College of Education Newsletter

March 2022

Message from the Dean:

This year, Graduate Student Appreciation Week runs Monday, April 4, through Friday, April 8, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to recognize the importance of our graduate programs, graduate students, and graduate faculty. The College offers a wide range of high- quality professional graduate programs that prepare people for leadership positions within schools, institutions of higher education, and communities. We are known for our school focused programs in teacher leadership, school counseling, gifted and talented instruction, special education, literacy and dyslexia, library media, school counseling, and school and district leadership, but we offer so much more. Our College Student Personnel Administration program prepares individuals to work in colleges and universities and has a reputation for supporting inclusive excellence. Our Ph.D. program is the only research Ph.D. at UCA and prepares individuals to lead change while centering equity. This is a robust program with 58 students and a new cohort of 18 students who will start in fall of '23.

We have seen a substantial increase in graduate enrollment that can be directly attributed to the quality of our graduate programs and State grants focused on offering additional teacher endorsements. Dr. Debbie Dailey, Dr. Louis Nadelson, and Dr. Janet Filer have written four ADE grants that provide graduate classes leading to endorsements in K-12 Online Learning, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), Special Education Resource, and Early Childhood. These grants pay for 100% of the teacher's tuition, fees, and licensure expenses. This work sustains and expands our impact on education across the state. Dr. Amy Thompson got a grant this year to support our Dyslexia endorsement program and positions us to be a state leader in this area.

Working with graduate students allows faculty to explore areas of common interest and sparks intellectual curiosity. Graduate education sets students up to influence policy, practice, and the future. For me, personally, my undergraduate degree made me a teacher, but my graduate degree made me a leader. Please help me celebrate Graduate Student Appreciation Week by thanking a graduate student for their commitment to continued learning.

-Vicki Groves-Scott

Dean for the Day:

Anita Mahathay, a student in the Instructional Technology (ITEC) program, was recently selected as Dean for the Day. As part of being selected Dean for the Day, Anita passed out donuts for Donuts with the Dean, attended Deans Council, and attended the college's Administrative Council meeting.

2022 UCA Day of Giving:

Thanks to everyone who participated in UCA's Day of Giving. The College of Education (COE) had an initial goal of $15,000 which was surpassed. In total, $21,065 was raised for the COE. This included a $7,500 match gift from donors.

Below are the totals for the COE day of Giving donations.

Enhancement Fund - $8,015

Student Emergency Fund - $7,800

BearsWrite - $575

Hank & Patty Phelps Scholarship - $275

Diana Pounder Scholarship - $250

Audie Lynch Scholarship - $100

BearsRead - $50

Lynn Tomlinson Scholarship - $4,000

Teaching & Learning - $25

2022 Arkansas Society for Technology in Education (ARKSTE) Conference:

On Saturday, February 19, over 130 educators and education stakeholders came to UCA to learn and grow together. UCA was proud to host the ARKSTE conference where innovative educators shared their knowledge, strategies, and excitement for teaching. Our keynote speaker, Dave Schmittou, helped us remember to focus on the focus by taking small steps toward innovative practice. During the last session, ARKSTE President and UCA faculty member, Dr. Jason Trumble, announced that ARKSTE is being rebranded with a central focus on supporting teachers throughout Arkansas. The new organization is the Arkansas Instructional Innovation Association (AIIA). You can find more information at AIIA is the Arkansas affiliate of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

* See photos below

Graduate Literacy/Dyslexia Program Receives Certification:

UCA's College of Education is proud to announce that the Graduate Literacy Program in the Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education (ELSE) has received notice approving our continued International Dyslexia Association accreditation. Additionally, the Center for Reading Instruction (CERI) has elevated the certification level that our candidates can obtain. ELSE candidates are now eligible for the highest certification CERI offers: CERI Certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist (C-SLDS). CERI Certification gives our candidates the opportunity to advance their teaching career and affirm their knowledge and skills in teaching literacy using a structured approach to language. CERI Certification demonstrates a commitment to teaching with the most progressive certification in the profession. UCA is now 1 of 17 programs in the nation and 1 of the 8 programs in higher education institutions able to offer this level of certification.

School Counseling Program Named One of the Year's Best:

The M.S. in School Counseling program was recently named one of the best schools in 2022 for earning an online master's degree in counseling by the organization (OMD). The ranking is listed on their website- Best Online Counseling Master’s Programs - OMD analyzed more than 7,700 schools using data from the U.S. Department of Education. To qualify, a school must hold active regional accreditation and have both academic counseling and career placement services available to students. Primary ranking factors included availability of programs with an online component, number of programs in subject area, and metrics considering cost as well as the impact of institutional aid.

The M.S. in School Counseling program offers two tracks to students. The Add-On License track is for students who already have an Arkansas teaching license and is 45 credit hours. The Initial License track is for students who have a Bachelor's degree in an area other than education and is 48 credit hours. All of the classes are 100% online using a mixture of Face-to-Face synchronous online classes and asynchronous classes. The M.S. in School Counseling website at School Counseling — Leadership Studies has additional information on admission requirements, program cost, and course requirements.

In the Classroom:

On February 28th, the College of Education had a special visitor. Archie, an emotional support dog, visited Dr. Stefanie Sorbet (Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) to share about supporting preservice and early career educators.

