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Spring Two Thousand Eighteen

Contents Dean

David H. Monk


Annemarie Mountz


Jessica Buterbaugh, Jim Carlson, Annemarie Mountz


Jessica Buterbaugh, Jim Carlson, Annemarie Mountz

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247 Chambers Building University Park, PA 16802-3206 814-863-2216 • Published twice a year by the Penn State College of Education

College of Education Alumni Society Officers

President: Tonya DeVecchis-Kerr President-elect: Pamela Peter Immediate past president: Bill Vitori Secretary: Douglas Womelsdorf


Joseph Clapper Kaela Fuentes-Packnick Pamela Peter William Stone Douglas Womelsdorf Larry Carretta Henry Laboranti Tracy Hinish Sandie Musoleno

Jeannene Willow John Czerniakowski Paula Donson Jonathan Klingeman Lawrence Wess Sharlene Yontosh Stephanie Preston Roseilyn Guzman Pamela Francis

Student Members Hannah Chisler Daje Walker

Frank Ayata Branden Elmore

Dean’s Message 1 College of Education and State College schools celebrating 20th anniversary of PDS program 2 Cooperation and collaboration are key points behind a successful Professional Development School to prepare prospective teachers.

PDS program has provided student with opportunity to learn and grow


Even before attending Penn State, Ali Cohen always enjoyed helping children; she’ll continue that quest by teaching them.

College of Education faculty, staff serve students across the University


Faculty and staff go above and beyond their job descriptions in what they do for students.

Jeanne Leonhard’s legacy includes support of College of Education’s literacy programs


Alumna enjoys supporting students so they can go forward and become teachers who will educate the next generation.

‘Legally Blind, Blonde and Albino’


Faculty member Seria Chatters shares her life story of overcoming adversity.

Kelly, Murphy named distinguished professors 15 Gregory J. Kelly and P. Karen Murphy have been awarded the title of distinguished professor in the College of Education.

Student’s endeavor is to tackle the science of teaching science


Dan Henderson is an engineer who wants to have an impact on students by teaching them the finer points of science.

New partnerships take Quality Talk to classrooms in Taiwan, South Africa


After seeing success in K-12 classrooms in the United States, Quality Talk now will help students in international classrooms achieve academic success.

The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Office, The Pennsylvania State University, 328 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802-5901, Email:, Tel (814) 863-0471. This publication is available in alternative media on request. U.Ed EDU 18-53

Career counseling-engineering partnership sees great success


In its inaugural year, a new partnership has benefited 225 students and coordinators; expect that number to more than double by the end of 2018.

Alumni Society Board president’s message


On the cover: The collaboration of student teachers and teaching mentors between Penn State’s College of Education and the State College Area School District known as the Professional Development School is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Photos: Jim Carlson

Dean’s Message We are crossing a number of significant milestones this year. Our Professional Development School (PDS) partnership with the State College Area School District has been going strong for 20 years. There is much to celebrate with this program, and you can read about its accomplishments in the pages that follow. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the College of Education Alumni Society. Founded in 1968, our College’s Alumni Society provides an organizational home for a worldwide network of more than 56,000 education alumni. The society is led by a board of volunteers and works closely with our faculty, staff and students to provide innovative program opportunities that connect alumni and friends. You can read more about the Alumni Society in a new column from Alumni Society Board President Tonya DeVecchis-Kerr on page 21. Dean David H. Monk In June, the College of Education will celebrate its 95th anniversary. When it was created as a School of Education in 1923, Will Chambers was named dean. The school enrolled 359 students and was located in a converted fraternity building. We’ve come a long way from those early beginnings. Now housed in four buildings on the University Park campus and online through the World Campus, we enroll close to 2,000 undergraduates and more than 1,800 graduate students. We have more than 110 tenure-line faculty members, and 59 fixed-term faculty teaching nearly 56,000 student credit hours annually.

Our programs continue to be recognized for their quality, with five ranked in the top 10 and nine ranked in the top 20 in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings. While rankings don’t even begin to tell the story of our quality and innovation in teaching and learning, they do provide public recognition of our accomplishments. From the beginning, it has been the mission of our College to deepen and extend knowledge about the formation and utilization of human capabilities, and this includes updating teaching and learning spaces throughout the College. We have been doing quite a bit of that recently, particularly in Chambers Building. Last fall we shared our plans to renovate the science education wing of the building (see story at and I’m pleased to report that renovation of the wing is in full swing. When it’s completed, it will join the Krause Studios for Innovation, the Mathematics Education Lab, the Social Studies Lab, and the Language and Literacies Studio as 21st century teaching and learning spaces. Philanthropic support has been critically important in enabling us to transform these spaces. The most recent gift, from Jeanne Leonhard, will enable this work to continue and as an indication of our gratitude and appreciation for her generosity, we will be naming the Language and Literacies Studio in her honor. Read more about this on page 10. We also have made a large number of impressive hires this year across the College, and it is very clear that highly talented individuals are interested in becoming faculty members in the College of Education at Penn State. We can all be proud of the College’s accomplishments in the 95 years since its founding. Look for information about activities to celebrate our various milestones as the year unfolds in Bridges, our electronic newsletter. If you don’t receive that twice-monthly email newsletter and would like to, please email and ask to be added to the subscription list. Spring has been a little slow in coming to Happy Valley this year, and it is being welcomed with open arms. Many thanks.

Penn State Education


College of Education and State College schools celebrate 20th anniversary of Professional Development School


By Jim Carlson

enn State’s College of Education and the State College Area School District for 20 years running have combined to support the educational needs of the district’s K-12 students and the University’s teacher candidates through its Professional Development School (PDS). And two decades of encouraging cooperation and collaboration between teachers and students have led to a landmark anniversary. The PDS teacher preparation program is designed for Penn State students to serve as interns in nine State College Area elementary schools as well as the secondary English program in the high school for an entire academic year.

cooperation, according to College of Education Dean David Monk. “The PDS is a true partnership where the school district and the College make substantive investments and realize mutually beneficial results,” Monk said. “It is easy to talk broadly about partnerships and collaborations, but real success requires hard work and effective communication.

Photo: MJ Kitt

Gwendolyn Lloyd, the Henry J. Hermanowicz professor of teacher education and director of elementary education at Penn State, and PDS intern (2016-17) Miranda Boatman meet with a student.

The opportunity to co-teach with a mentor teacher for that 10-month span is a benefit to the interns, who learn how to manage a classroom from the outset, and for the district’s students, many of whom end up with two teachers in a classroom. Michelle Knotts and MJ Kitt, current PDS coordinators at the secondary and elementary levels, respectively, combine efforts to accomplish common goals and create connections between the programs. They focus on collaboration, one of the PDS 2

Penn State Education

program’s core values, and work toward their shared commitments to ensure quality induction of teachers into the profession and to foster the professional growth of all teachers and teacher educators. “Celebrating this 20th anniversary milestone has shed light on the rich history of the Penn State-SCASD PDS partnership,” Knotts said. “I want to draw on those traditions as I plan for new possibilities for the partnership in the future.” Partnerships require a tremendous amount of work and

“The lines of communication regarding the many moving parts to the PDS are wide open and function extraordinarily well at many levels ranging from the offices of the superintendent and dean to the day-to-day communications between the interns, their mentors and the professional development associates (PDAs),” he said.

A web of support includes administrators at both institutions, and it has remained consistent over the years. “People are the reason the PDS has so much positive and professional energy to impact learning of interns and students, as well as our faculty and administration,” said Bob O’Donnell, superintendent of State College Area School District.

Extremely wide reach The impact the PDS has continued to stretch year after year with each class of new Penn State graduates.

“It’s inspiring to think about the impact of the PDS over its 20 years,’’ Monk said. “Just think of how many interns there are who have gone on to pursue successful teaching and administrative careers, touching the lives of countless students and their families, literally throughout the entire nation and beyond.”

teachers and University faculty have had because of their presentations at state and national conferences has been significant,” Badiali said. “This is my 46th year as an educator and I have never been a part of a better program.”

