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The Magazine for the CATO College of Education


Renamed in Its Honor Cato's Generous Gift Makes a Real Difference

Second-Career Teachers Finding a Calling in the Classroom

The Life Experiences of the Immigrant Professor

A Model of Caring & Success

Bringing Health Care to a Community in Need

CONTENTS Departments Leadership Viewpoint. . . . . 3 The Immigrant . . . . . 4 Professor Experience

Prospect for 16  Student

and Community Advancing our commitment to success, inquiry and cultural awareness.

Standout Student. . . . 6

Second-Career . . . 10 Teachers


Faculty Fellows . . . 25 for Diversity

18 Ethembracing Challenge The Cato gift helps us meet education’s coming and ongoing challenges.

Accolades,. . . 26 Achievements & Awards NEWS & NOTES Campus Happenings.. . . . . . . 8 Conference Roundups.. . . . . . . 9

Research & Grants.. . . . . 12

New Faculty & Staff. . . .28

Distinguished Faculty . . . .30 Award Recipient

A Model Initiative. . . .31

Center 20 The for Health, Education and Opportunity

This community outreach center enhances all three.

Model of 22 ACaring & Success Daniel Gutierrez saw a need then found a way to meet it.

The Magazine for the College of Education

Fall Edition Volume 1, Number 14 Editor Melba Newsome Contributing Writers Melba Newsome Wills City Chris O'Brien

Layout/Design SPARK Publications Printing Graphic Impressions

Contributing Photographer Wade Burton

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EXTRACURRICULAR is published annually by the Cato College of Education, University of North Carolina at Charlotte 9201 University City Boulevard Charlotte, North Carolina 28223-0001 Direct all inquiries to: Ellen McIntyre Dean, College of Education (704) 687-8722

Send address changes to: Barbara Parrish College of Education

New Name, Same Mission

In the year since the last issue of Extracurricular, it seems as if the College of Education has packed in a decade of scholarship, service and educational leadership! The most outward change is our name. Thanks to a generous donation from the Cato Corporation, a retailer of women’s clothing and alumnus and longtime UNC benefactor, John Cato (’73), we are now the Cato College of Education. This gift also endows the Cato Scholarship for Education and the Cato Award for Faculty Excellence. While our name may have changed, we continue the quest to be a national leader in educational equity, excellence and engagement and remain committed to preparing professionals to provide high-quality education. Educational equity is evident in other recent gifts to the College. We received two large gifts from philanthropist Charlie Elberson of Reemprise. The first is funding research into the success of an east Charlotte daycare center to understand and scale effective early literacy strategies. The second has funded 35 children to attend summer reading camp where they received excellent tutoring in reading before enjoying YMCA camp activities. Finally, we are pleased to receive a large gift from the Belk Foundation to redesign how we prepare teachers. Our goal is to improve student-learning outcomes by changing the way we prepare teachers. It is one way the Cato College of Education continues to lean in to—not shrink from—the many challenges we face.

This issue of Extracurricular highlights only a small number of the distinguished faculty who continue to produce top-notch research, publish regularly in acclaimed journals and earn plaudits for their significant accomplishments. Hats off to Scott Kissau for being recognized as the nation’s Top Foreign Language Educator and to Sejal Foxx for her selection as Counselor Educator of the Year! I am most proud of our continued involvement with and commitment to the broader Charlotte community. The Cato College of Education continues to provide seminars, conferences and workshops that inform and engage the population at large. Many in the College work closely with Read Charlotte’s initiative to double the number of third graders reading on grade level. Graduate students from our Counseling Department provide muchneeded mental-health counseling to immigrants at the Bethesda Health Center, a program that is quickly becoming a model for other colleges and universities around the country. If you would like to sponsor a child to attend the Center’s four-anda-half week summer reading camp, please contact me directly. In collaboration with the Aldersgate Retirement Community, we opened the Center for Health, Education and Opportunity, an outreach initiative that will include a bilingual reading lab and after-school program for immigrant children, and community-based health and diseaseprevention services. We do all this during what is undeniably a trying time for the profession. The teaching shortage is real; yet enrollment in education is down not only at UNC Charlotte but also across the UNC system. Still, you can’t help but be touched by the stories like those of alumni Damien Hazel and Ken Macon, who couldn’t be more fulfilled or successful after leaving other careers to enter the classroom. As we begin the 2017 year, we continue to be heartened by the many alumni and philanthropists who continue to see education as a primary key to a better community and a better country. Onward!

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Q&A with Charles Hutchison

The Immigrant Professor Experience

Charles Hutchison, Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education professor, has written extensively on topics such as the minority effect, cognitive allocation and cultural constructivism. The latest of his six books, Experiences of Immigrant Professors: Challenges, Cross-Cultural Differences, and Lessons for Success (Routledge 2015), is a collection of autobiographical accounts of professors from Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States who teach in their adopted countries. The essays examine their unique experiences and provide insight on the differences and challenges they encounter and how to help resolve them. Hutchison was inspired to propose and edit this book to help administrators, institutions, and immigration and comparative education scholars understand the cross-cultural challenges and coping strategies that define the private and professional lives of foreign-born professors across the globe.


What in your personal experience prompted you to take on this challenge? For literally half my life, I have lived the life of the nearitinerant immigrant—from Ghana

to Hungary, then to the U.S. Once here, I lived in Washington, D.C.; Boston; Edmond, Oklahoma; Atlanta; and finally Charlotte. Although seemingly peripatetic, my life story is not necessarily

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exceptional because it bespeaks the lives of many immigrant professors (IPs) and many other immigrants I know. It is for these people that this book was written.


How did you decide which essays to include? I chose essays that have the capacity to reflect the life of the typical immigrant, high-skilled worker and IPs in particular. They needed to include multiple dimensions of the life of the IP—from their home/ family lives, their socio-cultural and their academic lives. This is important because the gravity of the extracurricular lives of the immigrant is partly manifested in their work lives—even when it

I have also learned that sometimes it takes sheer luck for the best of them (immigrants) to become successful, since a small misstep with no social safety nets can be rather costly. is not so obvious—to help make the point and let employers, counselors and mentors know about the related support systems they need to provide for their immigrant workers.

for the privilege of sharing knowledge with the world.


What are some of the challenges you have personally faced, and how have you dealt with them? Do the essays share Personally, I have learned a common theme? lessons about teaching with an accent, learning not to The common theme in the mostly lecture as one would in context of teaching is that my country, and almost losing one cannot assume that one’s my job for exactly those reasons. native work-life and teaching I have stretched myself to learn experiences are cross-culturally how to be a husband and father transferable. Once in the host different than I would have country, immigrant workers need been in Ghana. I have also to relearn how to work (or teach) learned that sometimes it takes in the new pedagogical or work sheer luck for the best of them ecosystem. When IPs enter their new classrooms and begin working (immigrants) to become successful as if they were in their native since a small misstep with no countries, they often experience social safety nets can be rather “pedagogical shock” (beyond costly. That is why I subscribe to scientific and engineered “culture shock”). living. I live in harmony with What are some of the profound data, but more important, I try sacrifices IPs make to teach in to live with acute awareness of what is often invisible to many, a host country?  but has great consequence, if To immigrate means that unseen. I live with concurrent, one has traversed both cultural and national boundaries. multiple consciousness. In practice, it means that IPs are not only experiencing culture Immigration and the shock, but also pedagogical immigrant experience is a hot shocks and often miscalculate topic in America at the moment. the degree to which the impact Was this the case when you began of culture shock can destabilize working on this book? their lives. Their young family No, I did not (and actually, members also experience mirror could not) engineer the aspects of their own culture and writing of this book to coincide pedagogical shocks, which the with the current immigration IPs, as parents, must carry as issue. The book, however, reflects mental burdens, which adds to historical global labor trends— their own international teaching especially the movement of the challenges. Together, this makes skilled labor forces across the for a challenging prognosis. It’s a world. In 2005, I wrote Teaching in significant sacrifice to make, akin America: A Guide for International to exchanging one’s life comforts Teachers and Their Employers






(Springer), which addressed related issues at the K-12 level. Obviously, therefore, immigrants in general comprise a significant part of the high-skilled labor force in the West, and their perennial value and contributions to the American society still stands robustly, independent of fleeting waves of hot topics.