Archie and his handler, Mrs. Bethany Hill of Arch Ford Educational Cooperative, discussed ways they can support programs through speaking and presenting. Through this collaboration, Dr. Sorbet will be a presenter for the Arch Ford group of Year One educators in August, and Mrs. Hill will be a guest speaker in one of Dr. Sorbet's junior block classes.

*Photo of Mrs. Hill and Archie

Students in Ms. Catherine Miller's (Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) Development Theories course are learning how to create developmentally appropriate learning environments that are safe and nurturing for all learners. Guest speaker, Mrs. Jamisa Nuness-Hogan, Owner/Founder of Kid's World Child Care Center in Conway, Arkansas, used her 26+ years of expertise to provide students with examples of how to help young children develop into Progressive Thinkers.

Mrs. Nuness-Hogan holds a degree in Early Childhood. Kids World Child Care Center is the largest independently owned and operated child care center in Conway and has over 26 years of collaborative partnerships with local and state agencies. Kids World Child Care Center has been recognized by the Best of Faulkner County as a finalist for best child care center in 2019 and won the overall award for best after school program in 2020.


Dr's. Michael Mills (Associate Dean), Donna Wake (Teaching & Learning), Nykela Jackson (Teaching & Learning), and Jessica Herring-Watson (Teaching & Learning) recently presented at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, TX.

These faculty members presented a panel titled "Managing Difficult Conversations on Bias and Equity," where they highlighted the challenges of preparing teacher educators and supporting in-service educators to do the important work of belonging, inclusion, and equity in our schools. The session was well-attended and well-received.

* See photos below

2021 - 2022 COE Faculty Award Winners:

The 2021 - 2022 College of Education (COE) Faculty Award winners were recently announced. The COE presents the Teaching Award, Research Award, and Service Award. Each award winner receives a plaque, certificate, and $100 in educational travel.

Teaching Award:

The award recognizes a faculty member who, has demonstrated outstanding teaching with students and working with faculty to the betterment of the college, university, and/or off-campus community.

Research Award:

The award will be given for an outstanding body of scholarly work.

Service Award:

The award recognizes a faculty member who, over time, has contributed significantly in the area of service by sharing or volunteering time, talent, or resources to the betterment of the college, university, and/or off-campus community.

To see past winners, please visit

Dr. Michelle Buchanan:

2021-2022 Teaching Award:

Dr. Buchanan continues to impress students and faculty with her innovative approaches to classroom pedagogy. She spends a tremendous amount of time mentoring her students, which is a hallmark of her teaching. Her unwavering commitment to her students is unparalleled, and she is a credit to the STEMteach program and to the Department of Teaching and Learning.

Dr. Thomas Bruick:

2021-2022 Teaching Award:

Dr. Bruick has a natural way of communicating knowledge to students. Students respond well to his interactions, and they are able to retain their learning for application in outside-the-classroom settings. Students are comfortable with him; yet, they seem to respect the standards and requirements he sets for them. Dr. Bruick continuously exhibits growth and professionalism as an instructor in Leadership Studies and the College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) program.

Dr. Nykela Jackson:

2021-2022 Service Award:

Dr. Jackson's work with the Educators Rising program, the annual Educators Rising conference, and concurrent credit classes has consistently reaped benefits for the college, and she has demonstrated a level of service to not only her college but to the many future educators in Arkansas.

Dr. Louis Nadelson:

2021-2022 Research Award:

Dr. Nadelson is one of the most prolific researchers in Leadership Studies and perhaps in the entire college. In addition to his own scholarship, he mentors and builds the capacity of others as well. He is a positive research influencer.

Faculty/Staff News:

Dr. Amy Thompson:

A multidisciplinary team of Dr. Sun Thao (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Dr. Amy Thompson (Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education), and Alexis Johnson (graduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders) has been selected to present a lecture on digital literacy at the annual conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR).

Thao, S., Thompson, A., & Johnson, A. (2022). Digital Literacy: How Reading Disabilities Affect Online Learning, oral presentation at the Annual conference of Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR), Newport Beach, CA

Abstract: Online learning has increased in schools and universities and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this change. The growth of online learning has heightened the need for investigating how individual differences, such as reading disabilities, moderate online learning. This study aimed to explore how students with reading disabilities perform online tasks compared to their peers. The results showed that RD students could locate information on the internet but had difficulty synthesizing information for tasks requiring deeper learning. Additionally, RD students had more grammatical errors and less words in their answers. Our findings emphasize that both traditional literacy skills and online research skills should be considered to promote students’ online learning.

Tech Bytes:

If you need Blackboard is here! Instructional Technology is providing Blackboard training sessions at the end of March/beginning of April. Training sessions cover Blackboard Basics, Blackboard Grade Center, and Blackboard Tests. To see the available sessions and register please go to


The College of Education Technology Committee is presenting a professional learning series called Byte Sized Tech. There will be 30 minute training sessions on the following topics: Wakelet/Padlet, iPad Basics, Clips on iPad, Organizing Google Classroom to Reduce Cognitive Load, Jamboard & Crowd-sourced Student Thinking, Kaltura Video, Blackboard Built-in tools, and Edpuzzle for Formative Assessment. To view the schedule please go to Sessions will be in person followed by a Zoom session.

COE Newsletter Archive:

Missed an issue? You can view past issues of the COE Newsletter by going to