With PDS interns teaching in elementary schools across the country, the program has influenced the classroom experiences of large numbers of students. “Considering all the interns over the past 20 years who have completed the internship and are teaching in their own classrooms, we estimate that at least 200,000 students have been impacted,” said Kitt, coordinator of the PDS K-4 program.

Commitment across the board is another overarching theme, according to Rose Mary Zbiek, professor of education and head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of

Jim Nolan, former PDS coordinator and currently professor emeritus of education, also noted the program’s reputation beyond State College.

Passion for the program

her professional life profoundly. “In particular, my relationships with classrooms, children, teachers and school leaders has greatly enhanced my research and teacher education activities. I’m so grateful to be involved in this partnership,” she said. What helps make the PDS unique is the inquiry process involved throughout the year, capped off with the annual Inquiry Conference in late April at Mount Nittany Middle School. The College of Education views teaching as a complex, multi-faceted problemsolving activity that requires an inquiryoriented stance toward their practice as well as examining their practice and its impact through classroom-based research. At the Inquiry Conference, interns share their inquiry investigations, celebrate accomplishments and engage in a community of reflective practitioners.

“When you think about the impact of the teaching of our Karen Morris, a former interns all former intern and across the country mentor, and current and couple that with graduate student and the work of our former Photo: MJ Kitt secondary English PDS doctoral students Rachel Wolkenhauer, assistant professor of education (curriculum and supervision), instructor, said the who are leading interacts with an elementary student. collective wisdom that partnership efforts in comes from sharing at teacher education, I think there can Education. the inquiry conference is beneficial. be no doubt that the PDS has had a “While the PDS has evolved over significant national impact,” Nolan “Coming together to share our its two decades, the energy and said. practices reminds me of how varied commitment of the people involved teaching styles can be,” she said. Bernard Badiali, associate has been a constant,” she said. “It professor in the Department of is a shared passion for teaching and “What I’ve learned from colleagues and other PDS partners has had an Curriculum and Instruction and learning that inspires and unites all impact on my work as a teacher and coordinator for the Curriculum and participants across the history of a mentor. Supervision Program at Penn State, the partnership.” as well as a past coordinator of the “As I begin my career as a Gwendolyn Lloyd, Hermanowicz PDS, said PDS practices that started teacher educator, I realize just professor of education and director at Penn State have been adopted how much my experience with of elementary and early childhood and used across a wide spectrum of the PDS has enabled me to grow education at Penn State, said the PDS sites. as a teacher leader and teacher PDS partnership with the State “The influence our mentor College Area Schools has impacted educator.” Penn State Education


Plenty of planning That’s what program founders had in mind not only from its inception in 1998 but years before when the planning process was underway. Former College of Education professor Nancy Dana, now a faculty member at the University of Florida at Gainesville, said Penn State faculty and administrators met with State College Area School District administrators and teachers for about five years. The PDS launched in August of 1998, she said, with a pilot group of 14 interns at district elementary schools in Matternville (now closed) and Ferguson Township. As the program grew and flourished, Penn State students were typically hired by school districts from Alaska to Virginia when they graduated.

intern at Gray’s Woods Elementary School, says the support that surrounds the interns helps the program excel. “It’s a great way to grow as a teacher,’’ Cohen said. “And I think there are so many different interns, so many different mentors, and it’s all community. So if you’re looking to observe almost anything, someone in the program will be doing it and you can go observe it. It’s just a great opportunity to learn and grow,’’ she said.

our last seminar held at Park Forest Middle School. Jim Nolan stood in front of us referencing a PowerPoint slide posing the question, “How will you be a teacher leader?” said Holly Klock, who is serving as Cohen’s PDA this year. “I have not taken that slide lightly within my seven years since graduation. Every day I strive to be a teacher leader, hopefully inspiring others to raise morale, collaborate constructively and smile while working in a profession that is as demanding as education.” Klock enjoys the exchange of knowledge, reflection and motivation during her interactions. “Teaching is hard. As a PDA, I feel as though it is in my duties to equip interns with not only classroom management strategies, but also a reflective mindset,” Klock said. A number of Penn State graduates who were PDS interns have returned to the school district as full-time employees. Andrea de Carle, a current mentor teacher at Easterly Parkway Elementary, was an intern in 20052006. She also served as a supervisor, methods instructor and cofacilitator in the PDS from 2012-2016.

“The students in the PDS were always the core focus – working relentlessly to make the best schooling experience possible for every individual child, and in the process preparing the next generation of teachers and teacher educators as well as creating Photo: MJ Kitt a laboratory for the Nancy Dana, who helped launch the PDS program in the late 1990s, chats with continual professional Jim Nolan, professor emeritus and a former PDS coordinator. “The inquiry mindset learning of practicing that was fostered professionals at both the during my internship year has had school and university,’’ Dana said. Beneficial to everyone a tremendous impact on me as Allyna May is a third-grade mentor teacher,” she said. Across its two decades, intern at Park Forest Elementary the PDS program has placed “As I began my teaching career, and believes that immersion in the priority on teacher development I knew I could develop a wondering, same classroom for a full year has and leadership. The PDAs, gather data, analyze the data and been essential to her development. or Professional Development then take action.” “Experiencing a program like this Associates, visit classrooms several has made me a more well-rounded College of Education Assistant times per week to work with interns person who has the confidence Professor Rachel Wolkenhauer and their mentor teachers. needed when looking for a future (curriculum and supervision) has career as a teacher,” May said. “When I was an undergrad and a research agenda of practitioner Ali Cohen, a fourth-grade PDS intern myself, I can vividly recall inquiry as it relates to professional 4

Penn State Education

Photo: Nabil Mark

All the hard work by the supervisors and mentor teachers and Professional Development Associates yields another class of PDS student teachers. This is the 2017-18 class pictured at the start of the school year.

development and teacher preparation. “My work in the PDS revolves around emphasizing learning to learn from teaching within an inquiry community in order to foster an expectation that teachers are to question and contribute to the knowledge base of teaching, learning and schooling,” Wolkenhauer said. “In doing so, teacher preparation and teacher professional development engage educators in the PDS in intellectual and social professional communities that support them in raising questions and connecting individual learning to that of the community and larger education field. “It is a privilege to work in a context where this work is possible. The close partnership we have between Penn State and State College in the PDS means we have inexhaustible access to experts from whom to learn,” she said.

Designed to be collaborative The elementary PDS program is part of the Elementary and Early Childhood Education Program,

which prepares Penn State students for certification to teach in the PreK-4 grade band. The secondary English PDS partnership, started by Jamie Myers, professor emeritus of education (language and literacy education), hosts both undergraduate and graduate students. “The PDS program frames interns as teachers, not university students, and provides a scope of learning that includes the traditional theoretical readings of campus with the experiential life of the classroom,” Myers said. “The transaction between theory and practice structured through PDS activities and collaborations generates highly thoughtful and skilled educators and enact teaching and learning as inquiry for both themselves and their students. “By making collaboration an inherent characteristic of their work as teachers, they open up their classrooms, describe experiences of success and difficulty, negotiate valued learning purposes, and jointly construct areas of need for future inquiry,” he said. All of that benefits the district’s

students, according to longtime school board member David Hutchinson. “Although an investment in time and effort is required on the part of our teacher-mentors, we have found that by mid-year, our students reap the benefit of having two motivated and capable classroom professionals,” Hutchinson said. “Our teachers also benefit from having the enthusiasm and perspective of a fresh set of eyes.” And also a culture of values inherent to lifelong learning, according to Wolkenhauer. “Every one of us benefits from having partners and mentors in learning in the PDS,” she said. “By learning together, we are constantly questioning our practices and trying new things to make teaching and learning better for ourselves — and serving as ambassadors for the field. “It is this value, and this camaraderie, that buoys us as teachers so that we can continue to spend each day devoted to the hard work of teaching.” Penn State Education


