The University of Alabama College of Education Magazine 2019-2020

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#stilltidetogether 1




Congratulations May 2020 Graduates...some of whom are pictured here.

Working in the Lives of Others by Dean Peter Hlebowitsch

Our College of Education is proudly moving in

a high practice and a high theory undertaking. It

the lives of schoolchildren, school practitioners,

also affords us the satisfaction of providing lift and

civic workers, health professionals and family

improvement to the lives of people.

members. It is what we do. We view ourselves as an interventionist college that has an obligation to

What you will find in what follows is a photo essay

make a difference in the lives of people. We use our

of sorts that provides some representation of the

tools of scholarship and research and our passions

work we have committed to the public, with a

for engaging the public to accomplish this work.

special focus on the institution of schooling. It is a

As noted by John Dewey, “an ounce of experience

long list of amazing work. We cannot name it all, but

is better than a ton of theory simply because it is

this issue should give you a flavor. I hope that you

only in experience that any theory has vital and

enjoy it.

verifiable significance.� This makes what we do both 3

Special thanks to UA Strategic Communications for select stories and photos

With Schools Out, Parents Encouraged to Help Learning Continue As primary and secondary schools across the

Even if children are not doing activities provided by a

country shut their doors in response to the novel

school for course credit, online resources are a good

coronavirus, Dr. André Denham, associate professor

way to continue learning. Many vendors are lowering

for instructional technology, says parents are crucial

or eliminating fees, and some websites are compiling

in maintaining a routine and engaging children in

and organizing resources for parents.

educational activities. Parents should find a balance between screen time for “With the recent suspension of face-to-face

educational purposes and screen time for recreation,

instruction and transition to online instruction

and to remember the cognitive benefits of exercise,

due to COVID-19, students and parents across the

fresh air and sunlight.

country are entering uncharted waters,” Denham said. “Fortunately, there are ample online resources

“I would strongly encourage parents to make sure to

and activities that can help K-12 students as they

set aside time in the day (weather permitting) when

transition to online learning. I want to stress that it is

their children can go outside and play, but to do

important for students to remain active during these

so responsibly while practicing social distancing,”

uncertain times. Continuing the learning process is

Denham said.

one way that you can do that.”


Tips for Teaching Online “This is an unprecedented moment,” said Dr. Claire Howell Major, professor of higher education. “We are having to shift en masse to emergency remote teaching. We have faculty who have been teaching on campus in a face-to-face mode who are having to figure out how students can connect around content and learn onliner.”

Be available to your students and let them know you care about them and their learning. Connect with your students on a human level and regularly communicate with them. Teaching online requires a good bit of advance planning and is a completely different animal than teaching in a classroom. Keep learning goals in mind at all times and use assignments and tools in order to help students achieve those goals. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Everyone is trying to do their best in these difficult times. Understand that there will be some headaches but that’s normal. Glitches in technology are bound to happen but you’ll get through it.


Independent Living

CCOS students and mentors hanging out and studying in their dorm living room

Working with young adults with cognitive disabilities, Kagendo Mutua’s CrossingPoints program offers challenging intellectual educational experiences that result in the promise of a job and the possibility of independent living.

The CCOS certificate program includes 24 UA course hours, 10 CrossingPoints specialized hours and 54 internship hours. The UA courses include 12 core hours in various classes, like computer applications, public speaking and English composition, as well as 12 additional hours based on students’ interests, preferences and needs.


CrossingPoints Debuts Year-round Academic Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities Original Story by David Miller, 2019

The University of Alabama debuted an innovative, year-round academic program for individuals with intellectual disabilities this the fall 2019 semester. The CrossingPoints Certificate in Occupational Studies (CCOS) is a three-year, non-degree certificate program that includes six students in each annual cohort. The CCOS adds a third-tier to UA’s highly influential CrossingPoints, an on-campus postsecondary 7

transition program that helps students with significant disabilities develop skills necessary for successful adult functioning. CrossingPoints launched in 2003 and has since added the annual Summer Bridge program to create a pipeline for the new certificate program. “Creating this certificate program is a milestone for CrossingPoints and UA, and we applaud those who have worked diligently to make this happen,” said Dr. Kevin Whitaker, executive vice president and provost.

“It’s been a collaborative effort with many offices on campus providing input and expertise, and we’re excited to make this new program available.” The customizable course design is unique from similar programs across the country, said Dr. Amy Williamson, CrossingPoints program coordinator. “We didn’t want students to come in and take classes we think they should take, but the ones they want that will truly lead to a career,” Williamson said. “That is what college is for.” The Summer Bridge program helped CrossingPoints build relationships with faculty members to determine the courses that would be available and the individualized grading mechanisms. Summer Bridge has also provided critical data about the range of campus-wide supports needed for this new population of students. CrossingPoints launched Summer Bridge in 2016 after the United States Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education awarded UA a grant to create an immersive college experience for individuals with intellectual disabilities who are interested in attending college full-time. Summer Bridge students live on campus, enroll in select courses, and participate in leisure activities on and off campus. Summer Bridge has had 51 participants in four years.


CrossingPoints faculty have two primary goals for Summer Bridge: empower students to live independently, even if they decide college isn’t for them; and discover what supports the students would need while on campus, and if those supports would be tenable over a three-year program. The wide spectrum of supports ranges from academics and internships to accessibility and independent living. That data is critical, as there are no existing pathways for this population of students from which to model, said Dr. Kagendo Mutua, director of CrossingPoints.

“Summer Bridge has taught us the lesson that, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know until you’ve experienced it,’” Mutua said. “We’ve learned that the supports typically available are great, but by and large, they’re intended for students who’ve met the normative requirements to enter the university. In the data we’ve collected, we’ve learned some things that we’d never thought about, like self-care and social reciprocity, that have shaped what our program will look like. “We’re excited to welcome a new specialized population to The University of Alabama and we’re ready to support them.”

Increasing Literacy in the Black Belt in Alabama

Weorking with schoolchildren to increase literacy across the Black Belt, Professors Carol Donovan and Nicole Swoszowski work actively with parents and school professionals on reading achievement concerns. 9

Inspired by Community, Eager to Better Alabama

UA doctoral students Elizabeth Michael, left, and Jessica Rollins are graduate assistants at the Belser-Parton Literacy Center at UA. Original Story by David Miller, 2019 Lauren Rollins was intimidated when she enrolled in her first AP class at Tuscaloosa County High School, where she admits to being a “very average performing student.” But her teacher, Rhonda Brinyark, recognized Rollins’ potential and “worked until I saw it, too,” Rollins said. After graduating from TCHS, Rollins enrolled at UA, where she earned an bachelor’s and master’s degree in education. Now, as she pursues a doctorate in special education, she’s keen to replicate the influence of her K-12 teachers, including Brinyark, whom she still sees periodically around Tuscaloosa. “It’s nice to be able to go back to these people – especially for these teachers who still need this encouragement – to come back and say, ‘you made a difference,’” Rollins said. As much as Tuscaloosa has grown in recent years, it still has a “small10

town feel” that continues to empower Rollins as both a leader and educator, from her three years in the classroom at University Place Elementary School, to her current role as a graduate assistant at the UA Belser-Parton Literacy Center. Rollins and literacy center counterpart, Elizabeth Michael, operated the center’s summer literacy camp through June. The camp serves up to 45 children each summer and includes one-hour sessions designed for students with and without disabilities. The lessons and activities use multisensory learning strategies for phonics, vocabulary and comprehension to keep students engaged. The camp’s model and curriculum align with

