lovell (Ph.D. Higher Education ‘90) was named the next president of Adams State University. Lovell is also a current member of the Hardee Center Board of Directors and the donor for the Carrie G. Hall Endowed Scholarship.

Christopher Iansiti (M.S. Instructional Systems ‘94) and his company, IANSITI Performance Group, were listed at no. 37 of the Seminole 100 list, which recognizes the 100 fastest-growing FSU alumni-owned businesses in the U.S.

Will Guzmán (M.S. Social Science Education ‘99) was awarded the “Iron Sharpening Iron” award by the National Action Network’s North Jersey chapter. He was also inducted by the city council of Jersey City into the “Trailblazing Pioneers Wall of Fame” at the Marcy McLeod Bethune Life Center. Both of these honors were awarded for his community service with youths, fair housing and racial justice activism. Guzmán is currently an associate professor and director of the Hagan Africana Studies Center at New Jersey City University.

Brian D. Ray (Ed.S. ‘95, Ph.D. ‘98, Higher Education) was named the 2017 Teacher of the Year for the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business. Ray serves as a lecturer of leadership and ethics and is the co-director of the Poe Business Ethics Center at UF. Ray is also a 2014 FSU COE Distinguished Alumni Award winner in the category of Government and Community Service.

Cassandra Burnham (M.S. Elementary Education ‘95) was named Teacher of the Year by Riversink Elementary School in Crawfordville, Florida. Burnham teaches fourth grade. Jennifer Thaxton (B.S. English Education ‘96) was named Teacher of the Year by Riversprings Middle School. Thaxton works as a librarian and a gifted program teacher.

Tim Barnsback (B.S. Social Science Education ‘99) gained attention for his nonprofit, One Head-One Bed, aimed at providing beds to homeless students. Barnsback teaches at Heritage Middle School in Valdese, North Carolina. The nonprofit supports students in his area who do not have their own beds. Adam DeRosa (M.S. Higher Education ’99) was named associate dean of student services as Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Nicole Dissmore (B.S. English Education ‘98) was named Teacher of the Year by Wakulla Middle School. Dissmore teaches sixth grade. Mokgweetsi Masisi (M.S. Social Science Education ‘91) was elected president of Botswana. Masisi is just the fifth president in the country’s history and formerly served as interim president, minister of education, and minister of presidential affairs at various times in his career. Cathy Felty (B.S. Elementary Education ‘97, M.S. Emotional/Learning Disabilities ‘00) was named 2018 Teacher of the Year for Bay District Schools. Felty has worked at Margaret K. Lewis School in Millville, Florida for the last 21 years.


J.R. Harding (Ed.S. Higher Education ‘96, Ed.D. ‘99 Higher Education) was recognized by Leadership Tallahassee as Servant Leader of the Year. Harding heads the University of Choice Initiative (Disability Awareness) for the Office of the Provost at

Bobbie Cavnar (B.S. English Education ’99) was named the nation’s best teacher for 2018 by the National Education Association Foundation. Cavnar received $35,000 and was honored at a gala on February 9 in Washington, D.C. Cavnar teaches literature at South Point High School, which is located outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. He was previously selected as North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year in 2016.




Nancy Rosenbaum (B.S. Elementary Education ‘01, M.S. Early Childhood Education ’03) won the 2018 June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator Award from the Challenger Center, a national award for STEM teaching. Rosenbaum teaches fifth grade at FSUS and started the FSUS Elementary Family Science Night. Ken Savage (B.S. Physical Education ’01) was named the 2018 Principal of the Year for the State of Florida and has accepted a position as principal in residence in the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Public Schools. Kema Gadson (M.S. Higher Education ‘04, Ed.D. Educational Leadership/ Administration ‘18) was named the assistant dean for student affairs and diversity and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health for the FSU College of Medicine. Amon Rwito (M.S. Elementary Education ‘04), teacher at Kate Sullivan Elementary School, was named as one of the finalists for the 2018 Glenn-Howell Distinguished Educator of the Year Award. Ivan Harrell (Ph.D Higher Education ‘06) was named the Tacoma Community College’s 11th president. Prior to his appointment as TCC president, Harrell served as the executive vice president of academic & student affairs at George Piedmont Technical College. Yaacov Petscher (M.S. Sport Psychology ‘04, M.S. Measurements and Statistics ‘05) was named one of the lead researchers spearheading a $30 million dollar project in a joint collaboration with FSU, Harvard, and MIT. The project, supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), aims to have every child reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Petscher works at the Florida Center for Reading Research.



