College of Education Newsletter

May 2021

Message from the Dean:

One of the things I love best about working at a university is the opportunity to learn every day. Surrounded by people from different backgrounds and areas of expertise, I get to explore all I do not know. I love the excitement of being unsure, of wrestling with newness, and of finding out that I'm wrong. Yes, all of these things push me to grow both professionally and personally. This year has been a year of reflection and growth. A year of a pandemic will give you the opportunity to pause... between the chaos. To that end, I've been reading a lot. Recently I've been reading Teaching to Transgress by Belle Hooks. Over and over her work has made me think of UCA and our college. In the beginning of the book she talks about how colleges and universities have lost their way by focusing on the seriousness of teaching and not the joy or excitement. I see this as a strength of our college. Whether faculty are talking about reading methods, pedagogy, equity in education, leadership, and/or higher education we can't contain our excitement. I listen to you talk about your students' accomplishments with such joy that I can see how that permeates our classrooms. Hooks said, "As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another's voices, in recognizing one another's presence.” We have spent a year practicing our listening in workshops and in classrooms. We are recognizing our differences by seeing color, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ability..... That sight brings connection. That connection brings excitement. That excitement brings learning and growth for our students, faculty, and staff. As we end our academic year, let's pause to celebrate our learning and growth over the past year and make a commitment to continue.


Instructional Technology (ITEC) Program:

The COE is proud to announce the first cohort of Online Teaching and Learning graduate certificate program students in the Instructional Technology (ITEC) program graduated in May.

The 15-hour Online Teaching and Learning graduate certificate program is designed to provide K-12 educators with the knowledge and skills needed to become technology leaders and practitioners who are fully prepared to teach in an online environment. UCA offers the state’s only program leading to the Online Teaching and Learning educator license endorsement.

The program consists of the following courses: Universal Design for Learning; Online Education Course Design, Delivery, Implementation; Online Teaching and Instructional Strategies; Supporting Student Success in Online Teaching; and Design and Production of Media Resources for Online Courses.

Congratulations to Nikki Aitken, Ann Broyles, Jana Dixon, Shelle House, and Sarah Tucker.

Each ITEC master’s degree program may be completed within two years, and all courses are available online. More information is available at

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2021 COE Student Award Winners:

Octavis Mitchell - COE Student of the Year:

Congratulations to Octavis Mitchell on being named the 2021 COE Student of the Year! Octavis is Spring 2021 graduate of the Middle Level (Math/Science) education program.

Octavis shared, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” This quote by Maimonides, depicts and summarizes my attitude and demeanor towards life as a whole. We should always be working towards becoming “fishermen” in whatever life may hold for us. Growing up as an African American male, in a small town of Northeast Arkansas, life was not an easy road, but it all has been worth it. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that I did have, and I am also grateful for the opportunities I did not have. They have made me who I am today — A young, black, educated individual, who has a heart and passion for teaching.

Faith Forrest - T&L Undergraduate Student of the Year:

Congratulations to Faith Forrest on being named the 2021 Teaching & Learning Undergraduate Student of the Year! Faith is a Spring 2021 graduate of the Middle Level (Social Studies, Math, and ESL) education program.

Faith shared, "I have received so many wonderful opportunities within the College of Education due to the amazing faculty! With help from different instructors and professors I was able to work on an honors research project regarding the Little Rock community’s perception of the ADE takeover of the LRSD and present at the Association of Teacher Educators Annual Meeting in February of 2021 about online internship experiences. After I graduate in May, I would love to find a teaching job in Arkansas. I am extremely honored to be chosen as the Teaching and Learning Undergraduate Student of the Year."

Timneshia Harris - T&L Graduate Student of the Year:

Congratulations to Timneshia Harris on being named the 2021 Teaching & Learning Graduate Student of the Year! Timneshia is a Spring 2021 graduate of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program.

Timneshia shared, "I have always had a passion to serve the youth, but I never knew in what capacity. When I graduated with my BA in Criminal Justice, I was confident that I would land a Juvenile Probation Officer job after graduation and that never happened, however I didn't give up on finding my true purpose in life. I chose education because I know that I will be able to reach students on multiple levels aside from academics; to be an effective teacher, I believe that you have to be adaptable and meet your students where they are. It is important for teachers to pour into their students and cultivate an environment that promotes personal development, positivity, and security."

2021 COE Faculty Award Winners:

Dr. Stefanie Sorbet - Scholarship and Research:

As an Assistant Professor in ELSE’s K-6 program, Dr. Stefanie Sorbet’s research agenda focuses on preparing preservice teachers and the importance of mentoring novice teachers. Stefanie instructs juniors in positive classroom environment courses to help preservice teachers manage a socially and emotionally-rich learning environment. Through teaching this course she has researched and written articles on positive classroom design, best practices in classroom management, and social and emotional learning. Keeping true to her own first-year teaching experience of having a strong mentor to support her, Stefanie dedicated her dissertation to examining the reciprocity between mentors and novice teachers. Since then she has continued to write and publish within this topic of mentoring novice teachers. She has coauthored an administrator’s manual for establishing a mentoring program for novice teachers as well as written an article on the intrinsic benefits for the mentor within a mentoring relationship. Her most recent publication was in collaboration with colleagues in the College of Education to create a guide and program for administrators across our state to best support novice teachers. The Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has recently taken an interest in this guide and conversations are being had to pilot this to provide much needed guidance and mentorship to our newest teachers in the profession in a joint effort to continue to support our graduates once they enter the classroom.

