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— Judith Herb College of Education

NSF awards UT nearly $1 million grant to continue early childhood science education program

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded The University of Toledo a nearly $1 million federal grant to continue, expand and further evaluate its successful, innovative program that engages teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive, inquiry-based science lessons.

The University’s NURTURES Early Childhood Science program, which aims to improve the science readiness scores of preschool through third-grade students in the Toledo area, was originally supported with a $10 million, five-year NSF grant. The new $991,081 grant is part of a total of $2.25 million in federal funding for the second phase of the program that extends it through 2021.

NURTURES, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science, is a professional development program and collaboration between UT, local daycare centers and nursery schools, Toledo Public Schools, informal science centers and other community resources to create a complementary, integrated system of science education.

Project participants in the second phase of the project will include 120 teachers, 2,400 preschool through third-grade children, and more than 7,200 family members in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

“We are pleased to receive additional funding from the National Science Foundation for the NURTURES program,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. “Building on our previous success, we will simultaneously target early childhood teachers, families and children to create a broad support system for powerful and effective science teaching and learning. This program will help close the gaps in science, mathematics, reading and literacy for young children.”

During the first phase of the NURTURES program, 330 teachers of preschool through third grade and administrators participated in a total of 544 hours of professional development in the teaching of science inquiry and engineering design for early childhood classrooms.

According to research published recently in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, every year that a student has a NURTURES program teacher adds on average 8.6 points to a student’s early literacy standardized test score compared to control students, 17 points to a student’s mathematics score, and 41.4 points to a student’s reading score.

The program includes five primary components:

• A two-week summer institute for preschool through third-grade teachers in which they have access to both scientists and instructional coaches;

• Academic year professional development, including monthly professional learning community meetings and one-on-one coaching;

• Family science activity packets sent home from school four times a year that each include a newsletter with directions for the investigation, necessary materials for the activity, and a journal sheet for children to record data or visually represent understanding;

• Family community science events, such as engineering challenge simulations, and observations and demonstrations at a park, zoo, science center, library or farm; and

• Public service broadcasts on television that promote family science activities.

According to the National Science Foundation, an important facet of this follow-up project is the research effort to understand how each component impacts student learning. Project leaders plan to use control groups and standardized tests to measure the effect of teacher professional development compared to family engagement activities.

“What a tremendous opportunity for the young children, their families and teachers in our region to participate in a project that will enhance their understanding of science and the natural world around them,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “It is so important for the project team at The University of Toledo to continue to study the impact that family engagement has on a young child’s education. We know that spending time reading to a child exposes them to 1.8 million words a year. What other things could families be exposing to their children to set them on a pathway for success in life? The NURTURES project at The University of Toledo aims to find that out.”

The additional grant award comes one week after the American Association of State Colleges and Universities honored UT with its Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in recognition of the NURTURES program.

Czerniak oversaw the development of the NURTURES program along with Dr. Joan Kaderavek, professor of early childhood, physical and special education in the UT Judith Herb College of Education; Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UT Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education; and Dr. Scott Molitor, associate professor in the UT Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

UT wins national teacher education award for excellence and innovation

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) honored The University of Toledo with its Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education in recognition of a successful program that engages teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive, inquiry-based science lessons.

The national association of nearly 420 public colleges, universities and systems selected UT for the competitive award that recognizes one institution each year for excellence and innovation because of the University’s NURTURES Early Childhood Science program, which aims to improve the science readiness scores of preschool through third grade students in the Toledo area.

In a letter to UT President Sharon L. Gaber, AASCU President Muriel A. Howard calls the program “an exemplary one that can serve as a model for other institutions and help to advance practices in the field.”

NURTURES, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University to enRich Early Childhood Science, is a professional development program and collaboration between UT, local daycare centers and nursery schools, Toledo Public Schools, informal science centers, and other community resources to create a complementary, integrated system of science education. The program was supported with a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

“We are honored to receive this award and hope that the NURTURES program will serve as an exciting model for teaching science to young children,” said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. “By engaging young children in high-quality science experiences, teachers can also impact reading, literacy and mathematics in statistically significant ways.”

