College of Education Newsletter

March 2020

Message from the Dean:

Dear Colleagues,

Lately, I've watched the unprecedented effort from the College of Education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as we have moved classes and work spaces online. Your steady resolve, positive attitude, and solidarity have allowed us to rise to the occasion and to lead the way. We continue to navigate uncharted territory. During this journey I've never questioned your dedication to our students. Every day I rely on the knowledge that while I'm taking care of administrative tasks, you are taking care of our students. Your compassion, grace, and flexibility have facilitated our way into this "new normal". I want you to know that I see your efforts, I have benefited from your compassion, and I know we will emerge from this situation stronger and smarter.

I remain here for you.


Message from the COE Director of Development:

First, I would like to thank all of you who participated in the recent Day of Giving. Unofficial totals show over $5,000 was raised for the College's Enhancement Fund! This is almost double last year's efforts. A special thank you to COE alumna Karen Sullards of Little Rock (BSE-72, MSE-75) for providing a challenge match to COE alumni and to the College Administrative Council for its challenge match for COE faculty and staff.

We are working to create an Advisory Council for the College. Members will be leaders in the field who will not only advocate for the College, its students, and its programs but will also help connect us to individuals or entities who might be interested in providing financial support for the College. We had hoped the Council would hold its first meeting in April, but with the current situation, we will meet as soon as we safely can. We will be profiling council members, most of whom are alumni of COE/UCA, in upcoming newsletters and on social media.

I am always looking for individuals or organizations who want to support the great work of the College. If you have anyone in mind, let me know, and I’ll follow up on that suggestion.


Kappa Delta Pi Hosts “Out of this World” Literacy Night:

The University of Central Arkansas Phi Beta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi held an “Out of this World” literacy night in February 2020. College of Education BearsRead participants and their parents, along with Kappa Delta Pi members and CoE student volunteers, were invited to enjoy this special event at UCA.

The first part of the literacy night began with everyone eating space orbs (pizza) and watching a short video about outer space with tranquil music to set the scene. Next, BearsRead participants selected a book about outer space for them to keep that they read with a Kappa Delta Pi member or student volunteer. The books were generously donated to Kappa Delta Pi by College of Education faculty and staff. In addition to receiving books, BearsRead participants were given literacy bags containing various activities related to outer space to complete during the literacy night and/or at home.

During the second part of the Kappa Delta Pi “Out of this World” literacy night, everyone walked to the UCA Dr. Edmond E. Griffin Planetarium to watch “The Secret of the Stars.” Visiting the UCA Planetarium was a new adventure for many of the BearsRead participants, their parents, the Kappa Delta Pi members, and other CoE student volunteers.

This rewarding evening was organized and facilitated by KDP officers Jessica McLeod and Faith Forrest. Faith coordinated the book donations, publicity announcements, and volunteer schedule. Kappa Delta Pi members want to especially thank Dr. Scott Austin for his time and coordination at the UCA Planetarium and KDP co-counselors Mrs. Crystal Voegele and Dr. Nancy Gallavan.

Sanford New Teacher Academy:

Forty-nine teachers in their first three years of their careers attended the Sanford New Teacher Academy on Saturday, February 29. The day was created by, for, and about novice teachers and featured topics such as classroom management, working with parents, and strategies for managing students with trauma. Along with prepared presentations, participants also created their own sessions in an EdCamp-type format, allowing them an opportunity to interact with each other and share their own best practices.

Alex Kajitani, author of the U.S. Department of Education recommended book Owning It: Proven Strategies to Ace and Embrace Teaching, started the day with a keynote presentation. Alex is a highly-sought after keynote speaker who supports and motivates teachers nationwide, and he’s known around the world as “The Rappin’ Mathematician.” Alex has a popular TED Talk, has been honored at The White House, and was featured on The CBS Evening News, where Katie Couric exclaimed, “I LOVE that guy!” Each of the novice teachers in attendance received a copy of Owning It.

Katie Hoyt, a first grade teacher at Hector Elementary, shared, "I want to give a HUGE shout out to UCA for inviting Alex Kajitani to come and give some of his expertise!! Because of this day, I hope that every student who walks through my classroom door knows that they are loved and that they are safe at school and in my classroom. I want to give all of them wonderful memories where they can think back one day and think how fun first grade was and how much I loved them. This was a great day for Arkansas Educators!"

This event was made possible by a gift from the Sanford Education Center in support of the Sanford Inspire program. For more information about Sanford Inspire, go to

2020 UCA Teachers' Career Fair:

The University of Central Arkansas Teachers' Fair was held Friday, February 28th in the Student Center Ballroom.

A highlight of the Teachers' fair was Carla Crenshaw being reunited with one of her previous music instructors, Carolyn Pederson-Brown. Carla began her college career at UCA in 1985 and now works as a middle school principal in Fayetteville, NC. She recently came back to UCA to recruit educators at our Teachers' Fair. When asked about her time at UCA, Carolyn said, "I am so thankful for the high expectations, for the opportunities provided, and especially for Mrs. Carolyn Pederson-Brown who changed my life with a flute lesson."

