College of Education Newsletter

September 2019

Message from the Dean:

As part of the Disruptive Educational Equity Project, I was asked to reflect on my ideas related to diversity and educational equity. The thought of putting into words my beliefs on diversity was an intimidating experience, but in the end I came away with something that reflects my personal journey. I must admit that my views on diversity have matured with my age and experiences. What began as an unsophisticated view has developed into a more complex and multifaceted recognition of the strength derived from diversity in experiences, thought, and personal identity. In sum, I believe that diversity is a necessary condition for excellence.

I’m extremely proud of the diverse leadership team that I have put together for the College of Education. We have worked together to strengthen ties with diverse schools; ensured preservice teacher placements in “high diversity schools”; created and conducted PD for faculty on race, gender, and sexual orientation; developed cultural diversity field trips for introduction classes; created a cultural proficiency survey; and developed programs to support underrepresented students. We also have two of the most diverse graduate programs at the University: The Interdisciplinary Leadership Ph.D. and the College Student Personnel Administration. Two faculty, Dr. Nancy Gallavan and Dr. Donna Wake, have won university awards for their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Now we are embarking on the Disruptive Educational Equity Project (DEEP) to better understand the complexities in educational equity. Every day I see our faculty advocating and working to make a difference for children and communities regardless of their color, ability, gender, socio-economic level, religion, sexual orientation and/or family situation. I'm inspired by the work you do! Thank you.


The UCA College of Education was recently awarded a $75,000 two -year grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) to begin work to establish a UCA Normal School Center for Educational Equity (NSCEE). In preparation for the center, the college has initiated a partnership with the Harvard Disruptive Educational Equity Project (DEEP) to create UCA DEEP. Dr. Vicki Groves-Scott, Dean of the College of Education, is working with a leadership team to organize the Harvard DEEP training. Dr. Charlotte Green has been instrumental in creating connections with the Harvard DEEP leadership. Along with Dr. Groves-Scott and Dr. Green, Drs Michael Mills, Donna Wake, Candice Barnes, and Melissa Smith will become Harvard DEEP trainers.

UCA DEEP will work with Harvard DEEP to establish the program and training (six one-day workshops that covers the six key concepts). UCA will also designate DEEP train the trainers. These individuals will go through a 6-month training that covers the six key stages and facilitator training. In the third and consecutive years, UCA DEEP will conduct all training for University Focused and Community Partners which will position UCA as a leader in education equity for the region.

To read more about UCA DEEP and the six key stages of DEEP please visit

COE Reading and Dyslexia Program:

The Reading and Dyslexia Programs (housed in the Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) are featured in the September 2019 edition of Faulkner Lifestyle Magazine. You can read more about these programs by clicking on the link below (story starts on page 28).

2019 UCA Faculty Excellence Award Winners:

Dr. Tammy Benson

Tammy Benson, Ed.D., Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, received the 2019 UCA Faculty Public Service Award during the UCA Faculty Convocations. She has served multiple roles within the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program and Department of Teaching and Learning. She has served in the College of Education for the past 28 years. Her service to vulnerable populations includes personal devotion to women and children, including work with HAVEN house, as an advocate for Parents of Children with Dyslexia, and as a reading tutor for children in the UCA BearsRead Literacy Camp. Dr. Benson stated, "Service has always been an important part of my job at UCA. This is my 28th year at UCA and I feel extremely blessed to be a part of a profession that supports two of my great passions: teaching and service. I was a finalist for the UCA Public Service Award in the past so I just counted it an honor to be a finalist. I was very surprised to win this award and thankful for the recognition not only to me, but to others that value and support public service."

"Three years ago I was given an opportunity to revise a reading program and create a dynamic camp like literacy experience that would target children with reading problems and provide assessment and intervention to help them and their families, resulting in the BearsRead Literacy Camp. My responsibilities have included recruiting and advertising for the program, hiring and training student workers, collaborating with faculty who teach reading courses with embedded field experiences, communicating with children and families, planning and implementing literacy lessons and individualized interventions, assessing and diagnosing literacy problems, supervising camp activities, modeling lessons, tutoring children, and advocating for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities", Dr. Benson shared.