Amanda Doyal McGhee (B.S. Mathematics Education ‘03, M.S. Educational Leadership/ Administration ‘08) was named Calhoun County School District 2018 Teacher of the Year. Sonja Ardoin (M.S. Higher Education ‘06) accepted a position as a tenuretrack assistant professor in the higher education master’s program at Appalachian State University for fall 2018. Ardoin also published a new book, titled “College Aspirations and Access in Working-Class Rural Communities.” The book helps administrators seeking to better support first-generation students from rural, workingclass communities. Chris Grosse (M.S. Sport Management ’08), assistant athletics director for marketing at Georgetown University, was featured on NCAA.com and received national attention for his innovative sports promotions from ESPN, USA Today, Newsweek, The Atlanta, The Today Show, and The Washington Post. Chris Evans (B.S. Recreation and Leisure Services Administration ‘08) was named president of the new FSU Alumni Association Young Alumni Council. Evans is also a former Florida State University student body president and trustee. Jennifer Powell (B.S. Social Science Education ‘07, M.S. Social Science Education ‘14, Ed.S. Educational Leadership/ Administration ‘17) was named Leon County’s 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year. Powell teaches economics and government at Chiles High School.

2010’s Courtney Starling (M.S. Mathematics Teaching ‘14) became the secondary mathematics specialist at the Florida Department of Education within the Bureau of Standards and Instructional Support. Joey Cantens (M.S. Sport Management ‘11) became an assistant coach for German basketball team MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. The team plays in the German Bundesliga and reached the semi-finals of this year’s competition. Jason Guilbeau (Ph.D. Higher Education ’18) served as an editor and contributed a chapter in a new book, “The State Higher Education Executive Officer and the Public Good.” Dean of FSU-Panama City Randall Hanna also served as an editor and chapter contributor. The book looks at the role of the state’s higher education executive officer (SHEEO) and his/her role as policymaker, and also provides current SHEEOs and related staff advice by drawing on original research and reflections. The book is printed by Teachers College Press and is available now. Jaqua Lewis (B.S./M.S. Exceptional Student Education ‘14) was named the Council for Exceptional Children Palm Beach Chapter 2018 ESE Teacher of the Year. Lewis teaches at Boca Raton High School and serves as a special education teacher. Brittany Sinitch (B.S. English Education ’17) helped organize a Dance Marathon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Dance Marathon, originally scheduled to take place on February 21 but postponed due to the tragic mass shooting, set a record for raising the most money from a high school in its first year. The school raised $66,283.17, far surpassing the original $12,000 goal. The money raised went to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Kylie Altier (B.S. Early Childhood Education ‘13) was named Nacogdoches ISD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year. This honor comes after Altier won the Teacher of the Year award for her school, Brooks-QuinnJones Elementary. Rebecca Childs (M.S. Educational Leadership/Administration ‘16) was named Levy County’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.

Danielle Kerr (B.S./M.S. Social Science Education ’13) was named Florida District Teacher of the Year. Kerr teaches at the Florida State University Lab School. Kelsey Smith (B.S. Sport Management ‘13) was named by the Tampa Bay Rays as their Employee of the Year. As part of the award, Smith was allowed to select a charity that would be given a donation by the Tampa Bay Rays on her behalf. She generously chose the FSU Sport Management Student Association (SMSA) as a recipient. Dawn Fae Adolfson (M.S. Curriculum and Instruction ‘15) was promoted to coordinator of the Adult Education program at Tallahassee Community College. She previously worked as an adult education specialist at TCC. Camille Marie Valle (B.S. Elementary Education ‘14) was selected by Hutchison Beach Elementary School in Panama City Beach, Florida, as their 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year.

Keep us posted! Let us know how you’re doing and where you are in your career journey. Send us your news at the following link:

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Distinguished Alumni Awards THE AWARDS Established more than 25 years ago, the College of Education Distinguished Alumni Awards provide an avenue to honor graduates of the college who have distinguished themselves through scholarly, creative and humanitarian achievement and service to their profession. Each year, recipients are nominated by their peers and selected by the College of Education alumni council. The College of Education dean and administrative leadership members, department chairs, faculty, family and friends honored these individuals at an awards ceremony and dinner held Friday, Sept. 30 during College of Education Week.

Business & Industry


Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, renowned teacher and internationally recognized expert in childhood education and developmental psychology. She is the developer of the Conscious Discipline program, which has impacted an estimated 15.8 million children in the twenty years since its inception. She is also the founder of Loving Guidance, Inc., a company dedicated to creating positive environments for children, families, schools and businesses.  Bailey has authored 21 books related to guidance and discipline, several of which have won national awards. Her core publication for parents, “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline” is published in 12 languages. She touches thousands of lives annually through her inspiring workshops and seminars, and has over 1.2 million of her top-selling books in circulation. With 40+ years of experience working with the most challenging children, Bailey deeply believes we must transform the lives of adults first and children second. Learn more about Conscious Discipline and enjoy Bailey’s many free educational videos at www.ConsciousDiscipline. com.