The Teachers' Fair had representatives from over eighty school districts and organizations.The annual event is geared towards introducing teacher candidates to school districts in Arkansas and surrounding states.

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

Sara Adkins:

Sara completed her undergraduate degree in elementary education (2005) and her Master's in Library Media (2013) at UCA. She is currently in he fourth year as a Library Media Specialist at Magness Creek Elementary in Cabot, Arkansas. Sara enjoys promoting reading, connecting kids with authors, and engaging students engineering, coding, and technology based activities. She recently had a picture book called "What if You Had T-Rex Teeth?" by Sandra Markle dedicated to her and the students at Magness Creek Elementary.

April Blackburn:

April is a 2011 graduate of our Early Childhood Education program. For the last 9 years, she has served been the K-12 Gifted and Talented Coordinator/Teacher at East End School District in Bigelow.

"At Anne Watson Elementary I teach a class called ET (Enrichment Technology) for our K-6th grade students. I obtained my Masters in Gifted Education from UALR in 2015. I received the NAGC Master's and Specialist Award in Arizona in November 2015 and the Act 56 Award from the state gifted council (AGATE) at the AGATE Conference in 2018 to name a few awards I have received for my work. I am also a quiz bowl coach in my district for elementary, Jr. High, and Sr. High teams, as well as our school mascot (Pat the Panther). I am proud to represent my school district and a UCA Alumni. Go Bears!"

Paige Cothern:

Paige is a 2011 graduate of the Library Media program at UCA. She is currently the Library Media Specialist at the Jonesboro Kindergarten Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Paige Harris:

Paige is a 2015 graduate of the Library Media program at UCA. She currently serves as the Media Specialist at Herbert Carter Global Community Magnet in Marion, Arkansas. She oversees 600 students in grades K-6. Paige said, "I really enjoy the flexibility of the LIBM field, especially at the elementary level. Our school culture embraces the Global Goals and The Leader in Me program."

Kyleigh Reynolds:

After graduating in May 2019 with her degree in Elementary Education, Kyleigh was hired a few weeks later for he first teaching job. she currently teaches 2nd grade at Meadow Park Elementary in in North Little Rock, AR. Kyleigh said, "It has been so amazing so far. I am truly blessed with the best kiddos, and I love them all so much. I have an amazing support system. I got engaged in July to my bestfriend, who happens to be Dr. Amy Thompson’s son. So I officially have the best future mother-in-law ever." In a few years, Kyleigh plans to come back home to the COE to get her Master's degree. Kyleigh added, "Wedding planning on top of my first year teaching has been stressful but I wouldn’t change a thing! I owe it all to the College of Education!"

Krystal Shipp

"The influence of a GREAT TEACHER can never be erased". Krystal said, "I just love this quote. It has inspired me throughout my journey in education." Krystal, a 2007 Early Childhood Education graduate, taught in the public schools for 13 years (Russellville, Jonesboro, Valley View, and Monticello). She received her Dyslexia Interventionist Certification in 2011 from the Apple Group for Dyslexia/Connections OG in 3D. Krystal completed her Masters in Educational Leadership in 2013 from Arkansas Tech University and also completed her National Board Certification (Early Childhood Generalist) in 2013. Krystal was named teacher of the year in 2017 at Monticello Elementary School. She is currently an Instructor for the College of Education at Arkansas Tech University. She added, "I enjoy serving my community and country by passing along my passion for teaching to my former and current students."

Student News:

Teyhaunna Jackson:

Teyhaunna Jackson, a sophomore Special Education major at UCA, is one of 17 UCA students that were awarded a Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) grant through the

Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Her research topic is “Teachers’ Perceptions of Competency Based Education.” Teyhaunna is being mentored by Dr. Nykela Jackson from the department of Teaching and Learning.

When asked what led her to major in Special Education, Teyhaunna said, "I did not start as a SPED major. My major was nursing at first, but I started working at the Disability Resource Center in the Fall of 2018. Which was something that I love and still do. I've always known I've wanted to work with kids. Although I never knew that I had a passion for working and assisting those with disabilities. Part of me has always wanted to be a nurse. But the other part of me has always wanted to be a teacher. Working at my job just sparked that interest in SPED." Teyhaunna first heard about the SURF Grant when she went to a Kenya interest meeting. She said, "I remember only having less than two weeks to find a mentor, get all the paperwork completed, come up with a research topic, and turn it in on time." Teyhaunna recalled she emailed a professor she met at the interest meeting, Dr. Darshon Anderson, and was led to Dr. Jackson since she works in the College of Education.

When asked what getting this want means to her, Teyhaunna said, "I received the email on December 17th saying that I had received the grant. This was probably one of the happiest days of my life. I felt like all the stress and hard work that went into trying to receive this grant had paid off. I honestly could not be more grateful to have received the SURF grant. I’m also very grateful to Dr. Jackson for being there every step of the way. I can’t wait to go to Kenya in May and get more into my research"

According to a UCA press release, "The SURF program is designed to allow undergraduate students from across the state to conduct comprehensive research projects in their specific fields of study with the assistance of faculty mentors." To be eligible for the SURF grant, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.25, 30 or more hours of credit toward a degree at the time of funding, and the support of a faculty mentor.

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