According to research published recently in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, every year that a student has a NURTURES program teacher adds on average 8.6 points to a student’s early literacy standardized test score compared to control students, 17 points to a student’s mathematics score, and 41.4 points to a student’s reading score.

“Our innovation comes in through the multifaceted way the program engages teachers, parents and the community in science for young children,” Czerniak said. “Science focused on preschool through third grade is not the norm. And by engaging children in school-based, at-home-based and informal-community-based science, we build a model for helping young children learn science and improve in reading, literacy and mathematics as well.”

The NURTURES program enhances teacher understanding of science content to improve classroom practices and offers classroom extension activities and family learning opportunities in the Toledo area.

It includes five primary components, including:

• A two-week summer institute for preschool through third grade teachers in which they have access to both scientists and instructional coaches;

• Academic year professional development, including monthly professional learning community meetings and one-on-one coaching;

• Family science activity take-home packs that each include a newsletter with directions for the investigation, necessary materials for the activity, and a journal sheet for children to record data or visually represent understanding;

• Family community science events, such as engineering challenge simulations, and observations and demonstrations at a park, zoo, science center, library or farm; and

• Public service broadcasts on television that promote family science activities.

Czerniak oversaw the development of the NURTURES program along with Dr. Joan Kaderavek, professor of early childhood, physical and special education in the UT Judith Herb College of Education; Dr. Susanna Hapgood, associate professor in the UT Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education; and Dr. Scott Molitor, associate professor in the UT Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

The award for teacher education will be presented to UT Sunday, Oct. 22, during the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting in California. Awards also will be presented to institutions in six other categories: civic learning and community engagement; international education; leadership development and diversity; regional and economic development; student success and college completion; and sustainability and sustainable development.

“Innovation at America’s state colleges and universities is focused on advancing the quality of the educational experience for their students and the distinction of their institutions in service to their communities,” Howard said. “The programs for which these universities are being honored will inspire not only their AASCU colleagues, but all of higher education.”

Kick-off party for Back-to-School Drive to be held Aug. 10

The University of Toledo Judith Herb College of Education Alumni Affiliate is hosting its annual drive for new shoes, socks and underwear for students in Toledo Public Schools.

Alumni also will be collecting belts this year based on feedback from school administrators.

The kick-off party is Thursday, Aug. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Social Gastropub in the Gateway Plaza on the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road.

Donations will be collected during the event, and participants can sample free appetizers.

“We talk with school principals every year to see what students need,” said Mike Bader, president of the Judith Herb College of Education Alumni Affiliate. “As part of our mission to give back to our community, we are hoping to fill the great need for shoes, socks, underwear and belts.”

Gym shoes and dress shoes are needed for students in grades K-8 in youth and small adult sizes. The shoe sizes needed most are children’s sizes 1 to 6 or toddler sizes 10 to 13.

Underwear donations are needed for younger students.

Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Driscoll Alumni Center Room 2014 on Main Campus before Thursday, Sept. 14.

For more information, visit toledoalumni.org or call 419.530.2586.

Celebrating 25 years at Art on the Mall

For two local painters, it may have been a stroke of luck when Art on the Mall debuted in 1992 at their alma mater.

“I had been doing a lot of paintings of Lake Erie scenes, and then this event was announced,” Carol Connolly Pletz recalled.

This watercolor painting of University Hall by Kathy Palmer Genzman was featured in one of her Toledo calendars. “I always include my alma mater in the calendar,” she said.

“It was the year I made my first Toledo calendar,” Kathy Palmer Genzman said. “It was like it was meant to be.”

The two women were among 51 artists who displayed and sold their work at the inaugural juried fair.

