College of Education Newsletter

April 2020

Message from the Dean:

Dear UCA Alumni, Staff, and Faculty,

In this unparalleled time in history, the College of Education has been focused on the well-being of our students. Faculty pivoted mid-semester to move classes online, helped students get computer access from home, identified wifi availability near students, and, through our COE Emergency Fund, supported those struggling as they lost part-time jobs. Instead of telling you about the student experience, I thought you'd like to hear it in their own words. This makes me proud to call UCA College of Education my academic home.

--Vicki Groves-Scott

Kyrah Phillips - "During this pandemic, colleges and schools are doing the best they can to support students and I appreciate the hard work UCA professors and staff have been doing these past few weeks. All of my professors have been working hard to give assignments, meetings, and videos to make it feel like we have been getting the same work as when we were meeting face to face. I definitely appreciate that UCA did not give up on us and continued to put effort on us students. Thank you to all faculty and staff."

Marlie Smith - "Throughout this pandemic, my UCA professors have been really understanding and flexible. This has helped me so much because it has given me the opportunity to be able to still go to work and earn an income during this crazy period."

Samantha Thompson - "UCA did a great job supporting its students by having caring professors willing to work with students through this tough time. My professors have been passionate and caring!"

Keylee Lewis - "I came into college scared and was warned that all professors are mean and don't care about your grades. This is quite the opposite experience I got here at UCA! I love my teachers and love to see that they want me to exceed in their class and for the rest of my life. I feel like all my teachers truly believe in me and want me to do good!"

Chenel Dale - "UCA has been outstanding with the pandemic of covid-19. I have never been left confused or not knowing what was going on. President Davis has always kept students updated to his best ability and letting us know where we would stand. Professors have kept us informed, as well as working with us diligently to get things done in a respective manner. I have not once felt overwhelmed and everybody is working together to make this process as smooth as possible."

Madeline Herrera - "UCA has done very well in understanding the difficulties students may have faced during the transition from in class to online. Especially through my education classes, the professors have made it a top priority to reach out to the students via zoom, video lessons, email office hours, etc."

Lilyana Espino - "One way I felt really supported by UCA this semester was just through my teachers, especially with how much they’ve checked up on me in the last few weeks. I’ve gotten lots of emails and texts just asking how I was or reminding me that I can go to them if I need anything. They’ve all been really understanding and have adjusted schedules and assignments to make their classes easier for us to do well in. I felt really supported and knew that I could turn to any of them for help."

Kallen Henry - "UCA has done an amazing job of getting us transitioned to an online platform with little to no trouble."

Madyson Wood - "UCA as a whole has done very well with communicating and being positive. I’ve not had any issues with my courses whatsoever. I look forward everyday to seeing the community working in different ways to make this quarantine a little better."

Whitli Walthall - "After the first case of the virus came out in our state, UCA acted fast on what to do about classes. That showed that they truly cared about us and our wellbeing. I also think that the teachers were very caring and informative during this whole thing. They understood when people had internet issues or forgot about an assignment during this chaos. They showed maturity throughout this whole thing."

Anne Sting - "I felt that UCA did an amazing job making sure that I was informed about what was happening not only campus wide but for my individual classes as well. My teachers also made an effort to make sure that our class was as similar to our normal routine as possible and gave me tons of opportunities to meet with them through virtual office hours!"

Jacob Jacques - "I feel like, in this time, UCA did a good job at preparing the professors and giving them good and reliable resources to continue online learning."

Peyton Barrow - "One thing good that UCA did well, during this time, was hire good professors because they are the ones that have made this transition easier."

Alexandria Blouin - "One thing UCA did well was making sure students were refunded. I was struggling financially because I lost my job. This helped my school bill tremendously. They also did a good job with communication."

Cassie Latta - "UCA has done many things through this unpredictable and difficult time for students. They have offered zoom support groups and have kept us as updated as possible. I personally have had to adjust to the changes as we all have, but my professors have communicated with me well, and I even have had the opportunity to become even closer to a few of my professors and classmates. I feel UCA has done a great job being supportive to their students during this time and this has created a bond between us all!"

