Penn State College of Education Alumni Magazine, spring 2023

Page 22

Spring Two Thousand Twenty-Three

WorkLink: Pushing boundaries in education and the workplace


Kimberly A. Lawless


Annemarie Mountz Writers

Brian Cox, Stephanie Koons, Annemarie Mountz


Annemarie Mountz, Rosemary Schwoerer, Peter Terpstra, Steve Tressler, CommAgency Contact Us

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: Jonathan Klingeman

President-elect: Catherine T. Tomon

Immediate past president: Joe Clapper

Secretary: Sharlene Yontosh


Dean’s Message

1 Dean Kimberly A. Lawless provides an update on the college News & Notes

2 News in brief from the College of Education


4 Second cohort of WorkLink students are prepared to graduate this spring

8 College of Education faculty helping to reform science teaching methods in Pa.

10 Educational leadership alumni take reins as co-authors of rural education agenda

12 College of Education staff, faculty enjoy unique hobbies during their spare time


Nicole Birkbeck

William Clark

Tonya DeVecchis-Kerr

Kiley Foley

Pamela Francis

Caleb Gildea

Krishawna Goins

Ramon Guzman, Jr.

Sarah Lozano

Deborah Marron

Amy Meisinger

Ronald Musoleno

Matt Richards

John Rozzo

Sharon Salter

14 Assistant professor seeks greater belief of what could be possible with mathematics

15 Associate education professor makes use of hip-hop as teaching tool in classroom

16 Education researcher studies Black students’ visceral experiences of racism

17 Research news in brief

Student Members

Michael Cattell

Rory Murphy

Brandin Conrath

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 23-149

18 Krause gift to create Pedagogy Innovation Lab

19 Gay Krause named Distinguished Alumna

20 Where are they now? Meet Eric Ian Farmer and Nancy Palladino Houle

21 Message from the Alumni Society Board president

21 Nominate outstanding alumni for excellence awards


On the Members of the WorkLink Program including students, faculty and interns posed at the Nittany Lion Shrine. Nine members of the program will be graduating this spring. Photo by Annemarie Mountz APG Representatives Mia Hines Cass Ramsey

Dean’s Message

Another academic year has flown by, and by the time you read this, another group of students will have graduated and left the college to make their mark on the world. I am proud of all of them, but am especially proud of this year’s WorkLink class, which you can read about as our cover story. WorkLink was started by some of our faculty who are dedicated to improving the lives of others, and particularly people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program enables these students to participate in postsecondary experiences and education alongside their peers. They also learn to become more independent and succeed in work environments. This year, nine students earned certificates in WorkLink Strategies and Employability, and participated in spring commencement with their peers. This is one shining example of how our college is pushing boundaries and Changing Education by Educating for Change.

We also are pushing boundaries in the resources we employ to teach our students. Thanks to a generous, $1.2 million gift from Gay and Bill Krause, we will be building a Pedagogy Innovation Lab to create a vibrant and versatile classroom that supports the discovery of new pedagogies through making and other creative activities. The Krauses have been great friends and supporters of the college for many years, and I also am pleased to share that Gay Krause, who already is an Alumni Fellow, was named a Distinguished Alumna of our college. You can read about the gift, and Gay Krause’s most recent recognition, starting on page 18.

One of the reasons I became dean of the Penn State College of Education in September 2019 was that I was excited to be able to work with the outstanding faculty in this college. Since that time, my excitement has turned to awe over the work they do, both in the classroom and through their research. As evidence of their excellence, members of our faculty are being recognized within the college, the University, statewide, nationally and even internationally.

This edition of our magazine is coming out slightly later in the spring than usual, because we wanted to include some of those accolades. Inside this issue you’ll read about Kai Schafft, who was awarded his second major Fulbright U.S. Scholar award; P. Karen Murphy, who was elected to the National Academy of Education, the highest honor that could be bestowed on an educational researcher; Matthew Kelly and Ed Fuller, whose expert testimony and insights contributed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court decision in early February that declared Pennsylvania’s K-12 school funding system unconstitutional; and Jimena Cosso, who is one of five Penn State faculty members named Social Science Research Institute Mentored Faculty Fellows for 2023-24. As this magazine was going to press, I also learned that other faculty, staff and students won awards from the University’s Multicultural Resource Center, from the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and from our college.

Two of our faculty members, Efraín Marimón and Ashley Patterson, are taking their social justice work to South Africa this summer, where they will meet with higher education faculty and students and learn about various social justice efforts they’re currently undertaking as a way to inform what we’re doing here in the college and the University as a whole.

It’s important to note that our faculty, staff and students are more than their work, however, so you also can read about some of the interesting hobbies practiced by people in our college.

I encourage you to read the stories in this issue, and keep up with what’s happening in the college through our Bridges e-newsletter. If you don’t already get that twice-monthly email, please contact and they’ll subscribe you. Also be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for even more frequent updates on the good work of the college.

1 Penn State Education
Dean Kimberly A. Lawless

Professor of Education Kai Schafft earns second Fulbright U.S. Scholar award

Kai Schafft, professor of education (educational leadership and rural sociology), has been selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for 2023-24 for Romania. This is Schafft’s second Fulbright U.S. Scholar award. His first was in Hungary in 2014-15.

Fulbright Scholar Awards are prestigious and competitive fellowships that provide unique opportunities for scholars to teach and conduct research abroad. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

This second award is a research and teaching Fulbright that will have Schafft spending the entire 2023-24 academic year in Romania at the Transilvania University of Brasov in the Carpathian Mountains.

“It’s amazing to get this second Fulbright,” Schafft said. “The work I hope to do will extend the earlier work I did in Hungary, teaching and doing research on educational access for Roma students at the K-12 level in both urban and rural contexts. Roma students in rural Romania and elsewhere in the region face a kind of ‘double jeopardy’ because of anti-Roma discrimination more broadly, and rural-urban spatial inequalities in education and poverty status.”

Read the full story at

Distinguished Professor Murphy elected to National Academy of Education

P. Karen Murphy, head of the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education in the Penn State College of Education, has been elected to the National Academy of Education (NAEd), an honorific society consisting of U.S. members and international associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship related to education. Election to the NAEd is the highest honor that could be bestowed on an educational researcher.

“To be elected to this esteemed community by those scholars whose ideas and writings have been transformational to education is deeply humbling. Professionally, this honor stands as an indication that those scholars I have long admired see value and worth in my theoretical and empirical work. That recognition is an honor in itself,” said Murphy, who also is distinguished professor of education (educational

psychology) in the college.

“On a personal level, I am still processing the transition from a rural high school kid who earned money for college by bailing hay and working in the rice fields of Texas, to membership in the National Academy of Education. What I know is that this honor is not solely mine. My academic journey would never have been possible without the guidance and support of my family, mentors, colleagues, students and friends,” she said.

Read the full story at

College of Education researchers lend expertise to Pa. K-12 school funding case

A ruling by a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge in early February that declared Pennsylvania’s K-12 school funding system unconstitutional is an opportunity to set the stage for students from lowerwealth communities to succeed academically, according to College of Education researchers who participated in the case.

In the case, William Penn School District et al. v. PA Department of Education et al., filed in 2014 by multiple school districts, parents and advocacy groups, Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer ruled that the state’s public education system is unconstitutional due to its inequitable and inadequate funding across districts.

Although the state stopped publicly releasing data on adequacy shortfalls in 2010-11, Matthew Kelly, assistant professor of education (educational leadership), provided updated estimates for recent school years. He calculated that districts, overall, had $4.6 billion less than they needed to reach their adequacy targets.

Kelly served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs, who were challenging the fairness of Pennsylvania’s school funding system. In the expert report he provided, he emphasized that although expectations the state has for school districts have increased over time, the state has increasingly turned toward local taxes to pay for its schools.

Ed Fuller, associate professor of education (educational leadership), reviewed other expert witness reports, provided data to the attorneys for cross-examinations, and discussed strategy with the attorneys.