Sport Management


Entering his 39th season as the Seminoles’ head coach in 2018, Mike Martin continues to redefine success by any standard of measure. With 1,944 career victories, a .737 winning percentage that sits atop all active NCAA Division I coaches, 40 consecutive regional tournament appearances and 16 trips to the College World Series, Martin’s place in college baseball history is secure. Martin was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007. Since then, he has eclipsed the 1,500-, 1,600-, 1,700-, 1,800- and 1,900-win milestones, returned to the College World Series four times in the last decade (including in 2017) and has shown no sign of slowing down, while continuing to turn out All-Americans, Major League Draft choices and postseason participants. Martin, who is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA baseball history, is the man whose uniform number – 11 – is universally substituted for his name among players, fans, colleagues, and even family members. There’s a reason Martin is treated like family among the Florida State faithful; he has been associated with the Seminoles for 46 of the program’s 71 seasons as a player, assistant coach and head coach. In 2017, Martin won his 1,900th game and led FSU to the College World Series for a 17th time, while also winning the Atlantic Coast Conference for a seventh time. Nine players were taken in the Major League Baseball Draft in 2017, and as head coach, 197 of his players have heard their names called in the draft.



International Affairs


Leslie Waters was born in Gulfport, Florida and has lived in Seminole, Florida since 1979. She graduated from Boca Ciega High School and received two degrees (B.S. & M.S.) from Florida State University.  She had a successful 29-year career at Allstate Insurance Company and served in the Florida House of Representatives for eight years, terming out as Speaker Pro-Tempore.  She is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator.  She is the founder and proprietor of the Leslie Waters Government Relations consulting firm, an adjunct political science professor, and is currently serving as mayor of the City of Seminole.  She has vast political experience--three levels of government, elected local, elected state and lobbying national-and has been an active community volunteer for decades. Waters is one of 16 American Women serving on the Women’s Democracy Network Council, an initiative of the International Republican Institute in Washington D.C.  She is a recipient of the Largo Chamber of Commerce Inspire Award, and recognized as a Woman of Vision by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.   Waters is a member of the Suncoast League of Cities and the Florida League of Cities, the Pinellas County Mayors’ Council and the Florida League of Mayors.  She serves on the Pinellas County Farm Bureau Board, the Pinellas County Urban League Board, PEMHS Mental Health Board, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Advisory Board, and is a member of the VFW-A, Post #9272.

K-12 Education


Kathleen (Hufford) Esmiol graduated from Florida State in 1960 and married her FSU sweetheart, Doyle Ruff, a decorated fighter pilot who was the first Vietnam returnee to the Air Force Academy and the Right Wing of the U.S. Thunderbirds during their 20 years together. Returning from a final tour in Alaska with their three children, Esmiol received her M.A. from the University of Colorado in gifted education. During the 25 years she taught English in Colorado Springs’ Academy District, she wrote and produced six plays and an opera. Prentice Hall named Esmiol Team Teacher of the West and used her play Voices and Visions as the basis of a national publication. Esmiol was Disney’s 2001 Middle School Humanities Teacher of the Year, and in October 2002, she taught American studies and English for the U.S. State Department in Blagoveschenck, Russia. Her play about an African-American woman who was the catalyst for the peaceful integration of Colorado Springs led to her write “Everybody Welcome: A Memoir of Fannie Mae Duncan and the Cotton Club.” She currently is heading the effort to erect a bronze statue of Fannie Mae Duncan in front of the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts and is completing a biography of architect Elizabeth Wright Ingraham, Frank Lloyd Wright’s granddaughter.