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From top left: Whitli Walthall, Anne Sting, Marlie Smith, Lilyana Espino

From bottom left: Samantha Thompson, Kyrah Phillips, Keylee Lewis, Chenel Dale

COE: Always There

The faculty and staff of the College of Education have taken extra steps during the COVID-19 crisis to let our students know we are here for them. An AMI Literacy website with many resources has been setup at We also have instructional videos some of our faculty has made which can be accessed on YouTube by clicking the link below. Additionally, faculty and staff have set virtual office hours so they are easily accessible to students.
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2019-2020 COE Faculty Awards:

Research: Dr. Patty Kohler-Evans

Dr. Patty Kohler-Evans is a Professor in the Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education. She is also the co-director of the Mashburn Center of Learning. Patty works effortlessly on her research collaboration with faculty and graduate students. GAs working with her will exit UCA with several publications to their name due to her support of their work. As Patty remarked, "The most excitement I feel is from supporting others in the achievement of their scholarly goals. It is an amazing place to be, and it brings me much joy."

Service: Mrs. Alicia Brown

Mrs. Alicia Brown is a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education. She organizes and supports UCA special education teacher candidates to provide a respite day for parents in the community. Bears for CARE has gained much recognition in the community due to Alicia's efforts. As she noted, "The Bears for CARE program has been a blessing to everyone involved especially for myself and the students in my class....One of the greatest joys of this program is seeing the parents pick up their children with a renewed energy."

Teaching: Mrs. Sunny Styles-Foster

Mrs. Sunny Styles-Foster in a Clinical Instructor and Program Coordinator for the MAT program in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Sunny goes above and beyond to ensure that her students have rich classroom and field experiences. In particular, students commend her as a dynamic teacher. One of her students commented, "Ms. Foster is the best professor that I have had in the College of Education, and her class is one of my favorites that I've taken in these four years at UCA."

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

Brandy Rinke:

Brandy is a 2009 graduate of UCA's Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program and a 2012 graduate of UCA's Library Media (LIBM) program. She currently works as a library media specialist and technology liaison for the Fort Smith School District. She has almost 600 students and teaches K-6th grades. Brandy said, "I have two Masters degrees from UCA which both helped prepare me for my career in education." Brandy lives in Fort Smith with her husband and two children, Bella age 6, and Weston age 3. She also owns Bella's Boutique in Fort Smith.

Amber Skelton:

Amber is a 2015 graduate of UCA"s Library Media (LIBM). She has been working as a librarian in middle school since she graduated. Amber is currently working at Whitthorne Middle School (grades 5-8) in Columbia, TN.

Edith J. Callaway-Frazier:

Edith is a 2015 graduate of UCA"s Library Media (LIBM) program. After graduating, she taught Senior English for one more year. Since 2016, she has been a Library Media Specialist in the Little Rock School District. She spent one year as Hamilton Learning Academy's media specialist, but for the past three years, she has been at Hall High School. Edith is currently working on her Ed Leadership certification, but has no plans of leaving the media center. She said, "I love my job; it's easy to make it look like I'm going above and beyond because it's what I've been called to do. I even won Teacher of the Year and received a Superintendent's Citation last year."

Edith said, "I serve as PTSA president at the school, so I've been combining both my career and volunteerism by writing and winning PTA grants to host Safer Internet Nights for the past two years. I was actually PTSA president at two schools last year - my son's school and my school. I serve in this capacity at my school because the PTSA had been inactive for a few years before my arrival, and I feel that every school deserves to have a PTSA. I also serve on the School-Based Anti-Bullying Committee and the School-Based Intervention Team."

Michelle Lasiter:

Michelle is a 2014 graduate of UCA"S Library Media (LIBM) program. Since graduation, she moved from the classroom at Hackett Elementary to the library. In the library, she has incorporated a makerspace, live streaming the school announcements to Youtube using the green screen, and a competitive FLL robotics team that has made it to state every year. Michelle works with the teachers to do everything from finding the literature they need for lessons to readers theater projects with the green screen. She has just been asked to be on the board for the Scott-Sebastian County library, where we will be working on getting a new public library built in Greenwood. Michelle said, " I love my new position. Being in the library is definitely no longer the "cush job" on campus; I'm busier than I have ever been."