Read the full story at

2 Penn State Education News & Notes
Matthew Kelly Ed Fuller Kai Schafft P. Karen Murphy

Education faculty member among Social Science Research Institute Fellows

Jimena Cosso, assistant professor of education in the College of Education, is one of five Penn State faculty members named Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) Mentored Faculty Fellows for 202324. The program supports the career development of early career Penn State faculty in social and behavioral sciences to engage in new areas of research and/or the development of new interdisciplinary collaborations aimed at building sustainable research and securing external funding.

The fellowship will support Cosso’s research to advance knowledge of Latine parents’ engagement with their children at home in mathematics. Her goal is to address educational inequalities by improving the commonly used measures to assess the home mathematics environment that do not consider cultural differences. Cosso will focus on creating partnerships with Latine communities in the area and conduct confirmatory factor analysis of a new scale that she developed to properly measure the home mathematics environments of Latine families.

Read about the other SSRI Mentored Faculty Fellows at

Education faculty to take their own learning abroad to South Africa

Ashley Patterson and Efraín Marimón, champions of equity and anti-racist pedagogy in the Penn State College of Education, are taking their social justice work to the next level.

Patterson, associate professor of education (curriculum and instruction), and Marimón, associate teaching professor of education (curriculum and instruction), will travel this summer to South Africa to meet with higher education faculty and students and learn about various social justice efforts they’re currently undertaking.

“We were serving on the Committee for Truth and Reconciliation set up through the Penn State Presidential Commission on Race, Bias and Community Safety and we started brainstorming, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn from countries with similar racial wounds and use that professional experience to inform the work, both at the University level and college level?’” said Marimón.

Patterson and Marimón have been recognized for their leadership and achievements in community engagement and social justice work. They also each won the college’s Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award – Marimón in 2019 and Patterson in 2020. Neither Patterson nor Marimón had been able to use the Cotterill funding they received because of the COVID pandemic, so it’s available to fund this project.

Patterson and Marimón chose South Africa for a number of reasons that relate to their social justice work in the college. “We’re visiting both Johannesburg and Cape Town to explore South Africa’s rich – and recent – history in making strides to reconcile its racist societal institutions,” Patterson said.

The faculty members are hoping to bring back the knowledge they gain in South Africa to continue exploring themes or possibly implement some of what they learn in some of the programs in the college. They also hope to be able to inform “some still unanswered questions around the University about how we move forward toward being an institution where racial injustice is recognized and where we’re setting out a pathway for how we can positively impact the wrongs that racial injustice have done to our community,” Patterson said.

Read the full story at

Fellowship program with Sergeants

Major Academy extended through 2026

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship has been extended through 2026 through the partnership with the Penn State College of Education and Penn State World Campus.

The program provides scholarships for up to 15 sergeants major to enroll in the online Master of Education in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education program while stationed at the academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. Upon graduating, the fellows teach the Sergeants Major Course, which prepares the military’s next generation of leaders with skills they need on and off the battlefield and helps them earn college credit.

“When the fellows stand in front of their students for the first time, they will be prepared to use the knowledge they learned throughout this program,” said Will Diehl, associate teaching professor of education and director of the online adult education program in the College of Education.

Read the full story at

3 Penn State Education
News & Notes
Jimena Cosso Ashley Patterson Efraín Marimón William Diehl

Second cohort of WorkLink students are prepared to graduate this spring

The Penn State College of Education marked a milestone last spring, when two students in the WorkLink program crossed the stage at commencement after earning certificates in WorkLink Strategies and Employability.

The WorkLink program is a fully integrated, on-campus, nonresidential, two-year certificate program housed in Chambers Building on the Penn State University Park campus. It provides the opportunity for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) to participate in postsecondary experiences and education alongside their peers.

This year, nine students will graduate from the program. “Four students had a bonus year due to COVID so it’s an unusually large class,” said Rosemary Schwoerer, WorkLink coordinator. Schwoerer said both of last year’s graduates are employed, and everyone graduating this spring has an

internship, “so we are hoping that experience leads to employment for them as well.”

Before the existence of programs like WorkLink, students with IDD did not have many opportunities to attend college.

Allison Fleming, associate professor of education (rehabilitation and human services) and director of WorkLink, said students with IDD learn and play alongside their peers in the K-12 environment, but when graduation comes their peers go off to college or work. “Many students with IDD do not have these opportunities readily available. Many do of course, but data show that this population of students with disabilities is the most marginalized when it comes to employment and higher education,” she said.

Fleming cited studies found at and to illustrate this marginalization in the higher education and workplace environments.

WorkLink, one of only 315 programs of its kind nationwide, enables students with IDD to go to college with their peers.

“They go to class and learn and work incredibly hard, and of course that is an important part of college. But possibly even more important is the time they spend with peers. We have a wonderful cadre of Allies (student volunteers) and interns who help WorkLink students integrate into the Penn State community,” said Fleming.

“WorkLink students find things they like to do, make friends and college memories – just like everyone else in college. They struggle with balancing studying and hobbies, and work, and friends – just like everyone else. They take on more responsibility for themselves and their future careers and lives – just like everyone else. As a result of these experiences, the students are so

4 Penn State Education Features
Photo: Annemarie Mountz William Fick was one of two WorkLink students to graduate last year. This year, nine WorkLink students will cross the stage at spring commencement. Photo: Rosemary Schwoerer “Being a student at Penn State means I get to have an education and social life!” — Gabe Billy Photo: Rosemary Schwoerer “WorkLink has provided me with awesome Allies, helped me get an internship at Sbarro’s, and meet people around my age who also are either on the spectrum or have intellectual disabilities.” — Dalyn Call

much more confident, self-directed, independent, and have a greater sense of who they are and what they want for themselves by the time they graduate,” she said.

The WorkLink program does not exclude anyone based on high school grades or academic performance. Admissions are considered more holistically, emphasizing independence, socialemotional attributes, and a desire to learn and get a job.

Exploring options

“WorkLink seminar is a time for students to explore their options as adults and independent people,” said Schwoerer. “Our topics focus on personal growth, self-advocacy, independent living skills and personal readiness for employment. Given the opportunity to dedicate time to their own development, students realize and identify their areas of strength and what they can work on. They push their boundaries and take charge of their own growth.”

Fleming said WorkLink course content is tailored to meet the current interests and needs of the class. “It’s a place for the students to take risks, try things out, test novel ideas and get feedback in a safe place. The confidence they gain in the program transfers to

their work and life experiences,” she said.

WorkLink students take 12 credits each semester. “Our WorkLink seminar is six credits, and then students have the opportunity to audit two additional three-credit classes. These audit courses are based on the student’s interests and career goals, and are decided with their WorkLink faculty advisers,” said Schwoerer. “WorkLink students have taken courses in many disciplines including agricultural business, rehabilitation and human services, event management, history and visual arts.”

The priority is to identify courses that lead to student selfadvocacy, social integration, career development and independent living skill development. This may include course development or use of groups made up of WorkLink students to address skills needed.

Emily Thom, a second-year WorkLink student, said learning has been her favorite thing about the program. “I have been able to take a few psychology classes, American Sign Language and deaf culture,” she said.

“WorkLink has provided me with new topics, and an internship at Redifer Commons,” said Thomas

Verderame, also a second-year student. “I have gotten better at conversing with people from my effective communication class, and I have gotten better at acting from my theatre class.”

WorkLink has done much more than educate students, however. It has given them the sense of belonging that is important for everyone to have.

Being in the WorkLink program “means that I have the opportunity to attend college courses and I am able to be a college student,” said second-year student Aaron Eiman.

“It means a lot being able to have the college experience when I have a disability which makes it harder for me to understand,” said second-year student Dalyn Call.

Parent Michael Verderame said his son’s experience with Worklink has been wonderful. “It has provided Thomas the opportunity to go to Penn State, just like his older sister and brother,” he said. “Perhaps most importantly, the internship he is currently undertaking as part of the culminating experience for WorkLink is providing him the opportunity to accumulate additional skills in food services beyond sweeping floors and wiping tables, and demonstrate that he can do these skills at a level sufficient for possible future employment.”