Is there a role a mentor can play in helping you navigate this experience? If so, is it necessary for this person to also be an immigrant, and why or why not? It is good to read about the issues, but it is even better to read about how the contributing IPs successfully navigated their noted challenges. For this reason, each chapter ends by offering insights and advice for potential or new IPs. Certainly, from my perspective, mentors are extremely helpful for all IPs, without exception. The reason is that, arriving as a highly educated person who is viewed as a knowledge worker anywhere in the world, IPs tend to have high self-efficacy. That is exactly where the danger lies because the most significant issues are context-bound and so cannot be predicted and envisioned; they only emerge when one begins working as an immigrant in-person and in-context. Because the said issues are unpredictable, often intangible, and phenomenological, it takes another immigrant to help conceptualize, understand, and help dissect and resolve them. Here, one may invoke the axiom, “Why reinvent the wheel?” ■


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Q&A with LaTonya Summers

Standout Student LaTonya Summers

LaTonya Summers already had a very full plate when she joined the Cato College of Education to earn a doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision. In addition to being a single mom, Summers is also founder and CEO of the LifeSkills Counseling & Consulting Group. While she calls her pursuit simultaneously “amazing, horrible, wonderful and troubling,” Summers has excelled in her efforts to forge new counseling pathways. In 2016, the National Board for Certified Counselors selected Summers as one of 22 doctoral students nationally to receive its Minority Fellowship Program (NBCC MFP). The fellowship comes with $20,000 and training to support her education and facilitate her service to underserved minority populations. Summers also founded the Professional Counseling Training Institute, which provides monthly NBCC-approved workshops.


What prompted you to go into counseling? I wanted to do my own healing. Historically, AfricanAmericans have not readily accessed counseling, and going to school was a safe way to do it. Just as I was completing a bachelor’s degree in child psychology at Appalachian State, the chair of the counseling department recruited me into its master’s program. I had not even heard of a master’s degree, but I saw it as a great opportunity, and it changed the trajectory of my life.


LifeSkills has offered free counseling for the uninsured and unemployed for seven years. How is that service funded? This program serves 20 to 30 people a year, and our agency eats the costs. Fortunately, we just received 501(c)3 status, which enables us to seek funding. So, I am


very excited about that. However, 98 percent of our business is serving consumers who have health insurance and/or self-pay.


What prompted you to focus on African-Americans in particular? My father is a Black Panther, so being afrocentric was ingrained in me from childhood. When I became a counselor, I had three objectives: increase access to care for African-Americans, especially those who cannot afford it; decrease stigmas associated with people who receive care; and promote well-being within black communities. I am committed to the wellness of AfricanAmerican communities.


Do you find specific/ different issues impact African-Americans?

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Yes. For non-minorities counseling is normal, a by-product of living. But for many African-Americans, it is a luxury because of systemic and self-imposed barriers. We are touted as being resilient, but the underpinning of resilience is pain and trauma. That’s reason enough for us to be in counseling. In addition, our existence is tainted by the residue of slavery and pricked by racism and discrimination. Historically, we are overdiagnosed and overmedicated. I do not believe that trauma is properly assessed in our communities because as residents of the ‘hood, we do not perceive what we endure as traumatic. Outsiders see what goes on as “community trauma,” but we see it as normal. Trauma assessments need to be tweaked for this population.

For non-minorities counseling is normal, a by-product of living. But for many African-Americans, it is a luxury because of systemic and self-imposed barriers. We are touted as being resilient, but the underpinning of resilience is pain and trauma.


Are African-Americans resistant to counseling initially? Empirically, AfricanAmericans are reported to be resistant to counseling. I do not refute this as many of us grew up in households where we were taught to keep our business out of the streets. Culturally, we rely on family and natural supports such as church leaders and friends. Historically, we have reason to distrust medical and social service programs—the Tuskeegee Study and eugenics programs—because African-Americans were targeted medically. But having black service providers matters. That is why LifeSkills exists. We don’t only treat African-Americans, but most of our clinicians and clients are black.


How did the fellowship come about? I applied and asked three faculty members to recommend me. One of them told me that they recommend people all the time, but no one ever wins. I almost didn’t apply, but the story of my life is beating the odds. I am very proud to be the first UNC Charlotte student to win and hope I have opened doors for other students.


Do you anticipate this fellowship will change your work? It has already. Being a fellow has made me more selfconfident, proud to be an AfricanAmerican, and more committed to serve African-Americans. This was the first time I’ve been honored for my work. Until then, everything I had done felt like a secret mission.

This fellowship made it okay and encouraged me to continue by giving me $20,000. I created the 2016 Black Mental Health Symposium to equip African-American clinicians where 143 AfricanAmerican practitioners attended and left with the sole purpose of improving mental health outcomes in black communities. I awarded a scholarship to a non-professional community mental-health advocate and a distinguished therapist, and gave funds to a black charity.


Are there any particular changes in the counseling field you hope will be in place in the next five to 10 years? The counseling field is already becoming more diverse, and I am proud about that. But I hope to see more empirical data pertaining to the treatment of African-Americans. We need more afrocentric therapeutic approaches. We need professional development related to African-American providers. I want to be on the cutting edge of it all. ■


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■ On November 15, Future 49ers Teach Day, more than 300 high school students and parents from the across region gathered on campus to get a picture of the teaching profession and of student life at UNC Charlotte. The day’s sessions included “Why Teaching?” “Impact of Diversity on Education” and “Active Teaching Strategies.” It was a great way to change the conversation about educational careers. UNC Charlotte alumnus Justin Ashley, 2013 North Carolina Teacher of the Year in Social Studies and History, delivered the keynote message. His takeaway message: “You can change the way kids learn.” ■ On September 23, approximately 80 firstyear teachers from the western and central regions of the state came to the Cone Center for a three-day instructional workshop designed and facilitated NC New Teacher Support Program Instructional Coaches. The focus was on strategies for student-teacher interactions, effective leadership and successful teaching methods. One of the weekend’s highlights was an inspirational keynote address from UNC Charlotte alumna and NC Teacher of the Year Bobbie Cavnar.

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■ The teaching shortage is real. In recent years, the number of students majoring in education is down by about 22 percent at UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education and down about 26 percent across the UNC system. The Cato College of Education and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education are working together to address the shrinking teacher pipeline. A new teaching program for high school students housed at the College is geared toward generating excitement among rising ninth graders who want to be teachers. During the five-year program, students will take college courses and learn what it takes to become an effective teacher while also taking some college courses. Dean McIntyre believes that even if the students change their minds about becoming teachers, the investment will still pay off because they will become great citizens around education. She also hopes other colleges will work with school districts to develop similar early teaching programs. ■ At the August 18 University Convocation, twenty faculty members were recognized for their promotions to full professor, six from the Cato College of Education. Charles Hutchison, Michael Matthews, Michael Putman, Tracy Rock, Bruce Taylor and Charles Wood were each presented with an engraved Jefferson Cup in recognition. ■ The Cato College of Education is launching a doctoral program in educational research, measurement and evaluation. This advanced degree targets experienced educators who hold masters' degrees in related educational fields and wish to focus on education problemsolving through positions in research, data analyses and evaluation in higher education, K-12 school districts, government, for-profit and non-profit organizations, think tanks and other institutions. ■

Conference Roundup The Grandchildren of Brown

The Cato College of Education (COED) and the Levine Museum of the New South hosted Rucker Johnson, associate professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, for a presentation of The Grandchildren of Brown: The Long Legacy of Desegregation. The discussion included the long-term effects of Head Start, school desegregation and the educational consequences of the end of court-ordered desegregation, among other topics. Johnson’s research found that desegregation ultimately led to many improved outcomes for African-Americans, including higher wages, better health and a lower probability of incarceration. For schools in general, desegregation also reduced class sizes, increased per-pupil spending and improved educational success for African-Americans. These positive trends helped narrow the achievement gap by about 50 percent without hurting outcomes for white students. But Johnson says we have dropped the ball on continuing that progress. As districts were released from desegregation court orders in the 1990s and early 2000s, schools tipped back toward imbalance. And for African-Americans, the likelihood of graduation—which had been sharply trending upward—flattened out dramatically.