Student teacher takes advantage of PDS opportunity to learn, grow


uch of Ali Cohen’s free time prior to college as well as during the past three years at Penn State has been spent helping children, so maintaining that frenetic pace as a student teacher in the College of Education’s Professional Development School (PDS) seemed to be a natural progression for the 21-year-old from Short Hills, New Jersey. Wherever there’s a way to not only educate children but help them as well, Cohen’s been around. A service trip to Costa Rica, three separate internships in 2016 in and around New York City, LifeLink PSU and a host of service projects with her Delta Gamma sorority dot a resume that at first was designed for beneficence but ultimately shifted toward education. “I actually came into college not wanting to be a teacher, I came in wanting to do human development and family studies,” Cohen said. “My primary goal was to do social work. I actually shadowed a social worker in a hospital and it just wasn’t where I saw myself because it wasn’t as much people interaction as it was with computers and forms.” A camp counselor since age 16, Cohen grew up being responsible for children. With grandparents, aunts and uncles involved in education, she naturally fell into that discipline. “It’s kind of been all around me,’’ she said. And she’s been all around youngsters with special needs. “I’ve done LifeLink PSU since freshman year; I go into the HUB and work with kids with special needs,” Cohen said. “I start out tutoring once a week and they also have special events on Wednesday


Penn State Education

By Jim Carlson

in which we just get together and play different games with them. “I’ve been with organizations such as LifeLink since high school and it’s just like, I love it, they love it and they appreciate it so much, and it’s just so nice to be able to give something to somebody else. I think it’s so neat that we can all learn from each other and it was a great growing experience in high school and it’s a great growing experience here,’’ she said. Her path is linked to the elementary education curriculum in the College of Education, and she said she knew as a freshman that she wanted to join the PDS program. “I tried to get all my credits out of the way so I could do it,” said Cohen, who is teaching in a fourth-grade classroom at Gray’s Woods Elementary School. “I think I really became involved because it’s such a strong support system that they offer. “To actually see the breakdown of the classroom from the very start before the kids even get there for in-service days to the very end and see the growth of those students and getting to know them on a personal level as well I thought was really attractive. I’ve loved being in it and I recommend it to anyone who’s in the education field,’’ she said. PDS students spend much of their winter preparing for the annual spring (April 28) Inquiry Conference, at which they present their research wondering and conducting a service project. “With the support of their PDA (Professional Development Associate), they immerse themselves in data, observations, student work, video self-reflections and more,” said Holly Klock, Cohen’s PDA.

Photos: State College Area School District

Ali Cohen, shown with a student and in front of the classroom at Gray’s Woods Elementary School, knew since her freshman year she wanted to be part of the PDS program.

Professional Development School’s PK-4 program earns national Exemplary Achievement Award Deeply invested in supporting the educational needs of children in the State College Area School District and teacher candidates from Penn State’s College of Education, the Professional Development School program that links the two has been recognized with the Exemplary PDS Achievement Award. The National Association of Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) presented the award at its March conference in Jacksonville, Florida, to the College’s Elementary and Early Childhood (PK-4) teacher education program. The PDS partnership was cited for its commitment to a culture of inquiry as well as its leadership and movement nationally. The collaboration between Penn State’s College of Education and the State College Area School District is now in its 20th year. NAPDS is a national organization that supports and advances schooluniversity collaboration and is based in Waco, Texas. “Recognition with this award comes at a very

exciting time for the partnership as we approach a 20-year milestone in our history,” said MJ Kitt, the College’s PDS elementary coordinator and former State College teacher and administrator. “We also received the award in 2009 and since then our community has continued to grow and find new ways to support the learning of children and teachers.” To qualify for this award, the partnership submitted a 20-page narrative describing the strengths of the partnership as they relate to the guiding principles of NAPDS. Penn State faculty members Gwen Lloyd, Rachel Wolkenhauer and Kitt guided the writing process and incorporated the contributions of a wide range of PDS community members from State College schools and Penn State, including 19 former interns, mentor teachers, supervisors, methods instructors, principals, administrators and board members.

“This investigation into student learning, student metacognition or teacher metacognition culminates at the end of the semester with our Inquiry Conference. However, inquiry does not end there. As interns walk into their future classrooms, they are equipped with inquiry, a strategy which will lead to continued student and teacher growth,” Klock said.

Cohen also spends time with the Community Education Extended Learning (CEEL) program. “I get to see different kids in the community. I work at the one at Radio Park and I go there right after Gray’s Woods, and that’s K-6. We just do different activities. Other student teachers do that and some college students just do it as a part-time job. It’s a fun way to make some money.”

Cohen’s PDS wondering is whether you can incorporate service learning into the classroom and if it can enhance an academic subject area for fourth-graders.

A future, steady salary is always on the mind of soon-to-be graduates, and Cohen is basically applying worldwide.

When you combine all of the responsibilities a typical PDS student has, it makes for a hectic 10-month span. “Definitely this year you’re juggling so much so you really need to want to do it to be able to be successful in it, and I definitely do,” Cohen said. “It’s something that although it’s time-consuming and it can be challenging, it’s something you have a passion for and it’s great to have the PDS community, because they are there to support you when it does get busy and they all are passionate about it as well.”

“I recently decided that I believe I want to go teach abroad next year; I haven’t decided where,” she said. But she’s applied through the Department of State; thus, it could be almost anywhere. “I would teach on a military base. I would be so grateful if I could get the opportunity to teach in a completely different setting than I’m used to, especially working with different types of cultures and families,” Cohen said. “I’m also applying directly to international schools abroad and sending my cover letter

for openings they have. It is a competitive position, so we’ll see. If I go with the Department of State, that would be a paid position and I will be teaching. Some of the international schools I’m applying for, I can either get a paid position but most European schools look for like three or four years of teaching experience beforehand, and especially international teaching experience,” she said. The skills Cohen has honed to help her in the future were polished in the PDS. “I think the biggest thing for me is the support that you get because you just have so many different people you can go to for so many different things,” Cohen said. “And there’s so much talent in different areas.” She said Klock and other PDAs provide constant support. “They are there to support you from Day 1 to the last day. They come and observe you at least twice a week and give you hints on what you could be doing and share resources. It’s a great way to grow as a teacher,” Cohen said. Penn State Education


College of Education faculty, staff serve students across the University By Jessica Buterbaugh

At any university, it is common to see faculty and staff working with students. After all, it is part of most job descriptions. But often, faculty and staff go above and beyond their job descriptions in what they do for students. In the College of Education, more than a dozen faculty and staff serve as advisers for various Universityrecognized student organizations that are not connected to the college. Some have served for decades while others are newcomers who want to get involved and work with students outside of the classroom. Regardless of their length of tenure, all serve for their own distinct reasons. For James Johnson, advising allows him to focus on two of his favorite things — playing chess and helping students. Johnson, professor of education (early childhood education), has been playing chess Thursday nights in the HUB since he came to Penn State in 1983. In fact, a few weeks before teaching his first class, he competed in the Pennsylvania state chess championships. During his college years, he was a Michigan Junior Champion and represented Wayne State University twice in the Pan-American Inter-Collegiate tournament. When the opportunity presented itself for him to serve as faculty adviser for the Penn State Chess Club, it was only natural for Johnson to get involved. “We all need a break from usual academic routines and our students obviously do too,” said Johnson, who served as adviser in the 1990s and recently resumed responsibilities again in 2016. “I love sharing the love of the game, which lasts a lifetime, and partaking in the chess culture, which is very welcoming and draws you deeply in.” Jerry Henry, human resource strategic partner for the College of Education and the College of Arts and Architecture, works behind the scenes with college administration as well as working on special projects for Penn State Human Resources. His typical, day-to-day duties do not involve much interaction with students. However, outside of the office, Henry can be spotted working with the Penn State Thespians. Founded in 1897, Penn State Thespians has seen many changes in its 120-year existence, according to Henry. “At its start, the organization was an all-male club. During World War I, women began performing because the draft left the club without some of its male talent, but it was not until 1953 when women were officially allowed membership,” he said. In 1999, Henry began his role as adviser and has been with the organization ever since. He works with 8

