College of Education Newsletter

November 2022

Message from the Dean:

First of all, let me acknowledge the predictability of this newsletter message. There is nothing new or interesting about listing things that we are thankful for in November. However, I love the practice of taking some time out to reflect on gratitude. I have a lot to be thankful for and today I'd like to focus on the College of Education.

- Vicki

I'm thankful for our students, both graduate and undergraduate, who come to us with a thirst for knowledge and a passion to make a difference.

I'm thankful for our dedicated and student centered faculty who are leaders. They lead in teaching, service, and scholarship.
I'm thankful for a college leadership team who both challenge and support one another. There is no other group that I'd like to work with.
I'm thankful for colleagues outside the College of Education who understand the importance of equity and work everyday to center those efforts.
I'm thankful for our COE staff. They hold us together.
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Kappa Delta Pi New Members Initiated:

Congratulations to our new Kappa Delta Pi (Pi Beta Chapter) members, who were officially inducted at the initiation ceremony on October 25th. New inductees were Jordan Brown, Abbie Carlton, Sammy Ho, Rusty McCoy, Jessica Muffley, and Whitli Walthall.

A special thanks to Drs. Debbie Dailey, Jessica Herring-Watson, and Brandy Walthall, for representing the faculty at the ceremony. Your support is much appreciated.

For more information about Kappa Delta Pi, please visit

Build Reading Intervention Training:

On October 22, 2022, Brenda Nahlen, a Qualified Dyslexia Instructor, presented six hours of BUILD Reading Intervention Training to 25 teachers. Three university faculty were also trained: Drs. Susan Perry, Amy Thompson, and Brandy Walthall (all from the Department of Elementary Literacy, and Special Education).


To meet the needs of the K-1 students who have been identified at risk for dyslexia, the staff of the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Scottish Rite for Children has developed a 100-lesson reading intervention called BUILD: A K-1 Early Reading Intervention. BUILD is a small group intervention that addresses five specific components of reading intervention. Each component is taught developmentally using a direct, systematic, cumulative, multisensory method of introduction and practice to meet the specific needs of kindergarten and first-grade students struggling in reading.


1. Alphabet: the identification of letters, sequencing skills, and alphabetizing.

2. Letter/sound knowledge: the direct instruction of individual letters and sounds, leading to the practice of reading words and sentences.

3. Phonological awareness: the explicit introduction of the relationships between speech-sound production, from rhyme to spelling.

4. Vocabulary: the direct teaching of strategies using context clues to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words.

5. Comprehension: the explicit teaching of specific learning strategies used to identify the basic components of a story.


COE Quoted in Inside Higher Ed Article:

Dr. Michael Mills (College of Education Associate Dean) was recently quoted in the Inside Higher Education article, "Pinning Hopes on Future Educators" by Johanna Alonso. The article examines pinning ceremonies in teacher education programs.


Some institutions have been conducting such ceremonies for years. The University of Central Arkansas, a midsize university in the Little Rock suburb of Conway, held its first pinning ceremony for educator candidates back in 2007.

“It’s always been kind of an opportunity to impress upon our students their special place as educators, not just as a profession but as a call, a call to service,” said Michael S. Mills, associate dean of UCA’s College of Education.

Mills said the ceremony is also used as a chance to reiterate, one final time, some of the lessons the students have learned in the program, such as a teacher’s responsibility to treat all students fairly and equally.


To read the article in its entirety please go to

In the Classroom:

Students in Ms. Miller's Science Concepts Classes take their scientific investigations to the Pumpkin Patch. Future educators are exploring Ecology in a real world setting.

*See photos below

Members of the UCA Chapter of Educators Rising participate in professional development activities facilitated by Rob Beadel. This Registered Student Organization seeks to provide professional development and support for future educators. It is advised by Dr. Nykela Jackson, and Ms. Catherine Miller.

Project Learning Tree® (PLT) is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. PLT is an initiative of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

This global initiative is one of the most widely used preK-12 environmental education programs in the United States and abroad. PLT is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia; several U.S. territories; and Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, and Uruguay.

For more information or to set up a training, please contact Rob Beadel via email or visit the website

*See photos below

Student/Alumni News:

Ms. Hailey Carr:

Hailey Carr, a 2017 UCA College of Education graduate, was recently named the 2022 Conway Corp Teacher of the Year in the Conway Public Schools Systems.

Hailey currently teaches 6th grade at Simon Middle School in Conway. According to a newsletter press release from Conway Corp, Hailey was presented the award and a $2,000 check at the Conway Public Schools Back-to-School Assembly in August 2022.

Hailey Carr was previously honored as the 2022-2023 Conway Public School District's Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Marie Pokorski Millikin:

Marie Pokorski Millikin, a UCA Music Education graduate, recently received the Music Teacher of Excellence award from the Country Music Association.

During her undergraduate time at UCA, she was drum major of the UCA Bear Marching Band and active horn player in the UCA Wind Ensemble and the Conway Symphony Orchestra. Marie also attended graduate school at UCA where she earned her Masters in Instrumental Conducting under Dr. Ricky Brooks. After her time at UCA, Marie went on to teach in Arkansas, Mississippi, and eventually landed in Collierville, Tennessee where she now lives with her husband, Brian, and two kids, Maddie and Bryson. She has taught at Tara Oaks Elementary for eight years, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2017-2018. Marie received her Orff Schulwerk certification from the University of Memphis. She believes Orff is such an effective way to share music with her young learners because they are learning music in their natural element – through creating, playing, and moving! When Marie is not in the classroom, you can find her spending time with her family, doing anything outside, or serving at her church kids choir, singing in the adult choir/worship team, or playing horn in the orchestra.