11th Annual STEM Conference The Annual K-12 STEM Conference brought 220 science and math educators from across the Carolinas to campus for a day-long gathering. The mission? To reshape how teachers teach and students learn those subjects. Today’s STEM teachers are challenged with maintaining content knowledge and developing best practices for teaching that content. STEM education involves complex ideas and approaches in order to move students forward in obtaining the knowledge and skills necessary to further studies in these fields and to become STEM professionals. University faculty, students and K-12 STEM teachers led 40 different breakout sessions on topics including “Learning the Language of Science: Vocabulary Strategies,” “Applying Cognitive Science Principles to Science Vocabulary,” Personalizing Math and Science for Your Students,” “Promoting STEM Literacy in K-12 Classrooms” and “Cultivating Agriculture Through the Arts.” David Pugalee, director of the Center for STEM Education, called the conference an important piece

of an overall vision to equip teachers to be leaders in STEM education. During his keynote speech, National Geographic conservation scientist Luke Dollar highlighted the role teachers play in fostering passion for science and math.

Literacy Alive! Last May, nearly 150 local third graders were dubbed honorary 49ers for a day at the annual Literacy Alive! readin conference, proving it’s never too early to start thinking about college. The students participated in a series of hands-on events and got a firsthand look at college life and the importance of education. They took a walking tour of campus and then talked with Cato College of Education students about the college experience. They also built and raced “puffer cars” in the day’s STEM education activity and sat for interactive read-alouds with students and faculty. For the sixth year, the Omicron Pi Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society hosted the conference. Literacy Alive! is an extension of the district-wide North Star Reading Partners Initiative program, which brings community and business volunteers into schools to work with individual students on a one-to-one basis.

Latinos and Education: Successes and Challenges In February 2016, Cato College of Education associate professors Spencer Salas, Adriana Medina and Paola Pilonieta led an exploration of the complexities of language, culture and identity in the Latinos and Education forum at the Levine Museum of the New South. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has roughly 32,000 students classified as Hispanic/Latino. About 25,600 come from homes where Spanish is the primary language. And while a surge of immigration in the 1990s pushed Charlotte’s Latino population into the awareness of the broader community, much of the growth now comes from Americanborn children of immigrants. Salas, Medina and Pilonieta made the case for full fluency in both Spanish and English. They also stressed the benefit of strong roots in two cultures since it helps children maintain the support of their extended families, makes students more marketable and teaches an appreciation of different cultures. ■ The Magazine for the Cato College of Education Extracurricular 9

SecondCareer Teachers

The teaching vocation has long attracted people with a passion for helping others learn who also want summers off, stability and solid benefits. But the profession and those who practice it have taken a few hits in recent years, causing some to pursue a different occupation. These two Cato College of Education alumni did just the opposite. They left jobs in other fields and ultimately found their calling—and professional success—in the classroom.

Third Career is the Charm Most people might imagine a career in television news to be exciting and glamorous. However, after 15 years in the industry, Damien Hazel was burnt out and increasingly disenchanted with his job as a news editor. “I didn’t like what I was doing,” said Hazel. “I felt like a machine. I went to work; I did my job; I went home. I wanted a job that I enjoyed. I wanted a job that allowed me the freedom to be creative.” While he would eventually find his way into the classroom, Hazel made a long pit stop as a Starbucks manager in Myrtle Beach before getting there. What he thought would be a brief midlife crisis detour lasted three years. A simple question from his future wife gave him perspective and clarity about his future. When she asked if he had ever wanted to do anything else, he realized the only other thing he’d ever wanted to do was teach. After that, the decision seemed easy. “I knew I would need to go back to school to earn a teaching certificate,” he recalled. “When I started researching schools online, UNC Charlotte really peaked my interest.” The accelerated one-year teaching certificate program seemed the ideal fit for a person trying to make the transition to education mid-career. In 2009, 10 years after graduating with a degree in communications, Hazel enrolled as a graduate certificate student in elementary education. He so impressed administrators at Marvin Elementary School as a student teacher that they hired him fresh out of UNC Charlotte in 2010. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. He describes his first few years on the job as an exercise in survival, a sentiment not uncommon among beginning teachers. Yet, like so many others, he ultimately found his way. “The kids are so eager to learn,” said Hazel. “They want to do well and will do anything for you. I feel I’m building the foundation of their education for the rest of 10 Extracurricular The Magazine for the Cato College of Education

Hazel accepts the 2016 Marvin Elementary Teacher of the Year Award.

their lives. That is tremendously rewarding.” Hazel is a student favorite, and in 2016, his colleagues selected him as Marvin Elementary Teacher of the Year. He is also a school leader in integrating technology and using creative lesson plans. Like so many second-career teachers, Marvin Assistant Principal Deborah Whaley notes Hazel’s maturity and established work ethic distinguish him from many new teachers. “He has high expectations for himself and his class, and students rise to meet these expectations,” she said, “He has a distinct way of teaching that makes learning fun and interesting.” “There isn’t any amount of money or any other job that can reward you as much as being an educator,” said Hazel. “To work with a child and know that you helped them learn something they’ll have for the rest of their lives—you can’t put a price on that.”

Making a Career U-Turn For two decades, Ken Macon spent five days a week on the road as a truck driver. Almost out of the blue, he decided to make a career U-turn. In 2011, he was on a routine road trip from Illinois to Wisconsin when his truck engine exploded. Within hours, he had located a new engine, someone to put it in, and he secured the financing to get it done. Still, when his wife told him to sell the truck and come home, he didn’t argue or hesitate. Six months later, his life’s ambition pointed in another direction. Macon enrolled at Stanly Community College and transferred to UNC Charlotte the following year. He was well on the road to becoming a high school English teacher. Macon started his year-long student teaching

internship at West Stanly High School in August 2013 and was full-time there during the spring semester. He now teaches 10th, 11th and 12th grade English and has never been more in his element. “I feel like I really ‘get’ kids, and that’s what makes my job so awesome,” he said. Macon identifies with and relates to the kids because he sees himself in them. He recalls falling in love with books and literature in the seventh grade after reading The Outsiders. Nevertheless, his love of books did not translate into a love of school. “I often got in trouble for talking back to and questioning teachers,” he recalled. “I see myself and frustration with school and teachers in most kids. I understand what is important, what it takes to get on the kids’ level and what motivates them. I work every day to get better at doing those things.” Macon acknowledges that he also miscalculated what to expect and his role in the classroom. He initially saw his love for literature as the raison d’etre for becoming a teacher and believed he would be able to instill that same love into his students. However, he soon realized that was not his job. “My job is to use literature to teach them how to think in order to make the right choices in life,” he said. “I still get excited about Shakespeare, Twain, the Greeks, Beowulf, and everything else I get to teach, but knowing that kids will try to mirror my enthusiasm because they know I have their backs is by far the best part of my experience.” ■

Macon goes to great lengths to reach his students.

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Feedback and Instruction Help Students Improve Practice giving feedback and instruction on evaluation using specific criteria can help elementary school students improve their own writing, according to a study coauthored by a Cato College of Education professor. Published in the journal Reading Research Quarterly, the study was conducted by Zoi Philippakos, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Reading and Elementary Education and a colleague from the University of Delaware, Newark. The research examined the effects of giving feedback on reviewers’ writing quality and inclusion of elements of persuasion. Participants were fourth-and fifth-grade students. “The study examined the effects of giving feedback using genre-specific evaluation criteria on students’ writing quality,” said Philippakos. “Peer review involves both giving and receiving feedback; this study was designed to isolate the effects of giving feedback on students’ persuasive writing.” In the study, fourth-and fifth-grade students were trained to review and provide comments on peers’ writing. They were then randomly assigned to three groups: reviewers, reader-control and time-control. The reviewers read persuasive essays written by

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unknown students and provided numeric ratings and feedback. The reader-control group read the same papers but did not provide any feedback, and the time-control group read narrative books. Results indicated that both instruction in evaluation criteria and the practice of peer reviewing papers led to improvements in the quality of students’ own writing. “Compared to the control group, reviewers improved the quality of their own persuasive writing,” said Philippakos. “They also provided more elements of persuasion compared to readers of persuasive essays and to readers of narrative texts.” “The likely explanation is that reviewing helped students learn the evaluation criteria and apply them when writing and revising their own essays,” the authors noted. Researchers outlined several benefits of using peer review as an approach in the revision process: ■ Supports cognitive processes by providing a routine for evaluation and consideration of change; ■ Support writers in developing a sense of audience; and ■ Peers may identify problems that the authors do not see because they do not know what they intended to say. Since peer review is a reciprocal process, researchers believe that there are several benefits to students giving feedback, including the following: ■ May increase students’ awareness of audience; ■ May support students’ critical reading skills and improve their understanding of evaluation criteria and how to apply them to make revisions; ■ May be easier than learning self-evaluation because it can be difficult to identify errors in one’s own writing; and ■ May improve the students’ ability to evaluate and revise their own work as well as improve their first drafts. “Overall, reviewing was found to be an instructional approach that could be easily implemented in elementary classrooms and could improve students’ writing quality and their ability to self-evaluate,” said Philippakos.