“It was a beautiful sunny day. There were few tents, if any, and UT supplied wire structures to display paintings,” Connolly Pletz, a 1966 alumna with a bachelor’s degree in art, said. “It was the first show where I stood out with a few my paintings. It was a very positive experience; people loved my work.”

Palmer Genzman also felt the love.

“It was my husband, Bob, who suggested the calendar. He wrote the history, and I drew and painted scenes from around town,” she said. “When Art on the Mall was announced, he said, ‘Let’s see if they sell,’ and they did — people loved the calendar.”

“Brown Swiss Dairy,” acrylic, was painted by Carol Connolly Pletz after one of her many visits to Shipshewana, Ind.

Connolly Pletz and Palmer Genzman have returned to Art on the Mall every year. The perennial favorites will be back with more than 100 artists Sunday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Centennial Mall.

“I am so grateful to UT for putting this event on every year,” Connolly Pletz said. “The community really enjoys the art, music and food. It’s great it has remained a free show with free parking. Toledo loves this show.”

“Everyone at UT is always so helpful,” Palmer Genzman, a 1980 graduate with a master’s degree in art education, said. “I’ve known Dan [Saevig, associate vice president of alumni relations] since the beginning. He and his crew do an amazing job rain or shine.”

Even fellow artists offer assistance. Connolly Pletz learned about notecards from Tom Durnford, a UT alumnus who taught a graphics class for the Communication Department and was director of publications and graphics from 1965 until his retirement from the University in 1989. The two had booths next to each for 23 years until Durnford passed away.

Carol Connolly Pletz has made 160 cards from her acrylic paintings.

“He worked in watercolor and besides his paintings, he sold notecards of his artwork,” Connolly Pletz said. “That first year at Art on the Mall, I saw he was doing a brisk business selling his cards. We talked, and he agreed to mentor me in publishing my own notecards.”

Since then, she has made 160 cards from her eye-catchingly colorful acrylic paintings, which showcase scenes from the Metroparks of the Toledo Area; the Lake Erie islands; Shipshewana, Ind.; and Ireland.

“People like to take something away that’s affordable,” Connolly Pletz said. “Not everybody has a place for a painting or can afford an original or the color is wrong. But everybody can use cards.”

“I also sell Toledo notecards, which are very popular,” Palmer Genzman said. “I sell out of calendars every year; I always have to send the kids home to get more. The calendars aren’t that expensive, and yet they’re artwork. People really enjoy having a picture of Toledo.”

That local focus is important to both artists.

Palmer Genzman’s 2018 calendar features her meticulously detailed watercolor paintings of the University, last year’s Jeep parade, the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo, walleye fishing, the Niagara ship on the Maumee River and more. Since her husband passed away, her son, Paul, writes the history.

Kathy Palmer Genzman posed for a photo in front of some of her watercolor paintings that are included in her Toledo calendar.

“I want people to love their city and be proud of it. It’s a great city; it’s a great University — look at that campus. What more can you ask for? Good eating places, you’ve got the Mud Hens downtown, I love the renaissance of downtown,” she said. “I taught art at Toledo Public Schools and lived in the Glass City until retirement. I now live in Lambertville, Mich., but I’m a Toledo person.”

“Many local places have caught my eye — and my heart,” Connolly Pletz said. “The Toledo Botanical Garden, Wildwood Metropark Preserve, the Maumee River, to name a few. There is so much natural beauty in our part of the world. I hope my work inspires some to pause and take a closer look at what we have right here.”

UT offers first online PhD program at an Ohio university

The University of Toledo is enrolling students for the first online PhD program approved in Ohio.

The Curriculum and Instruction: Special Education Doctoral Degree Program starts in the fall semester and is open to people across the country, specifically those who specialize in early childhood special education. It is the first such program to be offered online at a public or private university in the state.

“We are proud to play a pioneering role in the state of Ohio for making doctoral degrees more accessible to hard-working, full-time professionals who want to take the next step in their careers,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This rigorous program of study is designed to prepare the leaders who will guide our education system into the future.”

