College of Education Newsletter

November 2019

Message from the Dean:

Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni,

I can't tell you how grateful I am to be part of this big, wonderful, supportive, innovative, and impactful College. Everyday I find something new to appreciate and admire. Today, I was given a terrific idea (thank you Ms. Lisa Herrington). We need to celebrate our alumni by recognizing where they are now and what they have done. Dr. Rhonda McClellan was just telling me about the wonderful work our Ph.D graduates are doing to lead change. We also have teachers, librarians, school counselors, technology specialists, school leaders, and professors who have worked to enhance their world and support positive change. So, let's share the news. Let's start collecting and sharing "Where Are They Now" articles that highlight our alumni and their impact. We are going to put a link on our website for nominations and self-nomination. We need all of you to share your stories by going to

Our network is huge and Thanksgiving is a perfect time to show our gratitude for all of the UCA alumni and students making a difference.

Graduate Recruitment Grants:

The College of Education's (COE) graduate programs received $16,000.00 in grant funds to be used for recruitment activities over the next year. For the first time, the UCA Graduate School presented a call for recruitment grant proposals to graduate program coordinators across campus. Eight graduate programs in the COE received grant funds ranging from $900 to $2500 for a variety of activities including attending professional conferences, print and radio advertisements, and social media outreach. The following programs received graduate recruitment grant funding: Instructional Technology, Library Media, Advanced Studies in Teacher Leadership, Master of Arts in Teaching, School Counseling, Reading, Special Education, and Interdisciplinary Ph.D.

2019 Conferences:

American Association of School Librarians:

Dr. Erin Shaw(Assistant Professor and LIBM/ITEC Program Coordinator) and Dr. Jeff Whittingham (Professor and ASTL Program Coordinator) recently attended the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The conference is held every two years. Drs. Shaw and Whittingham were part of the Research Into Action sessions. Their presentation was "Book Insecurity: How Can Teachers and School Librarians Help?" This is the first time that the AASL has had a research strand and they were one of only seven Research Into Action proposals accepted nation-wide. Dr. Donna Wake and Dr. Rachelle Miller were also part of the research team, but were unable to attend the conference.

Dr. Shaw participated in AASL’s Educators of School Librarians focus group research group on the AASL National School Library Standards and how to introduce and include the new standards in School Library preparation programs. She also, along with Ashley Cooksey (UCA adjunct ITEC instructor), participated in a Graduate Program Open House during AASL where they were able to share information about UCA graduate programs and connect with former UCA Library Media graduates.

Arkansas Council for Exceptional Children:

College of Education (COE) Special Education (SPED) faculty and students recently attended the Arkansas Council for Exceptional Children Conference. Twenty-four SPED students were able to attend. Faculty who attended/presented were: Ms. Alicia Brown (Clinical Instructor and AR SCEC Advisor), Ms. Dee Dee Cain (Clinical Instructor and AR SCEC President), Dr. Susan Perry (Assistant Professor) , Dr. Deanna Rice (Assistant Professor), and Dr. Stefanie Sorbet (Assistant Professor).

The SPED block (21 students) were also able to attend a PD presented by Dr. Lisa Dieker. The one-day training focused on increasing student engagement through evidence-based practices.

The conference theme was superheroes and faculty/students went as UCA heroes. They wore UCA T-shirts, masks, and purple tablecloth‘s for capes. The annual SCEC soup luncheon held in the UCA COE helped off-set the cost of attending the conference.

Arkansas Counseling Association:

Dr. Valerie Couture and Dr. Odunola Oyeniyi (both Assistant Professors in the School Counseling program) recently attended/presented at the Arkansas Counseling Association Annual Conference in Hot Springs Arkansas. The conference focuses on sharing research and best practices in mental health counseling and school counseling.

Their presentation was "Advocating for Child Abuse and Neglect Victims: A Call for Counselor Practitioners and Educators." Drs. Couture and Oyeniyi shared with the audience signs of child abuse and neglect that counselors need to be aware of, as well as counseling tools, which can be used to help child abuse victims. Attendees of their presentation included: school counselors, clinical mental health counselors, and counselor educators.

Dr. Couture won the Roger Herring Research Award which is meant to honor and recognize high quality empirical research, which is counseling related in nature and relevant to improving counseling outcomes.