Postsecondary Systems


Dr. Dan Connaughton is a professor in the Sport Management program and serves as the associate dean for faculty and staff affairs in the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida (UF). He earned a B.S. in exercise and sport sciences and an M.S. in recreation management from UF, an M.S. in physical education (administration) from Bridgewater State College, and an Ed.S. and Ed.D. in sport administration from Florida State University. Prior to his career in academia, he held management positions in recreation, aquatic, and health/fitness programs. Connaughton’s teaching and research are largely focused on the study of law, policy and risk management in sport and recreation programs. He has authored or co-authored three textbooks, several book chapters, and over 110 peer-reviewed research articles. Connaughton has presented his research over 160 times at national and international meetings and conferences. He has also mentored dozens of successful graduate students. Additionally, Connaughton has served as principal investigator for over $10.5 million of externally-funded contracts and grants. The American Heart Association funded his research investigating implementation constraints and risk management practices related to automated external defibrillators in sport and recreation programs. He currently serves as the principal investigator of the Florida Bicycle Safety Education and Risk Management Project, which is funded by the Florida Department of Transportation - Safety Office. In this capacity, he works with school districts, law enforcement agencies, and various other organizations throughout Florida in an effort to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety education. Connaughton has received several teaching and research awards, and is a research fellow with the Sport and Recreation Law Association (SRLA) and the Research Consortium of SHAPE America. THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE




FACULTY & STAFF ACHIEVEMENTS At the College of Education, we pride ourselves on our nationally renowned faculty, which includes eight distinguished professors and two Fulbright scholars. They pursue cutting-edge research that enriches and informs classroom teaching, and their achievements gain national and international recognition. Our dedicated staff shine through their continual service to the College. The following is a list of recent recognitions and awards achieved by our esteemed faculty and staff.

Christine Andrews-Larson, assistant professor of mathematics education, co-edited a book titled “Challenges and Strategies in Teaching Linear Algebra.” The book explores various efforts taking place around the world in research and instruction on teaching and learning linear algebra.

Bradley Cox, associate professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, presented at the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) 2018 Annual Meeting. The 2018 INSAR Meeting took place in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Laura Ballard was promoted to teaching faculty II in the School of Teacher Education.

Lindsay Dennis was promoted to associate professor in the School of Teacher Education.

Helen Boyle, associate professor of international and multicultural education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, published in the journal Prospects. The article is titled “Reading Reform in Egypt: Do the second-grade textbooks reflect the new direction?” and examines how Arabic-speaking countries are reevaluating how they teach children in the early grades.

Vanessa Dennen, professor of instructional systems & learning technologies in the Department of Educational Psychology & Learning Systems, published an article in the journal TechTrends. The article, coauthored with doctoral student Jiyae Bong, explores the interaction between educators and instructional designers during an online development course about using social media in education.

Sonia Cabell, assistant professor in the School of Teacher Education, received the First Year Assistant Professor award from the Council on Research & Creativity at FSU. Cabell became part of a new four-year, Florida Center for Reading research project that examines the efficacy of the Core Knowledge Language Arts.

Shengli Dong was promoted to associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems.

Kathy Clark, associate professor in the School of Teacher Education, won the College of Education Teaching Award for undergraduate student teaching. She also received a research grant from the University of Siegen in Siegen, Germany. Clark served as one of the editors and co-authored two chapters in the book “Mathematics, Education and History: Towards a Harmonious Partnership.”

Dean Emerita Marcy Driscoll was named the 2018 Recipient of the Russell P. Kropp Award by the Florida Educational Research Association (FERA). Dean Driscoll also presented at the 2017 Council of Academic Deans from Research Education Institutions Annual Fall Meeting. She retired as dean of the College of Education in June of 2018. Deborah Ebener was promoted to professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems.



Michael Giardina was promoted to professor in the department of Sport Management. He also published the book “Qualitative Inquiry in the Public Sphere” and was named to the inaugural North American Society for the Sociology of Sport Research Fellows. Kathy Guthrie, associate professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, edited a book titled “Changing the Narrative: Socially Just Leadership Education,” which includes contributions from 24 authors, including 11 current FSU doctoral students, four recent College of Education graduates, and two LifeNet members. Guthrie also co-authored a new book, titled “The Role of Leadership Educators: Transforming Learning.” Lyndsay Jenkins, assistant professor of school psychology, was featured in an article on CQ Researcher titled “Bullying and Cyberbullying: Are schools doing enough to protect victims?” Jenkins is the director of FSU’s Bullying Prevention Research Group, which seeks to better understand and to decrease instances of bullying. Tamara Bertrand Jones, associate professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, will lead the Black Female Forum, taking place in Dublin, Ireland, in October 2018. Bertrand Jones was also named a Partner with a Purpose by the FSU Division of Student Affairs and was recognized as an outstanding alumna and community leader by Women for FSU. Bertrand Jones is currently serving as acting chair for the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies for fall 2018 and spring 2019. Roger Kaufman, professor emeritus of the instructional systems and learning technologies program, appeared in the news after the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) announced the latest recipient of the Roger Kaufman Award, the 2018 Roger Kaufman award was presented to Barcelona Activa. Ayesha Khurshid was promoted to associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies.