Measuring What Works Charlotte philanthropist Charlie Elberson has donated more than $110,000 for early literacy research and programming in the Charlotte area. With a $42,500 gift, Elberson will use his Reemprise Fund to finance research into what makes the strategies of a particular east Charlotte daycare center so successful in early literacy and pre-K preparation. For the last 30 years, Castles Daycare Academy has provided high-quality, language-rich, print-rich child care and preschool services for children ages two to 12 in the primarily lower-income African-American Oak Forest neighborhood. Along with Dean McIntyre, Amy Hawn Nelson, director of UNC Charlotte’s Institute for Social Capital, and Cynthia Baughn, assistant professor of early childhood education, will assess Castles’ learning strategies and compare the academic achievement of its students to a similar group of children from other schools. The thorough assessment will follow the children for a year, track how they learn and develop, document the instructional practices, record the teaching methods, and interview teachers, families and children at the center. Castles Director Cynthia Knight says success boils down to one thing: inspiration. “You have to inspire children to learn and ignite them with the power to tap into their creativity and

express their thoughts,” she said. “Once children are confident and armed with words, they learn that nothing is out of their reach, including achieving higher reading levels. We have to help them understand that they are reading for knowledge and that this knowledge makes them powerful.” While data and analysis will be the end result of the study, it was the atmosphere of the center that led Cato College of Education researchers to propose it. “You walk in, and the cozy space is full of kids and adults who sing, chant, clap and stomp their way around words, poems and stories developed by the director,” said Dean McIntyre. “The center holds high expectations for all the children and begins to teach children to read as soon as they walk in the door at two years of age, and many of those children learn to read prior to entering kindergarten. We want to explore their approach and understand why it works so well.” “Reemprise is based on my father’s vision,” said Elberson. “He frequently said, ‘We become what we measure.’ Any initiative important enough to invest in and work toward is important enough to measure. It’s anything but simple. But by partnering with Dean McIntyre and her team at the College, we can learn from the center’s teachers and learners. It makes me confident the remarkable successes they have achieved can become widespread.” Long-term, the researchers hope to use their The Magazine for the Cato College of Education Extracurricular 13

finding to contribute to Read Charlotte’s goal of doubling the number of third graders reading on grade level by 2025, work with County Manager Dena Diorio and the Board of County

Commissioners to use the results to shape new Pre-K programs, and inform teacher preparation programs at UNC Charlotte. The study will run until the summer of 2017.

Perception is Reality for High School Student Behavior A study coauthored by a Cato College of Education professor has found the social and physical surroundings of a school and the way students perceive them help inform student behavior. Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the William T. Grant Foundation, Anne Cash, assistant professor in the Department of Reading and Elementary Education, and her coauthors collected data from approximately 28,500 students from 58 high schools in Maryland. The study was published in the journal Psychology of Violence, an affiliate of the American Psychological Association. The assessment measured school ownership (i.e., murals and positive behavior expectations), disorder (i.e., litter, graffiti and alcohol paraphernalia), and surveillance (i.e., school police officers and surveillance cameras). A separate measure considered interactions between students and school staff. The study applied the social disorganization theory (environmental conditions can influence individuals to engage in crime and violence) and the broken windows theory (related to social disorganization theory, when lack of order signals a lack of social control in a neighborhood and thus encourages crime and delinquency) to the school environment. The findings suggest that, although there are no direct effects of the physical environment on students’ involvement in violence, there are significant indirect effects through students’ perceptions of rules and consequences. “We learned that both lighting in schools and observed negative student behaviors in schools were related to students’ perceptions of school rules and consequences … which in turn were related to students’ involvement in violence,” said Cash. The broken windows theory was introduced in the 1980s and gained public attention again in 2000 after appearing in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller The Tipping Point. But Cash said the effects of social disorganization on school climate have rarely been studied. “Most of the research using these theories has focused on neighborhoods,” said Cash. “We hypothesized that disorganization within schools, including physical (e.g., broken light fixtures, presence of litter, graffiti, and drug and alcohol paraphernalia) and social disorder (e.g., presence of negative student behaviors and absence of adult monitoring), would be related to increased violence. 14 Extracurricular The Magazine for the Cato College of Education

We believed that this would be true due to a relationship between disorganization and students’ perceptions of school climate.” Researchers were surprised to discover that the presence of drug paraphernalia, graffiti and other signs of physical disorder were not related to students’ involvement in violence. “It is possible that these indicators are more aligned with adults’ expectations for what a school environment should look like than students’ [expectations],” Cash said. The results also suggested the presence of adult monitoring and use of proactive management strategies is not related to reported violence. “We are engaging in additional research to evaluate whether a more relational approach to management—through actively connecting with students—has a stronger impact on high school students’ behavior than general monitoring,” said Cash. Findings from this study stress the need for violence prevention through interventions that address physical needs, social needs, and students’ perceptions of order and disorder within high schools. These interventions will establish clear norms for behavior, support the development of positive relationships, and create physical environments that are safe and conducive for learning. “Repairing the physical environment and reducing negative student behaviors only reduce and prevent violence if students perceive rules and consequences to be consistently enforced,” said Cash. “Schools benefit by creating environments, in classrooms but also in the hallways, cafeterias and entrances, that are orderly and where expectations for behavior are clear.”

SELECT RESEARCH GRANTS Advancing Community College Efforts Funded by a nearly $700,000 U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs grant in 2011, the Advancing Community College Efforts in Paraprofessional Training (ACCEPT) Project seeks to infuse special education content across early childhood courses within associate degree programs in four of the state’s community colleges. The UNC Charlotte ACCEPT Project team included coprincipal investigators Bob Algozzine, professor of educational leadership; Vivian Correa, professor of special education and child development; Mark D'Amico, associate professor of educational leadership; and Project Coordinator Kate Algozzine, research associate in educational leadership. Partners

with whom they collaborated included early childhood faculty members from University of South Carolina, Central Piedmont Community College, Mitchell Community College, Gaston College and Stanly Community College. “This has been a true collaboration with our community college partners,” said D'Amico. The project included the development of a website ( that allowed early childhood faculties to assess courses across their programs and make decisions regarding the preparation of their students. As a result, community colleges built upon their already strong, nationally accredited programs to help students gain confidence in working with children with disabilities in early childhood inclusive settings.

Vocabulary CHAAOS Kristen Beach, assistant professor, department of special education and child development and a colleague from the University of California, Riverside, received a grant of nearly $1.5 million from the Institute of Education Sciences to fund “Vocabulary CHAAOS: Creating Habits that Accelerate Academic Language of Students.” During this three-year study, Beach and her coinvestigator will develop, refine and field test one set of interventions for each grade of adolescents with disabilities in grades six through eight in an effort to develop an intervention to improve their academic language. “Knowing the meanings of words is critical for developing clear and accurate understanding of text,” said Beach. “Providing instruction in academic vocabulary words that appear across subject areas with high frequency is imperative for struggling readers and students with disabilities to have a chance of independently reading and understanding grade-level or near grade-level text.”