Arkansas Literacy Association:

Dr. Stefanie Sorbet (Assistant Professor), Dr. Amy Thompson (Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Reading/Dyslexia program and ALA University Liaison), and Ms. Lisa Herrington (Senior Clinical Instructor) recently attended/presented at the Arkansas Literacy Association Conference.

Dr. Sorbet presented “Prescribing Multisensory Lapbooks for Literacy Intervention”.

This presentation provided an overview of how to create prescribed multisensory literacy lapbooks focused on specific reading deficits. Dr. Thompson presented “Improving Literacy Instruction Through Technology” which explored various technologies to help support and enhance classroom instruction, as well as “So Many Assessments - So Little Time”, where participants were introduced to a variety of assessments that could be utilized as dyslexia screeners: Level 1 and Level 2 assessments. Ms. Herrington presented “Hosting a Book Tasting”, which showed how to host a book tasting at your school.

ALA sponsors a state literacy conference in November of each year. Nationally recognized speakers and small group session leaders provide excellent professional development for all educators.

Mid-South Educational Research Association:

Several COE faculty members recently presented at/attended the Mid-South Educational Research Association (MSERA) Conference in New Orleans, LA

Dr. Rachelle Miller (Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning) was sworn in as MSERA President. Dr. Nykela Jackson (Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning) presented a coauthored presentation with Dr. Donna Wake (COE Assistant Dean) and Dr. Angela Webster (Associate VP for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor for the Department of Leadership Studies) entitled "Recruiting Teachers from Underrepresented Populations."

Dr. Stephanie Huffman (Department Head of the Reading, Foundations, and Technology Department at Missouri State University) presented a coauthored presentation with Dr. Erin Shaw (Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership Studies) and Dr. Amy Thompson (Assistant Professor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) entitled: "Meeting the Needs of Dyslexic Students: Targeted Library Media and Technology Interventions."

Dr. Patty Kohler (Professor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) and Dr. Stefanie Sorbet (Assistant Professor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) presented "Success IS Possible Implementing a Mentoring Program for New Teachers." Dr. Sorbet also presented "Empathy and Awareness Among Pre-Service Teachers Through Social-Emotional, Literacy Experiences with At-Risk Youth.

Dr. Charlotte Green (Assistant Professor in the department of Leadership Studies) and Dr. Louis Nadelson (Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Leadership Studies) presented: "Teaching Preservice Teachers about Implicit Bias and Microaggressions: Knowing it’s Just a Pencil." Dr. Nadelson also presented "Social Emotional Learning: Teaching, Caring, and Curiosity in K-12 Education with Dr. Sandra Nadelson (Assistant Professor in the department of Nursing), and was the presider over a paper session on "Assessing Teacher Leader Identity in the Context of the Classroom" with Loi Booher and Michael Turley (both from UCA).

MSERA is an educational organization whose purposes are to encourage quality educational research in the Mid-South and to promote the application of the results of quality educational research in the schools. MSERA represents Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. MSERA 2020 will be located in Little Rock, AR from Oct 27-30.

National Association for Gifted Children:

Ms. Michelle Buchanan and Drs. Alicia Cotabish and Debbie Dailey attended the National Association for Gifted Children conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ms. Buchanan participated in the research gala where she shared her pilot study on gifted educators and leadership. Dr. Cotabish and Dailey contributed to the new P-12 Gifted Standards and presented a session about the new standards. Dr. Dailey also had a session on her curriculum book: Thinking Like an Engineer. Dr. Dailey is also the STEM Network Chair and hosted a network evening event titled: Julia Robinson Mathematics and STEM Festival.

Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators

The annual SRATE (Southern Regional Association of Teacher Educators) conference took place November 14-16 in St. Augustine, Florida. This professional organization is affiliated with the Association of Teacher Educators. The purpose of SRATE is to improve teacher education.

Three COE faculty members participated in this conference. Dr. Nancy Gallavan presented Ensuring Student Well-being and Learning with Effective Classroom Assessments: Teacher Presence, Practice, and Professionalism. This presentation focused on the reflection of classroom assessment experiences, data collected from teacher candidates show the importance and immediacy for transforming teacher presence, practice, and professionalism to strengthen student well-being and learning for all students. Dr. Charlotte Green and Dr. Tammy Benson presented Culturally Competent Educators Collaborate: Urban Schools and Effective Teachers. This presentation addressed ways to reduce microaggressions, enhance knowledge of diverse student populations, and provide meaningful field experiences that positively impact students. Dr. Tammy Benson presented work from the BearsRead Program (this is coordinated by Ms. Crystal Voegele). She presented The Parent Factor in Literacy and Closing the Parity Gap! This presentation shared training techniques for working with parents to support literacy interventions, ways communities can advocate for struggling readers, and strategies that will educate the whole child.