Penn State Education

the students, most of whom are not theatre majors, to produce two full-production musicals each year. The group also gives back to the community by producing two children’s shows a year and MasquerAIDs, a production that benefits the AIDS Project of Centre County. The group also participates annually in THON. “It is not only professors who can impact a student’s life,” said Henry, who has been involved with community theatre most of his life. “Many times, it is the staff member sitting behind a desk who offered a student a smile on a particular day. When I think back to my college days, I think often of the staff member who assisted me in registering for a course or who lent me enough money for bus fare to get back to my apartment.” “I like being able to work with students who are extremely creative and smart, who thought they would need to leave drama behind them after they left high school,” he said. “When they find Penn State Thespians, they have found their family away from their family.” Helping students find that kind of emotional support also is what drives Jason Whitney to continue to serve as faculty adviser for Lions for Recovery (LFR), a support group for students recovering from alcohol and other substance use disorders. Whitney, an instructor of education (secondary English education), understands firsthand how alcohol and substance use disorders can affect one’s college career. “During my sophomore year [of college], I began to work a recovery program and I am still working at it 26 years later, and it continues to be a powerfully transformative process,” he said. “College can be a tough environment for students with substance use disorders. When unsupported, these students have difficulty sustaining their recovery and often foreclose on their educations and their futures. It has been a major reason for school failure and attrition here at Penn State for years.” The mission of LFR is to provide mutual support, service and outreach to encourage students struggling with substance use disorders to seek help. Current members regularly serve on various panels where they share their experiences and personal stories. They also speak regularly as part of the curriculum for Centre County’s Youthful Offender’s Program (YOP). “On surveys, the YOP participants consistently rate the LFR speakers as the most impactful part of that program,” Whitney said.

Whitney, who has seen firsthand how beneficial groups like LFR are for college students and personally understands the need for support networks, is part of an interdisciplinary group at Penn State working to establish an addiction and recovery minor. He also recently developed a new course called Education and the Student in Recovery, the first course of its kind in the United States. “I am glad that the collegiate recovery movement came about and that I was able to help Penn State establish this incredible program and use my personal experience to help students in recovery since I’ve been there A number myself,” he said. Amanda Smith’s struggles also are what led her to lend a helping hand to Penn State students. Smith, who is the STEM outreach and engagement liaison for the Center for Science and the Schools (CSATS), was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1997 when she was just a teenager. She now uses her experiences and knowledge of the disease to help students by advising the College Diabetes Network at Penn State (CDN@PSU). “I remember being told I would have a decreased quality of life, would likely not have children and would struggle as I got older,” Smith said. “However, diabetes management has come a long way in 20 years and as a type 1, you can do anything you put your mind to.”

crucial that in any capacity, whether you have a special talent, provide leadership or lend a helping hand, that faculty and staff provide a means to serve Penn State and its students. It makes us a stronger, more connected community.” Aside from its academic and research accolades, Penn State is known for its many community outreach endeavors. One of those endeavors involves the efforts of CB’s Rookies, a student organization that connects students with disabilities in the local community with Penn State students via a shared interest in athletic events.

of staff and faculty in the College serve as advisers for student organizations outside of those tied to the College. Among those who currently serve are: • Cori Donaghy: Happy Valley Music Label • Jennifer Frank: CB’s Rookies • Jerry Henry: Penn State Thespians • Katie Hoffman: Harmony and CB’s Rookies • James Johnson: Penn State Chess Club • Efrain Marimon: Mock Trial Association • Ashley Patterson: Bahá’í Campus Association • Kimberly Powell: Penn State Taiko • Gabriella Richard: Penn State Esports Club • María Schmidt: Boricua Grads • Roger Shouse: Turning Point USA at Penn State • Amanda Smith: College Diabetes Network Chapter at Penn State • Jason Whitney: Lions for Recovery

CDN@PSU is the local chapter of the national organization that provides resources, support, funding and other opportunities for college students nationwide. At Penn State, members provide support for their peers and help those diagnosed with the disease.

The group was established in 2016 with the help of Jennifer Frank, assistant professor of education (special education), who serves as a co-adviser along with colleague Katie Hoffman, associate professor of education (special education). “Our mission is to give children with disabilities and their parents an opportunity to become a part the Penn State community through involvement in our athletic programs,” Frank said. “We visit students at their school and assist them in learning more about Penn State sports and ‘CBeating’ game day ‘CBaft’ (creating game day crafts). Then, children are offered tickets and invited to tailgate and attend a Penn State athletic event with their parent or guardian.”

CB’s Rookies hosts three events each year — one in the fall, spring and winter. Children are greeted by club members who watch the event with them and afterward, take them to meet the athletes for autographs and pictures.

“College life can be difficult enough, so having this support group for students with type 1 diabetes can be quite helpful,” Smith said, adding that there are many misconceptions about the disease and CDN@PSU helps students better understand their diagnosis.

“Our hope is to give these students the opportunity to experience not only a Penn State sporting event, but also the tight-knit community that is found on campus. By doing so, we hope to provide them an experience that will have a positive and lasting impact on their lives,” Frank said.

“I am proud to be part of CDN@PSU and to help the group grow as an organization,” she said. “I think it is

“Seeing our students’ compassion turned into action is inspiring,” she added. Penn State Education


Leonhard legacy includes generous support of language and literacy in College of Education By Annemarie Mountz

Even as a child, Jeanne Leonhard recognized the importance of proficiency in language and literacy, and she’s made it a priority throughout her life. “Reading was my least favorite subject as a young student, because it was the most difficult for me. But as I went through school, I soon realized I can’t excel in science or math or any other subjects, if I don’t know how to read,” Leonhard said. “Therefore, I focused in on reading. Language and literacy is so pervasive throughout the entire educational experience and our lives.” Leonhard, an alumna of the Penn State College of Education, has shared her personal literacy journey with her students and their parents during her 40 years of teaching in Arcadia, California. She wanted to help impress upon them the importance of developing strong literacy skills. “As elementary teachers, we many times have the sole responsibility to instruct our class in all subjects. Some might find this daunting but I feel it is the greatest gift a teacher can receive, because it allows you to see and work with the total child,” Leonhard said. “Many lessons are interdisciplinary and collaborative and teachers need a broad base of knowledge to be able to weave all of the threads together. At the same time, literacy was the area that I tried to put most of my emphasis on with my young students.” One of the benefits of teaching in a self-contained classroom is the opportunity to take advantage of what Leonhard calls “teachable moments.” 10

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Photo: Annemarie Mountz

The Language and Literacies Studio soon will be named for Jeanne Leonhard, an alumna who dedicated her life to making sure her young students understood the importance of reading.

“My favorite part of teaching was bringing a surprise, an interesting fact, something unique to the classroom experience. And I think it’s those kinds of spontaneous educational experiences that the children remember most,” said Leonhard.

given many generous gifts to the University over the years, most notably the Leonhard Center for Enhancement of Engineering Education, which was established in 1990 by an endowment from Jeanne’s parents, William and Wyllis Leonhard.

“California has very little rain so whenever we’d have a rain storm, the students and I would be out in the grass, looking for earthworms and worm castings. I didn’t worry so much about my original lesson plans but took advantage of this once-a-year, hands-on educational opportunity,” she said.

At the time they made that gift, William Leonhard said, “In the twilight of a business career, one rarely is offered an opportunity to give something back to the system that prepared him for success. My gift to endow The Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education is exercising this opportunity afforded me.”