Rollins’ graduate research to support students with behavior needs and behavior disorders. Both Rollins and Michael have served as graduate assistants at the Literacy Center over the last calendar year. They’ve helped run numerous literacy initiatives and teacher support projects in Tuscaloosa-area schools and in nearby Pickens County. It’s vital, Rollins said, for the center to be a hub for teachers, parents and home-schooling networks, and to make their research more meaningful for their audiences. “The center is really leading the way in accessibility,” she said. “There’s a growing pain with that – the logistics of how that works and how it’s put into a pretty package that’s accessible for other people. But, it’s a turn toward serving our community that, as a whole, academia needs to continue.”

said, “’but if you teach teachers how to do this and teach 20 teachers every year, then each of those will go out and impact a bigger group of kids.’ That really struck a nerve with me. We do need to take these strategies that we’re finding in more restrictive settings that are being useful and expand them to general education classrooms.” Although Michael misses being in the classroom, her work with the center allows her to help both students and teachers directly and see her research inform service initiatives. “We’re seeing our work pan out,” Michael said, “and that’s a huge motivator.” Both Rollins and Michael cite the center’s work in Pickens County as the most enriching and influential of their experiences at the center.

The grant-funded “Alabama Early Literacy Project” When Michael left her native Dothan to pursue provided materials and professional development to pre-K an undergraduate degree at UA, her academic and educators in Pickens County and gave pre-service students professional paths had already been determined: bothUA doctoral a chance to create and implement with early Rollins students Elizabeth Michael,lessons left, and Jessica her mother and grandmother are UA grads and have a learners. combined 51 years of teaching experience. For Michael, the partnership was particularly fruitful for Pursuing a doctorate, though, wasn’t on her radar until she the pre-service teachers. “To have them come back and experienced learning disparities in the classroom. say, ‘you were right, we can do all of this with kids in a rural environment’ summed up why we did this,” Michael She taught at Holy Spirit Catholic School in Tuscaloosa said. “We saw the light bulb come on for them.” shortly after earning her bachelor’s degree in 2013 and entering the multiple abilities master’s program. While For Rollins, her work in Pickens County provided a pursuing her master’s, Michael began working with blueprint for how to extend UA’s resources beyond Jefferson County School students in kindergarten through Tuscaloosa to school systems that don’t normally reap second grade who were struggling to read on-level, and the benefits of UA’s service networks. Rollins said UA has those with autism spectrum disorder. taught her that she “has a responsibility” to think deeply about her service and outreach to neighboring counties. Michael began contemplating a doctorate as she began to consider the scope of her work and the scale of her results “There’s a team of researchers pouring into Pickens County in the classroom. A conversation with Jim Siders, former – not just for education – so it’s cool to see this very holistic chair of the special education department, helped her build approach to building up a community,” Rollins said. “That’s the courage to leave the classroom. been eye-opening for me to think about, and in the future, as it relates to service, what are our priorities and who are “Dr. Siders told me, ‘you’re working with a small group the people that need support?” of kids every year, and you’re impacting them,’” Michael 11

Raising the Game for student athletes in adapted athletics

At The University of Alabama, student athletes with physical disabilities find a $10 million arena dedicated to the development of skills and strategies for competitive adaptive sports. professors margaret stran and brent Hardin have dedicated their careers to the education and livelhood of student athletes and this facility is a testimony to their passion and dedication.


Rethinking School Discipline

Working with classroom teachers who struggle to deal with behaviorally challenging students, professor sara McDaniel is leading the Alabama Positive Behavior Support Office in its mission to help school professionals rethink the manner in which children are disciplined, and she is bringing important attention to the role that disciplining behaviors play in the school-to-prison 13

Improving the Social, Emotional, and Academic Outcomes for All Students

Original Story by David Miller, 2019

The National Institutes of Health has awarded UA a $2.4 million grant to create interventions to lower aggression in middle-school students and lessen disproportionalities in school discipline. Sara McDaniel serves as principal investigator for “Reducing Youth Violence and Racism/Discrimination: The Efficacy of Comprehensive Prevention Strategies (CPS).” The study combines existing elements of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), widely implemented in schools across the country, with Coping Power, an intervention program for children with aggression problems, into a two-tiered program that will address interracial and intraracial youth aggression and implicit biases in teachers that lead to disproportionate rates of exclusionary discipline. 14

The five-year study will include 20 middle schools in large districts in Alabama. Students from diverse race and socioeconomic backgrounds will be included. The first level of the study will add equity and race components to existing PBIS curriculum and will focus on school climate and how teachers can create better understandings of cultural differences between themselves and students. Ultimately, through yearlong PD, teachers will begin to “think differently” and beyond their biases for equitable discipline, McDaniel said.

“We can’t change the implicit biases that we develop throughout our lives, but what we can do is get [teachers] to identify that, and in that split-second they have – what we call a ‘vulnerable decision point’ – to respond without applying their biases,” McDaniel said. “This will help students with the cultural climate of the building, and in receiving adequate supports and equitable access.” McDaniel said her work implementing PBIS in schools in Alabama has informed the need for this study, but that disproportionalities in exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions, exist across the country, particularly in black males. The teaching force nationwide is majority white – 82 percent – which creates a majority culture that differs greatly from the student body. Problems arise when behavior that doesn’t fit with majority culture is judged at a harsher level. “Because of the race component, this is really important work for Alabama,” McDaniel said. “We’ve already had these discussions in a school district in Alabama, and I’ve heard from parents of black children in the district who’ve said, ‘I can tell teachers are thinking about it; instead of automatically

sending my child to the office, I’m getting emails about it, or I’m being asked to come in and talk about it.’ And that’s what we want to happen. We want educators to understand the cultural mismatch and understand the mismatch of their culture and students of different backgrounds.” The second level of the study that addresses raced-based youth aggression will add racism and discrimination content to Coping Power, a school-based preventative intervention curriculum developed and implemented globally by John Lochman, UA professor emeritus. Lochman will serve as co-principal investigator. Coinvestigators include Daniel Cohen, UA assistant professor, school psychology; Kent McIntosh, professor and expert in PBIS, University of Oregon, and; Tamika La Salle, assistant professor of school psychology, University of Connecticut,

and expert in school climate and culturally responsive education practices; and Sterett Mercer, associate professor of special education, University of British Columbia (Canada), will serve as a consultant.

2019 UA EMERGING SCHOLAR: Sara McDaniel Sara McDaniel is an associate

$3,000,000 in grants and contracts as Principal Investigator.

professor of special education and the director of the

This research productivity has not been an individual effort.

Alabama Positive Behavior

Rather, McDaniel has involved more than 10 doctoral

Support Office (APBSO). The

students, 10 junior faculty, and numerous colleagues at

APBSO is a statewide PBIS

prestigious universities across the nation. Importantly, this

technical assistance center

research has had a positive impact on study participants, all of

that focuses on supporting

which are either placed at-risk, with disabilities, or are being

schools and districts in

served in an underserved school context.

implementing PBIS. In 2017, Dr. McDaniel was awarded the Ted Carr Early Career McDaniel’s research has reached a large, national audience

Researcher award from the Association for Positive Behavior

through 43 peer-reviewed publications in top-tier journals, 7

Support. She conducts research and teaches in the areas

book chapters, and more than 80 national and international

of (a) secondary tier PBIS, (b) classroom management

research-based conference presentations. She has served as a keynote speaker and has given more than 20 invited conference presentations, including international conferences. She has also successfully developed a history of contract and grant funding. Thus far, Dr. McDaniel has brought more than 15

assessment and coaching, (c) PBIS for alternative education settings, and (d) early prevention for diverse populations of children placed at high-risk.