“Students can complete the program without having to set foot on UT’s campus,” said Dr. Laurie Dinnebeil, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the UT Department of Early Childhood, Higher Education and Special Education in the Judith Herb College of Education. “Students will have the opportunity to work with nationally known leaders in the field of early childhood special education, research and measurement.”

Earning this doctoral degree would allow educators to advance into district, regional or state leadership positions. For example, they could serve as a state consultant to school districts, the director of a school district’s special education program, or work for agencies and organizations at the national level. They also would be able to teach at colleges and universities.

The 70-credit hour program is designed to be completed in less than five years by part-time students who register for six credit hours each semester, including summers.

All course work is available online with the exception of two professional seminars that students can attend virtually using Skype or FaceTime technology if they cannot attend in person.

“I’d like to congratulate The University of Toledo for this innovative approach and for changing the dynamics of higher education by offering this degree,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey.

No matter the distance, students enrolled in the program will have access to all University services and resources relevant to the program, such as the UT Virtual Lab, and the library and all of its digital resources and databases. Students also will have access to supplementary support as needed, such as the UT Writing Center and College of Graduate Studies staff and resources.

Students will present information about their progress using web-based tools, such as discussion boards and webinars. 

Course instructors, as well as the students’ dissertation adviser and dissertation committee members, are already accustomed to working with students from a distance. UT offers an online master’s degree and an education specialist degree program online, and students complete comprehensive examinations and master’s projects online. 

“Educational scholars are used to working by themselves in classrooms, schools or other settings that provide educational experiences,” Dinnebeil said.  “That means that the quality of research that online students complete will not differ from the quality of research that traditional face-to-face doctoral students in our college complete.”

To apply, go to utoledo.edu/admission.

University recognizes faculty, staff for advising, research, teaching, outreach work

UT outstanding advisers, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement, were honored last week.

Recipients of the Outstanding Advisor Award were:

Winners of the Outstanding Adviser Award were Rose Marie Ackerman and Dr. Matthew Franchetti.

Rose Marie Ackerman
, associate director of student services in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. She joined the University in 2006.

“Rose is the only adviser I know that does long-range plans for students. This helps tremendously because I am able to check off the classes I have already taken because she provides a specialized plan for each individual,” one nominator wrote. “She is the best adviser I’ve had at any university, and I’ve been to three different universities.” “Rose is always willing to see and talk to any student,” another noted. “She responds to emails quickly with any information needed. I just changed my major, and Rose is the person who helped me the most.” Another wrote, “She is the go-to person in the department for policies and procedures.”

Dr. Matthew Franchetti, associate professor and associate chair of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering in the College of Engineering. He began working at UT in 2007.

“Dr. Franchetti is the most helpful person I have ever met,” one nominator noted. Another wrote, “The other day I walked into his office looking for advice on going to grad school. He went through the positives and negatives and all of the things required in the application process. He sat down and went over the different courses of study and what each plan entails. On top of that, he took the time to explain what the University is kind of looking for and offered to be one of my references. I do not know how I would have gotten through engineering without him.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award were:

Receiving Outstanding Research Awards were, from left, Dr. Robert Collins, Lee J. Strang, Dr. Blair Grubb and Dr. Mohamed Elahinia.

Dr. Robert Collins
, NEG Endowed Chair and Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Collins is an internationally recognized expert on thin films and photovoltaics, especially for his groundbreaking contributions in the use of optical measurements, in particular, ellipsometry for assessments of real-time thin-film growth. This work is not only important to the photovoltaics industry, but also is valuable to related technologies such as displays and sensors. His total research funding, either as principal investigator or co-principal investigator at both UT and his former university, exceeds $48 million. He is a prolific writer with more than 450 peer-reviewed journal and conference proceedings articles, and he is the editor or co-editor of nine books. His published work has more than 10,000 citations.

Dr. Mohamed Elahinia, professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering in the College of Engineering.