In year one, the research team will develop and implement sixth-grade lessons and assessments. In year two, a new group of sixth-grade students will receive the refined lessons, and the researchers will develop and implement seventh-grade lessons with the prior year students, now in seventh grade. In year three, a new group of sixth and seventh grade students will receive the refined lessons, and the researchers will develop and implement eighth grade lessons with the prior year students, now in eighth grade. Each year the research team will gather feedback from teachers to inform the refinement of the lessons. They will also conduct a quasi-experimental study to compare the intervention and comparison students on reading and writing outcomes and compare their teachers’ vocabulary instruction. As a multi-year study, the researchers will investigate the longitudinal accumulation of academic vocabulary over time with ongoing intervention. ■

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Prospects for Student and Community Success by Chris O’Brien, Ph.D. Since its start some five years ago, the Prospect for Success (PFS) initiative has been celebrated University-wide for its innovative approach in preparing first-year students for personal and professional growth through potentially life-changing orientation and induction educational experiences. The purpose is to engage and supports students in the early years when they tend to struggle most. The Cato COED designed PFS around the University’s three interconnected goals: commitment to success, inquiry and cultural awareness. The results were new heights of excellence in community inquiry and engagement. Many future teachers and education professionals arrive at UNC Charlotte from small towns with homogeneous populations. They harbor concerns about their ability to connect with children in more diverse, urban communities and seek to develop the skills they need to meet these challenges and overcome barriers. PFS helps every student engage the community in ways that help them grow as future professionals. During the first semester course, “Foundation of Education and Diversity in Schools,” students delve into a “big picture” area of inquiry based on their personal interests. These inquiries should align with a trend or issue in education, specifically one related to teaching students with diverse needs in contemporary public education. Common areas of inquiry include working with immigrant students and the experience of new arrivals learning a second language in American public schools, or the challenges in developing early literacy skills facing students with learning disabilities like dyslexia. In the second semester course, “Introduction to Students with Special Needs,” students conduct 15 to 20 hours of field work on the topics they developed in the first semester. The objective is to connect the macro-level inquiry to a unique community engagement experience, while exploring the role schools play in serving the unique needs of diverse student populations. 16 Extracurricular The Magazine for the Cato College of Education

Jessica Kosco uses a lesson prepared by Sarah Lichtenberg to explore sounds in words and play with rhyming for a kindergarten student.

For example, those seeking to work with serious emotional and/or behavioral difficulties may be supported at the Lincoln Heights School; Autism Charlotte and the John Crosland School provide the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding for students with significant learning differences; and A Child’s Place gives students a chance to support children who are experiencing homelessness. Keila Mateos wanted to understand the immigrant and refugee student experience and how teachers can better support them. After one semester at OurBridge, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the adjustment of immigrant children, Mateos had a

Keila Matos helps OurBridge after-school students with homework.

deeper understanding of how young children develop a new language and what it means to be bicultural. By providing an after-school program and engaging with families, OurBridge offered a safe space for kids to be who they were before coming to America and to take pride in their backgrounds. Many in the College’s learning community have focused on meeting the needs of children with reading difficulties as this is a very important skill set. To support this effort, the PFS faculty reached out to UNC Charlotte alumna Sarah Lichtenberg, Multi-Tiered Syatems of Support (MTSS) literacy coach and exceptional children teacher at First Ward Elementary. Lichtenberg completed the special education master’s program at UNC Charlotte after being displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. Many first-year students apprentice with her, doing everything she learned from UNC Charlotte, bringing her experience full circle. In the long term, the Cato College of Education makes a positive impact by producing highly skilled future educators and leaders with a unique ability to make a difference in our schools. It’s just one way we demonstrate our commitment to the surrounding community. ■

Teacher candidate Alexandra Irvin helps kindergarteners work on foundational reading skills like phonemic awareness. The Magazine for the Cato College of Education Extracurricular 17

(From the left) UNC Charlotte alumnus John Cato, Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and Dean Ellen McIntyre

Embracing the Challenge by Wills Citty


s the opening notes of 2017 ring out, educators, researchers and policymakers across the country continue to grapple with significant questions. School quality, racial and socioeconomic balance in student assignment, and standardized testing remain at the forefront of public discussion. The significance of these subjects and the polarization they provoke make educational policies among the most difficult to sort out. Critically, at institutions like

UNC Charlotte, teams of skilled and committed scholars are embracing the challenge. UNC Charlotte is the number one producer of newly licensed teachers in the state, according to the most recently available data from the UNC Educator Quality Dashboard. From 2012-2014, the Cato College of Education produced more than 1,500 new teachers in North Carolina. The college’s research and teacher preparation are framed by a commitment to solving contemporary

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real-world challenges in education, with a special focus on Charlotte and the surrounding area. More than 1,270 UNC Charlotte alumni teach for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and 718 of those teachers work in low-income schools. Woven into the fabric of the region through strategic partnerships with schools, school districts and non-profits, faculty and staff take a hands-on approach to reshaping how students learn. Those efforts took a significant step forward this fall with the naming of the College of Education for Cato Corporation, marking the third named college at UNC Charlotte. The announcement followed a $5 million gift from the Cato Corporation, a retailer of women’s fashions and accessories, to the University’s $200 million fundraising campaign, “EXPONENTIAL: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte.” “Today we take another huge step in the maturation of our institution with the naming of our third academic college,” said Chancellor Philip L.

Dubois, speaking at the ceremony. “The Cato College of Education is committed to preparing outstanding teachers, counselors and school leaders. That mission is advanced significantly by this gift, which will help us to recruit bright students who wish to pursue a major within the college as well as to support outstanding faculty for their excellence in teaching, research and community engagement.” The gift will establish the Cato Scholarship for Education, which will provide annual financial scholarship assistance to incoming freshman or transfer students who plan to major in a degree program offered by the Cato College of Education. “To me, scholarships mean more than money; they mean opportunity,” said Christina Gullo, recipient of a separate Cato-backed scholarship. “Because of these scholarships, I am able to learn and grow, both as a student and person. One day I hope to be able to give others the same opportunity through starting my own scholarship fund.”  The Cato Award for Faculty Excellence will also be established in an effort to retain the highest-quality faculty for Cato College. Two awards will be given yearly to promising researchers. Two additional awards will be given to tenured faculty for excellence in teaching, research or community engagement. “We have internationally recognized experts in their respective fields, many of whom are coveted by other institutions that would love to have faculty members held in such high esteem on their campuses. The Cato awards provide us with another resource to help retain highly regarded faculty,” said Scott Kissau, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Middle, Secondary & K-12 Education. But the value of the Cato Awards is about more than money, he added. “Faculty work as hard as they do not for the financial rewards, but rather because they love what they do and want to make a difference. I would argue that the recognition that comes

with receiving a Cato Award, and being recognized as a distinguished faculty member, would be far more attractive to faculty members than the financial reward.” UNC Charlotte education faculty are on the leading edge of research in subjects including early literacy, urban education, teaching students with special needs and integrating technology into the classroom. These studies helped Cato College of Education earn more than $8 million in external funding last year and appear in some of the leading research journals in the field. The college was also one of only 13 programs nationally to earn an A+ in reading instruction from the National Council on Teacher Quality. The primacy of teacher preparation for the college and the quality of educators, administrators and counselors produced is glimpsed through the success of UNC Charlotte graduates. The last two teachers of the year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg are 49ers. Rock Hill native Matthew Dukes and second-generation educator Jordan Todd join an elite group of alumni who have taken home district-wide awards in recent years. In 2015 and 2016, Cato College of Education graduates earned teacher or administrator of the year honors in Gaston County, Greene County, Ashe County, Cabarrus County, Kannapolis City and Newton-Conover Schools.

Alumnus John Cato (’73), longtime benefactor of UNC Charlotte, serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Cato Corporation, which is headquartered in Charlotte. The Cato Corporation is a leading national specialty retailer of value-priced fashion apparel and accessories. “Both the Cato Corporation and the Cato family have long been committed to supporting education,” said John Cato. “Teachers have the ability to educate and inspire their students, and the College of Education has a great tradition of preparing teachers for success.” Cato has served the University in various capacities over the years as a former member of the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board and the UNC Charlotte Board of Visitors. He currently is serving on the Belk College of Business Advisory Board, and he was inducted into the UNC Charlotte Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012. “The naming recognizes the generosity of the Cato Corp. and John Cato’s passion for education,” said Dean Ellen McIntyre. “It is a public illustration of the importance of preparing teachers, counselors, school leaders and education researchers.” ■ Incoming students will be eligible for the Cato Scholarship for Education starting next fall.