Social-Emotional Learning and School Reform for Academic Improvement

CORE is a dedicated network of individuals who

CORE conducts research and provides professional

advocate for systems change through tiered evidence-

development and service to these settings serving

based practices within a trauma informed lens for

school-age children and youth, including afterschool

children and youth with and without disabilities,


especially those in more restrictive settings, such as residential and juvenile justice facilities.

Working on large-scale school reform, Professor Greg Benner is working with school leaders throughout the state to implement a school reform strategy that works with community partners to bring wide academic improvements to a school while also advancing social and emotional learning.


Practical TraumaResponsive Social and Emotional Learning for the Whole Child

Pictures by the Daily Mountain Eagle of Walker County (Greg Benner , above; Anthony Sellers (right)

Imagine a scene where students achieve

educator’s capacity to integrate and infuse trauma-

their potential, families thrive, and

sensitive social and emotional learning strategies into

schools and communities are healthy and

strategies to establish the positive classroom culture all

supportive. Many traditional school initiatives are focused on academic growth and fast results, but often at the expense of relationships – between students and teachers, teachers and administrators, schools and families. The Whole Child approach uses proven systems and partnerships to transform schools and communities from the inside out and promote the long-term development and success of all children. The purpose of whole child education is to build an 17

their classroom. Whole child provides doable and simple year. Strategies for building youth social and emotional learning competencies while maintaining an engaging classroom learning environment as well as techniques for ending power struggles and responding effectively to disruptive behavior are essential components to whole child instruction The Whole Child Initiative address childhood trauma. Part of the initiative is understanding the “zones of regulation,” which is where Anthony Sellers, teacher at Sumiton Elementary School, comes into play. In addition to providing a classroom for one-on-one student support,

he is helping to educate teachers at Sumiton Elementary

establishing strong school-community partnerships, we

and other county schools on how to recognize the zones

redefine policies, practices, and relationships to ensure a

of regulation. A clear understanding helps educators know

positive, lasting impact on all youth within a community.

when a child may need emotional therapy.

By making a community-wide shift in how we educate and prepare our children for success in and out of school,

Students learn how to self-regulate their emotions. Self-

Whole Child helps youth realize their full potential.

regulation revolves around helping the child understand the difference between the various emotions and then teach

Dr. Greg Benner, O’Sullivan Professor of Special Education,

them tools to help them address these emotions.

Implementation Science, conceptualized and leads Whole Child transformation programs. After a decade of success

Whole children - those who are academically successful

in implementing Whole Child in Washington school

with positive mental well-being and social health - achieve

districts, he is currently focused on developing initiatives

higher graduation rates, contribute to the community, and

to strengthen Alabama schools and communities. Contact

lead happy, productive lives.

Dr. Benner ( for more information.

The Whole Child approach is a systematic blueprint for sustainable change in children, citizens, and communities. Through a comprehensive method for supporting students and teachers, streamlining existing programming, and 18

Gifted & Talented Education

in Alabama

CORE is a dedicated network of individuals who

CORE conducts research and provides professional

advocate for systems change through tiered evidence-

development and service to these settings serving

based practices within a trauma informed lens for

school-age children and youth, including afterschool

children and youth with and without disabilities,


especially those in more restrictive settings, such as residential and juvenile justice facilities.

Working in the lives of gifted and talented students, professor Jennifer Jolly developed a Gifted Education and Talent Development Office that will conduct research related to gifted education, provide an outreach to families of gifted children, and develop curriculum materials and professional development options. (Picture L to R: Hadley McCarver, Fatima Saaed., and Erica Reid-Lewis: M.A. students teaching at UA’s summer GT camp for K-12 students) 19

individuals who

virtue-ethics Character Education Model CORE conducts research and provides professional

rough tiered evidence-

development and service to these settings serving

a informed lens for

school-age children and youth, including afterschool

hout disabilities,

tive settings, such as



Infusing character education initiatives into the conduct of the schools, professor david Walker is working with the Kern Foundation and with faculty from the College’s Educational Leadership program to bring a character education model to the education of prospective and practicing school principals. 20

CORE is a dedicated network of individuals who

CORE conducts research and provides professional

advocate for systems change through tiered evidence-

development and service to these settings serving

based practices within a trauma informed lens for

school-age children and youth, including afterschool

children and youth with and without disabilities,


especially those in more restrictive settings, such as residential and juvenile justice facilities.


incarerated youth & Educational Experiences

Working with incarcerated adolescent youth, whose future is still very much dependent on the quality of their educational experiences, professor kristine Jolivette and her research team (L to R: Sara Sanders and Skip Kumm) are offering academic interventions for imprisoned youth and bringing attention to important risk factors.

There’s an app for fat CORE is a dedicated network of individuals who

CORE conducts research and provides professional

advocate for systems change through tiered evidence-

development and service to these settings serving

based practices within a trauma informed lens for

school-age children and youth, including afterschool

children and youth with and without disabilities,


especially those in more restrictive settings, such as residential and juvenile justice facilities.


Professors Mike fedewa and Michael Esco have partnered with Birmingham developer Airship to develop a smartphone- and tabletbased app that will allow users to take a single photo, run it through the app and generate accurate body composition measures, including body fat and lean mass. The app will also give the users information about specific body fat distribution patterns that may put some people at higher risk of disease.

Searching for More Answers Kinesiology student’s autoimmune disorder shifts major, leads to first published research paper Original Story by David Miller, 2019 Jessica Bentley has lived with celiac disease for 6 years, and with the guidance of Dr. Michael Fedewa, department of kinesiology, she’s able to research the disorder that affects nearly 3 million people in the U.S. Bentley had managed her celiac disease for 4 years before enrolling at UA in 2017. Her mother and sister both manage the disease, so Bentley had a blueprint for management. Bentley was diagnosed with the disease after she broke her pelvis. As she’s continued her hobby as a runner, she’s had to incorporate weight lifting and dietary changes to strengthen her bones. Managing celiac disease has become a mission of discovery for Bentley, who changed her major from chemical engineering to kinesiology/pre-med to study the disease . That path led her to getting published in an academic journal. Bentley and Fedewa collaborated on “Celiac disease and bone health in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” “The key finding was something we expected: children with celiac disease have sub-optimal bone health and stature,” Bentley said. “These kids are often a lot shorter and have malnutrition. The study helped us confirm this.” Bentley, a native of Cleveland, participated in the UA Emerging Scholars Program. Through the program she met Fedewa, who studies body composition. Fedewa urged Bentley to narrow her research focus to something that aligns with her career goal of working in allied health. Celiac disease was Bentley’s obvious motivator. 23

“There should be no one in the world more interesting to you than yourself,” Fedewa told Bentley. “So I said, ‘why don’t you research yourself?’” From there, they hashed out their research. Bentley presented an abstract that included preliminary work on bone density at the UA Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference, where she was honored for “most outstanding proposed research.” Bentley aspires to a career in research medicine which involves 13 to 15 years of school to obtain a M.D./Ph.D. is daunting, and programs often reserve a small fraction of their cohorts to those students, Bentley said. But Bentley says she feels empowered by her first research opportunity and is eager for her next study, which will include studying bone density in college students with and without celiac disease and how much changes in diet improve bone health. She’s particularly excited to use the department’s DEXA body composition scanner. “I remember needing a scan and insurance not wanting to pay for it,” she said. “My orthopedic surgeon had to call and tell them I need it. So it’s cool to get to use it.” Bentley hopes to secure a summer research internship position at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “Even if it’s not related to celiac disease or autoimmune disorders, it’s a hub for research and a great opportunity,” Bentley said.

