What's New From COEHS?

Big picture

Faculty Highlights

Dr. Whitney Cassity-Caywood, Assistant Professor, Social Work

Dr. Whitney Cassity-Caywood will be presenting at the Title IV National Roundtable for Child Welfare Training and Education in May.

Her recent research is related to how providers in Kentucky’s sexual violence resource centers and children's advocacy centers adapted their practices to continue working with clients during COVID-19 related closures.

She was also awarded a scholarship to attend the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) education conference in Chicago in April.

In honor of Social Work Month (March), we urge you to learn more about this amazing profession, thank the social workers in your lives, and help support the profession.

Dr. Peg Pittman-Munke, Program Director, Social Work

Dr. Peg Pittman-Munke will be published in the Journal of Sociology and Social Work with her article (co-written by M.R. Daley), "Flexner and the social work profession: Myth versus history."

She has also had several recent presentations that she has given. These presentations include: "Moving forward to Systemic Change: Revitalizing Curriculum in Rural BSW Programs" at the Annual Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Conference [March 2022, Virtual]; "Managing BSW Programs to Thrive, not Just Survive, in a Time of Rapid Change" at the Annual Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Conference [March 2022, Virtual]; "Rednecks, Hillbillies, and Hicks: Let's Stop Bashing Rural Folks" presented at the 46th Annual National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas, California, PN [July 2021, Virtual]; "Navigating the Maze: Program Director 101" presented at the Annual Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Conference [March 2021, Virtual]; and "Writing for Publication: Demystifying the Process" presented at the Annual Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Conference [March 2021, Virtual].

In addition, Dr. Pittman-Munke currently serves as the president of the National Rural Social Work Caucus, the treasurer of BPD [national social work undergraduate education association], the editor of Contemporary Rural Social Work, and is on the editorial board for the Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work and the International Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics.

At the state level, Dr. Pittman-Munke serves as the vice president of the American Association of University Professors summer meeting and the Secretary of the Coalition of Faculty Senate Leadership (COSFL).

At the local level, Dr. Pittman-Munke chairs the LivWell (formerly Heartland Cares) Board, is the secretary of the United Way of Murray/Calloway County Board, serves on the board of the Community Foundation of Murray/Calloway, and is on the Murray Human Rights Commission.

In honor of Social Work Month (March), we urge you to learn more about this amazing profession, thank the social workers in your lives, and help support the profession.

Alumni Highlights

Janet Throgmorton, Principal, Graves County High School

Janet Throgmorton has been named the next principal of Graves County High School. The GCHS School-Based Decision Making Council met Monday, March 21, 2022, to make the announcement.

Mrs. Janet, as she has lovingly been referred to since beginning her career, proudly shares that almost 40 years of her life have been devoted to and made better by the Graves County School District. Starting as a student at Wingo Elementary and graduating from Graves County High School in 1991, she was passionate about giving back and serving her community as an educator. After earning an Associate’s degree at Shawnee Community College and completing her Bachelor’s degree (with two Master's degrees to follow) at Murray State University, she was hired as a teacher at Fancy Farm Elementary. Throgmorton has served as the Fancy Farm Elementary principal for the past 12 years.

There were so many people that poured blessings into my life while a student in GC Schools. The impact they had on my life is something I treasure, and I hope to be that person for students and families at GCHS. What we do is definitely a calling, and it's a privilege to love and serve in the community I grew up in,” states Mrs. Throgmorton.

Janet (Crawford) Throgmorton first captured the hearts of Graves County during her high school days as a Lady Eagle on the basketball court and softball field, which led to an athletic scholarship. The pride, excellence, and honor instilled in her then is the vision she brings to Graves County High School in her new role beginning July 1, 2022.

Superintendent Matthew Madding said, “Ms. Janet is an exceptional leader that has a deep knowledge of Graves County High School and our community. She works to build positive relationships, she is a strong instructional leader, and she has high expectations for her students and employees. Ms. Janet has a clear vision for Graves County High School, and I have no doubt that she will be able to bring that vision to fruition.”

Abbie Morris, Interim GCHS Principal and Secondary Instructional Supervisor adds, “We are excited to welcome Ms. Throgmorton to the Graves County High School family. She brings a wealth of experience and a strong vision that will no doubt foster continued growth and success for all stakeholders. It is a great day to be an Eagle!”