James D. Klein, distinguished professor of instructional systems and learning technologies, published a paper in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education titled “Applying the First Principles of Instruction in a short-term, high volume, rapid production of online professional development modules,” which was co-written with Anne Mendenhall, an ISLT alumna. Sandra Lewis, professor and coordinator of the visual disabilities program in the School of Teacher Education, received the Distinguished Service Award by the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Visual Impairment and Deafblindness. Joshua Newman, professor in the Department of Sport Management, was chosen as part of the inaugural North American Society for the Sociology of Sport Research Fellows at the 2017 annual conference held November 1-4 in Windsor, Ontario. Jason Pappas was promoted to teaching faculty II in the Department of Sport Management.

Toby Park was promoted to associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies.

Lara Perez-Felkner, assistant professor of higher education and sociology, published an article in The Journal of Higher Education titled “What About Two-Year Colleges? Institutional Variation and the Gender Gap in Undergraduate Stem Degrees.” PerezFelkner also spoke at the Institute for Education Sciences-funded Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training (IESPIRT). Steven Pfeiffer, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, received the 2017 National Research Award from the Research Council of Oman for the research article “Identification of Gifted Students in Oman: Gender and Grade Differences on the Gifted Rating Scales–School Form.” Pfeiffer’s book, “APA Handbook of Giftedness and Talent,” was also featured during the 2018 American Psychological Association annual convention.

Beth M. Phillips, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, was among the recipients who received a new grant awarded to the Florida Center for Reading Research by the Institute of Education Sciences. Ryan Rodenberg, associate professor in the Department of Sport Management, was featured on a number of high profile news outlets, including ESPN, The Washington Post, and ABC News, for his insight into the Supreme Court’s decision on Murphy v. NCAA, which dealt with sports betting. Alysia Roehrig, associate professor and program coordinator for learning and cognition, was honored by the Transformation Through Teaching program through FSU’s Spiritual Life Project. The program honors teachers who provide support for their students and help them find meaning and selfrealization in their lives. Jenny Root, assistant professor of special education, published an article, “Embedding Literacy in Mathematics Problem Solving Instruction for Learners with Intellectual and Developmental Disability,” in a special issue of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disability (AAIDD) journal, Inclusion. She also co-authored an article, titled “Teaching Students with Moderate Intellectual Disability to Solve Word Problems” in The Journal of Special Education. Root presented at the 2018 Council for Exceptional Children Convention in Tampa, Florida, as well as a presentation on teaching mathematics and science to students with intellectual disability at the 19th International Conference on Autism, Intellectual Disability, and Developmental Disabilities in Clearwater, Florida. Finally, Root developed and published the curriculum Math Skills Builder with Alicia Saunders, Ph.D., and Diane Browder, Ph.D. Linda Schrader, clinical professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, won the College of Education Teaching Award for graduate student teaching. The award was given based on a number of criteria, including helping students, improved teaching practice, demonstrating scholarly contributions and more.

Valerie Shute, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, helped design the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) triennial survey. The survey is used by nations around the world to determine the effectiveness of their education systems. Shute was also honored by FSU through the Transformation Through Teaching program. Laura Steacy, assistant professor of special education and research faculty at the Florida Center for Reading Research, published an article, titled “Development and prediction of context-dependent vowel pronunciation in elementary readers,” in the journal Scientific Studies of Reading. Steacy also helped Nigerian children improve their reading skills through a partnership between FSU and Bayero University-Kano and the creation of the Nigerian Center for Reading Research and Development. Miray Tekkumru-Kisa, assistant professor of science education, co-edited a special issue in the International Journal of STEM Education, an open-access journal. The article, titled “Design and Facilitation of Video-Based Professional Development Programs,” looks at the increase of professional development programs that use video. Ian Whitacre was promoted to associate professor in the School of Teacher Education.

Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski was promoted to associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies. She authored an article entitled “Why poor parents in Nairobi choose private over free primary schools” for Quartz Africa. Zuilkowski was also selected to help create the Nigerian Center for Reading Research and Development and help children in Nigeria improve their reading skills.