Collaborative Organization of Research(ers) and Evidence-based practices

ORE Information provided by Drs. Kristine Jolivette and Sara Sanders

The College of Education (under the direction and coordination of Kristine Jolivette,

Sara Sanders, and Skip Kumm) launched the Collaborative Organization of Research(ers) and Evidence-based practices or CORE at The University of Alabama. CORE is a dedicated network of individuals who advocate for systems change through tiered, evidence-based practices within a traumainformed lens for children and youth with and without disabilities, especially those in more restrictive settings, such as residential and juvenile justice facilities. CORE conducts research and provides professional development and service to settings serving school-aged children and youth, including afterschool programs focused on the following:

Academics Social-Emotional Learning/Behavior Self-Care CORE connects individuals working with school-aged children and youth with the necessary resources needed to improve the lives and educational outcomes of the children and youth. This systems-change focus relies on the collaborative and collegial intersection of researchers and graduate students, at UA and other universities, practitioners and staff across disciplines, and policy-makers – continuously adapting to match the needs of all constituents. 24

Drs. Jolivette and Sanders recently presented on these topics at the Applied Behavior Association International conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Also, Drs. Jolivette and Sanders, with support from the UA Graduate School, were recently awarded a U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs 3-year doctoral leadership grant, Project INSPIRE (Inspiring Researchers to Focus on Youth in Residential and Juvenile Justice Facilities) to train the next generation of researchers related to the aims of CORE. For information to work with CORE, please contact Dr. Kristine Jolivette (


WHAT WE KNOW FROM COLLABORATING AS RESEARCHERS Children and youth are always our priority and focus in all of our research, teaching, and service. Stakeholder voice, both youth and adult, in tiered intervention/curricula/instruments adaption is paramount including dissemination deliverables. Pre-service and in-service supports for the adults who work with our population are critical for the instructional integrity of any intervention integrated into applied educational settings and daily operations. Contributing to, challenging, and thinking outside the box within our scientific community is how new ideas, directions, and findings are cultivated and empirically proven within our foci even when we are the only ones thinking this way (i.e., an empty presentation ballroom). 25

Mentoring and supporting new and emerging researchers on our foci is critical for the continued advancement of our field and in addressing the needs of vulnerable and marginalized children and youth across ages, settings, and domains. Focusing on the intersections, collaborations, and integrations of pedagogical and methodological expertise of a multi-disciplinary team, above and beyond any one individual and their ego/vita, is the most impactful systems-change conduit available. One’s research and scholarly impact is truly defined as tangible, proactive, preventative, positive, and sustainable changes in children and youth daily programming and outcomes as opposed to items on one’s vita.

HELPing Young Children with disabilities


Internationally-renowned professor robin McWilliam is helping very young children with disabilities and their families with his Routines-Based Model, which offers interventions for children and their families rooted in their

The College of Education launched the Evidence-based

means their attention spans are good and at more

International Early Intervention Office to promote an

sophisticated levels. Engagement is a good predictor of

intervention model designed for children younger than 6

future academic success.”

with disabilities and their families. The office will receive assistance from a post-doctoral The Routines-Based Model of Early Intervention focuses

student and graduate students. McWilliam expects to add

on building the strengths of the child’s natural caregivers,

another faculty member to the office. Later, the EIEIO

a departure from models in which professionals work

will explore embedding the model in all Early Childhood

directly with children in a clinic, office or classroom. The

Special Education courses, because the model covers issues

model is used in the United States and in such countries as

of assessment, intervention and working with families.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Taiwan. The office also will create a network of “UA affiliates” from The Routines-Based Model “turns the traditional method

colleges and schools across campus, such as the College of

upside down,” said Dr. Robin McWilliam, developer of the

Human Environmental Sciences, department of psychology

Routines-Based Model and director of the office.

and the School of Social Work, to aid in research.

“Some of these highly specialized interventions take

The Evidence-based International Early Intervention Office

place once a week, and children under the age of 6,

(EIEIO) is an outgrowth of The RAM Group, a collection

especially those with disabilities, do not learn in a single

of early intervention experts from around the world who

hour,” McWilliam said. “So, our value and model is about

exchange information and provide technical assistance

building the capacity of the caregivers — parents, child-

on the Routines-Based Model. The UA office gathers the

care providers, or anyone who spends hours with the child

efforts of researchers and trainers to conduct research

and looks after him or her — throughout the days in their

and provide technical assistance to programs, states and

regular routines to help deliver the intervention.”

national programs. (Info:

McWilliam said problem behavior in children has increased dramatically in the last 15 years, and he believes the model, which focuses on engagement and social relationships among children, can help stem problem behavior and improve academic success. “If a child has difficulties because of disabilities, or because the environment is bad, the child isn’t as engaged,” he said. “When kids are engaged, by definition it’s appropriate behavior. When they are engaged for a long time, that 27

Law Enforcement ‘Use of Force’ Study Moves Forward

Working to assist police departments with the complexities of shooting situations, Professors diana Dolliver and Ryan Cook (COE), with UAPD and other police departments, examine the nature of police decision-making as it occurs in real time simulated shooting situations. 28

UA researchers have been studying responses and brain activity of law enforcement officers in virtual “shoot/don’t shoot” situations to address incidents of the officers’ use of force by using neural data to help improve police training and officer selection. Their sample size yielded promising results. For instance, electroencephalogram findings showed officers activated more of the beta brain wave – often associated with thinking – in these situations. However, their sample size was limited to just four participants due to funding constraints, limited technology and lack of facilities. Dr. Ryan Cook, assistant professor of counseling, was part of that research team and has since helped revitalize the project with a new scope, new technology and new affiliates. Cook has partnered with Dr. Diana Dolliver, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, to add a criminological component and extend the behavioral focus of the study. However, the most significant change from the previous study is the partnership with UA Police Department, which has granted Cook and Dolliver space at its training facility where researchers have been able to conduct two-hour study sessions with officers from several organizations in West Alabama. The facility houses VirTra, a training simulator that uses a large single screen with more than 100 scenarios that law enforcement officers face while on the job. Officers use firearms with air cartridges during the simulation and are evaluated based on their decision-making, reaction times and the desired outcome of each scenario. Being on-site and building rapport with participants has yielded valuable feedback from law enforcement on encounters they have, like working with citizens who have mental health issues. This feedback influences future test questions and scenarios, Cook said. Similarly, Dolliver’s affiliation increases the credibility of the project. Dolliver has worked with regional law 29

Rachel Paulk, a UA grad student, helps run research participants and manage virtual scenarios.

enforcement through her role as academic director of the Joint Electronic Crimes Task Force housed in Cyber Hall on UA’s campus and has trained over 300 officers and agents in darknet investigative techniques. Cook and Dolliver have involved roughly 30 participants over the last year and need 30 more before they can extrapolate data and publish their findings. “Other groups across the country are doing similar work, but none have the same neural component as we do,” she said. “I think it’s important work, especially for the law enforcement community, to know researchers are not opposing forces, and we can work together to help better train their officers. Everyone wants people to survive these encounters, and if we can help them do that, that’s the value in it for me.”