Married for 26 years to husband Todd Throgmorton, they have three children. The oldest, Sarah, is a Class of 2020 graduate of Graves County High School, and twins Jack and Jake anticipate following in the alumni’s footsteps as GCHS Class of 2025 graduates.


Student Highlights

Jenny Mays, Elementary Education


Jenny Mays serves as the President for Alpha Upsilon Alpha's Murray State University chapter.

AUA is an honors literacy society that seeks to promote literacy in the community now, while also preparing their members to continue promoting literacy in their future classrooms and communities long after they graduate. Jenny said about her position:

"As president, I work with our team of incredible officers to organize events and schedule professional development opportunities that will help our members gain the skills they need to effectively promote literacy. My role is very fluid. I tend to take on whatever duties necessary to accomplish our goals; however, they typically involve communicating with members, leading meetings, and helping develop and implement plans the officer team formulates for all events."


  • Name: Jenny Mays
  • HOMETOWN: Wingo, KY
  • DEGREE: Elementary Education
  • QUIRKY/FUN FACT: I have the hardest time choosing favorite things! Usually, the best I can do is give you a top 10.
  • FAVORITES: Favorite drink: Sundrop; Favorite foods: Chicken Fajitas & Rice; Favorite movie: Pride & Prejudice
  • FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS: Alexander Hall, of course!
  • FAVORITE CAMPUS EVENT: Racer basketball games


Why did you choose to attend Murray State?

I chose Murray State because it felt like home. When I stepped foot on campus as a prospective student, I knew that this place had so much to offer--not merely in terms of educational opportunities, though I certainly had such opportunities in mind. More than that, I was certain of the community I could find at Murray State. I knew that at Murray State, I could find people who would encourage me and would push me to be the very best I could be. I chose and continue to choose Murray State University because it truly is the finest place I know, and it is filled with the finest people one could hope for.

Why did you choose your major/minor?

I've wanted to be a teacher since I was eight years old, and a few years before I came to Murray State, I felt drawn to elementary students. Teaching elementary students has become one of my greatest passions, and I cannot wait to have the opportunity to help all of my future students know they are loved and to push them to pursue their greatest potential.

Tell us about a few of your favorite courses, projects, or mentors.

A few semesters ago, I took MUS 246: Music for Elementary Educators with Dr. Joan Eckroth-Riley, and it revolutionized my perspective on active learning in the classroom. I don't think I've ever been so actively engaged, working so hands-on, in any class I have ever been a part of. It was truly an incredible experience. I also love learning from other fantastic professors like Dr. Miguel Gomez, Dr. Christina Grant, and Mrs. Holly Bloodworth. They are so knowledgeable and passionate, and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them.

Tell us about any accomplishments you've experiences while at MSU, or any clubs/organizations you've enjoyed being a part of.

In my time at Murray State, I have truly fallen in love with two special groups on campus: Alpha Upsilon Alpha Literacy Honors Society & the Murray State Baptist Campus Ministry. I've been honored to serve as the President of AUA this past year and to promote literacy in the community alongside all of our members over the past three years. Similarly, I have been so blessed with the opportunity to grow in my faith and my knowledge of the Word alongside other believers at the BCM who have loved me, encouraged me, and held me accountable during my time at Murray State.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to continue living and learning in Western Kentucky and to begin impacting the future of the Commonwealth as an elementary school teacher in the area.

What advice would you give to incoming students at MSU?

It might sound a little cliché, but just do your best. In this season of life, it is so easy to compare your situation to that of others and to become incredibly overwhelmed by all that is demanded of you. Thus, while I implore you to work hard and to give your very best to all that you do, I would also remind you that we all come to college to learn, not because we already have everything figured out. So, seize the opportunities to learn and grow that you have while you are here at Murray State, but also recognize that you will not do everything perfectly the first time. Recognize the mistakes you make along the way as exactly what they are: opportunities to become better. If you do that, even at the end of your hardest days, you can still be proud that you did all that you could do.

Thank you, Jenny! Keep up the great work!

Grace Floerke, Middle School Education


In March, Grace Floerke presented at the Posters At The Capitol Event, an event in which students from many of the large public universities in Kentucky present their undergraduate research to legislators. She went to present information about her undergraduate thesis: "Amplifying the 'A' in S.T.E.A.M. Education."

In this paper, she discussed how S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) had recently become STEAM with the addition of "the Arts." Below is what Grace had to say about her presentation.