All three faculty members participated in professional development sessions and an awards luncheon to honor excellence in teacher education.

Faculty and Student News:

Dr. Tammy Benson and Dr. Charlotte Green:

Dr. Tammy Benson (Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning) and Dr. Charlotte Green (Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership Studies) received the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Conway Bookcase Project recently at their annual banquet on October 29.

These two faculty members have served as a board member on the Conway Bookcase Project and are instrumental in planning and implementing the annual conference and ceremony to present bookcases and books to preschool children. Dr. Nancy Gallavan (Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning) also attended and supported the banquet in her role as advisor for Kappa Delta Pi. Kappa Delta Pi supports this project with donations and with help decorating for the banquet.

The “Bookcase for Every Child” project was started in Conway, Arkansas in 2005 by Mr. Jim Davidson. Each year, the committee of volunteers work together to build and present fifty quality, personalized bookcases, along with a starter set of books, to four-year old children enrolled in local Head Start Programs. Dr. Benson and Dr. Green was honored for their years of service to this organization. For more information about this valuable program, see

Ms. Michelle Buchanan and Dr. Debbie Dailey:

Ms. Michelle Buchanan (STEMteach Master Teacher) and Dr. Debbie Dailey (Associate Professor and Gifted and Talented Program Coordinator) have a regular tech tools column in the TAG (The Association for the Gifted) newsletter. Michelle was lead on this edition's column entitled Technology Tools for Investigation, Part 2. Debbie serves as TAG President Elect and Michelle serves as TAG Public Relations Coordinator.

To read their column please visit

Dr. Shoudong Feng, Dr. Amy Thompson, and Ms. Taylor Beevers

ELSE undergraduate student Taylor Beevers recently presented on her research at the Arkansas ATE conference in Russellville at the Association of Literacy Teacher Educators session. Taylor presented on her research from the spring at the Boys and Girls Club entitled "Confidence and Its Impact on a Short-Term Literacy Intervention Program." Taylor presented with her UCA Faculty advisors, Dr. Amy Thompson and Dr. Shoudong Feng.

Dr. Louis Nadelson:

Dr. Louis Nadelson (Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Leadership Studies) was recently selected as one of 12 MIT INSPIRE CS-AI Fellows.

The MIT INSPRIE CS-AI Fellows program involves assembling a cadre of 12 fellows selected from a national search of over 150 applications. The fellows will work together to increase social justice, equity, access, and quality of K-12 computer science (CS) through the use of computer based professional development tools that use artificial intelligence (AI). The leadership for the project is a collaboration between Carolyn Rose at Carnegie Mellon and Justin Reich at MIT and funded by the National Science Foundation. The fellows attended their first gathering for two and a half days in Cambridge MA at the MIT Teaching Systems Lab. They will meet virtually throughout the 2019-2020 academic year as the project progresses. The project is a two year commitment.

Part of the MIT INSPIRE CS-AI fellows project is developing new content of the Practice Spaces. At the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, the faculty members have developed teacher practice spaces, learning environments inspired by games and simulations, that help novice teachers rehearse for and reflect on important decisions in teaching. For this INSPIRE CS-AI project the fellows will be creating content for the practice spaces that will focus on preparing teachers to teach computer science. The scenarios that they create will be guided by artificial intelligence – with branching to unique and needed parts of the content taking place based on the responses of those using the Practice Space content.

The scenario that Dr. Nadelson is creating is about a computer science teacher who is new to a school that has underperformed for many years. The scenario focuses on the teacher interacting with other faculty members, the principal, and parents. The intention of the scenario is to prepare new teachers who may be teaching computer science in a school where there are teachers who perceive the students are not capable of learning advanced topics or concepts associated with computer science. Dr. Nadelson will work on the scenario over the next year with support from the project leadership from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab.

In addition to creating the scenarios and content for the simulations, the fellows are teaming to conduct research on the learning taking place using the scenarios in the practice space.

Dr. Nadelson said, "I feel very honored to be selected for this project and be able to work with some phenomenal scholars and teachers who are fellows and those leading the program. I have already learned a lot and know I will continue to expand my knowledge as we continue to explore the innovative use of technology for teacher preparation and professional development in computer science education."