“I would rearrange my plans and highlight this special event. I pulled out my insect and worm books and filled the day with reading, writing, art, science, math and physical education lessons, all focusing on worms.” The Leonhard name is well-known in the Penn State community. Jeanne’s family has

In the same vein, Jeanne Leonhard is giving back to the College of Education. “When I graduated in 1968 and got my first job teaching kindergarten, I found that my excellent College of Education training gave me full confidence that I was ready to provide a sound foundation to my students that would support them

on their way through the coming years,” she said. “I fortunately did not have the burden of today’s large student loans and was able to focus my time and energy on my studies and students. I’m now able to provide financial assistance to future teachers. I hope that they too can focus on their studies to become tomorrow’s strong classroom teachers and enjoy this rewarding lifelong profession as much as I did,” Leonhard said.

educational experiences we are able to afford our students through the updated learning spaces we are creating in Chambers Building would not be possible without the generosity of people like Jeanne Leonhard.” Monk said the creation of the new learning spaces in Chambers Building – the Language and Literacies Studio, the Social Studies Lab, the Math Education Lab, the Krause Studios for Innovation and

conservative life, and her parents were able to save up money to put her and her two brothers through college. “But my mother said she didn’t have a new car because one brother went to college and she didn’t have fancy clothes because my other brother went to college. And she didn’t have a nice big diamond ring because I went to college. So as a family, we all did our parts to advance our education,” Leonhard said.

“I think that’s an important thing to remember, that everyone can give back to their school, maybe not in a large financial way, but in some kind of support for the next generation.”

Leonhard has given several gifts to the College, with scholarship endowments set up to benefit roughly 30 students each year. She now has added a $400,000 gift to the College, which will be used to renovate additional learning spaces in Chambers Building. In gratitude for her generosity, the College is naming the Language and Literacies Studio in her honor. “Being the only non-engineer Leonhard, I’m very pleased to be recognized in this way by the College of Education,” she said.

Such philanthropy has a lasting effect, according to College of Education Dean David H. Monk. “Gifts such as this help us to create learning experiences that set the Penn State College of Education apart and position our students to excel and succeed, not only during their time as students, but after graduation when they enter the workforce,” Monk said. “The

“Fortunately, later in life we were in positions that we could all give back. I think that’s an important thing to remember, that everyone can give back to their school, maybe not in a large financial way, but in some kind of support for the next generation,” she said.

— Jeanne Leonhard

the Science Education wing that currently is under construction – has opened the door to more interdisciplinary work among faculty and students. Leonhard also is a big fan of the PDS (Professional Development School) collaboration with the State College Area School District. When she first learned about it, she was a mentor teacher in her school district, working with and supporting new teachers. “I think the PDS experience gives students a true picture of what teaching really is,” said Leonhard. Leonhard said that growing up, her family lived a fiscally

Leonhard said that while the family name has a strong association with engineering, they also have supported the arts through donations to the College of Arts and Architecture, and as a lifelong teacher, she is proud and happy to support the College of Education. “As teachers, we are setting the foundation for everyone’s future success. We need to remember that those engineers and singers and dancers all started their educations in an elementary classroom. I have focused my giving into the College of Education, to help support present students so they can go forward and become the teachers that will educate the next generation of successful people,” Leonhard said.

Creating Transformative Experiences We are committed to providing opportunities that foster socially aware, innovative and academically prepared global citizens. Through the Greater Penn State campaign, alumni and friends can partner with us in creating these co-curricular offerings that will define a bright future for our students and our community.

For more Information, contact: Simon Corby Director of Development and Alumni Relations College of Education 247 Chambers Building University Park, PA 16802 814-863-2146 Penn State Education


‘Legally Blind, Blonde and Albino’ Faculty member shares life story of overcoming adversity


By Jessica Buterbaugh

t’s not easy being the new kid in school. It is especially difficult when you have a disability. But being the new kid — and the new kid with a disability — is something Seria Chatters experienced more than a dozen times throughout her childhood and adolescence. The eldest child of an active military service member, Chatters was accustomed to moving from place to place. But because she looked different than others, including her parents and siblings, she was the target of constant bullying. “The bullying I experienced was horrible,” said Chatters, assistant professor of education (counselor education) in Penn State’s College of Education. “I remember one school that I went to, my entire class participated in the bullying of me. It was bullying of all types — name calling, pushing, threatening to fight me, everything. And being legally blind and not being able to see very well, it was even more terrifying because I couldn’t really understand a lot of the dynamics or even see when people were doing things to me.” Chatters’ visual impairment is the result of albinism, a rare genetic disorder that affects the pigment of the skin, hair and eyes. Although her parents are dark-skinned African Americans, her skin tone is much lighter and her hair is blonde. Because prenatal genetic testing was not available when her mother was pregnant, Chatters said she was a “big surprise” to her parents and jokes that her father probably wondered if she was truly his child. “It was explained to my parents that I was albino and that meant that I had a lack of pigment,” she said. “But what wasn’t explained to them is that pigment is more important in our bodies than what we think.” Many albinos, including Chatters, suffer from visual impairments because the lack of pigment in the retinas causes them to have issues with light. Albinism also impacts the brain, causing


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fibers to cross. As a result, corrective vision surgery is not an option because the root of the visual impairment lies within the brain, not just the physiology of the eye. Because her doctors did not know how bad her vision would get, Chatters started taking blind classes at a very young age and continued throughout her adolescence and college years. She was trained to read brail and use a mobility cane. This added to the bullying, she said. “They were training me in school. I would be walking around the school with a blindfold on and using a cane and that just caused kids to target me even more,” she said. “If they didn’t know I was legally blind, and a lot of times they didn’t, they knew then. I couldn’t even try to fly under the radar. I would always beg to be trained outside of the school but they always said no,” she said. When she wasn’t dodging the constant harassment of her peers, Chatters was struggling with her academics. But not because she lacked the intelligence — she enrolled in kindergarten at the age of 3 and graduated high school at 17 — but because she could not receive the academic accommodations she needed. Because of her visual impairment, Chatters had issues reading textbooks and copying notes from the blackboard. She had to work harder to read the material and stay on track with her studies. The accommodations she did receive varied from school to school but it wasn’t until she moved to Germany that she finally received all of the accommodations she needed. Those accommodations helped her with her studies and exposed talents she never knew she had.

Photo courtesy of Seria Chatters

As an African-American born with albinism, Seria Chatters looked different than her family members and also struggled with vision impairment as a result of the rare genetic disorder.

“I really got into art when I was [in Germany] because my art teacher facilitated a ton of accommodations for me to be able to participate in the art class,” Chatters said, adding that during her sophomore year, she was a silver medal finalist for an international art competition that spanned the

European Union. “After that, I decided that I really wanted to go into fashion design and go to Parson’s School of Design. I was on track to go there and I was really excited about it.”

Graduate Program Rankings Penn State’s College of Education and its graduate programs continue to earn high rankings, as shown in the latest national rankings released by U.S. News & World Report.

But then Chatters and her family moved again. This time to a small town in Nebraska where, for the first time, she said she struggled with art. “In Germany, I was flourishing but in Nebraska it was the opposite. My art teacher refused to give me any accommodations and said she felt that accommodations would be like me cheating, making art too easy for me.”

Nine of the College’s graduate programs appear in the top 20 of their respective program rankings, with five programs in the top 10. Photo courtesy of Seria Chatters

As a child, Seria Chatters often was the victim of

Her mother advocated for bullying, an experience she says influences the work her, and although accessibility she does today. was a legal requirement, the because I simply couldn’t see,” school’s administration did not Chatters said, explaining that enforce accommodations, Chatters she couldn’t see many of the said. They only told the teacher models used in class. She asked that she could not fail Chatters. that the professor enlarge the As a result, she dropped her art models for her to better see them elective because she wasn’t able but her requests were denied. to participate and, she said, it was Additionally, the individual obvious that the teacher did not working in disability services want her in the class. was not knowledgeable of the accommodations she needed. “I cried a lot because I was really very excited about fashion “I talked to my teacher and he design and now that dream was said ‘I don’t really see where as a over,” she said. person with a visual impairment, When she headed to college, things didn’t change. Chatters wanted to attend a large university but because she received a full academic scholarship to a small, private liberal arts college in Nebraska — and because she had just turned 17— her mother insisted that she attend a school that would not cause a financial burden. She enrolled in college as a pre-med major, with plans on attending medical school. But once again, a lack of accommodations halted her plans. “During my second year of college, my grades suffered. My chemistry teacher refused to provide accommodations and there was a lot that I couldn’t do

you could be a doctor. I think you need to figure out something else you can do,’” she said. “That conversation just hit me and I was like, ‘I guess I can’t be a doctor.’ So, I changed my major to business because I thought ‘what else can I do?’” Although Chatters felt forced to change her major, she never stopped pursuing her dream of helping people. After graduating from college, she moved to Florida where she worked for a lending company, providing financial counseling for clients during the mortgage crisis. She realized how much she enjoyed that aspect of her work and decided to go back to school to get a master’s and a doctorate in counselor education.