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Center for Health, Education and Opportunity T

he laughter fell in waves at Windsor Park Elementary on a balmy summer night. A light moment would arise, and a shower of laughs would fall across the school library; seconds later, its translation would send a second volley tumbling down. Roughly half of the 25 parents in attendance spoke English, the others Spanish; all of them here to learn how to help their children, improve as readers. Taught by Dean Ellen McIntyre with the help of a translator, the bilingual reading workshops were one of the first offerings from the Center for Health, Education and Opportunity (CHEO)—a community outreach program hosted on the campus of the Aldersgate retirement community

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“Parents want to help, they just need to be taught how.” and launched collaboratively with UNC Charlotte. The reading workshops were offered in concert with a four-week, all-day summer reading camp pilot attended by 35 Windsor Park students. According to parents, the impact of the camp was clear: “He knows more; he’s reading billboards as we drive down the street; he’s learning to love reading,” said one mother. Another remarked that her child was excited to go to camp each day and liked reading in both English and Spanish. While the camp held its end-ofsummer celebration earlier in August, CHEO is a permanent outpost that will serve as an education center and provide caregivers and families in the surrounding area access to community-based health and diseaseprevention services year-round. It occupies a 6,000-square-foot space that previously housed the Shamrock Senior Center and is the first venture of a master plan to improve the physical and economic health of Charlotte’s east side, which has grappled with underdevelopment and high crime rates. Faculty and students from the colleges of education and health and human services will be the primary providers at the center. The reading portion of the summer camp was designed by UNC Charlotte literacy faculty, who provided training and joined teachers from Windsor Park Elementary and UNC Charlotte education majors in implementing a research-based intervention. College of Education faculty also trained elders living at Aldersgate to assist with reading and supporting the students as they practice new skills. “The reading program is individualized so that children practice skills targeted toward their specific needs and they read books at their reading level. For students who struggle with reading, it is critical for moving their reading levels over the summer,” said Dean McIntyre. To be most effective, these efforts need to be coupled with programs that empower parents to help their kids

read, McIntyre explained, noting that this was the philosophy behind the evening workshops. Parents were provided easy-to-use tips and worked with their children under the supervision of teachers. Each student was given a free book to take home at the end of the lesson. Windsor Park teachers said they were energized by the summer programming and emphasized the importance of the workshops in particular. “Empowering parents is probably the biggest thing we can do for kids,” said David Flores, a fifth grade English-as-a-second-language teacher at Windsor. “Kids will learn at school; we need to help ensure they continue that progress at home. Parents want to help; they just need to be taught how.” Indeed, many attendees said, at times, they feel lost trying to help their children with reading because some struggle with reading themselves. “Our summer reading camp is as much for parents and caregivers as it is for children,” said Suzanne Hodge Pugh, Aldersgate’s CEO. “Helping support parents with the skills and resources they need is part of our mission. Breaking generational cycles of poverty—as is our aim—can only happen when we educate entire families and offer them support.” For the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), the center

provides both an opportunity to impact the city’s east side and an ideal training ground for the next generation of health and human services professionals. “It provides a place, but also the conceptual platform required to yield the collective synergy to drive and test creative programming designed to improve the longer-term health and educational achievement of children and their families in the neighborhood,” said Nancy FeyYensan, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. CHHS offered the first of its health-based programming last summer with interactive nutrition workshops for Windsor Park families. Data from the summer pilot will be used to build a new model for summer literacy programs. The goal is to secure the needed resources to establish a year-round, permanent reading and teacher preparation clinic serving east Charlotte elementary students. Additional programming is slated to begin in the current academic year. The Cato College of Education plans to double the number of children served at summer camp. It costs only $900 to send a children to summer reading camp for 4.5 weeks. If you would like to support a child or the program, please contact Ellen McIntyre directly. ■

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A Model of Success & Caring by Melba Newsome

D Daniel Guiterrez

aniel Guiterrez, assistant professor in the counseling department, was still in mourning when he arrived at UNC Charlotte from the University of Central Florida in 2014. His father had died of cancer while Gutierrez was working on his doctorate. As a native of Puerto Rico, Gutierrez was well aware that Charlotte’s Latino population had tremendous health-care needs. He believed that finding a way to address them would give him an opportunity to turn his grief into action. “I had read statistics about Latinos who don’t get healthcare,” explained Gutierrez. “By 2050 about 30 percent of the population will be Hispanic or Latino, but even though they have the same pathology as everyone else, they are the second least likely to access mental health services. And when they are treated, the data say they receive a lower quality of care because they lack

Patients come to Bethesda Health Center for care.

the language skills and ability to make sense of the information.” In addition, the stigma surrounding mental-health care is particularly strong within this community. Gutierrez began by reaching out to Mark J. DeHaven, associate dean of research at the College of Health and Human Services. Dehaven also serves as director of the Academy for Research on Community Health, Engagement and Services (ARCHES), which is committed to improving health in vulnerable communities. DeHaven put him touch with Wendy Pascual, executive director of Bethesda Health Bethesda Health Center, a collaborative of volunteer doctors, nurses, lab technicians, social workers and administrative personnel that serves Mecklenburg’s uninsured population. While many of Bethesda’s patients tend to present with severe forms of depression and mental trauma, they initially come to the free clinic seeking care for issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Latinos are also among the most likely to die of breast cancer and tend to suffer from many other preventable and chronic diseases. These physical conditions impact mental health and make treatment more difficult. “There is a high incidence of diabetes and co-occurrence of depression,” said Gutierrez. “If you’re depressed, you’re not going to manage your diabetes effectively.”

During their initial conversation, Pascual let Gutierrez know just how much the clinic needed his help. “She said, ‘we have a backlog of about 85 clients, and the vast majority of the folks have mental-health issues, and we have no way of treating them,’” recalled Gutierrez. Given that data, he knew he had found his mission. Building a framework for mental-health care gave Gutierrez a way to have a win-win for both the University and Bethesda. By providing counseling services for the patients, his students could gain practical experience and help Bethesda address its growing need for mental-health services. At first, he was concerned that finding students who were willing to participate in such a venture might be a challenge. He need not have worried, however. Most students in the graduate counseling program saw the inherent value this work would have for their careers and this community. In short order, participants had to be selected through a competitive screening process. Farah Samarrai is pursuing her master’s in clinical mental health counseling and was excited when she learned of this opportunity and made the cut. “Bethesda serves many uninsured Latino clients, which is a population I am very passionate about serving,” said Sammarrai. “My grandmother was from Mexico, and I know the lack of resources available for them. In addition, they needed Spanish-speaking student counselors, and I speak Spanish. So I knew I could help out in that way and do good work with clients I care about.” Sammarai soon learned of the unique emotional and mental-health challenges facing the immigrant The Magazine for the Cato College of Education Extracurricular 23

community. Many are struggling with the separation from their families and ancestral homelands. In addition, the current political climate also sends a message that they are not wanted or valued in this society. The counselors are tasked with validating and helping them to process those feelings while also providing support and working to change that message. Simply being an immigrant tends to add unique stressors. In addition, this community is not exempt from the daily stressors that plague every society, such as relationship issues, family conflicts and anxieties about adjusting to life transitions. “At one point, about 85 percent of the folks in this community were experiencing some level of depression, high levels of anxiety and then high levels of trauma,” noted Gutierrez. The counseling program with Bethesda was rolled out in two phases. Phase I, or the pilot program, involved only doctoral students who were licensed professionals but working on research degrees at the University. In Phase II, Gutierrez began placing master’s students to meet the growing need. Students who volunteer must serve on the site a minimum of 20 hours a week, 60 percent of which must be client contact. The curriculum requires two semesters, but many students commit to an extra semester and/or hours. “This work has already made a huge difference for my counseling career, and it is just the beginning,” said Samarrai. “I am learning how to put myself in someone else’s shoes and truly be empathetic to individuals whose experiences are so different from my own. I have learned the power of the therapeutic relationship and the importance in listening to someone’s story in order to truly understand them.” The work at Bethesda continues to expand and 24 Extracurricular The Magazine for the Cato College of Education

seeks to address issues that have largely been ignored such as language barriers and the need for relationship education services. Spanish church pastors now work with the program. Gutierrez is developing an operational manual and has multiple grants under review. The department recently launched the community health scholars program for students wanting to be involved. Gutierrez also received a Chancellor’s Diversity Grant to host a Latino Mental Health Summit on April 21, 2017. “These students are dedicating themselves to working with the poor and underserved, putting all their hangups and political views aside,” he noted. “But it is in all our interest to support and help serve these people, lest it become more and more severe. Either we do something to treat this need, or we allow this to overrun the emergency rooms.” Going forward, Samarrai is convinced she will remain passionate for this type of work. “I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I will definitely take everything I have learned from this experience and use it to make me a better counselor,” she said. ■

Faculty Fellows for Diversity As the face of higher education continues to evolve and include more diverse populations, UNC Charlotte has worked to provide faculty and staff with the necessary training in multicultural and diverse perspectives to accommodate this new landscape. Two members of the Cato College of Education faculty have been selected as diversity fellows to research and offer strategies for greater inclusiveness.