Elahinia’s group, with support from the Ohio Federal Research Network and NASA Glenn, has fabricated high-temperature shape memory alloys in 3D printing for the first time. His research on low-temperature shape memory alloys has resulted in several medical devices, which are at various stages of commercialization. In collaboration with NASA Glenn and the Cleveland Clinic, he organized the development of the Nitinol Commercialization Center to support startup companies. He has been the principal investigator and co-investigator on 37 research projects, bringing in more than $12 million in awards. He is the author of a leading book on shape memory alloys, as well as more than 70 journal articles; his publications have been cited about 2,000 times.

Dr. Blair Grubb, Distinguished University Professor and director of the Electrophysiology Program in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

He is one of the world’s authorities in the treatment of syncope — abrupt, brief loss of consciousness — and other disorders of the autonomic nervous system. He has patients referred to him from all over the world to help those dealing with severe autonomic disorders. His patients testify on how he takes a personal interest in their condition, and he has a long list of testimonials on how he has provided patients with ways to improve their condition. Grubb has published more than 240 scientific papers, authored five books, written 35 book chapters, and has been the recipient of 10 research grants while at UT. He has been recognized as one of America’s Top Doctor’s 15 years in a row.

Lee J. Strang, the John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values in the College of Law.

Strang is an expert in constitutional law, particularly originalism and constitutional interpretation. He has expertise on the topic of law and religion and the history of Catholic legal education. He is highly sought as an invited speaker and expert on constitutional law matters and has presented his work at more than 150 conferences at top institutions. Since arriving at UT, Strang has authored 17 articles, two book chapters and five book reviews, as well as co-written a 1,500-page casebook. His work is highly regarded; Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens cited Strang’s work on the original meaning of “religion” in the First Amendment. Strang’s work also was cited in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Hobby Lobby case.

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were:

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach and Dr. Andrew Jorgensen.

Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach
, associate professor of educational foundations and leadership in the Judith Herb College of Education. She is the co-chair of the UT Anti-Bullying Task Force, a campus violence prevention and protection trainer for the Department of Justice, and author of “School Shootings and Suicides: Why We Must Stop the Bullies.”

“Dr. Pescara-Kovach has performed countless service in the community in working with the prevention of tragedy in our schools and workplaces. She works with University and community agencies in multiple stages: preventing bullying and other aggressive behaviors; preventing targeted violence and suicide; and postvention of first responders, victims and witnesses when such incidents occur,” one nominator wrote. “While many faculty think their work is life-changing, few (outside the medical fields) can honestly claim their work saves lives; Dr. Pescara-Kovach is such a faculty member.”

Dr. Andrew Jorgensen, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He studied climate change during his sabbatical at the National Council for Science and the Environment, helping to create Climate Adaption Mitigation E-Learning, an online program with more than 300 resources on climate change.

“Dr. Jorgensen has given more than 150 lectures to general public audiences all over the world about climate change. Having been an audience member, I can attest to the way he presents scientific knowledge in a nonpolitical, approachable way that makes a strong case for the need to address this topic,” one nominator wrote. “I admire his energy, commitment and passion, and am deeply respectful of his personal mission to educate as many people as he can about the importance of climate change to our global future.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award were:

Taking home Outstanding Teacher Awards were, from left, Dr. Patricia Sopko, Dr. Ruslan Slutsky, Dr. Jillian Bornak, Dr. Nitin Puri and Dr. Todd Crail.

Dr. Jillian Bornak
, associate lecturer of physics and astronomy in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. She began teaching at the University in 2014.

“She brought her enthusiasm for science into the classroom every Tuesday and Thursday night when we were all tired and drained. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and her energy made it easy to show up to every class that semester,” one nominator wrote. “She gave us every tool we needed to learn the material and pass her course with a good grade. She taught us with both ease and eagerness for her students to learn. Her students gained knowledge of these tough physics concept without ever feeling like we were too behind or too incapable of learning these concepts. The University is lucky to have her.”

