College of Education Newsletter

March 2021

Message from the Dean:

We raised over 12,000 dollars for the COE Student Emergency Fund during the UCA Day of Giving!

Many of you gave generously, but all of you helped us raise this money. Our alumni give because they have had faculty and staff who have supported and encouraged them. Our community gave because they believe in the vision we have, and see our faculty and staff working each day to carry out that vision.

I am so honored to be part of this community. You have been extraordinary in your generosity and your abiding dedication to our students. Once again, thank you!

---Dean Groves-Scott

Dean's Advisory Council:

The Dean's Advisory Council is a volunteer group of interested and influential friends of the UCA College of Education (COE). The primary purpose of this group is to provide general support for the College of Education. Members of the COE Dean's Advisory Council are selected by the Dean in consultation with the College’s Development Officer for their ability to contribute to the overall advancement of the College.

Each month, a member of the Dean's Advisory Council will be featured in the newsletter.

Dr. Mike Hernandez:

Dr. Miguel (Mike) Hernandez is the Executive Director for the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators. In this role, he leads an organization that has a core mission of providing state-wide professional development and advocacy for a variety of administrative roles in Arkansas school districts. Dr. Hernandez is student-focused and works to support growth in each school leader’s ability to improve student achievement. He is actively engaged in the education community to identify, develop and leverage resources to assist districts.

Dr. Hernandez previously served at the Arkansas Department of Education in a variety of positions including State Superintendent for the Office of Coordinated Support and Service and Deputy Commissioner. He also served as Assistant Commissioner over Fiscal Services. Dr. Hernandez has served as Superintendent of the Hot Springs School District and Danville School District. He began his administrative career as a Principal of the Western Yell County High School. Dr. Hernandez received his B.S. from the University of New Orleans, an M.A. from the University of Central Arkansas in Mathematics, an M.A. from Harding University and his doctorate from Harding University in Educational Leadership. Dr. Hernandez lives in Hot Springs with his wife, Susan, and three girls, Sophie, Olivia and Josie.

Crime Scene Day:

ELSE 4315 students (Workshop Approach to Teaching Writing in the K-12 Classroom) had a crime to solve on Crime Scene Day.

Mrs. Brandy Walthall (Instructor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) said, "My class is about teaching how to teach writing. The Crime Scene Day is our opinion writing day. My students arrive to find a crime scene, which is the scene of the Boston Massacre." Mrs. Walthall/Detective Walthall presents her students with just the facts. She said, "They have four centers that give them facts about the event and then they travel to a website to get in-person accounts of what four men gave as their testimonies for the events of that night. After the students gather all of their information, they have to be the judge and jury and decide was the Boston Massacre an accident or murder?"

Faculty/Staff News:

Dr. Nancy Gallavan:

Dr. Nancy Gallavan (retired professor in the department of Teaching and Learning) was awarded the Duaine C. Lang Distinguished Mentoring Award by the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE).

Mrs. Jessica Herring Watson:

Mrs. Jessica Herring Watson (Instructor in the department of Teaching and Learning) is currently one several students and teachers featured on the Apple Distinguished Educator Higher Ed. website ( She is also featured, along with COE students Octavis Mitchell (Middle Level Program) and Alayna Rohde (ELSE), in the Apple Student Success Guide (

Images were taken in January of 2020.

Ms. Kelsey Peterson:

Ms. Kelsey Peterson was recently hired as an Administrative Assistant in the College of Education. She is primarily responsible for supporting our field experience programs.

Kelsey grew up in Conway, graduated from Conway High School, and earned her B.S.E in Kinesiology/Physical Education from UCA's teacher education program. Kelsey holds a K-12 health/PE teaching license. She is a pet parent of her golden retriever Cheddar and her cat Leon.

Dr. Amy Thompson:

Dr. Amy Thompson (Assistant Professor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) along with Dr. Nancy Gallavan (retired Professor in the department of Teaching and Learning) recently had an article published in The Journal of the Arkansas Literacy Association.

You can read their article, Closure: Committing to Make a Change in the Classroom, by clicking the link below.

Dr. Amy Thompson and Dr. Susan Perry:

Dr. Amy Thompson (Assistant Professor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) and Dr. Susan Perry (Assistant Professor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) virtually presented at the Tech Tools Thursday Monthly Webinar Series for the Arkansas Literacy Association. Their webinar is titled, "Creative COVID Classrooms: Comprehension in a Hybrid Environment".

Dr. Jason Trumble:

Dr. Jason Trumble (Assistant Professor in the department of Teaching and Learning), along with his colleagues from, have been working on developing a curriculum measurement tool to help teachers make the best decisions when purchasing or adopting curriculum. Tales is a blog platform dedicated to teacher stories that impact practice and policy. It is supported by a team of curriculum experts who are dedicated to equity and empowering learners through high-quality educational experiences. A little over a year ago, it became evident that there was a need for independent curriculum analysis of the many curriculum tools and out-of-the-box products available for teachers. With this in mind, the team from Tales and Golden Apples reached out to Dr. Trumble. With the rest of the Golden Apples team they developed an instrument that would provide teachers and education consumers a comprehensive yet accessible report on the strengths and weaknesses of any particular curriculum product. The team just recently went live with the tool.