With Them

UA researchers part of nationwide study to identify veterans struggling with suicidal thoughts

Story by David Miller, 2019 picture right: Karl Hamner

When someone dies by suicide, members of their community ask “why?” Why did they take their own life? Why didn’t they get help? Why didn’t anyone know? Some risk factors for suicide are well established – depression, trauma, violent behaviors and drug abuse – but suicides in the United States continue to increase. They are now the 10th-leading cause of death in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Death by suicide has become a public health issue, particularly for military veterans, who are twice as likely as civilians to die by suicide, according to a recent study by the Department of Veterans Affairs. “When you come from the military – a small, structured unit you’re exceptionally close and tied to – then go back into general society, it can be problematic,” said Dr. Karl Hamner. 30

The answers to stemming veteran deaths by suicide may rest in the communities themselves. Researchers at UA, working with America’s Warrior Partnership, AWP, are digging beyond clinical factors to help communities identify members who are declining to potentially prevent suicides. UA will soon complete the first year of Operation Deep Dive, a $2.9 million study to explore and better understand organizational and community risk factors that contribute to suicide and intentional self-harm among military veterans. AWP, a non-profit organization helping veterans succeed in communities, connected UA researchers with members of its seven affiliate communities across the country, creating vital networks for data collection. Hamner and Cheree Tham from AWP lead the study that aims to collect information and begin community-based suicide prevention. While clinical interventions and treatment are important, they’re not sufficient to prevention work, Hamner said.

“Death by suicide is never an isolated act,” Hamner said. “It may seem so, but it’s always in the context of the community in which they’re living, which is impacting that decision.” With guidance from Dr. Eric Caine, a suicide prevention expert from the University of Rochester, the team focuses on veterans across a spectrum of service. It begins with a retrospective investigation into the impact of discharge status on suicides and suspected suicides, use of VA care, and the differences in suicide/self-harm deaths between those who received VA care and those who did not. The findings will be incorporated into a four-year study that will include data from the VA and the Department of Defense, both partners in the study, along with input from medical examiners, mental health experts, veterans and family members, and the community. This will be used to conduct a “sociocultural autopsy” of all new or suspected suicides in AWP’s seven partnership communities, as well as in comparison communities. Working the community connections has been demanding and “complex,” from a methodological perspective, Hamner said. Researchers face challenges in collecting data, particularly with organizations agreeing to provide data while fulfilling confidentiality requirements. The process of obtaining death reports or vital statistics from each state is complex, too, and the type of available data often varies by county. It’s equally as difficult to accurately identify veterans who die by suicide, and Hamner believes coroners and medical examiners, first responders and emergency rooms could fill future gaps in data by establishing uniformed protocols for confirming someone’s military service. The study’s partnerships have also grown to include corporations like Radiant Solutions, which will assist with geo-mapping of reported suicides, and an emerging 31

partnership with the Center for Disease Control’s Injury Prevention & Control Center. “There’s no single repository for information in any community about someone who has died by suicide, or a death report on anyone,” Hamner said. PTSD nor combat exposure are good predictors of veterans and suicide, so researchers must cast a wider net. Hamner pointed to Washington County, Oregon, where suicide investigation teams comprised of public health officials and coroners are examining social indicators. They identified a subset of cases where people who died by suicide checked their healthy pets into vets or animal shelters. “This isn’t something that would be a total surprise but what the county did was, they saw this pattern, and they went around to all of their shelters and vets and trained them to watch for this,” Hamner said. “They had several calls related to this and were able to prevent a suicide.” This approach can ultimately help researchers determine the dynamics of a community and how it helps or hurts veterans, who often feel isolated once leaving the military, even in a city such as Pensacola, which has a large military community but high rates of veterans who’ve died by suicide. “We’re hoping to be able to ID more community pieces that are actionable,” Hamner said. “How do we find someone who is struggling with housing, paying their bills, or any number of factors where we might be able to help them and avoid the conclusion that ‘the world is better off without them.’” The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation supports this project.

CORE is a dedicated network of individuals who

CORE conducts research and provides professional

advocate for systems change through tiered evidence-

development and service to these settings serving

based practices within a trauma informed lens for

school-age children and youth, including afterschool

children and youth with and without disabilities,


especially those in more restrictive settings, such as residential and juvenile justice facilities.

TELECOACHING and Student Behavior Working to provide insights to teachers on matters related to student behavior in class via telecoaching, Professor Bradley Bloomfield is working with the Gadsden Schools, making daily 15-20 minute observations in the classroom recorded remotely and meeting with the teachers weekly to provide feedback from the classroom observations.


CORE is a dedicated network of individuals who

CORE conducts research and provides professional

advocate for systems change through tiered evidence-

development and service to these settings serving

based practices within a trauma informed lens for

school-age children and youth, including afterschool

children and youth with and without disabilities,


especially those in more restrictive settings, such as residential and juvenile justice facilities.


PELL GRANTS and Community Colleges

Working in the community college sector, Professor Stephen Katsinas is examining the student transfer policies as well as access issues to Pell grants in the interests of advocating for the post-secondary enrollment of low-income students.

Expanding Evidence-based

science Education Instruction methods CORE is a dedicated network of individuals who

CORE conducts research and provides professional

advocate for systems change through tiered evidence-

development and service to these settings serving

based practices within a trauma informed lens for

school-age children and youth, including afterschool

children and youth with and without disabilities,


especially those in more restrictive settings, such as residential and juvenile justice facilities.

Bringing new instructional ideas to the science education landscape, professor jee Suh is helping high school science teachers develop adaptive instructional methods that allow them to better adjust to varied classroom situations and professor Jonathan Shemwell is developing instructional methods that encourage students to depict scientific idea as models that can be tested against evidence. Each initiative is supported by a NSF grant. 34

building School Partnerships

Building lasting school partnerships, Professors liza Wilson and Holly Morgan have been coordinated connections with partners to give the College an engagement with afterschool programming, parental outreach, and inservice training. 35

‘We’re Trying to Transform Education’ One breaks. Another survives. That’s what can happen when 4th and 5th graders drop raw – but somewhat protected – eggs from 20 feet above ground. The students, using a playground as their lab, repurposed ordinary items to simulate an astronaut in a lunar lander. Although the experiment was far smaller in scale and crude in materials, the principles are similar: gravity, kinetic energy and distance must all be factored into the designs. And for young, curious minds, this experiment is a gateway to more exploration into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Elementary education majors led these experiments, wrapping up STEM activities with four different classes at Woodland Forrest Elementary School. The collaborative projects included a simulation of an oil spill and the creation of an athletic shoe prototype from basic materials. The latter project used the real-life incident of Duke University basketball player Zion Williamson’s shoe tearing 36

to shreds during a game to underscore the importance of the activity. Managing a team These activities have clear teaching and learning benchmarks designed to keep students on task and to unearth creativity, said Ashlyn Turner, a junior at UA. “In our lesson plan, we had to engage, explore, explain and evaluate,” she said. “Then we embedded different questions to ask the students about their shoes, the things they needed and what the shoes needed to do. Continuing to question each group kept them thinking and on track. For instance, one group had rubber bands that went over the shoe and made it have a grip at the bottom. I didn’t think about that until they said it – they wanted grip when they turned.” The UA students, in essence, served as project managers one might find at a tech or engineering firm. It’s a unique role-playing exercise for these future teachers, who must also combine traditional conflict resolution and classroom management practices within the construct of the activity.