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Photo: Rosemary Schwoerer “The WorkLink program has provided me the support for finding a job. It has given me the college experience with peers and Allies.” — Aaron Eiman Photo: Rosemary Schwoerer “Being part of the Penn State community means I get to participate in activities and clubs!” — Christopher Nguyen Photo: Annemarie Mountz “It means a lot to be part of this community. You get to explore and learn a lot of new things.” — Pari Cocolin

A key to the program is the inclusion of undergraduate student Allies, who interact with WorkLink students in both social and academic settings. These undergraduate students provide WorkLink students with the peer relationships that are not available through formal supports from staff.

“I love how the WorkLink program encourages students to grow. Strengths and struggles are acknowledged. The community is fun and supportive, and I can tell that this program is changing lives,” said Amira El-Dinary, a finalsemester communication sciences and disorders major who became a WorkLink Ally this past fall.

“While the consensus is that people do mature and grow on their own, WorkLink is a place that gives that process a jump start and then fosters growth beyond expectations,” Schwoerer said.

Experiential learning

WorkLink provides many opportunities for experiential learning. WorkLink students have participated in volunteer events at the Lion’s Pantry and in downtown State College as holiday bell ringers for the Salvation Army. Students engage in site visits and tours of places on campus where they can learn, work and play. After exploring work opportunities,

second-year students participate in internships in their final semester that they apply toward their certificate.

“This semester, students are working on campus at the HUB, two dining halls, the bookstore and Johnston commons. Also, one is at the Altoona campus, and another works for an elementary school in the State College Area School District,” Fleming said.

The WorkLink program would not be successful without the support of employment locations on campus and of businesses in the local community, who provide internships and work experiences for students in the program.

“We cannot say enough about the folks at Auxiliary and Business Services – especially Katy Petrosky and Lisa Curley. They were instrumental in identifying units with openings, arranging tours, and finding supervisors who have been so incredibly welcoming to our students doing internships. As a result of their help, six of our students have paid internships as Penn State student employees,” Fleming said.

Another student had expressed a strong interest in working with children, ideally as a paraprofessional. Over the summer she worked with Schwoerer and another student to study for the highly qualified exam required of incoming paraprofessionals.

“She passed the exam on her first try, and immediately pursued a job in the district. She has been hired and is working in a classroom with kindergarteners and firstgraders,” Schwoerer said.

Off-campus, WorkLink students currently work at two McDonald’s locations, Quality Inn and The UPS Store on North Atherton Street, all in State College.

Vic DeDonato, the owner of the UPS Store, had heard about WorkLink and reached out to Schwoerer for information and a potential partnership.

“Vic has reported that WorkLink students do a terrific job and make his store a better place. There, our students learn that they are welcomed and valued members of a workplace and appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow with their coworkers,” Schwoerer said.

The students are prepared for success in their internships and work experiences through the WorkLink seminars. “Seminars provide practical learning opportunities to understand what it takes to be seen as a successful employee,” said Fleming. “This includes effective professional communication, punctuality and responsibility, meeting demands and responsibilities, and solving problems by collaborating with coworkers. Students practice these skills through assignments and through negotiating situations with peers and program Allies.”

Allies and interns

Allies are incorporated in every aspect of WorkLink: seminar, Penn State classes, campus exploration and social hangouts. The experience allows students and Allies to form social bonds and relationships and that foster growth in both parties.

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Photo: Rosemary Schwoerer
feel like I belong to something special. It has been a great experience and I would recommend this program to anyone.” — Emily Thom Photo: Rosemary Schwoerer “I love walking to class by myself and being independent. I also love playing games with my Allies.” — Haley Smith

“I love being able to spend time with all the students and getting to watch them grow and learn so much through all of the incredible opportunities they are given thanks to this wonderful program,” said Payton Shilling, who has been a WorkLink Ally for two years and is in her final semester as a corporate innovation and entrepreneurship major.

“It is truly rewarding to watch them make their mark on the world and see the positive impact they have on the lives around them,” said Ryan Sorbo, a second-year student majoring in health policy and administration.

Along with Allies, the WorkLink program involves student interns. The interns this spring are seniors Laila Kennedy, a rehabilitation and human services (RHS) major with minors in psychology and communication sciences and disorders, and Kerry Hasson, an RHS major with a minor in psychology.

As interns, they assist in tutoring students and working through readings and course assignments, and job development and job coaching. They also support the WorkLink faculty as needed, prepare and present WorkLink seminar topics, schedule and plan events for the WorkLink students, and participate in social activities

with the WorkLink students.

Kennedy and Hasson said they carried what they learned in their courses about supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities into their internships, as they help WorkLink students live as independently as possible in academic and vocational settings.

“My favorite thing is seminar, where we get to present on important topics like self-advocacy, healthy habits, independent living, financial literacy and more,” said Hasson.

“My favorite thing about the WorkLink program is seeing the progress that our students make over the course of their enrollment, particularly in their interpersonal skills and independence,” said Kennedy.

Support from the college

WorkLink was created in 2018 with the help of a grant. Since it launched, Fleming said the College of Education has supported it in tangible and intangible ways.

“Dean Kim Lawless has advocated for institutional support for our program as we transitioned from grant-funded to sustainable revenue models of funding. She also gave us a beautiful space, centrally located in Chambers and near other student support-oriented offices. This is a loud and clear message that she values WorkLink and the diversity that our program brings to the college,” Fleming said.

WorkLink also has been granted access to graduation, and students walk across the stage alongside

their peers. “That is another visible and incredibly meaningful way to show support for our students,” she said.

Fleming’s home department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education also has shown strong support for the program.

“My colleagues support our commitment to WorkLink by advertising to our students to become Allies and to gain clinical experience as interns,” she said.

Schwoerer said that it’s important for people to know about the WorkLink program and its students. “Awareness of the program increases people’s awareness of this young adult population. As people are introduced to WorkLink and our students, they see that WorkLink provides an opportunity for people whose needs remain at times invisible,” she said.

Fleming said a striking finding from programs like WorkLink is that students who attend are significantly more likely to get a job following graduation. This translates to an increase in tax revenue and decreased reliance on disability benefits over the course of a person’s lifetime.

“Aside from the financial benefits, it means that we get to know and understand people’s talents and see them get to apply them to a workplace. For students who are generally 25 years old or younger when they graduate, the opportunity to work is critically important for a person’s lifelong earnings, social capital and overall well-being,” she said.

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Photo: Rosemary Schwoerer “This community has shaped a lot of my friendships and I met a lot of new people.” — Thomas Verdarame Photo: Rosemary Schwoerer “I love being able to be on Penn State’s campus. It means that I have a place to belong. It is my happy place!” — Mitchell Wagoner

College of Education faculty helping to reform science teaching methods in Pa.

Faculty in the Penn State College of Education, along with some alumni currently working in the education field, are helping reform Pennsylvania’s science teaching methods as part of a broader effort by the state to modernize how students throughout the commonwealth are taught.

Looking to support the adoption of the new Pennsylvania Science, Technology & Engineering, Environmental Literacy and Sustainability (STEELS) Standards, Scott McDonald, professor of education (science education) and director of the Krause Studios for Innovation in the college, said the group’s mission is to implement the idea of what is known as “3-D teaching” because of its three-pronged approach based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

“There are the disciplinary core ideas, which you would typically think of as the content — photosynthesis or the forces and motion, that kind of

thing,” McDonald explained. “Then there’s science and engineering practices. Traditionally, these would be thought of as process skills — developing models, collecting and analyzing data, developing explanations, etc. The last of the three dimensions is cross-cutting concepts. These things appear in all the different subareas of science but are not specific to any one area of science — things like cause and effect, size and scale or other items.”