Amal Ibourk, assistant professor in the School of Teacher Education, Sherry Southerland, professor of science education, co-director of FSU-Teach, and director of the School of Teacher Education, and Robin Smith, associate director of FSU-Teach, participated in the sixth annual Tallahassee Science Festival. A number of College of Education faculty won or were nominated for 2017-2018 University Teaching Awards. The awards program highlights exemplary faculty teaching both undergraduate and graduate students. Students and alumni nominate faculty who they believe were outstanding teachers. Winners and nominees from the College of Education include: Graduate Teaching Awards (8 awards given): Vanessa Dennen (EPLS) Mary Frances Hanline (STE) Undergraduate Teaching Award (14 awards given): Phyllis Underwood (STE) University Distinguished Teacher Award Nominee: Angie Davis (STE) University Teaching Award Nominee: Amy Kim (SM) University Teaching Award Nominee: Jason Pappas (SM) University Teaching Award Nominee: Marty Swanbrow Becker (EPLS) Several FSU College of Education faculty members have been selected as 2017-2019 associated editors of Educational Researcher. • • • •

Motoko Akiba (ELPS) Vanessa Dennen (EPLS) Tamara Bertrand Jones (ELPS) Sherry A. Southerland (STE)

Educational Researcher (ER) publishes scholarly articles that are of general significance to the education research community and that come from a wide range of areas of education research and related disciplines. Published nine times a year, ER aims to make major programmatic research and new findings of broad importance widely accessible. The following staff were elected to serve on the 2018-2019 Staff Advisory Board: Britni DeZerga (STE) Deborah Kelly (EPLS) Joshua Duke (Communications) Zaneta Igbinoba (STE) Marah Harrington (Dean’s Office)



Lisa Beverly, co-director for graduate studies in the Office of Academic Services and Intern Support, was honored for five years of service to the College. Kelly Conner, director of business operations in the Office of the Dean, received the COE Outstanding Staff Member Award. Michaela Densmore, data analyst in the Office of the Dean, was honored for 10 years of service to the College.

Rhonda Hester, academic support assistant in the Office of Academic Services and Intern Support, was honored for 15 years of service to the College. Jennie Kroeger, assistant director in the Office Communications and Recruitment, was honored for five years of service to the College. Linda Lyons, academic support assistant in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, was honored for five years of service to the College. Mary Kate McKee, academic program specialist in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, was honored for 20 years of service to the College. Michael O’Donnell, technology specialist in the Office of Information and Instructional Technologies, was honored for five years of service to the College. Kimberly Roberts, program manager in the Office of Research, was honored for 15 years of service to the College.


Damon Andrew Dean

Cameron Beatty Assistant Professor, ELPS

Eileen Bischof Teaching Faculty I, STE

David Eccles Associate Professor, EPLS

Veronica Fleury Assistant Professor, STE

Stacey Hardin Teaching Faculty I, STE

Tristen Hyatt Teaching Faculty I, EPLS

Shaofeng Li Associate Professor, STE

Marianne Lorensen Teaching Faculty I, ELPS

Simone May Teaching Faculty I, EPLS

Kylee Studer O’Daniel Visiting Teaching Faculty I, SM

Nicole Patton Terry Professor, STE

Sally Watkins Teaching Faculty I, ELPS

Katherine Yaun Senior Editor, OoR


Amanda Coffman Development Officer Office of Development

Britni DeZerga Academic Program Specialist, STE

Joshua Duke Media Specialist, Communications

Deborah Ham-Kelly Academic Program Specialist, EPLS

Taylor Thompson Program Manager, EPLS

Tremaine Tillotson, Administrative Assistant, Dean’s Office

Aaron Winfrey Technician, OIIT

Heather Murphy Academic Program Specialist, STE









TRIBUTE TRAILBLAZER “Florida State is looking for you, they just don’t know it yet.” These were the first words a young Marcy Driscoll heard about FSU from her friend and FSU alumnus Phil Doughty (Ph.D. ’72). A native of Rochester, New York, she had never considered moving to Florida, although she was not opposed to travel. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Mount Holyoke and graduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Driscoll spent a year abroad as an educational consultant for Educational Radio and Television of Iran. She worked designing instructional development curriculum and also taught at the Master’s College of National Iranian Radio & Television until the revolution of the Ayatollah Khomeini forced her to flee the country. Iran’s loss was very much Florida State’s gain. What even Driscoll did not know was that she was looking for Florida State. She just didn’t know it yet. Though Doughty gets the credit for first seeing the future of the College of Education’s first female dean, he could not have known just how right his statement would prove to be. “Here at FSU, she immediately became