According to U.S. News & World Report, program rankings “are based solely on nominations by education school deans and education school deans of graduate studies from the list of schools surveyed. ... Those schools receiving the most votes in each specialty are numerically ranked in descending order based on the number of nominations they received, as long as they received seven or more nominations in that specialty area.” In the survey, the College is ranked 43rd in the nation among 385 graduate programs of education. The programs are ranked this year as follows: Technical Teacher Education (Workforce Education).............2 Higher Education Administration..........................4 Student Counseling/ Personnel Services...................5 Rehabilitation Counseling........6 Education Administration/ Supervision (Ed Leadership)....9 Special Education...................11 Education Policy.....................13 Educational Psychology.........13 Elementary Education............15 Penn State Education


“I know I am a huge minority being a woman of color who has a disability, a genetic disorder and who is a professor. I just hope that my story will help others and show them that they can achieve success, regardless of their disability or what they’ve experienced.”

— Seria Chatters

During this time, she also fell in love, got married and gave birth to two children. It also was during her doctoral studies that her father was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. For the next 11 years, she and her mother provided care for him until he passed away in December 2017.

Many also do not have a strong family support system like she had. Her mother has been a lifelong advocate for Chatters and her brother, who also was born albino and is legally blind. But, she said, her mother would not let them use their disabilities as an excuse for not doing something.

After earning her advanced degrees, Chatters worked as an assistant professor at Zayed University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In 2013, she joined the College of Education and shortly after completing her first year at Penn State, she and her husband welcomed their third child.

“My parents always said to me, ‘Go and try it. And if you’re finding that you’re not able to do it, then we will come and help you. But go and try it. And then if after we help you and you’re still not able to do it, then we’re just going to figure out something else that you can do, but not until you try it,’” she said.

“I say all of this because, well, life has been full of barriers for me,” Chatters said, adding that she has experienced many barriers, some of which she still does not like to talk about because they are so personal. “And everyone has their own battles that they’re waging on their own and no battle is more difficult or more harrowing than the other. And I know I am a huge minority being a woman of color who has a disability, a genetic disorder and who is a professor. I just hope that my story will help others and show them that they can achieve success, regardless of their disability or what they’ve experienced.”

Chatters used those words as encouragement as she overcame the many barriers she’s faced throughout her life and worked hard to achieve her dreams, including joining the faculty at Penn State and providing pro bono services to local families with children who have visual impairments.

According the National Federation of the Blind, as of 2015, only 14.9 percent of individuals with a visual impairment attained an undergraduate degree or higher and 29 percent live below the poverty line. These statistics, Chatters said, are influenced by social and academic barriers. “I have a lot of friends that are legally blind or blind that didn’t make it through their bachelor’s degree because of these barriers,” she said.

“I feel very blessed to be here at Penn State and to be able to do what I love,” she said. “And I think that access comes from people who have been able to make it through those barriers, turning around and making sure that everyone can afford the services that they’re able to provide. And that’s why I do a lot of what I do — I’m hoping to be able to provide access to others. “I think all of us want our presence on this Earth to have meant something and I hope that my presence, even here in State College, helps to make it a little easier for kids with disabilities and students of color, LGBT students or any kid that has something that is an additional piece that is causing them to be ostracized. I hope that I can help in some way.”

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Kelly, Murphy named distinguished professors Gregory J. Kelly and P. Karen Murphy have been awarded the title of distinguished professor in the College of Education.

P. Karen Murphy joined the Penn State faculty in 2002 as associate professor of education (educational psychology). She was promoted to professor in 2008.

The title of distinguished professor recognizes the academic contributions of current, full-time faculty members who hold the rank of professor. Distinguished professors are acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity; demonstrate significant leadership in raising the University’s standards in teaching, research or creative activity and service; and exhibit excellent teaching skills.

“Dr. Murphy is a master at transcending the tradeoffs that can exist between rigor and relevance,” said Monk. “Her work is squarely focused on problems of practice and she brings the full weight of deep and rigorous analysis to the explorations she leads.”

Kelly, associate dean for Research, Outreach and Technology in the College, joined the faculty in 2004 as a tenured professor of education (science education). He works in the area of science education and has focused his attention on the analysis of classroom discourse. He is particularly interested in studying ways to make science and engineering Greg Kelly accessible to students through their active engagement in investigations. He publishes routinely in the major journals in his field and frequently is invited to contribute to the handbooks that define the field of science education. “Greg Kelly continues to excel as an adviser to students despite the demands of his administrative responsibilities. The strong reputation Penn State enjoys in the area of science education is closely tied to having Dr. Greg Kelly as a member of our faculty,” said David H. Monk, dean of the College of Education. “Dr. Kelly is a scholar-teacher-leader whose professional example inspires students and colleagues in all areas of academic life,” said Maria Schmidt, assistant dean for multicultural programs. “As students supporting his nomination emphasize, Dr. Kelly’s effect on students as researchers is life-changing, providing not only the academic training but also the motivation and encouragement to reach heights they never imagined they would attain.” She said Kelly is extraordinarily skillful at keeping students focused and engaged in critical thinking, analysis and the reasoning that accompanies educational research. He actively engages students in scholarly work, mentoring them toward successful publications in recognized journals. Kelly has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the College of Education Outstanding Researcher Award in 2015.

Murphy has broken new ground in the analysis of discourse in classroom settings. She has developed applications such as Quality Talk for practicing teachers that test the insights she has gained from her research. These applications have been P Karen Murphy applied to multiple areas of the curriculum, as well as to learners of differing ages and backgrounds, including students from lowincome families and from across different cultures and languages. “The cross-cultural dimensions of Dr. Murphy’s work are especially noteworthy and speak to the broad reach of her impact as a scholar,” Monk said. “I know from firsthand experience that her work has been well-received in Taiwan where a major effort is being made to implement Quality Talk throughout the entire Taiwanese school system.” Rayne Sperling, associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies in the College, said Murphy excels in all areas where she has responsibility as a tenured faculty member. “She is a gifted and dedicated teacher in a demanding area of our curriculum,” Sperling said. “She works very effectively as an adviser and can point to an impressive track record of her students developing into independent and productive scholars. Her publications are numerous and highly influential, and she has distinguished herself as a principal investigator on large grants from major funding sources, including the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences.” In the College, Murphy had a two-term appointment as the Eberly Faculty Fellow and earned the Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award in recognition of her work as the chair of the College’s elected Faculty Council. Murphy also has been recognized for her accomplishments from organizations including the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association. Penn State Education


Graduate student’s endeavor: tackle science of teaching science


an Henderson is a student with a lifelong passion for science and he’s engineered his future plans to relay that passion through the profession of teaching. A December 2017 graduate in engineering science from Schreyer Honors College, Henderson immediately transitioned into the College of Education’s Curriculum and Instruction graduate program for science education after sequentially adding education courses to his transcript.

By Jim Carlson

different ways and better ways and it inspired me to want to get into education,” he said. Henderson knew from early on that the urge to teach might conquer his appetite and impulse to enter what surely would be a more lucrative field career-wise. “I remember my Algebra 2 class in high school where the teacher would introduce new material and both the teacher and I would be

Henderson said. “Engineering science, about half of the graduates go to grad school and maybe get a Ph.D., the other half go into industry getting jobs. You can really cater that degree to kind of where you want to focus in engineering. If I focused in one area I would maybe call it systems engineering with the electives that I took. By the end I realized I wanted to get my master’s in education and that’s what I’m going to be doing, so it was kind of taking things in engineering that also helped me lead into this master’s program.”