Dr. Todd Crail, associate lecturer of environmental sciences in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He joined the faculty in 2012.

“I have yet to meet any professor as engaging and passionate about the environment as Dr. Crail,” one nominator wrote. “He has a distinct voice and motivation in what he teaches — take action. If you want a better world, a better environment, then you have to act upon it. Dr. Crail encourages students’ critical thinking, he supports the curious mind, and he makes time for his students.” Another noted, “He has changed the lives of so many students, and he deserves to finally be rewarded for all the hours of hard work and dedication that he puts into his class, activities, service learning, and the Department of Environmental Sciences.”

Dr. Nitin Puri, assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. He has been at the University since 2012.

“Dr. Puri teaches physiology with great passion and consistently has the highest turnouts for lectures and review sessions. He expects the most from his students and repeatedly encourages you to think like a physician,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Puri’s teaching style is interactive and certainly yields the strongest staying power of the basic sciences. I still use his notes to prepare for clinical rotations. Dr. Puri is more than a teacher. He is a fierce advocate for students, an outstanding mentor and, most importantly, a genuine person.” Another wrote, “Dr. Puri prepares you for the future, not just exams, but for clinical practice unlike any other professor.”

Dr. Ruslan Slutsky, professor of early childhood education, higher education and special education in the Judith Herb College of Education. He came to the University in 2001.

“Dr. Slutsky always makes time for his students. He is always willing to give extra help, and he goes out of his way to provide students with learning experiences outside of the classroom — research opportunities, helps send projects to conferences, etc. His lectures are always thought-provoking and stimulate deep classroom discussions. He expects a lot from his students and, in turn, his students achieve great things,” one nominator wrote. “I am thankful to have had him as a professor and am thankful for all the things he has done for the college, as well as the University and community as a whole.”

Dr. Patricia Sopko, instructor in the College of Nursing. She joined the faculty in 2010.

“I was essentially failing my pathopharmocology class despite hours of studying. I always felt the exams to be very fair, and I approached Dr. Sopko to help me understand what I was doing wrong,” one nominator wrote. “When I did eventually speak with her, she in no way looked down upon me or made me feel intimidated, despite the fact that I should have approached her long before to ask for help. She not only clarified what I was doing wrong, she also made sure I was properly preparing for the final exam. She helped me improve my overall critical thinking abilities. The fact that she took the extra time to help me is something that I greatly appreciate.”

Visiting scholar to address ‘Mindful Resistance Under a U.S. Autocracy’

Graduate students in the Judith Herb College of Education are bringing in a visiting scholar with the help of a $4,000 award from the Graduate Student Association.

Dr. Aurora Chang is a visiting scholar from Loyola University’s School of Education, where she is an assistant professor in teaching and learning. Her course work focuses on multicultural education, school reform, undocumented students, Chicana feminist epistemology, and urban schooling.

Chang

Chang will give a talk titled “I Can’t be a Pessimist Because I am Alive: Intersectional Storytelling, Educational Agency, and Mindful Resistance Under a U.S. Autocracy” Wednesday, March 15, at 7 p.m. in Health and Human Sciences Building Room 1711.

The free, public event will include a question-and-answer session and will be followed by a reception with refreshments and light snacks.

“Understanding intersectionality and its implications is necessary to living in a diverse democratic society. We cannot afford to ignore the fact that we are all individuals with multiple identities that converge to affect how we interact with the world and how the world interacts with us,” said Jessica L. Swan, graduate teaching assistant. “When we interact with others, we must see them for all that they are; we must recognize and understand each individual as a whole person and approach them with this in our minds.”

Chang also will speak at a lunch Thursday, March 16, at 12:30 p.m. in Health and Human Sciences Building Room 1711. 

“This is a time for participant-driven dialogue, and has historically in similar past events proven to be focused on critical reflection and interaction with the purpose of developing shared understandings of topics raised by participants,” Swan said.