McDonald, who is partnering with a fellow professor of education (science education) and head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Carla Zembal-Saul, in addition to a team including several College of Education alumni, said now that the new standards are finalized, his group will work with the state’s network of 29 intermediate units (IUs) to bring teachers from all parts of Pennsylvania up to date on what the standards demand of them. Staff at the IUs will provide professional learning directly to teachers

8 Penn State Education Features
Photo provided Scott McDonald, professor of education (science education) in the Penn State College of Education, second from left, discusses Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with, from left, Karianne Chessario, Samantha Eselby, Lauren Brown, Emma Dewit, Sidney Berenson and Mike Bierly. College of Education faculty are helping to reform science teaching methods for Pennsylvania students, which starts with showing prospective and current teachers how to approach this new method of learning.

from the schools they serve.

“It is important that teachers and students engage in the threedimensional approach to science as this approach models the actual work of practicing scientists,” said team member Peter Licona, who earned a Ph.D. from the Penn State College of Education and is associate professor of Pre-K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Education at Elizabethtown College. “The attention to disciplinary core ideas, cross-cutting concepts, and science and engineering practices provides a much more robust and active science teaching and learning experience. Starting with this approach in elementary school not only has the potential to develop future scientists early but also allows students to understand the science that is part of their out-ofschool worlds.”

Localized curriculum for science

One significant component of the new standards is for science to be localized as much as possible, meaning studying what is happening in nearby areas because McDonald said that makes science more relevant to students.

“We want teachers to take professional ownership over the learning, and we want them to localize it as much as possible,” he said. “We still want kids to learn big ideas in science. You can learn photosynthesis in lots of different ways. You can learn it in a community garden, maybe rooftop gardening, and maybe other folks, their families live on a farm, so they know lots about photosynthesis. It engages kids in science learning if what they’re learning is meaningful to them and is grounded in their experience and their view of how the world works. Those are essential pieces. It isn’t one-sizefits-all.”

McDonald continued, “What we want is a professional responsibility for teaching the kids in front of them. We don’t want them just marching through a curriculum

where who the kids are doesn’t matter. Nobody wants that.”

Student engagement with science teaching curriculum

Engagement of students is crucial because, as fellow team member Colleen Epler-Ruths, a College of Education graduate who was a secondary science teacher for 24 years and is now a STEM education consultant with the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, explained, children have natural curiosity tailor-made for scientific discovery.

“The goal for science education should be to keep that curiosity alive in students throughout their entire school career,” she said. “The new standards are asking our teachers to not only teach content but to have students engage in science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts. This is important because our students will someday be voters, business owners and shoppers in a complex world.”

Lasting change will take time

Like any significant structural change, the team said, it will take time for administrators, teachers, students and parents to adjust to

and ultimately accept this new way of doing things.

It won’t be a situation similar to throwing a switch in which one day is the current method and the next is a complete overhaul. Instead, it will take time and resources to affect a more gradual change, and students can benefit most.

“I think one needs to understand that, like many projects of this nature, the resources and infrastructure that are needed are only partially in place,” said team member Brett Criswell, a College of Education graduate who previously taught high school chemistry for 15 years and is currently an assistant professor of secondary education at West Chester University.“I think that parents, community members, informal STEMxs educators, and industry leaders really need to see this opportunity for what it is and throw all that they can into supporting teachers in the shifts that need to happen. This project’s success will rely only partially on our group’s work. Pennsylvania as a broader STEM ecosystem needs to work together with a singular purpose of allowing these new state standards to have the broader impact of which they are capable.”

9 Penn State Education Features
Photo provided Scott McDonald, professor of education (science education) in the Penn State College of Education, standing, works with College of Education students and alumni clockwise, from left, Karianne Chessario, Samantha Eselby, Lauren Brown, Sidney Berenson and Mike Bierly on a lesson plan for a starch lab for elementary school students. McDonald is part of a group of College of Education faculty helping to reform science teaching methods for Pennsylvania schools.

Educational Leadership alumni take reins as co-authors of rural education agenda

Catharine Biddle and Erin McHenrySorber, graduates of the Educational Leadership doctoral program in the Penn State College of Education, both chose the program out of a desire to deepen their understanding of rural education issues. Biddle and McHenry-Sorber have channeled the knowledge and experience they gained through the program into roles as co-authors of the National Rural Education Association’s (NREA) National Rural Education Association Research Agenda 2022–2027.

NREA, according to its website, is the “voice of all rural schools and rural communities across the United States.” The 2022–2027 Rural Research Agenda centers spatial and educational equity with five additional interconnected themes — policy and funding; teacher/leader recruitment, retention and preparation; college and career trajectory; community partnerships and relationships; and health and wellness.

“The purpose of the agenda is to help scholars point their agendas in the direction that practitioners need them to,” said Biddle, associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Maine. “One measure of success is in five years we have more case studies of rural innovation that pinpoint transferable and unique qualities of those innovations.”

Prepared by a subcommittee for NREA’s Research and Higher Education Committee, the agenda was guided by research

data collected from a broad representation of rural education stakeholders. Biddle’s and McHenry-Sorber’s collaborators include researchers from the U.S. Division of Education Development Center, Ohio University, Utah State University and Montana State University.

“We are trying to make what has been an academic construct more accessible for practitioners and policymakers as well as researchers,” added McHenrySorber, an associate professor of higher education administration at West Virginia University who received her doctorate from Penn State in 2011. “The goal is for policymakers to have a common language to use when talking about rural youth’s access to opportunities and resources.”

As doctoral students, Biddle and McHenry-Sorber benefited from

the mentorship of faculty members such as Kai Schafft, professor of education (educational leadership and rural sociology), who directs the college’s Center for Rural Education and Communities and serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Research in Rural Education.

“Cat and Erin both came to Penn State because of their interest in rural education and worked with me, both deeply connected to the Center on Rural Education and Communities,” said Schafft. “It’s tremendously gratifying to me to have worked with them. When people talk about contemporary rural education scholarship, Erin and Cat’s research and outreach is really at the forefront of work in this area.”

Biddle said one of the major issues that the NREA subcommittee seeks to address

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Catharine Biddle Erin McHenry-Sorber

with the National Rural Education Association Research Agenda 2022–2027 is the concept of spatial equity, which refers to the equitable distribution of resources across space.

“A lot of policy is designed with more urban/suburban places in mind,” she said. “One of the pieces of work we’re hoping the rural education research agenda will do is make this a more commonplace way of thinking about opportunities and challenges of educational equity within rural spaces.”

“This is not a trivial issue given the kinds of changes we’ve seen in this country over the last two decades, in which these spatial disparities have resulted in real urban/rural divides,” said Schafft. “How do we think about these spatial divisions, these social/econ spatial divisions and what are the implications for the health of our democracy?”

Another major area of focus with the agenda, said McHenry-Sorber, is to show the relationships between the various challenges rural education leaders are experiencing to establish suggested lines of inquiry for future lines of research.

“We are intentional that not all rural places are the same. We recognize the unique challenges and assets that can be attributed to particular rural schools and communities,” she said.

The rural education research field has undergone several major shifts in thinking in recent years, according to Schafft. In the past decade, rural education research has shifted to thinking about racial equity in rural areas, dismantling a long-held stereotype that rural America is a mostly white space. Another common misconception, Schafft added, is that poverty is exclusively an urban phenomenon, when, in fact, “poverty has always been higher

in non-metropolitan America.”

“There are pervasive stereotypes about rural people being behind the times, not as competent,” said Schafft. “The perception of them as leaders is often colored by anti-rural biases we have in this country.”

Biddle and McHenry-Sorber both sought out the Educational Leadership program in the College of Education out of a desire to expand their knowledge of pressing rural education issues.

“I grew up in a rural place and worked in rural schools and became interested in relationships between rural schools and communities,” said McHenry-Sorber, who taught high school English and middle school reading and worked as a school district grant writer. “I entered into the doctoral program at a transition point for rural education research. I think Kai was really important in helping those early transitions of the field and becoming a much more critical space for scholarship.”

For Biddle, who previously served as the executive director of the Nanubhai Education Foundation, an international education nonprofit working in rural India, and as an out-of-schooltime educator for the national nonprofit organization Citizen

Schools, she was “looking for a program that would let me think about rural issues domestically and internationally.”