Betty Larry:

Betty is a 2014 graduate of UCA's Library Media and Information Technologies (LIBM) program. She is currently employed with Little Rock School District as a Library Media Specialist at Booker T. Washington Elementary School.

Kelly Chaney:

Kelly is a 2011 graduate of UCA's Library Media and Information Technologies (LIBM) program. After receiving her degree, she continued to teach chemistry and biology at Cabot High School for one more year and then moved on to UA-Little Rock and worked as the master teacher in the UALR Teach program for 5 years. During this time, Kelly completed her EdS degree in Education Administration with licensure as a principal and curriculum director. She then taught college biology for one year at UA-Little Rock before getting a job at Williams Elementary in the Little Rock School District as the elementary librarian. Since then, Kelly has worked to update the library and served on the Best STEM Books Committee and the Outstanding Science Trade Books Committee with the Children's Book Council and the National Science Teachers Association. Kelly said, "Thanks to UCA for helping me step outside my comfort zone and grow as an educator."

Vicki Parish:

Vicki is a 2016 graduate of UCA's Instructional Technology (ITEC) program. She is currently an Instructional Designer at UCA. Vicki said, "I love collaborating with faculty members from all different disciplines to design more effective, student-centered learning experiences in their courses."

Jill Wulfenstein:

Jill is a 2017 graduate of UCA's College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) program. Since graduation, she started working for Syracuse University in Student Activities where she advised a diverse portfolio of student organizations as well as helped execute music festivals and stadium shows for campus and the community. Jill also led salary negotiation workshops for the campus community as part of the Women's Leadership Initiative. She has just transitioned to a new role as Assistant Director with the University Of Rochester in Student Activities.

Jill is in charge of large scale programming on campus, including their Community Weekends. She also advises all of the performing arts groups on campus. Outside of work, Jill is currently working with Alpha Chi Omega to charter a new Alumnae chapter in Upstate New York where she will serve as president.

Student News:

Andrea Davis:

Andrea Davis was announced as one of two winners of the Gladys Sachse Endowed Scholarship. She will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to support her studies in the graduate Library Media and Information Technologies program for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Andrea is currently the Library Media Specialist at Cherokee Elementary School. This is her 9th year in the district and 1st year in the library. Andrea said, "My current plans are to continue building the reference section, create a welcoming atmosphere for students and teachers, and collaborate with teachers to show how the library can add to the curriculum." She added, "My future plans are to create a space for digital resources for students to use on and off campus, add additional makerspace projects, and update technology."

Carrie Finley:

Congratulations to Carrie Finley, a student in our Library Media and Information Technologies program. Currently the school librarian for Owl Creek Elementary, Carrie was awarded a Foundation Grant for $2400 to purchase Social-Emotional wellness books for the library collection to share with her students.

Carrie also worked on a grant for her practicum site and mentor, Sarah Jewel at Holt Middle School in the Fayetteville Public School district, which was also funded. The over $11,000 grant from Best Buy will fund a Google Expeditions Kit that will impact 515 Holt students this year alone and allow them to explore a plethora of interactive, virtual experiences needed to build background knowledge in all subject areas taught.

Amy Whitener:

Amy Whitener was announced as one of two winners of the Gladys Sachse Endowed Scholarship. She will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to support her studies in the graduate Library Media and Information Technologies program for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Amy said, "I have always known that I wanted to do one thing as a career: work with students so I could model for them how to be a lifelong learner. My career plan as a library media specialist is to work with preteens or early teenagers to encourage them first to discover who they are and encourage them to explore what makes them unique. As a library media specialist, I will continue teaching students how to seek credible and reliable information to answer their questions. I want to be the person in the school where students can come to be challenged, encouraged, and inspired; I also want to be the person the students see as a support to them academically as well as personally." She added, "This Gladys Sachse Endowed Scholarship would help me financially be able to reach my goal of graduating with my Master of Science in Library Media and Information Technologies in May of 2021."

UCA Cubs Activity Book:

Ashton Hankins, TLC Director, recently compiled and contributed to the COE's "UCA Cubs Activity Book." Other illustrations and activities in the book were adapted with permission by UCA Admissions and UCA Athletics. You can view/download by clicking the link below.

COE Newsletter Archives:

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