Both events are free and open to the University community as well as the Toledo community.

“The speaking engagement and the lunchtime dialogue will benefit people because it will provide them with inspiration to think critically and reflect on our current political climate and its implications for themselves and others,” Swan said. “If we never initiate the conversation, we cannot work toward the development of shared understandings and the improvement of our community and our society as a whole.”

Nationally renowned educator to speak Jan. 26 on Scott Park Campus

The University of Toledo will host one of the country’s foremost experts in teaching education during a free “Diverse Teachers Matter” program Thursday, Jan. 26.

Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, premier pedagogical theorist and renowned teacher educator, will discuss the impact diverse teachers have on student populations, as well as the community’s importance in supporting teachers and contributing to increasing diversity in education.

ed-flyerThe public program will begin at 7 p.m. in the Scott Park Campus Auditorium.

“You would be hard-pressed to find a more important educator in the U.S. today,” said Dr. Lynne Hamer, professor in the Judith Herb College of Education’s Educational Theory and Social Foundations Program and coordinator of Teach Toledo, the college’s degree program created to attract a diverse pool of students into higher education. “She has focused attention on the importance of explicit attention to racial and ethnic diversity, most importantly bringing ‘critical race theory,’ a theory developed in legal studies, into use in education. She also developed the concept of ‘culturally relevant pedagogy,’ introducing it in 1995 and continually applying it to modern teaching methodology.”

Ladson-Billings is the Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In December, she was elected to a four-year term as president of the National Academy of Education, which supports research for the advancement of education policy and practice. According to its website, members are invited from “a very select group of education experts from all over the world.”

Ladson-Billings is a 10-year member of the academy.

She also is past president of the American Educational Research Association and winner of the Brock International Prize in Education (2012), a monetary award honoring outstanding scholarship and research in education.

In January, Education Week’s “Straight Up” blogger Rick Hess named her the third most influential education scholar in the U.S.

Ladson-Billings’ book, “The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African-American Children,” was published in 1994 to high praise from the national education community. The narrative followed eight successful educators in primarily African-American environments. A second book updating the lives and careers of the “Dreamkeepers” was published in 2009.

“Anyone concerned about the equity and quality in schools” is welcome to attend the event, Hamer said. “For education to be an equitable system, and for students to have a quality education that prepares them as citizens in a diverse society, teachers need to mirror the larger population in terms of diversity.”

“Diverse Teachers Matter” is sponsored by the Judith Herb College of Education, UT’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Toledo Public Schools. It is one of several events offered by the College of Education to commemorate its 100th year.

For more information, email lynne.hamer@utoledo.edu or call 419.530.6126.

Association of Black Faculty and Staff renames scholarship in honor of professor emeritus

More than 70 guests attended a tribute to Dr. Joseph C. Sommerville, UT professor emeritus in the Judith Herb College of Education, at the Association of Black Faculty and Staff meeting held Nov. 7 in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium.

UT colleagues; former students from as far away as Chicago; Toledo city government officials, including Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson; family and fellow church members; community stakeholders and friends all gathered to honor Sommerville, who retired from the University in 1992 after 22 years.

Colleagues and friends recently attended the Association of Black Faculty and Staff meeting during which its annual scholarship was renamed in honor of Dr. Joseph Sommerville, professor emeritus of education.

Colleagues and friends recently attended the Association of Black Faculty and Staff meeting during which its annual scholarship was renamed in honor of Dr. Joseph Sommerville, professor emeritus of education.

During his tenure, Sommerville was chairman of the Department of Education and served on numerous UT committees. Additionally, as a superannuate professor, he taught courses in administration until 1997.

Several months ago, when the Association of Black Faculty and Staff sought to rename its annual student scholarship, it decided to forgo dedicating it to a nationally known African-American leader. Explained Dr. Anthony Quinn, current association president and assistant dean in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, “We realized we didn’t need to go out of town to find a hero. Instead, we are renaming the Association of Black Faculty and Staff scholarship in recognition of Dr. Joseph Sommerville.”