“I found the perfect adviser in Kai, who had his feet in both worlds,” she said. “I received incredible mentorship from Kai and other faculty members. I really feel like so much of the skill development occurred outside of classroom through mentoring relationships.”

In addition to the flexible curriculum and strong mentoring relationships that Biddle and McHenry-Sorber benefited from during their doctoral programs, they had the opportunity to serve as managing editors of the Journal of Research in Rural Education (JREE) in consecutive terms between 2008 and 2012. JREE is a peer-reviewed, open access e-journal publishing original pieces of scholarly research of demonstrable relevance to educational issues within rural settings.

“The program was flexible enough to really allow you to focus on your interests and merge interests together,” said McHenrySorber. “We were not only engaging in research and courses but also able to be consistently involved in the publication of current research in rural education.”

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“Cat and Erin both came to Penn State because of their interest in rural education and worked with me, both deeply connected to the Center on Rural Education and Communities. It’s tremendously gratifying to me to have worked with them. When people talk about contemporary rural education scholarship, Erin and Cat’s research and outreach is really at the forefront of work in this area.”
— Kai Schafft, director of Center for Rural Education and Communities in the Penn State College of Education

College of Education staff, faculty enjoy unique hobbies during their spare time

With faculty and staff as diverse as those in the Penn State College of Education, it should come as no surprise that the hobbies of those individuals would be every bit as diverse.

College of Education staff have unique ways of enjoying their free time. Included below are just some of the interesting hobbies of those who make the college run.

Staci Lynch

Arachnids typically use a web to capture, but it was a different type of web that piqued the interest of Staci Lynch, an administrative support assistant in the Department of Learning and Performance Systems.

“Last year toward the end of the pandemic, I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands as a lot of us did,” Lynch said. “One day I came across a photo of a small super white fluffy creature with hot pink sparkly teeth on Pinterest of all places and down the rabbit hole I went.

“As my understanding of the world of arachnids grew, I realized that not all species are as scary as media has portrayed them. Jumping spiders specifically are very curious in nature and very docile. Their venom if bitten is also not significant to humans. They are initially much more scared of us than we are of them.”

It’s this message

— that spiders are often misunderstood and unfairly characterized — that Lynch wants the world to hear on social media. She even keeps some spiders as pets.

“When I discovered this new little world I had stumbled upon, I felt compelled to share it with the world and my Instagram followers,” she said.” My account started to grow tremendously as there were many others that did not know either. I feel I have fulfilled a small life purpose of helping break the stigma against these tiny, magnificent creatures and helped change perspective to encourage those that may come across one to not smush it.

“We all have a purpose on this beautiful earth, or we wouldn’t be here. I am certainly not asking everyone to keep them as pets but just respect their existence and relocate them if they are in a place you claim as yours.”

Since she was a child, Ashley Patterson, associate professor of education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has enjoyed paper crafting. But it was five years ago that she discovered her latest love within that world — paper quilling.

What may seem like tedious work to some provides an endless opportunity for creativity for the selfdescribed introvert as she said just about anything goes when it comes to paper quilling.

“I either sketch out or print out whatever I’m going to be making,” she said. “If I’m working from a photo, then I trace the outlines.”

The opportunity to share her creations is another joy

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Ashley Patterson Photo provided Staci Lynch, an administrative support assistant in the Department of Learning and Performance Systems, has several unique pets, but is most known on her social media for being a ‘spider mom.’ Photo provided Ashley Patterson, associate professor of education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has long enjoyed paper crafting, but has within the past few years really fallen in love with paper quilling.

paper quilling brings to Patterson. She actually doesn’t have any of the pieces she’s made because they’ve been gifted for occasions including weddings, baby showers and memorials.

And while she already had found paper quilling as a hobby before March 2020, the isolation and extra free time that came with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic really allowed her to take her work to another level.

“We were all just living in this amoeba of life — it was so great to have a task to plan and execute, to be able to engage in an activity with a hard beginning and end,” she said.

Scott Metzger

To say Scott Metzger has been playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) for most of his life would be no understatement. Since his first exposure as a 10-year-old, the now associate professor of education (social studies education) has been fascinated by the role-playing game that features lots of swords, sorcery and other medieval imagery.

“I think it appeals to certain personalities — the creatives; those who enjoy the wargaming aspect; storytellers,” he said. “I put myself in the category of people who like complicated rules and how they interface with each other.”

He also credits the game for sparking the interest in history that has led him down his chosen career path. Metzger received his undergraduate degree in history and

taught social studies before earning his Ph.D. and joining the faculty in the College of Education.

He is part of a trio of friends that has played regularly online for years, first via email, then Skype before migrating to online platforms specifically designed for playing D&D.

Metzger may already have passed his love of the game on to the next generation. His daughter started becoming interested at age 10 and Metzger has taken an active role in nurturing this interest by helping his daughter and her friends continue playing online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think D&D still has a lot of the same relevance and educational value,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s a cooperative game of storytelling and problemsolving, and I think that’s wonderful for children.”

Julia Plummer

On just about any spring day, it doesn’t take long to hear the birds of central Pennsylvania calling. Julia Plummer, professor of science education and the director of curriculum in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, has answered that call.

Plummer has a passion for birds she discovered more than a decade ago.

“After I moved to State College in 2011, I saw an announcement about

a bird walk at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center,” she said. “I like the outdoors so I thought I would give it a try. After several bird walks at Shaver’s Creek, I decided to put more effort into my birding. I started going out, looking and listening for birds on my own and trying to improve my skills at identification. I’m particularly interested in recording bird calls and songs.”

Over the years, Plummer has tracked hundreds of different types of birds — a challenge borne from her ornithologic passion. She also has invested in specialized equipment to feed that passion.

“In recent years, I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to record as many different species of birds as I can,” she said. “I’ve currently recorded 373 species worldwide. I use a couple of specialized pieces of equipment for my recording. I have a 22-inch parabola that I use to amplify the bird song, producing higher quality recordings than just with a traditional handheld audio recorder with shotgun microphone. I also have a specialized microphone that I put on the roof of my house to record birds as they fly over. I mostly use it at night because that’s when many species of birds migrate. I identify the species based on the sound and visual aspects of the calls when viewing them in a spectrogram.”

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Photo provided Scott Metzger, associate professor of education (social studies education), circled, has been fascinated with the roleplaying game ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ since he was 10 years old. Photo provided Julia Plummer, professor of science education and director of curriculum in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, has a passion for birds and recording bird calls, using equipment like this parabolic microphone.

Assistant professor seeks greater belief of what could be possible with mathematics

Mathematicians are used to seeking solutions, although few probably find them where Penn State College of Education faculty member Ricardo Martinez does.

While some who love numbers might see certain poetry in math, the assistant professor of education (math education) believes it’s the other way around.

“It’s mathematical poetic knowledge,” he said. “If you look at poetry, if you’re a poet, if you like poetry, you know it is a profoundly intimate process. Poetry can be very structured or chaotic, and in truth, math has the same multiplicity of poetry. Yet we tend only to experience structured, mechanical modes of mathematics. So why can’t math be more like poetry, a reflective and personal experience?”

Martinez is in the midst of researching mathematical poetical knowledge and plans to publish his findings later this year.

But to him, the work is part of a larger goal — to make a difference in the lives of young people by showing them math does not have to be disconnected from our own humanity, a belief shaped by a formative experience the bilingual Martinez had when he was a teen.

“I want to change math education because of the harm it did to me,” he said. “Yes, math kept me in school. Yes, if it weren’t for one teacher, who was my math teacher, who said I’m good in math, I probably would have dropped out and never went to college. But earlier, before that instance, I had already internalized ‘If you speak Spanish, you’re dumb’ and it was math that made it easier for me to not care about or acknowledge my own culture.

“I went to college, and I was like ‘We don’t need to talk about social issues, nothing else matters. Math

is that pure, objective logic. Math is perfect, blah, blah, blah,’” Martinez said. “I was that individual, and I didn’t like myself then because I wasn’t really a person, I was in essence a calculator. … That’s why a lot of my work now really focuses on how do we create these mathematical experiences that really make us feel something good? Let’s make math connected to each individual’s identity and celebrate the multiplicity of identity.”