Lisa Merriweather

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership Last summer, Lisa Merriweather was able to pursue a keen interest and be of service to the Cato College of Education. Merriweather was chosen as a two-year post-doctoral research fellow to support the early development of scholars from historically underrepresented groups. “It is a recognition of things I see happening that unfairly impact certain individuals—be it through interpersonal connections, policy or simply the way things unfold,” she said. “My role as a professor, particularly as a diversity fellow, is to tap into these areas and implement programs to help alleviate this and make things more equitable.” Much of Merriweather’s research focuses on the plight of African-American female faculty members who too often are unrecognized and/or unappreciated. “Our work isn’t really seen as valuable when it comes to consideration for promotion or tenure,” she explained. “Our research is not viewed as credible as our colleagues’, because we’re often investigating issues that speak to the African-American professor experience.” Merriweather’s current diversity projects fall into three categories. The Affinity Group project brings together like-minded people to discuss these social justice issues and solutions. They have a chance to network and work collaboratively, as opposed to working in silos. Project Collaborative was conceived as a think tank to move the College forward and work with other colleges. We can begin connecting across disciplines and colleges and take what’s written within our strategic plan and operationalize it in ways that are meaningful and make an impact. The third project focuses on mentoring AfricanAmerican students, one of the top factors related to the success of a doctoral candidate. This ties in to much of Merriweather’s research around other mothering or finding a better way to address the issues faced by graduate and doctoral students. Ensuring all students have the same opportunities is critical to success. However, many faculty don’t know how to mentor, particularly across religious, gender and racial lines. “We need to remedy that in order to retain our students

and for them to feel good about their experience,” said Merriweather. “Ultimately, I want to develop a model of culturally responsive mentoring to serve as a training guide to those who mentor African-American students.” For Merriweather, being a diversity fellow is another way to tap into issues of social justice. It helps the students as well as the institution.

Gloria Campbell-Whatley

Associate Professor, Department of Special Education and Child Development As a faculty fellow for the University of North Carolina General Administration (UNCGA), Gloria Campbell-Whatley works with several universities in the UNC system. Under the auspices of the provost, she has provided comprehensive training focused on infusing inclusion into the curriculum to faculty and teaching staff across UNC Charlotte’s colleges. Qualitative and quantitative studies revealed that faculty attendees and their students reported significantly different and more positive effects on classroom practices than faculty non-attendees and their students. “The faculty who attended learned how to teach their classes more on a global level,” said Campbell-Whatley. “During the observations, we found that there was a trickle-down effect. The students were aware that their faculty were teaching in a more inclusive manner.” Campbell-Whatley hopes to conduct similar UNC-GA studies under the direction of Junius Gonzales, M.D., M.B.A, senior vice president of the UNC system. The purpose is to assess the need for and the extent to which inclusion is a part of the student experience, curriculum and workforce, as well as how faculty, teaching staff and administrators can encourage these goals. “A lot of people know how to add the diversity statement but don’t know how to include diversity into their syllabi,” she said. “I hope to gather information from the colleges and determine what they need to be instructive. This should not be just about race or unfairness but also about how this can be included in a positive manner.” ■ The Magazine for the Cato College of Education Extracurricular 25

Accolades, Achievements National & Regional Faculty Recognitions ■ Department of Counseling Associate Professor Sejal Foxx was named North Carolina School Counseling Association’s Counselor Educator of the Year, an award given for outstanding accomplishments in teaching, mentoring and advising to prepare students for careers as effective counseling professionals. This honor came just weeks after Foxx was invited to the White House for a convening to strengthen school counseling and college advising. ■ Rebecca Shore, Department of Educational Leadership professor, is the Art Educator of the Year for higher education. The North Carolina Art Education Association recognizes exemplary art educators and advocates in a variety of educational levels and fields.

■ Scott Kissau, associate professor of the Department of Middle, Secondary and K12 Education, won the national Anthony Papilia Top Foreign Language Educator award from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. This honor is presented to one person annually—teacher, educator or author—who significantly influenced the lives of countless students and practicing teachers. ■ Bruce Taylor, professor in the Department of Reading and Elementary Education, is among the 2016 recipients of the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. Taylor was nominated by the United Way of Central Carolinas for displaying an “overwhelming commitment to helping the youth of our community achieve their reading goals.”

■ Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor, Endowed Chair of Urban Education Chance Lewis received the 2016 Harshini V. de Silva Award. The award is presented annually to the faculty member who best exemplifies the commitment the former UNC Charlotte professor displayed in graduate student mentorship. Lewis created and leads the Urban Education Doctoral Fellows Program, which provides intensive mentoring to doctoral students. Through the program, Lewis shows students how to navigate the tenure and promotion process and to develop their own unique scholarly agendas.

2016 Cato College Of Education Awards ■ Brian Kissel, associate professor in the Department of Reading and Elementary Education, is the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award, established to encourage, identify, recognize, reward and support outstanding teaching within the COED. ■ Lan Kolano, professor in the Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education, received the 2016 Award for Diversity, which is given to the faculty member who exemplifies a deep commitment to diversity, demonstrates creativity and innovation, and sustains a positive impact on the university and community constituencies.

■ Paul Fitchett, Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education associate professor, and Rich Lambert, professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, shared the 2016 Award for Excellence in Research. The award recognizes outstanding databased publications in a peer-reviewed journal published in the past year. ■ Pamela Erickson received the Staff Employee of the Year Award for her demonstrated devotion to duty, innovation, human relations, community/public service or safety/heroism in fulfilling her work requirements.

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■ Jim Watson, clinical associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, received the award for Sustained Service to Public Schools. Each year, this honor goes to a faculty member who has displayed a sustained positive impact on student achievement, a deep commitment on behalf of children and their educators, and displayed innovation and creativity to support students.

& Awards Student & Alumni Honors ■ Shady Brook Elementary kindergarten teacher Brittany Banks was named Kannapolis City School’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. Banks received her bachelor’s degree from the Cato College of Education and is currently earning a graduate certificate in mathematics from the University. ■ Despite teaching in one of the district’s most resegregated and lowest-performing schools, Walter G. Byers Elementary school teacher Jordan Todd was named Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools 2016 Teacher of the Year. Todd represents the Project Leadership and Investment For Transformation (L.I.F.T.) learning community, a publicprivate partnership that seeks to improve the way students who traditionally perform poorly in school are educated. ■ W.M. Irvin Elementary ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher Emily Francis was was named Cabarrus County Schools Teacher of the Year for successfully helping students overcome cultural barriers. ■ Katie Saylor was awarded a Landmarks in American History summer fellowship at UC Berkeley. Saylor is pursuing a master’s in secondary education online. This honor from the National Endowment for the Humanities is a testament to the professionalism and competitiveness of Saylor and COED’s online program.

■ Passion and innovative teaching methods earned alumna Gabrielle Lowder the 2016 UNC Charlotte Student Teacher of the Year for her work teaching social studies and language arts at South Stanly Middle School.

■ West Stanly Middle School art teacher Stacy Bottoms was recognized as Stanly County Arts Educator of the Year. Bottoms received his K12 Graduate Certificate for Teaching Art from the Cato College of Education.

■ The National Association for Gifted Children recognized Maureen Mensing with the Master’s and Specialist Award for Exceptional Contributions to Gifted and Talented Education. Mensing is one of only two recipients nationally so recognized for their contributions in gifted education.

■ Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education master’s degree candidates Brittany Gibson, Renae Kaister, Marticia Turner and Erin Byrd received fellowships to participate in the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s prestigious Teacher Seminar program. Newell Elementary School teachers Gibson, Kaister and Turner are pursuing master’s degrees in teaching English as a second language. Byrd teaches history at Butler High School and is seeking a master’s in secondary education. ■

■ Special education doctoral student and Lake I. and Edward J. Snyder Distinguished Fellow Jenny Root was named the 2015 Alice H. Hayden Emerging Leader. This award is given to a doctoral student who demonstrates the potential for leadership in teaching, scholarship and service on behalf of people with significant disabilities. ■ Cato College of Education alumna and Southwest Middle School Principal Rebecca Huffstetler was named the 201617 Gaston County Principal of the Year. Huffstetler holds a master’s in school administration and has 18 years of experience as a teacher, assistant principal and principal.

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Welcome to the COED! New Faculty & Staff Daniel Alston joins the Department of Reading and Elementary Education from the College of Education at Clemson University. Alston is passionate about developing pre-service and in-service teachers and seeks to increase their excitement about teaching science through inquirybased instruction. He is also interested in how emotions and personality influence teachers’ professional growth.

Fresh from earning his doctorate from Harvard University in 2016, Tracey Benson joins the Department of Education Leadership as assistant professor. He received his Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his 15 years in public education, he has served as a principal coach, high school principal, middle school vice-principal, district trainer, proficiency specialist and elementary school teacher. Benson’s research focuses on implementing operational systems of principal growth and development. He also prepares school leaders to use data as a means of tackling inequities and structural racism in K-12 education and has published case studies that uncover vestiges of structural racism in K-12 school systems. He looks forward to continuing to engage K-12 education leaders, as well as the higher education community, in the examination of the critical role of educators in addressing and overturning legacies of racialized oppression and discrimination in the U.S.

Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Ryan Miller earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, master’s in higher education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015, where he served as the officer of institutional equity. His established research agenda focuses on leadership for creating inclusive campus cultures in higher education. Prior to becoming a faculty member, Miller worked professionally in higher education for eight years in the areas of student affairs, federal TRiO programs, LGBTQ affairs, affirmative action, intergroup dialogue and institutional research.

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Academic Advisor and Clinical Assistant Professor Adam Myers earned his doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Gardner-Webb University. The former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools English language arts teacher spent two years working at LaGrange College in Georgia and, more recently, served as a new teacher support coach for the Cato College of Education at UNC Charlotte. His research interests include induction support and the experiences of beginning teachers. He and his wife have two young sons who keep them very busy and make them extremely proud. ​

Kristie Opiola joins the counseling department from the University of North Texas where she earned both her master’s and doctorate in counseling with a specialization in play therapy. She also worked as a child life specialist and licensed professional counselor. Opiola began her helping career in the medical field where she supported chronically and terminally ill children coping with illness and treatment. She has a personal and professional passion for supporting adoptive and foster families, as well as children who have experienced medical trauma. She has a special interest in using humanistic play therapy and filial therapy interventions for children and families struggling with attachment disruptions and trauma histories.

Assistant Professor Ayesha Sadaf earned her doctorate from Purdue University in learning design & technology in 2013. Before coming to UNC Charlotte, she was an assistant professor at Ball State University. Her research interests include pre-service teachers’ use of technology and online instruction. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her two beautiful daughters.

After receiving her doctorate. in special education and master’s in early childhood education from UNC Charlotte, Katherine Swart joins the Department of Special Education and Child and Family Development as clinical professor in child and family development. Her primary areas of focus are early intervention, early childhood special education, family engagement and play. She previously served as evaluator/program manager at Smart Start of Mecklenburg County. She is married to Chris and has two young children, Wyatt and Jane.


After 33 years in education and almost nine years at UNC Charlotte, Patti Wilkins retires as clinical assistant professor of the Department of Educational Leadership. Wilkins has been educational leadership’s information science and technology professor, graduate program director for IST, and graduate program director for EdD. During her tenure, Wilkins was known as a caretaker and enthusiastic team player throughout the entire department. ■

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Distinguished Faculty Award Recipient

Melba Spooner


ince Melba Spooner came to UNC Charlotte as an undergrad in 1974, the University has touched nearly every facet of her life; she has reciprocated in kind. Spooner earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 1978 and master’s in education in 1985 before completing her doctorate at UNC Greensboro in 1991. After a stint as teacher and assistant principal in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, she returned to UNC Charlotte as a faculty member in 1987 where she served as assistant dean, chair of the Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education, associate dean and senior associate dean. On a more personal level, Spooner met her husband, Fred Spooner, professor of special education and child development, while she was a visiting teacher-in-residence. Her son, Jason, also chose to become a 49er. Last year, Spooner received what may be considered the crowning achievement of her career—the 2016 Distinguished Faculty Award from the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association. The award honors faculty “who have brought distinction to themselves, credit to their academic college and university, and benefit to their communities through their vocation. It recognizes excellence in teaching students and/ or longstanding achievements, contributions, and leadership in research or academic programs.” Talk to her for just a moment, and you’ll come to understand why she was selected for the honor. “Students are really important to me but, in particular, those who are in teacher education and taking positions within our schools,” said Spooner. “The most important thing for me is helping students map out real possibilities for themselves, looking at where their paths may take them in terms of experiences they may have had and where they can accentuate the positive parts of their careers and be more successful in the classroom.” As a nationwide leader of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Spooner directed key initiatives that have strengthened the quality of teacher preparation

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and enhanced the college’s reputation, including development of a new Office of Assessment and Accreditation and leadership in the areas of field experiences, educational outreach, and advising, licensure and recruitment. “Her teaching, research and service efforts are closely entwined and center on the importance of teaching and teacher education,” said Provost Joan Lorden. “Many of the marks of excellence in national accreditation, professional development school partnerships, strong attention to effective college teaching are due in large part to Dr. Spooner’s vision and effective leadership.” Spooner’s official position at UNC Charlotte came to an end last summer when she was named dean of Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education. It is a testament to Appalachian State that, after a national search, they realized the perfect person for the job right just down the road. ■

A Model Initiative


ven before the first early college students arrive, UNC Charlotte will debut a new model to improve teacher preparation at the undergraduate level. This June, the Cato College of Education will host a four-day institute for key professionals who participate in teacher education. The institute will bring together teacher educators, university supervisors and schoolbased cooperating K-12 teachers to build a common understanding of accomplished teaching and develop coaching skills to better support teacher candidates. The institute will be planned and facilitated by Deans for Impact, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving teacher preparation, and will be attended by representatives from CharlotteMecklenburg, Cabarrus and RowanSalisbury schools. “This institute is critical for establishing a common understanding about what we mean we when say ‘accomplished teaching,’” said Dean Ellen McIntyre. “Right now, many of these professionals work in silos. We believe that we can all raise our own skills in how to coach students toward becoming the best teachers they can be.” The two-year pilot program is funded by a grant of more than $230,000 provided by the Belk Foundation and is backed by the in-kind support of the Cato College of Education. “With the collaboration of national experts Deans for Impact, we believe that UNC Charlotte is going to be a frontrunner in reimagining clinical practice for aspiring teachers. The deep collaboration with the partnering school districts is essential to ensure that aspiring teachers are getting a realistic and supportive entry into the classroom,” said Johanna Anderson, executive director of the Belk Foundation. ■

Without the Belk Foundation’s generous $230,000 gift, the Cato College of Education’s two-year pilot program to improve teacher preparation at the undergraduate level would not be possible. Since 1928, the Belk Foundation has enriched communities throughout the South through generous financial support of various charitable, religious, educational and other nonprofit organizations. In January 2010, the Board of Directors of the Belk Foundation adopted a new mission statement that placed a stronger focus on educational programs and initiatives. The Foundation invests in high-performing, outcomesoriented, sustainable programs and strategies that contribute to the following goals for teachers and leaders:

• Recruiting the most qualified candidates into the profession • Developing current professionals so that they can improve their ability to help students achieve • Retaining the highest performing professionals

We extend our heartfelt thanks for the Belk Foundation’s continued philanthropic support and tireless commitment to improving public education!

University of North Carolina at Charlotte College of Education 9201 University City Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28223-0001


Extracurricular Spring 2017  

The UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education Magazine - Spring 2017

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