Dr. Benson added, "My service has also focused on mentoring and leading others to success with an emphasis on diversity. None of us reach any success alone and I have been more fortunate to work with incredibly talented and caring people through the years." She added, "I feel that this is the second greatest honor that I have received in my professional career in education. In 2004, I won the UCA Teaching Excellence Award, which is the highlight of my career. Teaching and serving are both so important to me so it is such validation to receive these two awards. Although I am extremely honored and proud of the UCA Public Service Award, my hope is to celebrate service and the positive joy it brings to our lives rather than elevate myself. As Gandhi has so eloquently stated, “The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose.” I am grateful for the years of service opportunities my time at UCA has given me."

Dr. Nancy P. Gallavan

Nancy P. Gallavan, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, received the 2019 UCA Faculty Excellence Award in Diversity and Inclusion during the UCA Faculty Convocations. This award recognizes individuals whose commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence on campus and/or off campus has made a significant impact on various underserved groups in a positive way. Based on her lifelong dedication to democratic principles, human rights, educational equity, and social justice evident in her teaching, research/scholarship, service, and collegiality, Dr. Gallavan’s philosophy resonates with this statement from Rigoberta Menchú Tum, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize Winner: “Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples."

Dr. Gallavan’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion emphasizes the importance of making a difference and lifting all people, individually and institutionally. Noteworthy in her nomination for this award were some of Dr. Gallavan’s many contributions to Diversity and Inclusion: showcasing the presence and power of valuing diversity honestly, naturally, authentically, and holistically in all of her teacher education courses; mentoring underrepresented populations of undergraduate and graduate students, especially doctoral students, along with faculty at UCA and across the U.S.; authoring numerous research publications including two books on cultural competence; co-founding and leading the College of Education Lighthouse Beacon Initiative; chairing the CoE Diversity Committee for many years and writing the CoE diversity proficiencies; and serving as the UCA Faculty Liaison to the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. Additionally, with her husband, in 2018 Dr. Gallavan bestowed the UCA Richard J. and Nancy P. Gallavan, Ph.D. Endowed Grant for Diverse Faculty.

After receiving the UCA award from Dr. Angela Webster, Associate Vice-President of UCA Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Gallavan reflected, “This thoughtful recognition captures a defining moment honoring the progress we have made and the progress yet to be made in our lives, at UCA, and throughout society. As role models, we must remember to be reverential stewards and respective advocates for all people.” Dr. Webster noted, "Dr. Gallavan demonstrates excellence in the core values of diversity and inclusion in the classroom, in publications, on dissertation committees, through local, state, and national mentorship and leadership, in addition to everyday interactions and relationships. In essence, Dr. Gallavan’s boundary-spanning leadership has been a boon to K-12 and to higher education. I have witnessed these qualities, firsthand, and I have been a grateful beneficiary of her virtues."

Faculty News:

Mrs. Michelle Buchanan:

Mrs. Buchanan has been selected to serve as a member of the Digital Communications Committee for AERA's Division K, Teaching and Teacher Education. In this position, she will assist in the creation of AERA Division K's digital content and help highlight the work of Division K at large.

Past key responsibilities include:

  • Managing and growing Division K's presence on social media and other digital outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, and our newly launched Instagram account;

  • Assisting with the development and dissemination of flyers promoting Division K GSEB activities

  • Updating and contributing to the Division K GSEB blog page (;

  • Planning, promoting, and facilitating Division K's Twitter Chats (#AERADivKChat)

Drs. Alicia Cotabish, Debbie Dailey, and Jason Trumble

Drs. Cotabish, Dailey, and Trumble had their article, Translating Engineering Soft Skills to the K-12 Classroom, published in the National Association for Gifted Children publication, "Teaching for High Potential."

Mr. Terry Johnson:

The STEMteach program is expanding their partnership with Greenbrier Middle School and Green Junior High School. Mr. Johnson will be placing 16 Step One and Step Two students with the schools to work specifically with 6th - 8th grade students taking a course designed by Greenbrier teachers. Mr. Johnson said, "Our math and science candidates will be partnered with their facilitators to create lessons in engineering, environmental studies, and robotics to fit into their broader 2-year curriculum map."

Dr. Louis Nadelson:

Dr. Nadelson recently published an article in which his co-authors were a faculty member from nursing (his wife) and 7 students in Leadership Studies graduate programs. The paper was the outcome of an authentic research experience embedded in the LEAD 6321 Research Methods course. You can view the article at

Dr. Nadelson was also recently accepted to be one of 12 fellows in the 2019-2020 INSPIRE CS-AI program, which is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Teaching Systems Lab and the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Human-Computer Interaction Institute Language Technologies Institute. The program focuses on computer science education, equity, and artificial intelligence.