To do this, Martinez has tried to turn learning math into an experience rather than traditional lectures and equation solving. Martinez said that being boxed in as mechanical and purely logical has turned some people off — not to what math is, but what they perceive it to be.

His objective is to show math can be more than that, which, he said, will make students less likely to be reflexively apprehensive toward it.

“Mathematics is this multisensory experience with numbers,” Martinez said. “As I work with teachers and future teachers, I work to see if they can create such an experience.

Creating this experience sometimes begins with yourself. Are you happy with yourself, mathematics, and the world? And if not, what are you doing to transform that? … A lot of people go into that realm of ‘Math is not for me. I’m not good at it. Done.’ Think of what that does to your identity. That fractures your identity because we cannot ignore the fact that everyone has a mathematical identity. If it’s fractured, that means your whole identity is fractured, and you struggle to be complete as a person. A lot of work in terms of healing, in terms of identity, it tends to forget the math part or tends to forget how math is connected to the whole self.”

By thinking of something seen by most as purely objective in this way, Martinez is aware that mindset makes him different than most of his contemporaries.

But he knows, like with any systemic change, while the pace of progress is often slow, there is a path forward, one that he hopes will result in many individual changes adding up over time to a lasting improvement of math education.

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Photo courtesy: Andrea Lowe Ricardo Martinez, assistant professor of education (math education), spent time in Uruguay working with local teachers during the summer of 2022 as part of a Fulbright Specialist Award.

Associate education professor makes use of hip-hop as teaching tool in classroom

For some people, the cultural space occupied by hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z and the academic world may seem to not even be remotely connected. However, for Jonte “JT” Taylor, associate professor of education (special education), music has been a lifelong passion that he incorporates into his educational philosophy as a means of expanding students’ minds and broadening their cultural perspectives.

“I try to incorporate the use of music as a teaching tool when and where I can,” said Taylor. “In terms of understanding differences — how to advocate for students of all types — sometimes music can help with that.”

Taylor’s love for music is rooted in his early childhood experiences. As an elementary school student in Cleveland growing up in a family of music aficionados, he developed an appreciation for a wide variety of genres including rock, pop, punk, bluegrass and disco. Hip-hop has “always been a love of mine,” as well as R&B including Motown and Stax.

“Music has always been some part of my life and existence ever since I was a very young child,” he said.

Taylor began to flesh out his musical proclivities more fully when he moved to Centreville, Mississippi, as a teenager. Throughout middle school and high school, he was actively involved in writing rap and R&B songs as well as producing music. There he was introduced to the musicianship of Black college bands as his high school replicated that style of band performance. “Black college bands are a thing,” Taylor said.

“That’s when I started to think of myself as an artist/producer type of person,” he said.

Despite Taylor’s musical leanings, he claims he never actually thought about pursuing music as a career. Having been raised in a family

of educators (his mother, greatgrandmother and sister have worked as teachers), he found his calling in special education. Taylor completed a bachelor’s degree in special education at Tuskegee University, a private, historically Black land-grant university in Tuskegee, Alabama.

“Even in college, while I was still dabbling in producing and writing music, I never really considered doing it full-time just because I really love teaching,” he said.

Before joining the Penn State College of Education in 2012, Taylor spent 10 years working in special education in Alabama, Mississippi and Iowa. During that time, he worked with diverse groups of students, including children on the autism spectrum and emotional/ behavioral disorders, teenagers in juvenile detention centers and adult learners with intellectual disabilities — all the while working in and with music and musicians. While working at a center for displaced youth in Alabama in 2005, Taylor had an epiphany as to how he could use music as a tool to connect with

students that were struggling. While flipping channels on television one evening, he stumbled upon the Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid” and was inspired by its signature song, “Under the Sea.”

“It dawned on me, this song has a lot of prepositional phrases,” said Taylor. “I’m going to use this song to teach prepositional phrases tomorrow.”

While Taylor advocates teachers bringing their personal passions into the classroom, there currently is no class offered by the College of Education that specifically focuses on using music as a pedagogical tool. However, he tries to incorporate music into his curriculum when possible and even has been able to channel pop and hip-hop songs into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities. As a classroom teacher, Taylor said he was able to use the songs “Diamonds” by Rihanna and “Diamonds of Sierra Leone” by Kanye West and pair them with the Nelly song “Nellyville” to teach lessons about geography and science.

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Photo: Peter Terpstra Jonte “JT” Taylor, associate professor of education (special education), uses hip-hop music as a pedagogical tool to broaden students’ cultural perspectives.

Education researcher studies Black students’ visceral experiences of racism

Black students in the United States experience anti-Black racism often perpetrated by white people and other racially marginalized groups, according to DeMarcus Jenkins, assistant professor of education (educational leadership) in the Penn State College of Education. To date, much of the research focus has been on how white people enact anti-Black racism, overlooking how other non-Black groups are complicit in anti-Blackness. In a recent study, Jenkins examined how attending a predominately Latinx urban school (PLUS) impacts the ways race, antiBlackness and geography shape the educational experiences of Black students.

Jenkins’s research, published in Equity and Excellence in Education, revealed two major themes: (1) Black students felt a sense of unbelonging, and (2) they perceived their Blackness as unimaginable to nonBlack people. Based on this analysis, he argues that “the (Black) body is a space where researchers can collect information about anti-Blackness and work toward addressing racism in schools.”

“There’s been a good amount of scholarship that has explored racial dynamics in rapidly changing contexts,” said Jenkins. “If you are paying attention to schools in demographically changing contexts, I think we need to be careful not to always collapse Black students within the category of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) or students of color.

“There’s been scholarship that has looked at social/racial relations between Black and brown communities,” he added. “I wanted to draw from that body of scholarship to think about how Black students are experiencing their learning environments.”

Jenkins’ program of research considers the intersections of race, space and policy. His research focuses on the influence of spatial, social and political factors that foster and exacerbate inequalities for Black populations and the approaches

that school leaders take to disrupt and transform these dynamics. His interdisciplinary approach to tackling complex and challenging racial equity problems in schools is informed by Black critical theory, critical spatial theory, Black geographies, critical policy studies and justice-oriented leadership frameworks.

“Bringing in different theoretical frameworks helps researchers handle old problems through new perspectives,” said Jenkins. “I hope this work encourages researchers to move outside the field of education and look to neighboring fields to look at new frameworks that are uniquely positioned to help us better understand issues.”

Jenkins began his study by conducting interviews and focus groups with Black students at Pueblo, a large magnet high school in the U.S. Southwest. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Arizona is only 5.4% Black or African American while the Hispanic or Latino category comprises 32.3% of the 7.276 million population. As the Latinx population

continues to rise in the state and across the country, Jenkins said, an increasing number of Black students will be attending predominantly Latinx schools. The focus of his research, he said, is “how Black students embody anti-Blackness, how does it manifest toward them and how does that shape how they navigate school?”

In his paper, Jenkins cites prior research on race and education that “demonstrates that Black bodies are marked as undesirable and require exclusion or neglect.” He also draws on scholarship that shows that educators disproportionally discipline Black students via school suspensions or disciplinary referrals.

“There’s this idea in education that Blackness is constructed as something that is outside the realm of humanity, imaginability,” said Jenkins. “Blackness has been conceptualized as something other than human. Black critical theory helps us to explain how Black bodies have been perceived.” Born out of the oversights of critical race theory, Black Critical Theory (BlackCrit) is a theoretical orientation that accounts for the detailed and specific ways Black people live in and experience an anti-Black world.

To conduct his research, Jenkins observed several English classes and identified seven Black students enrolled in the African American literature course at Pueblo. More than half of the participants described their feelings in high school as being “unimaginable.” Several students articulated that they often felt like they did not have a place at the school outside of athletic clubs and extracurricular activities.