Like many budding engineers, Henderson is Henderson student teaching was infatuated at Park Forest with his Legos Middle School in collection as a the State College child, and he Area School said the building District, and he construction said it “feels engineering right” to be there. side of science appealed to him. “I know for “At some point I Photo: Jim Carlson sure I will want realized science Dan Henderson wants to take his love for science and have an impact on students in the classroom. to keep working is where I saw in the education myself making field,” he said. an impact in the walking around the class answering “Whether that will be that I’m future … what field do I want to get questions,” Henderson said. “I always in a physics classroom for in where I can make a difference,” didn’t fully realize until I got into my entire career, I don’t know yet. Henderson said. “At that point college that education is something I could see myself getting into the I was saying science in the that I have always cared about; it public policy side of education or engineering realm … the technical maybe just was kind of hidden.” I’ve even considered law school a side.” The thought process to enter little bit. Wherever I want to go I As attractive and engaging education wasn’t difficult for want to have teaching experience as that sounded, Henderson also Henderson, he said, despite and I definitely enjoy being in realized there was a side of him that enjoying engineering science and the classroom and working with liked science education – a field that his classes and the people within students.” helps other people build their own the department. “I think with Whichever path he chooses, the passions for science. “I saw the engineering I liked the major but way science was being taught at a connection to teaching is already I really didn’t see myself working collegiate level and I think there are there in the engineering field,” there. 16

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“It’s one of those things you don’t quite know what it’s like until you’re actually a teacher,” Henderson said. “Everyone interacts with teachers on some degree, whether you’re a student interacting with a teacher or parents of kids who are in school, but it’s a job that you don’t know what all there is to it until you actually step into the classroom and teach.” Henderson said part of the draw toward the public policy side of the education field is the sometimes-caustic criticism teachers are confronted with for any number of reasons and how “undercompensated they can be” for the number of hours they put in. “Knowing those things, people say, ‘you know you can get more money using your engineering degree, Dan,’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, I know, but it won’t motivate me enough,’” Henderson said. “I definitely need some type of intrinsic motivation to really dig into whatever project or career choice for me. I never quite felt that same draw toward engineering jobs and as I progressed through that degree, more and more I was really seeing myself in an education context.” Henderson capped off his engineering science degree with a capstone project titled “Measuring and Comparing the Effects of Design Interventions on Ideation Flexibility,” and is still working with a research group called the Ideation Flexibility Project. “What ideation flexibility tends to do is we want to come up with ways that allow innovative thinkers to generate ideas in adaptive ways and adaptive thinkers to generate ideas in innovative ways,” he said. “We want to bring people out of their comfort zone of generating ideas.” That, he said, has definite applications into education and potentially for his upcoming master’s research paper. “I’d like to at least in part write a sample

curriculum using what we’ve done in that ideation flexibility program and applying it to a high school physics classroom, almost like an engineering physics curriculum,” Henderson said. “Engineering still really matters to me but how can we take that stuff that we researched in engineering and put it into a high school classroom? That’s where my role is shifting now from an engineering researcher to this student teacher who is in the classroom every day of the week and seeing for this master’s paper to see how they can tie those together.” Henderson, who plans on graduating in August after taking nine credits of summer classes, is happy with the student teaching program and hopes to be in a classroom by the end of August.

How can I get involved with the College of Education? We need volunteers, student mentors, and goodwill ambassadors for the College. You also can support the College through financial donations.

“It’s been a good program,” he said. “When you’re organizing so many different student teachers at so many schools and every student teacher has a different mentor, I can’t imagine how difficult it is for them to have to juggle all of that. Despite all of that complexity, I think it’s a remarkably smooth and well-run situation. “I feel I lucked out getting into the State College Area School District. It’s really interesting to see a high school that is so closely tied to a major research university. They have very good teachers there; the administration is top-notch. “I have somewhat of a calling to go more toward an urban setting where there are a different set of needs for students,” Henderson said. “I’ve always been thinking to myself, ‘where can I make an impact?’ Being a good teacher in any district is going to have an impact, but I almost feel driven of heading toward a city school system. “It’s something I’m in the process of figuring out. Where do I think I’ll have an impact and how big of an impact will that be?”

To learn more, contact:

Simon Corby Director of Development and Alumni Relations College of Education 814-863-2146 EducationPriorities

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New partnerships take Quality Talk to classrooms in Taiwan, South Africa


By Jessica Buterbaugh

fter seeing success in K-12 classrooms in the United States, Quality Talk, an empirically supported instructional approach, now will help students in international classrooms achieve academic


Developed in 2002 by P. Karen Murphy, distinguished professor of education (educational psychology), Quality Talk is designed to promote high-level comprehension and teaches students to generate oral arguments via small-group discussions. The approach primarily has been used in language arts and science classrooms but can be adapted to multiple content areas across all grade levels. It consists of four major components: instructional frame, discourse elements, teacher modeling and scaffolding, and pedagogical principles.

“I’m hopeful and optimistic that participation in Quality Talk discussions will enrich students’ reasoning, enhance their comprehension and fluency, and promote critical-analytical thinking about, around and with text and content.”

“In 2015, my research team was awarded a small research grant from National Taiwan Normal University’s (NTNU) Learning Sciences Consortium to translate some of our Quality Talk materials into Mandarin to increase accessibility for various faculty at NTNU,” Murphy said. She noted that the grant was awarded after she presented the Quality Talk model at a conference held in Taipei, Taiwan.

— P. Karen Murphy

After the material was translated, NTNU faculty became more interested in the approach and in early 2016, Murphy, along with College of Education Dean David H. Monk, was invited by NTNU Executive Vice President Yao-Ting Sung to visit the university. The invitation came on the heels of a long-established relationship between the College of Education and NTNU. “I gave a workshop to NTNU faculty and graduate students on Quality Talk with specific attention to the 18

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implementation of the approach and how it might be executed at the university-level in college classrooms,” she said. “We were overjoyed to learn that several faculty had already begun small pilot projects using Quality Talk in their English-language courses.” Many of the educators who piloted the approach later presented their results at the 4th annual International Workshop on Advanced Learning Sciences (IWALS), where Murphy and Monk served as keynote speakers in the summer of 2016. Since then, Murphy and her team of researchers, which includes Carla M. Firetto, Ana M. Bulter, Liwei Wei and Mengyi Li, have worked closely with Joyce Chao-chen Chen, vice president for academic affairs and professor of the Graduate Institute of Library and Information Studies at NTNU, to continue translating Quality Talk into a more culturally meaningful intervention that includes eloquent examples and guides for both educators and students.

“The goal is to use Quality Talk as a pedagogical tool in all English and ancient Chinese courses for undergraduate students at NTNU,” Murphy said. “The amazing faculty at NTNU are not just implementing Quality Talk, they are studying its impact and refining the approach to maximize its usefulness.” The results of those initial studies will be published in two upcoming books — one which will focus on the implementation of Quality Talk in English language courses, and the other, which will be written in Mandarin, will focus on the use of the approach in NTNU’s ancient Chinese courses. In addition to working with faculty and students at NTNU, Murphy also has provided professional development workshops to nearly 100 teachers from local schools in Taipei. This has led NTNU feeder

schools to express interest in and a desire to learn more about how Quality Talk can be used to help improve the reading comprehension of high school and elementary-age students. It is the goal of Chen to encourage the local feeder schools in Taipei to implement Quality Talk, Murphy said. But Murphy and the Quality Talk team haven’t stopped there. In addition to promoting Quality Talk in the United States and Taiwan, the researchers also are collaborating with faculty and students at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. “In South Africa, we have attempted to build upon Professor Liesel Ebersöhn’s Flourishing Learning Youth (FLY) project, a decade-long project where resilience is studied in remote, rural settings from an educational psychology perspective,” Murphy said. “Our focus has been to partner with her, Dr. Funke Omidire, an enthusiastic team of doctoral and master’s students and two gracious, amazing teachers to adapt Quality Talk for a context that is very different than most American schools.” South Africa has 11 recognized national languages, Murphy said, although English is used as the primary language for instruction in schools. “Like our NTNU partnership, language is a key focus and Quality Talk is being used as a mechanism to promote oral fluency as well as verbal and written thinking and reasoning through discourse,” she said. “In the end, the ultimate goal is to enrich these teachers’ and students’ pathways to resilience through enhanced teaching and learning.”