Dr. Charlotte Green - Service:

Dr. Charlotte Green is an Assistant Professor in the department of Leadership Studies.

Charlotte shared, "I lost my mother in 2006, and that was a devastating event for me. Icy Rainey, my mom, was selfless and constantly gave herself to improve her family and community. A few years back, I went through some of my mother’s belongings and came across a speech she wrote and gave. It surprised me because I was not aware she gave speeches. It was titled “Service.” She asked the question, “How do people see Jesus outside of church?” The answer she offered was through community service and helping others. My mother never talked about community service. She lived it. I carry her legacy, and that guides many of my actions. I want to give of myself to help my family and community."

Ms. Jessica Herring Watson - Teaching:

Ms. Jessica Herring Watson is a Clinical Instructor in the department of Teaching and Learning.

Jessica shared, "Operating from a social constructivist orientation, I believe that students are active, social problem-solvers and that my role in the classroom space is that of facilitator and guide. As a teacher educator, I believe in the power of preservice and novice teachers as change-makers and disruptors within our education systems, who are capable of creating learning spaces that prioritize innovative pedagogies and cultivate inclusivity, belonging, and creativity among K-12 students. Above all I believe that an ethics of care is necessary for learning and strive to create an empathetic, open-minded learning community in my classes."

2020-2021 Gladys Sachse Scholarship Award Winners:

Ashton Fitzpatrick, Brittany Hackett, Kimberly Powers, and Rebecca Winslow are the winners of the Gladys Sachse Endowed Scholarships. Each winner is awarded a $750.00 scholarship to support their studies in the Graduate Library Media Program for the 2020-2021 academic year. Congratulations to all!

Ashton Fitzpatrick:

Ashton is currently a 9th grade English and Creative Writing teacher in Springdale, Arkansas. She plans to graduate from UCA's Library Media program in August of 2021. Ashton said, “When I graduate, I intend to become a school librarian at some point in my career. I hope to center the library as an integral component of collaboration and cross-curricular work within the school building in which I work. Having a diversified collection of books that appeals to an array of students is a passion of mine, and I would work tirelessly to create genuine rapport with students so I could use my role as a media specialist to reach as many students as possible. I want students and staff to see the library as an extension of the classroom and me as an extension of the classroom teacher.”

Brittany Hackett:

Brittany is currently a third grade literacy teacher at Eastside Elementary School in Greenbrier, Arkansas. She plans to graduate from UCA’s Library Media Program in December 2021. Brittany said, “When I graduate, I intend to become an elementary school librarian in the Greenbrier School District. Some of the plans I have include: meeting the needs of students and teachers, collaborating building-wide to lesson plan, provide resources, and professional development, help integrate more technology into the classrooms, especially within lower elementary, create programs for our school, provide engaging opportunities for students to learn and grow, and design a library that is welcoming, exciting, and providing students with a diverse collection of books and opportunities they can only encounter while in the library."

Kimberly Powers:

This is Kimberly’s twentieth year of teaching. She taught at the high school level for twelve years, and has spent the last eight years teaching at the middle school level. She currently teaches 8th grade English Language Arts at Bergman Middle School. Kimberly said, “I plan to graduate in May 2023 with a degree in Library Media and Information Technologies. As a library media specialist, I envision lots of book clubs, conversations about books, and incentives to get kids excited about reading as well as offer a variety of “workshops'' for students such as Honing Your Research Skills, Mastering MLA and APA Format, and Tackling the Test (AKA Test Prep). My goal is to move into the role of high school media specialist in about five years. “

Rebecca Winslow:

Rebecca taught English at Cabot High School for six years and is now working as an executive assistant. She plans to graduate from UCA's Library Media Program in the fall of 2022. Rebecca said, “Initially, I could only envision myself as a middle or high school librarian, but my experiences as a student at UCA have shown me that I would be very happy as an elementary librarian as well. As a future 21st-century librarian, I look forward to creating a vibrant library environment where learners of all ages can find what they are looking for--whether it’s a book, a new instructional tool, or a place to collaborate with their peers.”

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

Jessica Franklin:

Jessica Franklin, a 2016 COE graduate, was recently named the North Little Rock district elementary teacher of the year.

Jessica shared, "Since leaving UCA in 2016, I've been teaching 5th grade literacy at Meadow Park Elementary School in North Little Rock. I love my position because I love getting to share my passion for literacy with middle level aged learners. You can't beat working with 5th graders! I largely credit my success in the classroom to my training from UCA. I'm forever thankful for wonderful instructors and supervisors like Mr. Ward, Dr. Phelps, Mrs. Voegele, and Dr. Mills who pushed and prepared me every step of the way. My foundation to becoming district elementary teacher of the year truly lies at UCA."

Jasmine Gonzalez:

Jasmine Gonzalez is a 2016 COE graduate.

Jasmine shared, "After graduating at UCA in 2016, I stayed in Little Rock to teach third grade at St. Theresa Catholic School. I was blessed to teach third grade for two years until I was asked to become an assistant principal. I'm currently receiving my masters online for educational leadership through St. Louis University. I'm also a part of the first cohort for the LEADers program at Notre Dame, where they will be flying me out this summer to attend a conference on their campus."

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