During the interviews, students also expressed feelings of anger, anxiety or embarrassment rendered by adults who held authority over particular spaces such as the library and nurse’s office. The students’ perception of space, Jenkins said, was interconnected with feelings of discomfort and unbelonging that “created a visceral experience at the scale of the body.”

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Photo provided The latest study of DeMarcus Jenkins, assistant professor of education (educational leadership) examines how attending a predominately Latinx urban school (PLUS) impacts the ways race, anti-Blackness and geography shape the educational experiences of Black students.

Researchers center the experiences of Black women in counseling

Black women who face increased risk of death at the hands of intimate partners struggle to access counseling services, according to researchers at Penn State and the University of Connecticut. Their new research proposes a paradigm shift in intimate partner violence (IPV) counseling that considers how the use of trauma-informed and culturally relevant counseling can help counselors provide more informed services. Their work is rooted in Black feminist thought, a field of knowledge that is focused on the perspectives and experiences of Black women.

“For counselors in training and early career counselors, Black feminist thought provides the tools and the framework to determine how to be most useful and most helpful as a clinician from the standpoint of the person you are working with,” said Javier Casado Pérez, assistant professor of education in the Penn State College of Education.

Latoya Haynes-Thoby, an assistant professor of counselor education at the University of Connecticut, is lead author and Casado Pérez a co-author on a recent paper in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy that fosters insights from the experiences of six Black women who have experienced intimate partner violence. Julia Bryan, professor of education (counselor education) in the Penn State College of Education, is another co-author.

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Education professor analyzes South Korean educational reforms

As a Penn State education researcher with a specific interest in comparative and international education, and a native of South Korea, Soo-yong Byun has extensive knowledge about the South Korean educational system and how it compares to the American model.

Byun, professor of education (educational theory and policy), demography and Asian studies, coauthored a chapter of a recently published book, “International Handbook on Education Development in Asia-Pacific,” which “delves into a spectrum of critical, contemporary topics in Asian and Pacific contexts and socio-cultural perspectives.”

“There are two contrasting views,” Byun said. “How can we provide a balanced view of the Korean educational system by highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses and how the strengths and

weaknesses correlate with each other?”

“Between Light and Shadow: The Contrasting Landscape and Contemporary Development of South Korea’s School System” delves into the “bright sides” of the country’s school system and unveils the “flip sides” of the system, corresponding to the system’s strengths. The authors explore longstanding issues such as academic excellence amid inequality, high educational attainment but low academic confidence and well-being, and the coexistence of a well-established school system with an expansive shadow education market — which refers to private supplementary tutoring.

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Bimodal intervention shows promise for intimate partner violence survivors

Black women involved in the legal system disproportionately experience intimate partner violence (IPV) but currently have few options for tailored interventions that consider intersectionality, according to a researcher in the Penn State College of Education.

Brandy Henry, assistant professor of education (rehabilitation and human services), co-authored a study that found that Black women who are survivors of IPV, particularly those with co-occurring substance use disorders and who are also involved in the criminal legal system, could benefit from a culturally sensitive intervention.

“The goal is to tailor an intervention that would address the stresses Black women face that create barriers to accessing services for substance use and interpersonal violence,” Henry said.

In their paper published in Women’s Health Reports, the researchers conducted a subgroup analysis of Black women using data from a randomized controlled trial that evaluated the feasibility and efficacy of two IPV screening and prevention programs for women who use drugs or engage in binge drinking and were under community supervision in New York City.

“It’s already known we need more services, particularly services that address intersectional problems for marginalized communities,” said Henry. “The remaining question was, given that (IPV victims) are disproportionately women of color, are there differential effects of intervention by race? We wanted to know, was the goal of culturally tailoring services effective?”

Read the full story at

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Javier Casado Pérez Soo-yong Byun Brandy Henry

Krause gift to create Pedagogy Innovation Lab

For more than a decade, Gay and Bill Krause have played a crucial role in enhancing the College of Education’s impact on students, faculty and, in turn, learners at every level who ultimately benefit from their work. With their most recent gift of $1.2 million to create the Pedagogy Innovation Lab (PIL) and establish a program support endowment, they will extend the capabilities of the Krause Studios for Innovation into the area of hands-on creative activity and embodied learning.

“The Krause Studios and Pedagogy Innovation Lab will allow the College of Education to introduce our next generation of teachers to new and emerging technologies and approaches to teaching and engaging their students,” said Gay Krause. “Educated students are critical to an educated democratic society, increasing the potential for peace around the world.”

The Krause Studios for Innovation have become a vital hub for teaching and learning in the college — a place for collaboration and shared experiences among students and faculty, for new ideas and experimentation in pedagogical practices and for new uses of technology.

“This new gift will enable us to renovate a 1,400-square-foot space

adjacent to the existing Krause Studios, creating a vibrant and versatile classroom that supports the discovery of new pedagogies through making and other creative activities, and provides funding to sustain the PIL during its critical first years,” said Kim Lawless, dean of the Penn State College of Education. “We are deeply grateful for the generosity and vision that have informed Gay and Bill’s philanthropy and for the trust they have placed in us to fulfill their aspirations for the field of education.”

The PIL will lay the groundwork for new research on the integration of makerspaces into K–12 and higher education, new opportunities for partnerships between the Penn State College of Education and like-minded organizations, and new handson experiences that will shape the ways in which students imagine the pedagogical possibilities of makerspaces —

and how they ultimately realize those possibilities with their own students.

“Helping teachers leverage technology can prepare students for the digital world they will face in their future careers, and incorporating technology in the classroom can ignite a passion for learning and encourage students to explore new subjects,” Gay Krause said. “Technology can break down barriers and enable students of all abilities to access education on an equal footing.”

She said technology provides instant feedback to students, allowing them to track their progress and improve their performance in real-time, and can streamline administrative tasks, giving teachers more time to focus on creating engaging lessons and interacting with their students.

“By leveraging technology to engage students, we can break down traditional stereotypes about education and demonstrate that learning can be exciting,” she said.

The space will include the kinds of equipment common to makerspaces, such as 3D printers, a laser cutter and woodworking

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Photo: Annemarie Mountz Cutting the ribbon to dedicate the Krause Learning Space on Oct. 20, 2017, are, from left, Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Rich Bundy, Penn State First Lady Molly Barron, Penn State President Eric Barron, Gay Krause, Bill Krause, College of Education Dean David H. Monk, and Director of the Krause Studios for Innovation Scott McDonald. Photo: Annemarie Mountz Gay and Bill Krause, left and second from left, whose generous gift enabled construction of the Krause Learning Space, participated in the Penn State College of Education Google for Education Summit held in the Learning Space on Oct. 20, 2017.

equipment that will allow students to design and build real objects, taking an idea from concept to physical reality all in one space. A one-button podcast studio will provide students with the means to create within the audio and video realm. The PIL will also include several elements to facilitate classroom teaching, presentations and collaboration, such as a whiteboard/glassboard, wallmounted touch-screen monitors, and a retractable stage for spokenword and other performance-based presentations.

“What sets the PIL apart from a typical makerspace is its pedagogically oriented design,” Lawless said. “That is, we have designed it as a space that has the affordances of a makerspace, but that can be used and arranged flexibly to explore pedagogical practices of making and creative activity within a classroom setting. The room will flex to meet the needs of teaching and learning in the moment, transcending the traditional notions of the space and place of technology.”

Drawing on her years of experience as a teacher and principal, Gay Krause established the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, in 2000. Under her direction, the center has offered professional training to more than 23,000 educators in the effective use of classroom technology and more engaging, high-quality instruction in science, technology, education, arts and math (STEAM) and related subjects.

Bill Krause has been a Silicon Valley executive since the early 1970s. As president and CEO of 3Com, he guided the data networking company from a venture capital-funded start-up to a publicly traded, multinational enterprise with assets in excess of $1 billion when he retired. He now is president of the private investment firm LWK Ventures.