one of the most popular professors in the instructional systems program,” says Associate Dean for Research and Professor Robert Reiser, who is one of Driscoll’s longest-serving colleagues. “She also became a highly productive researcher. She won an FSU Developing Scholar Award and worked with some of our most prestigious faculty, including Walter Dick, Leslie Briggs and Robert Gagné.” When Driscoll joined the instructional systems program in 1980, it was the premier program in the nation, thanks to the work of luminaries like Gagné, Robert Morgan, Briggs, Dick and Reiser. Driscoll was the first woman on the faculty, and within weeks, was told she had been hired to replace the legendary Bob Gagné. Anyone who has ever met Driscoll knows she is up for a challenge, and the five-foot-tall redhead was inspired by the challenge to fill the shoes of one of the field’s most important figures. Her tenacity and intelligence readied her for a career that would establish her not as someone who worked in the shadow of giants, but as a trailblazer and an important figure in the FSU community in her own right. As a scholar, she delivered more than 100 presentations, wrote 40 articles, and published four editions of Psychology for Learning and Instruction, the most widely used textbook in her field. These accomplishments have made her

synonymous with instructional systems and Florida State. Driscoll worked her way up through the ranks and became the department chair of Educational Research in 1996. “As a faculty member, there comes a time when you decide you either don’t like administration and you go back to being regular faculty or you like administrative work and start thinking about your career in a different way,” Driscoll says. She became the first female dean of the College of Education in 2005, but what she didn’t know at the start of her tenure was that she would also be one of its longest serving. Over her thirteen years as dean, Driscoll set a new standard for leadership at the college. One of her greatest accomplishments during her time as dean was the expansion of the Stone Building. “It’s not often you get to the top of PECO [Public Education Capital Outlay] funding lists with the state of Florida to be able to get a new building or, for us, to renovate and expand and add square footage,” says Steven Conner, assistant vice president of finance & administration at FSU and former assistant dean for business operations at the College of Education. “During our tenure together, we had the ability to do that. It was a three-year project. That’s probably my favorite working memory with Marcy.” Her leadership influenced multiple generations of students. As Florida State President John Thrasher notes, “During her tenure as dean, more than 10,700 students earned their degrees from the College of Education.... To say that she has had an incredible impact on our students would be obviously an understatement. She has the kind of knowledge and experience you simply can’t replace.” It wasn’t just students who felt Marcy’s influence, however; it was also staff, and many of them can vividly recall moments of hardships that Driscoll helped resolve. “I’ll never forget our ‘Freaky Fridays,’ where the most random issues would arise that we’d have to somehow resolve,” says Kelly continued...



Conner, director of business operations at the College of Education. “Sometimes we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but no matter the situation, Marcy always handled it with poise. Marcy is lighthearted and was really good at balancing hard work while still having fun. I consider Marcy a close friend now and will forever cherish our memories together.” Driscoll also designed and executed the college’s first strategic plan, helped expand Florida State University Schools, raised over $32 million in charitable gifts for the college and grew the college’s scholarship program to award more than $500,000 a year to over 225 students. “It has been one of my favorite parts of the job,” Driscoll says about meeting with donors and fundraising. “We have very supportive alumni who care about FSU and getting to know them and seeing them at events has been great fun.” As a dean, she led the Council for Academic Deans for Research Education Institutions (CADREI) and inspired other college of education deans across the country to continue to improve and to grow. She also led through her own charitable giving to Florida State. Marcy has contributed more than $73,000 of support, including the Robert M. Gagné Outstanding Research Award endowment to support student research, and more than $1.2M in estate commitments to the College of Education (Marcy P. Driscoll Endowed Fund for Faculty Excellence), the College of Engineering (Robert E. and Marcy P. Driscoll Endowed Fund for Engineering Excellence) and Student Affairs (Robert E. and Marcy P. Driscoll Endowment for Women in Crisis). “My history with Florida State has given me a lot,” Driscoll says. “I am happy that I can give back to support its future.” A common refrain among former and current staff is Driscoll’s understanding of interpersonal relationships and staff development. “Marcy is the main reason why I’ve been working at the College for over 17 years,” says Kelly Conner. “I highly respect Marcy for her leadership, mentorship, honesty, fairness and spunky attitude.” “I think she did a really good job making great hires,” Steven Conner adds. “During her tenure, I think the College really moved forward because of the people she hired. I think her greatest gift to the College is the people who are still here who were hired under her leadership.” “If Bob Gagné were alive today, I’m sure he would say, in his inimitable way, ‘Marcy, you’ve done a really fine job here,’” Reiser says. Although no longer dean, Driscoll will continue at the College of Education as dean emerita, working on a new revision to her book and offering up her guidance to those who seek it. Once she concludes her time in the Stone Building, however, students, staff and faculty will continue to feel her presence for generations to come thanks to her leadership, vision and tenacity.