Photo courtesy of Quality Talk

P. Karen Murphy, left, and Hong-Shui Liang, a doctoral student at National Taiwan Normal University, following a professional development workshop on Quality Talk.

In the 16 years Murphy has been continually developing and refining Quality Talk, she never imagined the global impact it could have. And she said she is grateful for the many opportunities the College of Education has afforded her and her team to expand the model on an international level. “For our team, collaborating with faculty and students at NTNU and the University of Pretoria has opened a whole new world of possibilities for Quality Talk. We never dreamed that such collaborative partnerships would even be a possibility,” she said. Murphy says it is because of the generous support of Monk and Greg Kelly, senior associate dean for Research, Outreach and Technology, that

these partnerships are possible. She also credits the Harry and Marion Royer Eberly Faculty Fellowship, an endowed faculty fellowship she held until June 2017 that provides funds for research expenses and faculty release time to develop programs. It also funds graduate assistant salaries and other support services for faculty research. Murphy said she hopes to continue to expand Quality Talk to help students across the globe. “I’m hopeful and optimistic that participation in Quality Talk discussions will enrich students’ reasoning, enhance their comprehension and fluency, and promote critical-analytical thinking about, around and with text and content.” Penn State Education


Career counseling-engineering partnership sees great success


By Jessica Buterbaugh

s a scholar, Diandra Prescod focuses her research on addressing one of the biggest occupational crises in the country — the STEM crisis.

Enrollment in STEM-related majors is on the increase, according to Prescod, assistant professor of education (counselor education) and coordinator of the career counseling emphasis in Penn State’s College of Education. However, millions of STEM-related jobs remain vacant each year due to a lack of applicants. That’s because, she said, many students enter these majors without an adequate understanding of how demanding and difficult the classes are and many end up changing their majors before graduating.

understood their career questions and needs,” Prescod said. “Even more encouraging is that 92 percent of the students reported that they would consider returning to future counseling sessions and would recommend our services to a friend.” Although the partnership is still in its infancy, it already is seeing growth. By the end of the spring 2018 semester, Prescod and her graduate students, at the request of Mary Frecker, professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering and department head for graduate programs, began meeting with master’s and doctoral MNE students.

“At times, [students] feel stressed about the many obligations they face — class, internship, clubs, family life — and simply need someone to speak to about their day-to-day experience.”

Penn State engineering students are not immune from this trend. To address growing concerns, Eric Marsh, Glenn professor of engineering in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering (MNE), approached Prescod last summer about providing career counseling services to undergraduate students in his department.

“Our students need guidance and support beyond what is offered in the traditional engineering curriculum to help find a career that best matches their unique strengths and talents,” Marsh said. “Diandra’s work in career development interventions for STEM students is a perfect fit for our goal to better support our undergraduate students.” At the start of the fall semester, a partnership was formed where Prescod and five of her graduate students provided career counseling to MNE students throughout the academic year. “We’ve had a great first year,” Prescod said. “We’ve provided services to approximately 225 students who have experienced a variety of issues and problems, including stress management, time management, coping skills, resume review and interview skills.” After each session, students complete a satisfaction survey so that Prescod and the other counselors can track the success of the program and re-evaluate areas of concern. So far, students’ responses are encouraging. “Ninety-four percent of the students agreed that the counselor made them feel comfortable during their session and 96 percent believe the counselor 20

Penn State Education

“MNE houses approximately 1,200 undergraduate students and 240 graduate students, so we now have a total of 1,440 students we can Prescod said. — Diandra Prescod reach,” “Our goals is to serve the majority of those students by the end of 2018.” The partnership is beneficial for all who are involved. MNE students become better equipped to handle the difficulties and anxieties of their major while also gaining a better understanding of career opportunities. Marsh and his colleagues can offer their students services that are not typically part of an engineering curriculum and retain students. Career counseling master’s students gain hands-on experience to help them develop their professional skills while also expanding their academic experiences and interests, and doctoral students Latoya Haynes-Thoby and Deanna Burgess gain counselor supervision and research experience. Prescod also can apply her own research to help Penn State students. “What’s most important is that we want the students to know that this is not a one-time service,” Prescod said. “They can see a career counselor weekly if they feel the need to. “Many times students pursing STEM degrees struggle to get through their classes and sometimes question their skills and abilities. At times, they feel stressed about the many obligations they face — class, internship, clubs, family life — and simply need someone to speak to about their day-to-day experience,” she said. “The career counselors are equipped to help students work through these issues and we hope to see a significant increase in the number of students that make appointments with them.”

Alumni Society Board Message from the Board President It’s hard to believe that 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the College of Education Alumni Society. I joined the Alumni Society Board (ASB) in 2009, and as a member and president have had countless opportunities to connect with alumni and students through mentoring, networking events and volunteerism. I am excited about the future of this energetic group of alumni. Our ASB, approximately 25 strong, meets three times a year — in March, June and October. One highlight is our annual alumni awards banquet, held in conjunction with the October meeting, where we recognize alumni for their outstanding accomplishments in the field of education. For more information or to nominate someone for a 2019 award, please visit award/alumni-society-awards online. A new addition to the Alumni Society’s strategic plan is a service project conducted at each of our meetings. The kick-off event this March involved ASB members donating non-perishable food items to the Lion’s Pantry. The Alumni-Student Mentoring Program connects students with alumni who have taken similar career

paths. This networking opportunity is coordinated through the Alumni Relations Office. For more information, please contact Stefanie Tomlinson at Pam Peter (’92 GAS Erie; ’94 M Ed CN ED), assistant dean/director in the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at Syracuse University, will take over Tonya DeVecchis-Kerr as president of the ASB at the June meeting. We look forward to her leadership as the Alumni Society continues to serve the College and the University. In closing, I would like to thank the College of Education for providing me with the education that enabled me to have a successful, 36-year career in public education. Our career has many rewards, allowing us to influence countless lives. Tonya DeVecchis-Kerr, 79 EK Ed, 92 CNED

Nominate outstanding alumni for annual awards The College of Education Alumni Society supports awards in five categories, presented each year to graduates and student teachers who have distinguished themselves in their profession. Nominations are accepted throughout the year, with award recipients chosen each spring. For information, and to submit a nomination, visit award/alumni-society-awards online. Board members for 2017-18 are: First row (seated, L-R): Tonnie DeVecchisPhoto: Steve Tressler Kerr, president; Stefanie Tomlinson, Larry Carretta, Tracy Hinish. Second row (L-R): Daje Walker, Undergraduate Student Council representative; Sandie Musoleno Third row (L-R): Hannah Chisler, Undergraduate Student Council representative; Sherry Yontosh; Paula Donson. Fourth row (L-R): Larry Wess, Dean David H. Monk, Kaela FuentesPacknick. Fifth row (L-R): Stephanie Preston, Doug Womelsdorf, secretary; Jonathan Klingeman. Sixth row (L-R): John Czerniakowski, Henry Laboranti. Last row (L-R): Jeannene Willow, Bill Stone.

About the Alumni Society The College of Education Alumni Society provides a means for alumni to come together to help improve the College and the University. It oversees a number of important projects that help serve the needs of alumni, students, the College and the University as well as promote the esteem of the institution. College of Education alumni automatically become members of the Alumni Society when they join the Penn State Alumni Association. For more information, contact the alumni relations office at 814-863-2216 or Stefanie Tomlinson, assistant director of Alumni Relations, at Penn State Education


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2018 spring alumni magazine  

Penn State College of Education Alumni Magazine, spring 2018 edition

2018 spring alumni magazine  

Penn State College of Education Alumni Magazine, spring 2018 edition