Gay Krause named Distinguished Alumna

Gay Krause, executive director of the Krause Center for Innovation (KCI), is one of eight Penn State graduates selected by the Penn State Board of Trustees to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award this year. The award is the University’s highest honor presented to its alumni, and it salutes the achievements of outstanding alumni whose “personal lives, professional achievements and community service exemplify the objectives of their alma mater.”

“It is truly an honor, especially since there are so many University graduates from whom to have been selected,” Krause said. “I am earnestly grateful to be receiving such an important award.”

Krause earned her bachelor of science in elementary and special education from the College of Education and her master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of Virginia. She holds credentials in administration from the University of San Francisco and San Jose State University.

“Throughout her career, Gay Krause has dedicated herself to ensuring that educators have access to, and training in, cutting-edge

technology to help them succeed in their schools. We are fortunate to have been able to partner with her and her husband, Bill, in pushing the boundaries of what is possible in educating students,” said Kim Lawless, dean of the Penn State College of Education.

Through her vision of innovating education, Krause empowers teachers to deepen learning and to engage and inspire students by leveraging technology.

“As a former teacher, she is aware of the array of challenges that teachers face in the classroom, and she understands that today’s teachers are shaping the minds of youth in positive directions — many of whom may go on to become our nation’s next generation of exceptional educators,” Lawless said.

In addition to other initiatives, the KCI partnered with the California Community Colleges Maker Initiative to create a makerspace designed and equipped to amplify KCI’s creative approach to professional learning.

Krause also was honored in 2013 as a Penn State Alumni Fellow for her outstanding professional accomplishments.

19 Penn State Education
Photo: Annemarie Mountz Gay Krause, right, and Molly Barron, wife of then-Penn State President Eric Barron, cheered a big Penn State play near the end of the third quarter during the football game vs. Michigan on Oct. 21, 2017, the day after the Krause Learning Space was officially dedicated in the Penn State College of Education.

Education: Ph.D. in educational leadership (2016).

Current position: I work as a State College-based singer/songwriter as well as a music instructor focusing primarily on songwriting and live performance at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado, a small independent school for students from across the U.S. who might not otherwise graduate from high school.

Although I did not study music, it has always been with me (church youth choir, high school musicals, a capella groups). In general, the doctorate has helped me to have the confidence to pursue what is in my heart. Specifically, one aspect of the methodology I used for my dissertation is that the researcher, while interviewing someone, is to listen not only to a story but also for a story.

Now, my goal with students in a songwriting context is for them to not just listen to a story from, for example, their own past, from the news, or from history, but also to listen for a story – one that might shine a light on where there’s hope but also where there is a need for hope – and then craft that story into a song that an audience might receive without resistance and want to hear again and again.

Advice to current students: Even though my journey since graduation falls outside the beaten path of graduation, I am grateful to still be supported by my College of Education relationships. My humble advice: (1) Building relationships with faculty, staff and students is worth the time. (2) Your path during school and/or post-graduation might evolve differently than you anticipated. Learn what you can from those changes. (3) You might know, upon arrival, which professor(s) you want to lead you through the dissertation process. However, the professor(s) you work best with might be different from the one(s) you initially wanted to work with. Give yourself ample time to sort that out. (4) If circumstances allow, stay in the State College area throughout the program because I think that helps to increase your chances of graduation.

Nancy Palladino Houle

Education: M.S. in vocational technical education (2005) and Ph.D. in workforce education and development (2007).

Current position: I am the executive director of the Minuteman Technical Institute, an adult education workforce training program focusing on career technical education (CTE) and upskilling for unemployed/underemployed students 18 and older.

Two years after earning my undergraduate degree, I accepted a position as the state director of Rhode Island VICA (now SkillsUSA). I fell in love with career and technical education during my first CTE school tour. I had finally found my place.

I spent four years in that position, then applied to Penn State’s Vocational Technical Education Department, where I served as a graduate assistant. The experiences afforded me during my time with the department formed the foundation for my work in workforce development.

Upon graduation from Penn State, I accepted a position with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I made a few other stops along the way before coming to my current position.

I do not have a “traditional” CTE background. My degrees allowed me to create a pathway into CTE. There also is a tremendous sense of pride that my degrees give me: pride in the Penn State experience, pride in having learned from professors who were connected to and invested in their student’s success, pride in belonging to a great group of WFED alumni.

Advice to current students: (1) You are in one of the best fields of education there is. Stay connected to CTE students … you need their energy. (2) Network wherever you go, and stay in touch with your adviser and cohort group. (3) Don’t be afraid to write a grant or two. You never know what they will bring to your school or program. (4) If you’re writing your thesis, stay with it. Invest in some nice, absorbent towels, though ... they work better than tissues.

20 Penn State Education
A College of Education degree is more versatile than some people may imagine. Many of our graduates go into fields that are directly related to their degrees. But many others use the knowledge gained during their time as students to succeed in other fields. This recurring feature profiles graduates who have used their College of Education degrees to succeed in their careers. Meet Eric Ian Farmer and Nancy Palladino Houle, and learn how their degrees have helped them to succeed.
Photo: Deanna Nagle Photo provided

Dear College of Education alumni,

In my work, I regularly see teachers, counselors and others in the field of education not considering themselves educational leaders unless they are in a manager or principal type role; however, this can’t be further from the truth. The Penn State College of Education has been producing some of the strongest educational leaders for years.

Classroom teachers, equity advocates, professors, principals and counselors have never had more pressure on their shoulders to help advocate for change to support the needs of our changing world. I have seen incredible leadership in our students, alumni, volunteers, and even those friends indirectly connected to our college. It’s truly amazing to see the power behind our college on and off campus, near and far from University Park.

As we continue pushing through 2023, I hope the new year ushers you in with an entirely fresh mindset. The opportunity to reflect on the success of our college and industry continually provides me with a fresh breath.

Even when pressured by challenges of COVID-19,

our college can celebrate so many accomplishments in the past three years, including increasing enrollment in teacher preparation programs; providing professional development and continuing education to the education workforce across the commonwealth; and developing exciting new programs that address critical needs of the workforce in the state, to name a few.

Similarly, the Alumni Society Board continues to support our alumni and college by pushing for more equitable representation on our board and ensuring future years will be the same. This year we implemented our updated elections process that encourages participation from our entire alumni base. We will be expanding our support offerings for our alumni and students, and hope to continue innovating our practices to better serve current and future graduates.

Our board has big plans in 2023 and we will continue pushing forward to change education by educating for change. I encourage you to do the same, no matter your role. Push boundaries, educate for change, and continue being the leaders that live within us all.

It has been a true honor and pleasure to serve on this board in support of our alma mater, and I’m looking forward to supporting you as president in 2023-2024.

I urge you to reach out and contact Stefanie Tomlinson, assistant director of Alumni Relations, at, if you want to continue your leadership journey with the Penn State College of Education.

For the glory,

Jonathan Klingeman ’08

Nominate outstanding alumni for excellence awards

College of Education alumni are honored with awards from the college’s Alumni Society as well as from the Penn State Alumni Association. The College of Education Alumni Society supports awards in several categories:

• Alumni Excellence. This is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni of the College of Education, recognizing careerlong, sustained excellence of contribution and achievement in the nominee’s profession.

• Outstanding Teaching. This award recognizes an exemplary individual in a full-time

teaching capacity in the education profession.

• Leadership and Service. This award recognizes those alumni who have distinguished themselves in their chosen profession, in or out of the field of education.

• Outstanding New Graduate. This award recognizes recent graduates who have distinguished themselves in their new careers.

• Service to Penn State. This award recognizes those alumni and friends who have made

significant contributions of time and talent to the college and/or the University.

• J.E.D.I. (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion). This award recognizes alumni who showcase exemplary insight and fortitude in workplace and/or community diversity.

Nominations are accepted throughout the year, with recipients chosen each spring.

For information, and to submit a nomination, visit https://ed.psu. edu/alumni-giving/alumni-societyawards online.

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Alumni Message froM the aluMni society Board President
Jonathan Klingeman
Nonprofit Org. US Postage PAID State College, PA Permit No. 1
247 Chambers Building University Park, PA 16802
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