At times, these variables forced them to pivot from their original plans, Turner said. Transforming education Taylor Lamon, a fifth-grade teacher at Woodland Forrest and UA alumna, teaches hands-on science with the Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative, which provides teaching resources and professional development for K-12 teachers in the state. And while she regularly incorporates science experiments into her classroom, she said UA students picked relevant activities and provided the opportunity for more one-on-one instruction. The UA students wrapped their semester in Dr. Melisa Fowler’s “teaching early childhood and elementary school science” class. Fowler says it’s critical that her students build a knowledge base for science that will allow them to teach and lead with confidence in the classroom, and immersing them in real teaching environments is the only way to achieve that goal “effectively and authentically.” STEM activities are a departure from how science has been taught, even as little as 10 years ago, said Meri-Brandon Lightsey, a Northport native and rising senior at UA. “When we were growing up, we didn’t do a lot of hands-on things in science. We did a lot of worksheets,” she said. “Now we’re trying to transform education into more hands-on, getting into it and learning through doing. That was very nice to see (with these students), and it’s going in that direction.”


Five Goals of Project Become instructional experts in schools and districts

Increase mathematical knowledge to lead PD in schools and districts

Serve in leadership roles to other teachers, instructional coaches, or other leadership opportunities to improve student outcomes Assist in building a network for highquality clinical experiences for teacher candidates

Original Story by David Miller, 2019

The National Science Foundation has awarded UA a $2.85 million grant to strengthen content knowledge, teaching practice and leadership among math teachers in the greater Tuscaloosa area. Of the total funding, nearly 70% is direct support to teachers selected to participate. UA researchers work with full-time math teachers in grades 6 - 12 to participate in the “Master Teacher Fellowship,” or MTF, incentivized by compensated professional development, annual salary supplements, and paid tuition toward a master’s degree or educational specialist degree.

Learn and emerge to enter leadership roles with the Alabama Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual forum and national conferences

supported both professionally and financially for the commitments of their precious time and expertise,” said Dr. Jeremy Zelkowski, coordinator of UA’s secondary math education program. “We L to R: Jeremy Zelkowski and Jim Gleason are honored to have received this grant from the NSF to transform the next decade-plus of mathematics teaching and learning to support our local schools and students.”

Zelkowski and co-principal investigator Dr. Jim Gleason, professor of math and director of undergraduate programs, had built previous relationships with math teachers in the area through various professional development programs, research and service programs Teachers receive travel support to state and national funded by the NSF and U.S. Department of Education. conferences along with technology for their The MTF is one of four tracks funded by the Robert Noyce Teacher classrooms, which is supported by an additional in- Scholarship Program, a national STEM education initiative of the kind contribution from Texas Instruments valued at NSF. The program’s goal is to attract and retain STEM teachers $400,000. by incentivizing undergraduate and advanced STEM degrees and teaching certifications. “This grant is unprecedented in our region and provides mathematics teachers with a career More information can be found at changing opportunity in which they are fully 38

Master Teacher Preparing NewFellowship Teachers for Math Educators for Ever-Evolving Supported by NSF


As early as freshman year, College of Education students begin working in local classrooms, learning to anticipate future challenges and maximize success with their own students.

Original Story by David Miller, 2019 Dr. Melisa Fowler, associate

designing an athletic shoe prototype that will be both durable and inexpensive, using the incident

professor of elementary

of Duke University basketball player Zion Williamson’s shoe tearing to shreds during a game to

science education, has

underscore the activity’s importance.

been leading Family STEM Night at Woodland Forrest

Fowler said UA students’ experiences at Woodland Forrest have increased their willingness to teach

Elementary School since 2013.

science and continually search for creative, innovative ways to engage students. “And the good thing

The celebration showcases

about science inquiry is that, even if an investigation doesn’t go as planned, the problem-solving and

collaborative and interactive

critical thinking to figure it out is so valuable for children,” Fowler said. “That’s why I do this – I need

projects between elementary

them out there building the knowledge to go in their own classrooms with the confidence to take a

education majors and

chance on letting children explore.”

Woodland Forrest students. In the month running up to the event, Fowler’s students work directly with students on STEM activities in their

UA pre-service teachers also participate in a trio of literacy programs powered by K-12 schools and community partnerships with Tuscaloosa YMCA and United Way of West Alabama. •

Family Literacy Night: Pre-service teachers share information regarding famous authors – science fair style – and strategies for reading at home with Southview Elementary School students. All children attending receive a free, age-appropriate book.

SERF (Social Emotional Reading Family): A collaboration that provides preschoolers attending the Tuscaloosa YMCA summer program with targeted social, emotional and literacy programming to boost skills before kindergarten.

Bright Minds Volunteer Reading Program: Pre-service teachers complete practicum placements in local public preschools, elementary schools and community-based childcare programs for children ranging from infancy to third grade. They read aloud to whole classes, small groups and individual children.

classrooms. The projects align with Woodland Forrest teachers’ curriculum and are both timely and relevant. For instance, one group of students this semester is 39

College of Education Hall of Fame We have been busy inducting two Hall of Fame classes since last we published this magazine. Let’s catch you up. For complete biographies, go to https://

L to R: Marcia Burke, Lee Freeman, and Melba Richardson

Mary Ann Blackmon

Music Teacher of More than 50 Years and Advocate for the African-American Community

James Blackmon, Jr.

Business Education Teacher and Advocate for the African-American Community

Marcia Burke

Accomplished Public School Educator and School Administrator

Lee Freeman

UA Clinical Professor and Innovator of Teaching Practices

John Cody Hall

L to R: Karl Stegall & Jane Moore L to R: Mary & James Blackmon, Jr. and John C. Hall

Public School Leader in Experiential Education

Michael Malone

Esteemed Leader in Higher Education

Melba Richardson

Leader and Advocate for Independent Schools in Alabama

Martha Tack

Education Leadership Professor and Higher Education Administrator

Theresa W. Snoddy

Public Educator and Advocate for Rural Schools

Karl Stegall

Methodist Minister and Public School Leader 40

L to R: Michael Malone, Martha Tack, & Theresa Snoddy

College of Education Alumni Leaders

Myron Pope (‘93, ‘94, ‘97) Named UA Vice President for Student Life & Eric Mackey (‘95, ‘98, 01) Named Alabama Superintendent of Education Dr. Myron L. Pope comes to UA after a distinguished higher education career in Oklahoma. He was in student affairs and enrollment management at the University of Central Oklahoma, including 14 years in vice presidential roles. Most recently he has served as chief of strategic engagement for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Pope was a member of the administrative staff at UA, serving as director of recruitment programs/alternative certification from 1997 to 2000 and as a clinical assistant professor in the higher education program. Pope has written extensively on student success, diversity, retention and globalization.

their leadership teams.

Dr. Eric Mackey is wellknown to board members, having served as the executive director of the School Superintendents of Alabama since 2011. The SSA advocates on behalf of schools and school superintendents in the legislature and is the professional organization for superintendents and

Mackey started as a high school physics teacher in Calhoun County in 1993, rising to superintendent of Jacksonville City Schools where he served for eight years prior to working for SSA.