In Her Own Words

I arrived at FSU and the College of Education in August 1980, the only woman in my program and department. Moving from the northeast, I spent my first month in sheer survival mode – napping most afternoons because of the oppressive heat and humidity, looking for shaded spots to park my un-airconditioned car, figuring out who to go to for what, and getting to know my colleagues. I remember being surprised by the more formal atmosphere of the university than I was used to. Graduate students here called professors by their titles and undergraduates called me “ma’am.” At age 29, I decidedly did not feel like a “ma’am”! But I got used to it, and I compromised with the graduate students, many of whom were older than I was, by asking them to call me “Dr. Marcy” if they weren’t comfortable calling me by my first name alone. Those were the days when no one had personal computers. We wrote correspondence and scholarly papers by hand and submitted them to a typing pool, or we typed them ourselves at home. A curriculum resource center occupied the ground floor of the Stone Building and served as a library of sorts for books and other print materials that we used in our classes. Florida High, as we called the lab school then and now, was across the street. Fast forward to 2018 and some things could hardly be more different. Florida High resides on its own campus in the Southwood community. Always a site for COE faculty research, the lab school has raised its research profile, with teachers conducting their own research as well as collaborating with faculty members from across FSU. Our corner of campus now includes the College of Medicine, Department of Psychology, and Seminole Café, all in beautiful, modern facilities. Renovations in 2009 transformed the Stone Building into a space we are proud of, not only for the physical beauty of the atrium and courtyard, but also for the unique spaces it provides for teaching and learning – the Tech Sandbox, Learning Resource Center, Science Teaching Lab, Assistive Technology Lab, and Student Lounge, to name a few. What really makes a place great, though, are the people, and having great colleagues has been a constant throughout my career at FSU and the COE. Of course, during the past 13 years, I had a little something to say about that, since, as dean, I hired a substantial majority of the faculty and staff. If I have a legacy, it is in the people I’m leaving as I move into retirement. I am proud of all the College has accomplished and confident that it faces a bright future ahead. THE TORCH - COLLEGE OF EDUCATION MAGAZINE


MARCY DRISCOLL A Trailblazer’s Timeline

Earned her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Massachusetts

Earned her bachelor’s in psychology from Mt. Holyoke College

1976 1973

Promoted to associate professor of instructional systems and educational psychology

1980 1978

Earned her master’s in psychology from the University of Massachusetts

Became program leader of the educational psychology program

Assistant professor for instructional systems and educational psychology at Florida State University

Became associate professor of learning and instructional technology at Arizona State University


Received the Developing Scholar Award from Florida State

Became the program leader for instructional systems and was awarded the Outstanding Instructor Award from Florida State University

1993 1992

Became professor of instructional systems and educational psychology


1988 1986

1991 1990


Awarded the College of Education Teaching Award from Florida State

Became department chair for Educational Research and received the Outstanding Service Award in the Division of Structional Development from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology

1995 1994

Returned to Florida State and became professor of instructional systems and educational psychology


Received an Outstanding Book Award in the instructional development field from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology

Named the Russell P. Kropp Award winner by the Florida Educational Research Association

2018 2018

Served as the chair on 42 different doctoral student committees, as a cochair for one student, and a committee member for five

Retired as dean in June

Joined the Board of Directors’ Executive Committee for the Association for Educational Communications and Technology

Recognized as an author on 27 refereed articles, 13 non-refereed articles; published Psychology of Learning for Instruction, widely considered to be the definitive book in instructional design, as well as served as an author on seven refereed books and two non-refereed books; as an editor on one book; was an author on 22 non-refereed reports; contributed chapters in 23 different books; and presented at 101 lectures, conferences, workshops, and symposia.

Served as department chair for Educational Psychology and Learning Systems and the first time invited to the Thierry Roundtable in Brussels, Belgium

2000 1997

Started her tenure as dean for the College of Education

2003 2002

Elected president of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology

Elected as the president of the Council of Academic Deans of Research Education Institutions

2006 2005

Became associate dean for administration and research


Became a member of Florida State University Schools Board of Directors



HELP TRANSFORM TOMORROW THROUGH YOUR GIFT TODAY Help support the students and programs you have read about through your tax-deductible gift to the College of Education! You can make a donation to our General Fund or contact the Foundation Development Office to learn about how you can create a scholarship or include the College of Education in your estate plans.

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For more information about supporting the College of Education, please contact: Kevin Derryberry Assistant Dean for Development College of Education (850) 644-0565 kderryberry@foundation.fsu.edu

Credits DEAN Damon P. S. Andrew

Jennie Kroeger

DIRECTOR Jennie Kroeger

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Profile for Florida State University College of Education

The Torch - College of Education Magazine, 2018-2019  

The Torch - College of Education Magazine, 2018-2019

The Torch - College of Education Magazine, 2018-2019  

The Torch - College of Education Magazine, 2018-2019