As described on the website: Golden Apples has created a highly calibrated measurement tool geared towards finding the best resources for a teacher’s classroom. Developed by a team of educational researchers with an extensive background in curriculum development, the tool highlights strengths across categories such as student engagement, alignment to educational standards, and methodology to create a strength-based profile. Each profile emphasizes The Harvest (strengths) that is gleaned from the resource, while also providing Seeds to Plant (opportunities to improve) to support content creators in producing the best possible product. The Golden Apple profile is captured in a visual matrix paired with a written summary for ease of use, saving teachers valuable time. The Golden Apples matrix guides consumers to more effectively match their teaching needs to the products created.

Golden Apples provides a one-stop-shop for teachers to intentionally search for resources based on the desired characteristics for their classroom and to purchase these resources across the various teacher marketplaces.

Mr. Steve Ward:

Mr. Steve Ward (Senior Clinical Instructor in the department of Teaching and Learning) was recently named the UCA 2021 Career Champion. According to the UCA Career Services & Cooperative Education Facebook page, this honor is given to someone who has bridged the gap between classroom experience and real-world application in the workforce. A Career Champion is someone who has empowered students to find their purpose, identity, and reach their career goals, solidify future plans, or gain employment/prepare for professional life.

Mr. Ward was nominated by COE student Ashley Gonzalez who expressed that he was determined and optimistic and it wouldn’t be possible to be starting a career as a teacher without his advice and encouragement.

Where Are They Now:

The COE Newsletter encourages you to share UCA COE alumni stories. "Where Are They Now" articles will highlight our alumni and their impact. Please share your story by going to

Ms. Katie Fielding:

Katie Fielding, a 2004 graduate of UCA's Life/Earth Science education program, is an Instructional Technology Coach in suburban Washington DC. She has been an educator for 17 years, during that time she received her Masters in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech. She is active in her state ISTE affiliate, VSTE, and was one of their 2019 Coaches of the Year. She serves on their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee which works to get more diverse representation in educational technology positions in her state. Katie is also a Google Innovator, Trainer, and Coach and love sharing her project on improving instruction for medically homebound students Additionally she is the Cystic Fibrosis Metro DC Chapter Ambassador for 2021. She loves connecting with educators about digital accessibility and creation tools and can be found on Twitter @katief.

Mrs. Cara Pizzolatto:

Cara Pizzolatto, a 2017 graduate of UCA's Master of Arts in Teaching Program, was recently named the St. Joe Elementary 2020-2021 Golden Apple Award winner. Cara is a 4th grade language arts teacher at St. Joseph School in Conway, AR.

Meghan Rice:

Meghan Rice, a graduate of UCA's education program, was recently selected as one of 32 finalists for the Golden Apple Award in Illinois.

Meghan is an early childhood educator in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 in Illinois. She was selected in February as one of 32 finalists out of more than 700 nominations for the prestigious award, a record in its 35-year history. She has spent half of her career serving Pre-K students with Chicago Public Schools and the other half serving Kindergarteners in Evanston. Meghan received her B.S. in Early Childhood and SPED P-4 from the University of Central Arkansas and her M. Ed in Urban Teaching from National Louis University. She currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Childcare Network of Evanston. She also sits on the Executive Board for New Life Covenant Southeast and the Youth Chorus of the North Shore.

When asked what lead her to teaching Meghan said, "As a child, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. For a season, I lost the ability to walk. I had pain in my entire body and had to undergo various procedures and treatments. I went from a typically developing child to being hospital bound. The following school year, I was placed in special education classes and remained there for 5 years. Getting to work so closely with my newfound peers, I began to value their lives and their stories yet I also saw the social and emotional struggles that we all dealt with. It moved me to begin to work with children to help build their self-esteem and capacity as learners." When asked what led her to UCA's education program she said, "I spent about half of my childhood in West Little Rock. I knew that UCA had a great education program and several of my relatives attended UCA and shared their wonderful experiences! I also appreciated that it was centrally located and it felt like a safe place to live and learn."

Meghan added, "While at UCA, I was crowned the Centennial Homecoming Queen in 2007. I served as an RA in Short and Denney. I became a member of the Theta Mu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and I was a member of the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity. And I served and actively participated in Chi Alpha."

When asked what being a Golden Apple Award finalist means to her, Meghan said, "It is incredibly validating and encouraging. I have committed my life to creating systemic change for children and families. This opportunity has allowed me to share my passion and story with others and to give them a glimpse into my culturally responsive classroom and school community. My desire is to use this platform as a way to connect with other educators and leaders in my field to continue the work of providing equitable learning opportunities and developing best practices."

Centering Equity Conference:

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COE Social Justice Affinity Group:

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