LSU Names Roland Mitchell (‘05) Dean of Human Sciences and Education & UA Awards Autherine Lucy Foster (‘56, ‘92, ‘19) Honorary Doctorate LSU named Roland Mitchell as dean of the College of Human Sciences & Education. Mitchell is also the E.B. Robert Endowed Professor. A member of LSU’s faculty since 2005, Mitchell has served in a variety of administrative roles including associate dean of research engagement & graduate studies; associate dean for research & academic services; and interim dean of the college. As interim dean, Mitchell focused on strategically advancing the interests of campus priorities through an emphasis on enrollment and retention, program development, facility enhancement, fundraising and diversity and inclusion. While associate dean, Mitchell’s appointment was dedicated to research, graduate studies and online programs. During this time, HSE experienced a significant increase in sponsored program awards. Beyond his record as an administrator, Mitchell is celebrated as a researcher and author. Mitchell’s research theorizes the impact of historical and communal knowledge on postsecondary education. 41

UA honored its first civil rights trailblazer, Autherine Lucy Foster, the first African American to enroll and attend the Capstone. Lucy Foster received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa at the May 2019 commencement ceremony. She was the architect of desegregating Alabama’s education systems, as she became the first African American to attend a white school or university in the state. Lucy Foster initially applied to UA in 1952 after earning a degree in English from Miles College. However, her acceptance was rescinded because she was not white. A federal court order later reversed that decision, and Foster enrolled at UA in 1956. The blueprint for contemporary diversity and inclusion was laid out when Foster attended classes for just three days in 1956 and was later removed from campus due to riots and threats against her life. Her valiant role in desegregating UA is also recognized with a pair of scholarships, a historic marker in front of Graves Hall, the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower, induction into the UA Student Life Hall of Fame, and numerous campus awards and honors named for her.

SUNALS RETIRE WITH A COMBINED 118 YEARS OF SERVICE: Dennis and Cynthia Sunal Dr. Dennis Sunal joined the faculty in 1989 as an associate professor in science education. Dr. Sunal has directed or co-directed $24.5 million grants. He was a Fulbright senior scholar at Bayero University in Nigeria. He is an expert in science teaching and reform at pre-college and college levels, teacher education and evaluation, long term induction into classroom teaching, developing science teacher leadership skills, student critical thinking. He has been a prolific writer and researcher with over 800 publications and presentations including 86 refereed journal articles, nearly 100 book chapters and books; 250+ presentations at national conferences; over 300+ technical reports and proceedings.

Dr. Cynthia S. Sunal joined the faculty in 1989 in elementary curriculum and instruction. During her tenure, she served as professor, program coordinator, director of the Office of Research on Teaching in the Disciplines, and department head. She also served as editor to several journals. Dr. Sunal has directed, co-directed, or administered well over $11 million dollars in research, teaching, and service grants and projects. Dr. Sunal was a Fulbright Professor in Nigeria at Bayero University; the 2012 Paul S. Bryant Research Professor in Education, the 2016 UA Nellie Rose McCrory Faculty Excellence Service Award recipient. Dr. Sunal is an expert in science teaching and education, social studies teaching and education; and critical thinking among other things.

SPRING 2020 GRADUATES HONORED WITH VIRTUAL GRADUATION We created a website in honor of our spring 2020 graduates. Here, you’ll find messages from our speakers and graduating student profiles in our virtual graduate presentation. ​ We were not be able to be on campus with our spring graduates, but we still celebrate their incredible accomplishments!! 42

Some of the graduates grace the pages of this magazine. We’re so proud of YOU, #BamaGrad, and we want the world to know! You can find the website at

2019 NATIONAL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION OUTSTANDING COMMITMENT TO TEACHING AWARD: Julianne Coleman JULIANNE Coleman joined UA in 2006 after earning her doctorate from the University of Virginia in curriculum with an emphasis in literacy. She taught in the Fairfax County Public School System from 1999 to 2003, working with diverse Title I populations. She has worked with undergraduate students in the elementary education program and graduate students in the literacy, elementary and secondary education program areas. Central to Coleman’s role as a literacy professor in

elementary education is her work in the area of visual literacy and the comprehension of disciplinary texts. As a literacy scholar and educator, her research seeks to inform the field of literacy education how to best support children’s disciplinary reading practices, especially in science. Not only does Coleman publish in research publication outlets, she also values and understands the importance of translating her research into practice to improve literacy outcomes for children In 2019, Coleman received the College’s W. Ross Palmer Service Award to Students, which honors staff or faculty in the College who exemplify outstanding service to students in the College. From 2013 to 2019, Coleman chaired the search committees for both the literacy and elementary education programs.

MOBLEY HONORED FOR RESEARCH OF LGBTQ COLLEGE STUDENTS Dr. Steve D. Mobley Jr., assistant professor of higher education, is helping grow research literature on how LGBTQ students navigate racial and class differences in higher education, and in influencing higher education policy, particularly at historically black colleges and universities. Mobley’s dissertation, which included characters and narratives from the hit show “A Different World” and explored complex divisions of social class at HBCUs, was named 2016 Dissertation of the Year by the Southern Association of College Student Affairs, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education. The American College Personnel Association recently honored Mobley with a pair of awards: the Tracy David Emerging Research Award, given by the ACPA’s Coalition on Men and Masculinities to a faculty member who has produced “excellent 43

scholarship related to men and masculinities,” and the 2019 Research Recognition Award, given by the ACPA Coalition of Sexuality and Gender Identities in recognition for completed or ongoing research on LGBTQ issues. Additionally, the 2018-2019 Queer Studies Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association honored Mobley with its Article of the Year award. “There’s been work over the last five years where we’re starting to ask tougher questions, like what higher education overall is doing for diverse and under-represented students,” Mobley said. “I was in graduate school from 2009 to 2015, and in that time period, we had maybe five pieces published on LGBT HBCU students in that time, including one of mine. But from 2006 to now, there have been less than 20 book chapters or manuscripts written about the LGBTQ population within HBCUs … there’s still more work to be done.” Mobley draws inspiration to study social issues at HBCUs from personal experiences (he earned an undergraduate degree at Howard University), what’s reported in news media and seeing his colleagues engaged. He said increasing research in that arena depends on scholars who take interest but “need to see the work can be done.”

Norman Huynh ‘10: Professional Orchestra Conductor On a campus visit to the halls of Moody Music, Norman Huynh unceremoniously walked in through the back door with a backpack on, looking as if he was heading to one more class. He returned to the Capstone to conduct his first Festival Orchestra, the top of the three groups at the Alabama All-State Orchestra. While today you can find Norman as the Associate Conductor of the Oregon Symphony, 10 years ago you could have found him in the Moody practice rooms or on the field with the Million Dollar Band, his last two years as the baritone section leader. “You know I don’t get nervous playing anymore and I attribute that to my time in the MDB. Playing shows to thousands of people – there’s no bigger audience than that.” When arriving at UA, Norman’s goal “was to have a high school band, make them the best band in the country in five years.” However, during his sophomore year, that narrow focus began to expand. “I started taking conducting lessons with John Ratledge (former UA choral conductor), and the work that we did was with orchestral repertoire. We just sort of progressed through that.” This was the first experience that he had with orchestral music. “As a sophomore I had already developed a vision of what I wanted to do – earn a master’s degree in orchestral conducting, attend professional summer workshops and eventually conduct a professional orchestra.” Another UA instructor who was influential in Norman’s success was his euphonium instructor, Demondrae Thurman, whom he accredits his musicianship skills to. “He treated the education majors and the performance majors exactly the same in what he expected artistically, and that was really great because you have to be a good musician to teach a whole bunch of other people music.” Norman’s advisor and teacher Dr. Anne C. Witt remembers him as a “quick study, eager to learn, and very musical. I enjoyed teaching him in clinical experiences and string methods classes and I can definitely see evidence of his cello playing in his conducting motions.” Norman Huynh is no stranger to being younger than his colleagues. From his very first conducting masterclass Norman can recall the experience of being the youngest in the room. “I was nervous because it was my first time conducting an orchestra and I knew that I was young and that people would judge me immediately because of that. But I felt confident because of how prepared I was and how much I had studied the repertoire.” For Norman, it hasn’t taken courage to pursue his dreams despite his age, but instead, confidence – based on skill. “My music education degree definitely gave me an edge,” Norman stated. As a part of his job Norman creates pop concerts and educational concerts for the orchestras he works for. “I treat them just like planning a lesson, just like we learned in our music education classes” he explains. He also recants how he gets high marks for his interaction skills with children, also accredited to his time spent within the classroom during observations and internships. This kind of work has helped him to stand out in the conducting world and the skills he uses were all acquired during his time at The University of Alabama.

by Rebecca Roberts, B.S.E, Music Education, 2020 44

Comments from the All State Orchestra members included from “Best conductor we ever had,” “He seemed to know exactly what sound the music needed,” and “He was cool but also professional and a leader.”