During tributes, former students praised Sommerville for his approachability, consummate professionalism and gentlemanly demeanor. Stated one, Paul Raczkowski, “Dr. Sommerville gave us practical lessons to use as educators, not just concepts to apply in the classroom.

“He really appreciated what we faced every day — ‘hormones walking in tennis shoes,’” Raczkowski said jokingly referring to teenage students. “He preached to do only what’s best for students. Period. That’s something a lot of people today should still remember.”

Dr. Crystal Ellis, former superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, said, “Joe Sommerville will live on and on and on in the lives he’s touched. I’m just glad we’re honoring him while he’s still with us.”

In addition to Sommerville having the association’s annual scholarship named in his honor, Toledo Councilwoman Cecelia Adams also presented him with a special resolution from the city. Further, the pastor of Sommerville’s church, the Rev. James Willis, declared that Sommerville’s ongoing contributions give credence to the old adage, “I’d rather see a sermon any day than hear one.”

Indeed, since retirement, Sommerville actively continues community, fraternal and educational service, despite declining health. He has served on the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Board of Trustees, and also was the first president of AARP Ohio for nearly six years. More recently, when UT launched Brothers on the Rise to help at-risk African-American and Latino students, Sommerville was among the first in the community to answer the call for mentors. He also continues to be a Sunday school teacher, as well as chairman emeritus of the Deacon Board of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Sommerville is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta — where he was an undergraduate student when the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also was enrolled — and the University of Michigan. He recounted in a recent video that documents his life — recorded with Dr. Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion — that when he lived in the South, he saw much violence over civil rights issues, such as houses being fire-bombed when homeowners were known supporters of African Americans.

Witnessing such hate crimes during his youth, Sommerville has dedicated his life to the success of students, especially underrepresented students, which also is the mission of the Association of Black Faculty and Staff.

Conference celebrates conclusion of NURTURES science education program

The University of Toledo will recognize the conclusion of a successful science education program with a conference to showcase how local educators incorporated high-quality science inquiry into their curriculum.

The NURTURES program, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University enRich Early Childhood Science, was a five-year, $10 million program funded by the National Science Foundation to engage teachers and parents in supporting a young child’s natural curiosity through interactive science lessons.

The NURTURES conference will take place Saturday, Oct. 22, from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn at Levis Commons in Perrysburg. It will feature presentations from local teachers and administrators who incorporated science inquiry and engineering in their classrooms and schools through the program.

Educators from Toledo Public Schools, the Catholic Diocese of Toledo and local charter schools will present topics that include:

• Overcoming common science misconceptions in the classroom;

• Developing discourse and critical thinking skills around science;

• Incorporating engineering design at the early childhood level;

• Integrating common core subjects with science; and

• Engaging with parents and community resources to promote science.

During the NURTURES program, 330 teachers of preschool through third grade and administrators participated in a total of 544 hours of professional development in the teaching of science inquiry and engineering design for early childhood classrooms.

Through NURTURES, teachers were exposed to high-quality science and engineering activities and worked to use them within their classrooms to increase student comprehension and academic achievement, said Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering. Data from standardized testing in Toledo Public Schools show an increase in reading, early literacy and math scores in students of teachers who have participated in NURTURES, she added.

“These findings are very significant and provide evidence that the teachers in Toledo Public Schools and area schools worked diligently to improve science teaching and learning,” Czerniak said.

Led by UT, the NURTURES program engaged a number of local partners for a community-based complementary learning model to support early learners. Those partners include Toledo Public Schools, Toledo Catholic Schools, Monroe County Schools, the former Apple Tree Nursery School, the East Toledo Family Center Day Care, UT Ritter Planetarium, Imagination Station, Toledo Zoo, Metroparks Toledo, Toledo Botanical Gardens, the former Lourdes University Nature Laboratory, Challenger Learning Center, YMCA, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and WGTE Public Media.