Marie shared, "Receiving the honor of a Country Music Association’s Music Teacher of Excellence is most definitely the highlight of my career and I’m still in shock to have been chosen as one of 30 music teachers from across Tennessee and the rest of the United States. The CMA Foundation has an EXCEPTIONAL passion for music education. Their support for teachers like me is astonishing, but they really do it all for our students. Music has such a huge impact on a child’s academic achievement, willingness to participate in class, and social and emotional development. In partnership with many organizations, the CMA Foundation thrives to give music teachers the support and tools we need to provide only the best for our students. All that being said, I’m completely honored that they saw this same passion in me and selected me as one to represent the 2022 recipients."

When asked why she chose to pursue her education at UCA, Marie said "I chose UCA for several reasons. I was so excited to have been given a full scholarship from my horn professor, Dr. Brent Shires and former director of bands, Dr. Ricky Brooks. I knew from a young age that UCA invested strongly in the future of its music education students because of its involvement Dixie Band Camp. I grew up in a musical household with both of my parents being amazing music educators. We decided that UCA would be the best choice for what I needed to learn the most and have ample opportunities to make connections in the music education profession. I couldn’t wait to attend UCA, join the marching band, and start my journey with the amazing professors that would eventually inspire me to become the educator I am today. During my time at UCA, I was able to travel to Spain and Austria with the horn studio and Wind Ensemble, work with numerous music educators that would give me opportunities I’m forever grateful for, and form bonds with fellow musicians that I continue to learn from to this day. UCA was a perfect fit and the music program has grown and gotten even stronger since my time there. The young musicians there are gaining so much from the music department and are being shaped to change the world through music as I once was. GO BEARS!"

New Staff Welcome:

Tyler Brott:

The College of Education (COE) would like to welcome Tyler Brott as a new Administrative Specialist III in the Dean's Office.

Tyler moved to Conway last summer from Southeast Missouri. His husband, Kyle, began his Master’s degree at UCA while Tyler found work at Krispy Kreme. Tyler said, "I had wanted to move away from food service for a while and Kyle finally convinced me to apply at UCA, where I began working for Dr. Groves-Scott on November 1st.

Tyler added, "Kyle and I have been married for about two and a half years, and we live together with our three cats; Tabby, John Damn, and Waffles. In my free time, I’m usually crocheting,

knitting, weaving, or embroidering; and if not, Kyle has convinced me to go on a hike I’m in no

shape for."

Cherie Pearson:

Cherie Pearson recently joined the College of Education as an Administrative Specialist in the Office of Candidate Services.

Cherie is from Little Rock and attended Arkansas State University as a Theatre major. She traveled with a repertory company and worked at CBS for the daytime soap, The Young and Restless. Cherie has also worked as a voice-over actor in national TV ad campaigns such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Keepsake Diamonds. She is a working artist, specializing in portraits. Her favorite mediums are pencil, charcoal and oil.

Cherie has two children. Son, Drew Mitchell, lives in Conway, and is a radio personality, actor and producer. Daughter, Victoria Pennington, lives in Beebe, AR, with her husband and two boys, four-year-old Shayne and two-year-old Jaydon.

Faculty/Staff News:

Ms. Ashley Cooksey:

Ashley Cooksey (Director of the Technology Learning Center) was recently selected the 2022 UCA Wellness Champion Award winner in the non-classified staff category.

The UCA Wellness Champion Award provides recognition of the importance the university places on employee wellness in all dimensions: physical, environmental, financial, occupational, social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual.

Ashley received a plaque and was recognized on November 3rd at the virtual BeWell Kickoff and Employee Wellness Awards.

Dr. Shoudong Feng:

Dr. Shoudong Feng (Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) recently took part in an interview with Dr. Feng offered his expert knowledge for prospective teachers. He provided guidance regarding getting the most from student teaching, passing certification exams, and advice for new teachers. You can read the interview in its entirety by going to

Dr. Odunola Oyeniyi:

Dr. Odunola Oyeniyi (Department of Leadership Studies) received grant funding from the UCA Foundation to provide a program to create awareness that will prevent suicide and promote mental health outcomes for students at the University of Central Arkansas. The program will include activities to increase mental health awareness; identify warning signs of mental distress through gatekeeper training, provide life skills training/workshops to cope with various day-to-day stressful situations; conduct activities to reduce mental health stigma, increase help-seeking behavior, and develop liaisons with the community.

The program will take place in Spring 2023. It will be organized in partnership with various campus offices (Student Health Center and Student Wellness office) and the community (Arkansas Association for Suicide Prevention). The target population for this intervention will be undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Central Arkansas.

It is hoped this program will help reduce suicide risk by removing barriers to care, enhancing knowledge of what to do and say to help suicidal individuals, increasing access to help, and strengthening protective processes like social support and coping skills, course completion, retention, and graduation.

Dr. Vincent Price

Dr. Vincent Price (Department of Teaching and Learning) recently presented at the 10th annual Black Doctoral Network conference in Atlanta, GA. In addition to presenting his research on high school English teachers' use of Black literature, he also conducted a workshop that provided attendees with straightforward answers to their questions about writing.

Tech Bytes:

Accessibility is important to consider when building materials and creating documents for others. Alt Text adds text to an image so that it can be "read" by individuals who are visually impaired and/or using a screen reader. Building accessibility into materials ahead of time is part of the Universal Design for Learning process.

A screen reader will simply read "image" if Alt Text is missing. To add Alt Text to images in most digital tools and products, right-click on the image and choose "Alt Text."

UCA's Office of Accessibility Resources and Services has several helpful tips and ideas for creating more accessible materials.

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