The University of Alabama, where legends are made, is also where legacies are made. In 1972, James Perry, Sr. received his Ph.D. in secondary education from the Capstone. His first granddaughter, Ashley, was just one year old and set on the same road.

Family Traditions

Mr. Perry, who served in the Army in the World War II with the 141st Infantry Regiment, returned to the states where he obtained his B.S. and M.A. from Auburn University. He later attended the Capstone to earn a Ph.D. in secondary education. During that time, he lived in married housing, while his wife, Eve lived in Montgomery to teach.

Mr. Perry’s dissertation looked into the “complex reasoning which lies behind the motives of those who choose teaching as a profession.” While writing his study, Perry went to Guayaquil, Ecuador, to work as the head of an American/Ecuadorian School. About the time he was to return to the states, the local government wanted to take over the school and refused to let him leave. He snuck onto a plane and flew out of the country before the government took his passport. After, he served as the Dean of Students at Southern Union Community College and was later the President of the American College in Guayaquil. When he moved back to Montgomery, he worked for the Alabama State Department of Education evaluating teachers and teaching them how to teach. Forty-one years later, Ashley followed in his footsteps. Ashley grew up in Pensacola with parents who were active as volunteers in the disability community and grandparents who were both educators leading her into the field of special education. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Perry moved to Birmingham and taught special education for over 15 years. In 2013, she earned a Ph.D. from the Capstone in special education with an emphasis on autism spectrum disorders. Similar to the passions of her grandfather, 45

her dissertation “focused on outcomes to better educate and empower a more diverse representation of parents of children with ASD.”

Dr. Cawley (then Perry) and her grandfather “Papa Zac” shared many jovial conversations about the differences in the rigor, expectations, and demands of their doctorate programs. Dr. Cawley taught full-time in a classroom for children with severe autism throughout her studies and reminded him that the rigor was just a bit more challenging now compared to his program. Papa Zac would remind her that he had to hand-calculate his statistical analysis, spend hours in the depths of a musty library and type his dissertation on a typewriter. “There was no Internet,” as he would say. Despite their ribbing, they both shared the same sense of pride in not only earning a doctorate and making a difference in the field of education but as very proud alumni from the Capstone. Dr. Ashley Perry Cawley is an assistant clinical professor of special education in the College and program coordinator of the collaborative special education program. Her time in the field of education has been dedicated to advocacy, education, support and training in the field of special education. Like her grandfather, Cawley evaluates and teaches future teachers how to teach. Dr. Zac Perry, Sr. passed away in 2014 at the age of 94. Ashley proudly displays his diploma next to her’s in her office on campus.

Powerful Conversations Network

Professional Development with the UA/UWA Inservice Center

Story by Laura Jockisch, Principal, Rock Quarry Elementary

Rock Quarry Elementary School (RQES) has experienced amazing growth over the last few years. Our journey with the Powerful Conversations Network (PCN) has challenged the way we think about student learning and changed the way we approach instruction. For the first two years, I attended PCN offered by the Alabama Best Practices Center along with our school Instructional Partner. We explored the work of Jim Knight and John Hattie with colleagues from across the state and brought that insight back into our building. Teachers began to have conversations about what was most important and what kinds of instruction would have the greatest impact in the classroom. 46

We focused on best practices and formed plans that extended our learning and the learning of our colleagues. PCNs with the UA/UWA In-Service Center The following year, we selected two teachers to join our PCN team along with our assistant principal and we attended a PCN start up hosted by the UA/UWA In-Service Center under the direction of Dr. Terri Boman. The growth continued as our team bonded and began to challenge each other as well as network with others outside of our building. Embarking on EdCamp As a next step, we wanted to invite the teachers in our building to join us in studying Ron Berger’s Leaders of Their Own Learning. We focused on establishing learning targets for each lesson and utilizing checks for understanding to monitor student

understanding. Most teachers were excited about these techniques and the way it encouraged student engagement and wanted to learn more! So… our PCN team led Rock Quarry’s very first EdCamp.

experienced substantial growth in our student data. As we devoured Berger’s work both in a small group team at PCN and as a faculty through RQES Learns, we began to extend our learning to exemplar text, success criteria, and studentengaged assessment. We became open to challenges in our We invited the entire faculty to a day of learning in the thinking about student-led learning and shared with each summer. On this day, we had teachers leading teachers other what was and wasn’t working in the classroom. As in ideas and techniques that were working with students. a true test of where we were in our learning, our school There were opportunities for teachers to engage in decided to participate in Instructional Rounds led by the conversations about what was and Alabama Best Practice Center. “PCN has helped our school have was not working with learning On May 2, 2017, we opened our targets, checks for understanding, classroom doors to educators a common vision and focus. Our and other best practices we had from across the state and focused conversations and professional been implementing. RQ EdCamp specifically on learning targets, was a huge success with well over learning are all targeted around our checks for understanding, using half of our faculty participating. exemplar text, and success problem of practice which in turn Every teacher gave a THUMBS criteria. The feedback we received UP to this day of learning! leads to more explicit teaching and was overwhelmingly positive! We were confident that we are on the deeper levels of student learning.” RQESLearns right track with our professional We wanted to keep the Karrie Curry, Instructional Partner, growth and were ready to plan momentum alive, so we for where we will go next. We RQE created an intentional, ongoing were thrilled when given the professional learning group in opportunity to open our school the building called RQESLearns. again in the spring of 2018 for the Participation was voluntary, but many teachers were second year as a site for Instructional Rounds. involved. RQESLearns focused on Berger’s work, and we met after school at local coffee shops and members’ homes We enjoyed our fourth year of EDCAMP on July 13, to discuss our learning. We also began to incorporate 2018. A special opening session led by Dr. Jackie Walsh Learning Walks as part of our professional learning and wetted our appetite for leading our students in Quality growth. Teachers were grouped into teams and were able Questioning, a researched-based practice to better engage to visit in other classrooms to observe best practice within all of our students in their own learning. Each teacher our own building. As teachers became more confident received a copy of Dr. Walsh’s book provided by the UA/ in their instruction with Learning Targets and Checks UWA In-Service Center. We are excited to continue for Understanding, they were more open to welcoming encouraging a growth mindset in our teachers and our in other colleagues to learn from their practice. Teachers students! We can’t wait to have our students fully invested learning from teachers has been a powerful learning tool in their own learning. Remarkable things and incredible and has created a sense of community in our building. partnerships can happen when teachers implement Although our goal was for RQES Learns to complete a one strong teaching techniques and students are held to high year cycle, teachers overwhelmingly asked to continue that expectations and are taught how to THINK and RESPOND learning into the next school year. to their own learning! Rock Quarry Elementary School is proud of how far we’ve come, but we know there is much Over the past five years remaining intentional with more learning ahead! our professional learning and daily practice, we have 47

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