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School of Education awards faculty, staff and students for accomplishments in 2015-16

June 24, 2016

LAWRENCE – Each year, the School of Education recognizes faculty, staff, and students for their achievements during the academic year. The following individuals were honored at the School of Education Convocation on May 14, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award

Yen Wang received this year’s award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis  for her work titled “Understanding Time Concept to Help Delay of Gratification in Young Children.” Her advisor was Bob Harrington, from the Department of Educational Psychology.

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Awards

Xiushan Jiang received the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation honor for “The Price of Being International.” His advisors were Susan Twombly and Dongbin Kim from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

Alexandra Vuyk Espinola received the second outstanding award for her doctoral dissertation titled “Openness to Experience Rather than Over Excitabilities.” Her advisor was Tom Krieshok from the Department of Educational Psychology.

Senior Leadership Award

This award, which honors exemplary undergraduate students in their final year in the School of Education, was given to eleven students this year: Angela Bass, Elementary Education; Lindsay Frank, Elementary Education; Tayler Hammersmith, Sport Management; Breanna Hunt, Elementary Education; Brennan Keller, Sport Management; Brienne Kelly, Elementary Education; Mikaela Klos, Unified Early Childhood Education; Aubrey Remy, Secondary History & Government Education; Rachael Schaffer, Secondary English Education; Alyssa Wielansky, Sport Management; Rachel Witt, Unified Early Childhood Education.

Lindsay Frank also received a university-wide honor, the Kathryn Nemeth Tuttle Student Scholar Award. It is presented to a graduating senior scholarship hall man or woman who demonstrates exceptional academic focus, leadership in his/her scholarship hall and also commitment to the University of Kansas and the Lawrence community.

Outstanding Faculty Awards

Karen Jorgensen from the Department of Curriculum and Teaching (C&T) is the 2016 recipient of the Meredith Geiger Gould Undergraduate Teaching Award. Seniors in teacher education nominate the professor who best exhibits excellence in classroom teaching for this honor. Jorgensen teaches courses in literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages.

Jennifer Ng, associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies is the recipient of the Dr. Bob Frederick Faculty Award, which honors an outstanding faculty member who exemplifies ethics in their career and carries on Bob’s tradition of devotion to students.Ng teaches classes in qualitative research, multicultural education, sociology of education, and historical and philosophical perspectives on urban education.

Kelli Thomas (associate dean, undergraduate programs and associate professor, C&T) is the 2016-2017 Budig Teaching Professor in Education. Her students consistently rate her highly for her teaching and comment on her ability to establish a comfortable learning environment conducive to sharing ideas. In addition, students note how she significantly helps them learn what they need to be effective teachers.

Mary Morningstar, an associate professor in the Department of Special Education and director of the Transition Coalition is the 2016-2017 Budig Special Education Professor. Her nomination noted she “has been involved in training, professional development and research regarding transition from school to adult life for over 25 years. She is a true teacher-mentor, scholar and leader who ably transmits her knowledge, skills and enthusiasm for high quality access for all.”

Joe O’Brien, an associate professor in C&T, is the 2016-2017 Budig Writing Professor. O’Brien’s commitment to engaging his students in the writing process was cited. “His work with students has not only helped make teaching candidates better writers, but he has helped them realize that writing can be a vehicle of advancing the field of social studies education.”

More information on the Budig Awards can be found here.

School of Education Faculty Award for Research

Diane Nielsen (professor, C&T) was given the School of Education Award for Research. Nielsen has made a significant contribution to understanding how teachers can support students’ development of literacy. Her research has focused on the connection between language development and reading achievement in children in the preschool-through-primary grades, particularly in at-risk readers.

School of Education Faculty Award for Service

Barbara Kerr, the Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Educational Psychology, received the School of Education Faculty Award for Service. Through the Counseling Laboratory for the Exploration of Optimal States, Kerr has developed relationships with 28 schools across Kansas, visiting them, providing in-services training for educators who work with gifted, talented, and creative high school students, and bringing the students to KU for a day of exploring creativity.

School of Education Faculty Award for Teaching

Meagan Patterson (associate professor, Department of Educational Psychology) received the School of Education Faculty Award for Teaching. Her commitment to teaching can be seen in her preparation and enthusiasm for teaching and is undoubtedly why she was selected to be a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Teaching Excellence. She has the ability to engender a sense of community and belonging in the classroom and is adept at finding new ways to explain material so the content is understood.

School of Education Promising Scholar Award

Jennifer Kurth (assistant professor, Special Education) was presented the School of Education Promising Scholar Award. Kurth has an impressive record as an early-career scholar showing evidence of a coherent program of research and impact on the field.  In the past three years, Kurth has published 10 peer-reviewed journal articles, three book chapters, and one book, focused on the inclusion of students with extensive and pervasive support needs.

School of Education Staff Achievement Award

Michele Casavant was the recipient of the Staff Achievement Award. Casavant serves as Director of Advising and of the Multicultural Scholars Program for the School of Education. Countless Multicultural Scholars have thrived under her mentorship. She has served on a number of School of Education and University of Kansas committees. Casavant has also taught courses in the teacher education program as well as launching freshman into undergraduate studies by teaching UNIV 101.

School of Education faculty and staff awards were presented at the end of year banquet on May 10, 2016.

10th among public universities for its master’s and doctoral programs
—U.S. News & World Report
#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
Assists public schools and other partners in all 105 Kansas counties
$938,377 in scholarship funds awarded to 420+ students
Research expenditures of $36,804,773 for 2011-12
Research from KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, assists educators, children, and families across the United States
The award-winning special education faculty published 140 refereed articles, 11 books, and 60 chapters in 2015-16
Students with intellectual disabilities are participating in KU undergraduate programs through a grant-funded KU special education program
Researchers on a $3.5 million grant are collecting data on an innovative reading program designed to teach reading to students with the most significant disabilities in seven Kansas school districts
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
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