"Though some people do not see how the arts fit in with the original four disciplines, adding the arts to the tetrad is extremely important for teachers. By adding the Arts to STEM, teachers can reach a broader learning style of students. With STEM jobs projected to grow 10% in the next ten years (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics), teachers need to encourage all of their students to look into STEAM jobs. That being said, adding the arts to STEAM allows for students to incorporate more creativity and critical thinking into their learning in a way that STEM alone does not.

Now in education, teachers are often taught theoretical concepts about pedagogy, but I wanted to make concrete examples of how the arts could be incorporated into the original STEM curriculum. So, I created four different lesson plans, each combining one aspect of the arts with one of the original four subjects in the STEM acronym. I created a lesson combining Science and Humanities, in which middle school students would look into debating issues-- like human cloning, GMOs, population caps, etc.-- and debate ethical issues by using scientific data to support their points. I also crafted a lesson combining Technology and Art, in which students would learn about 4 different art styles of the 20th century, create their artwork in their choice style from the ones taught, and develop a website for that artwork, personifying the piece, providing a biography and other facts about their artwork. My third lesson combined Engineering and Theatre, in which students would build 4 of the 6 simple machines using household objects and incorporate them into a skit they will write. My last lesson showed how math can be taught with music by treating notes on a music staff like ordered pairs on a Cartesian Grid. Each beat number would correspond to an x coordinate, and each note name would correspond to a y coordinate on a graph."

A photo of Grace's presentation can be found below.


  • Name: Grace Floerke
  • HOMETOWN: Southern Illinois
  • DEGREE: Middle School Science Education
  • QUIRKY/FUN FACT: I love musical theater and art as well as science. I also have a birthmark that wraps all the way up my right arm. I have also written a 60-page undergraduate thesis on STEAM education.
  • FAVORITES: TV show: Brooklyn Nine Nine -- Movie: Saving Mr. Banks -- Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill -- Sport: Volleyball -- Musical: Into the Woods -- Food: Popcorn
  • FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS: Recently, I have loved doing my homework on the third floor where the fine arts buildings connect. I can see my friends walking to the music building, and listen into the jazz suite while I study.


Why did you choose to attend Murray State?

I chose Murray State University for multiple reasons. First, it was a nice distance from home -- close enough to go home on a weekend, but far enough where I felt like I had my own space. Second, I loved the size of campus. I met with Dr. Gomez on my tour of campus. He really affirmed my desires to teach middle school.

Why did you choose your major/minor?

I always knew I would be a teacher, and science was one of my favorite subjects. It took a while for me to choose my age group, but I settled in on middle school ultimately because middle school is about building character. Adolescent years are difficult for everyone, and I want to make sure that my classroom is a place where kids felt safe, loved, and respected. Mental Health is very important to me, and with more adolescents experiencing mental health issues, I want to provide a safe space where they feel free to be themselves.

Tell us about a few of your favorite courses, projects, or mentors.

Some of my favorite courses I have taken thus far include Teaching Diverse Learners with Dr. Clemson, A Cappella Vocal Ensemble with Dr. Mitchell, Voice Level I with Dr. Carter, Middle Level Teaching Strategies with Dr. Gomez, and Dinosaurs with Prof. Witkowski.

Tell us about any accomplishments you've experiences while at MSU, or any clubs/organizations you've enjoyed being a part of.

I have really enjoyed being a part of EQ Blu, Murray State's a cappella group. I auditioned my freshman year, and have been singing with the group ever since. It has gone through many changes, but at its core, we have been able to make wonderful music with just our voices as instruments. This year, we were accepted to perform at National A Cappella Convention in Orlando this year. That was one of the coolest experiences I had ever been a part of.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I plan to teach in Columbia, Missouri, for a few years, and see where life takes me. I would eventually love to go back to school, because I love learning, but I'm still figuring out what I would want to do.

What advice would you give to incoming students at MSU?

I would tell incoming students that this is going to be your HOME for the next 3, 4, maybe 5 or 6 years. Don't be afraid to get involved and try things you never have before. You don't just want to exist here. You want to LIVE. In order to do that, surround yourself with people who you love, and get involved!

Thank you, Grace! Keep up the great work!

Big picture
Nominate Faculty/Staff

Nominate a faculty/staff member to be highlighted! Nominate yourself or your colleagues!

Nominate Alumni

Nominate alumni for their accomplishments! You can nominate someone you know, or even yourself!

Nominate Students

Nominate your students to be highlighted! We want to see them, too!

Upcoming Events

Big picture