Dr. Erin Shaw:

Dr. Shaw, Assistant Professor at UCA from the Department of Leadership Studies, came to Jennifer Freeman's class on Tuesday, September 3. She taught GMS students how to find credible research sites online. Students worked with a partner as they tried to determine if websites were reliable or were fake and were given tips to utilize this year as they conduct research both at school and at home.

Student News:

Mr. Lance Nail:

Lance, a 2015 UCA COE graduate with a degree in Early Childhood Education, just entered into his fourth year teaching 3rd grade at Woodrow Cummins Elementary in Conway. On top of being named the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year for his school, Lance has not only brought Apple technology into his classroom, but has also championed the use of PTO Cookie Dough Sales funds to purchase some Apple technology for the school.

It all began with a December 2018 classroom donation from his grandmother. Lance said, "I was very blessed to receive a donation from my grandmother for my classroom. With this donation, I was able to purchase this technology (a 2018 12.9” iPad Pro, 2nd Generation Apple Pencil, Apple Keyboard Case, 65” and 55” flat screen TVs, two 4K Apple TVs, two Sonos One speakers, and a Sonos Beam sound bar) and flexible seating." Lance added, "I do quite a bit of my teaching through connecting my iPad Pro to my TVs through AirPlay (which is where the Apple TV comes in to play). I like using the iPad as a teaching tool, because I am able to teach without any cords. I am able to walk freely among my classroom with my iPad and Apple Pencil, marking up presentations and documents."

Lance said, "The picture quality on TVs are far superior to that of projectors and SMART Boards. It is an overall enjoyable experience for my students to learn. In addition, I have found that as TVs get thinner, the sound quality of the TV itself takes a dip. Because of this, I purchased the Sonos Beam to be able to fully immerse my students when playing educational videos and songs in class." Lance also purchased a Q-Ball for his students. "A Q-Ball is a throwable (tossable) microphone ball that has increased student engagement within my third grade class. I use the Q-Ball to help give my students more of a voice in class. I first saw the Q-Ball on Shark Tank and knew the implications it could have for student engagement in a classroom," said Lance.

Once Lance's principal, Dr. Dayna Lewis, saw how he was using all of this technology in his class, she asked if he would spend an afternoon during the schools professional development week in August to hold sessions for their teachers to show how this technology can be used in a classroom. Lance said, "The sessions were met with excitement from fellow teachers about the possibilities of including 21st century technology in all of our classrooms. Following these sessions, I sent my colleagues a Google Form to gauge the interest in iPads, TVs, Apple TVs, and Apple Pencils. I was then able to take the data I gained from these surveys to create a similar presentation that I showed our Parent Teacher Organization board members. They came into my classroom and were able to see the vision for what our school could look like. They were immediately on board with this idea. Our wonderfully supportive PTO is meeting every request from our teachers’ survey results to bring the 21st century into all of the classrooms at Woodrow Cummins Elementary." Utilizing funds from the Cookie Dough Fundraiser the school was able to purchase 6th Generation iPads, 65” TVs, Apple TVs, and Apple Pencils for their teachers.

Lance is also very grateful for the flexible seating he was able to purchase for his classroom. He stated that, "Flexible seating is an educational trend that allows students to get their wiggles out. It’s rare for children to have the ability to sit still for an extended period of time. Introducing flexible seating in my classroom has absolutely enhanced student engagement and learning. In my flexible seating classroom, I have different sizes of tables. I have floor tables, a cocktail table, a standing table, and tables that are regular height. With these different tables I have yoga balls, wobble stools, floor rockers, benches, bar stools, and crate seats. In addition, I have a whole group carpet meeting area, a couch, bean bags, and wobble cushions." He added, "In my classroom, the students do not have assigned seats. Every child is different, so as my students learn more about themselves and the way they learn best, they are able to make well-informed decisions about their seating choices. In addition, this type of environment helps build community in the classroom." Lance is currently in graduate school studying Educational Leadership at Arkansas State University. He has conducted research on the advantages that flexible seating brings to a classroom. He said, "I am forever grateful for my grandmother’s donation and my decision to change the culture of my classroom."

You can view the video Lance made to share with the PTO by going to His class also made a "Thank You" video that was sent to his grandmother for her donation (