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Ricks Center for Gifted Children was recently named a Top 5 Private School in Colorado by Colorado Parent magazine. Ricks, a nationally recognized gifted education school located on the University of Denver campus and part of the Morgridge College of Education, provides a dynamic and challenging educational environment to approximately 250 students from preschool through eighth grade. The award was part of Colorado Parent’s annual Top 5 issue and was selected by editors of Colorado Parent Magazine and voted on by magazine readers.

Ricks Center at the University of Denver was founded in 1984 as the University Center for Gifted Young Children. The school grew from a doctoral summer project by Dr. Norma Lu Hafenstein. In 1984, Dr. Hafenstein developed a summer session for young gifted children at the University of Denver. The children were brought together for enriched, thematic activities designed to promote a supportive learning environment for gifted children.

Today, Ricks is housed in an innovative space designed specifically for educating gifted young people. Classrooms, a science and visual arts laboratory, library, foreign language labs, a multi-purpose room (for physical education, drama, music), and administrative office space are all housed in one building. Outdoor playgrounds are located on the site, and students also have access to many University of Denver facilities.

Content specialists in music, art, languages, and physical education have classrooms dedicated to their use. The Primary and Upper School students have access to a large playground with multiple playing surfaces and equipment. Technology is available for students of all ages in age-appropriate and curriculum-based situations, and a new Maker Space is under development and expected to be completed fall 2017.

Curriculum and Instruction program alumna Dr. Barri Tinkler (PhD ‘04) has been awarded the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health.  Tinkler will be at the University of Calgary (UCalgary) in Spring 2018 conducting research with the Werklund School of Education, examining the community engaged work they do to support refugee integration. Tinkler’s research on the work of the Werklund faculty will provide a model to inform the field of teacher education for all countries that undertake refugee resettlement.

While at Morgridge, Tinkler worked to merge her interests in community-based work with a meaningful research agenda. Dr. Tinkler is especially interested in social justice issues, something that attracted her to apply for a Fulbright especially at UCalgary. “I am excited to be able to learn from the faculty at UCalgary, especially Dr. Darren Lund,” said Tinkler. “Dr. Lund has made it a common goal across campus to focus on supportive integration, and the entire university’s strong commitment to social justice frames its choices.”

Dr. Tinkler is currently an Associate Professor in Secondary Education and Education for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity at the University of Vermont (UVM). She serves as faculty in the Secondary Education program and the Education for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity minor. Her previous research focused on the impact of service-learning experiences on preservice teachers when working with marginalized populations of learners.

More recently, her research focuses on the impact of service-learning experiences with refugees with an eye toward fostering cultural humility. In 2015, Tinkler instituted a “Citizenship and Education in the United States” class to help adult refugees from Russia, Bhutan, Uganda, Nepal, South Sudan, Vietnam, and other countries prepare for the U.S. citizenship test. Part of the class is a service-learning component, which Tinkler added to her curriculum as a way of giving life to the course content.

“It’s a way of connecting the policy to the person and put a face on the individuals that it affects,” said Tinkler. “I also want students to understand how resilient the refugee population is by hearing about it first-hand.”

The Fulbright award will allow Tinkler to collaborate with UCalgary, a public research university, and create curriculum to further support her passion of refugee integration, something she has incorporated into her entire career.

Tinkler has teaching experience at the K-12 level as a Peace Corps volunteer in Papua New Guinea and as a social studies teacher at Stillwater Junior High School. Her recent Fulbright is one more step on her life-long commitment to social justice and cross-cultural understanding.

The Colorado Consortium of Residency Educators (CO-CORE), a unique group of partners across higher education and non-profit organizations in Colorado, has received a $400,000 federal grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to study what makes teacher residencies effective as a teacher preparation strategy and how to sustainably fund their most important elements.

As the number of teacher residency programs has grown in Colorado and across the country, the range of preparation approaches has grown as well, raising questions about the quality and effectiveness of these different approaches. This two-year study will analyze data from a range of residency program models from across the state to understand what makes programs effective and determine and provide comparable metrics to understand program success.

The principal investigators for this study are Rebecca Kantor, dean of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, and Karen Riley, dean of the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.

“Teacher preparation residencies show great promise, including strong findings that their graduates are more diverse and stay longer in the profession,” Kantor says. “Clear definitions of residency practices and research evidence to support investment in the model’s critical elements, however, are lacking. This study will help fill the gap in the existing research.”

Teacher residencies, often compared to medical residencies, offer yearlong experiences co-teaching with accomplished teachers as a central part of the preparation of novice teachers. The first of its kind in the country, this study will determine the components of residency programs that serve as quality indicators of teacher effectiveness. Ultimately, the research will provide the state with the capacity to assess the quality of teacher residency programs, follow the transition of residents into the first years of teaching, and evaluate their investment.

Kantor and Riley say that the quality of a child’s teacher has been identified as the single most important in-school factor in educational attainment.

“Even in relatively high performing districts, Colorado faces challenges recruiting, preparing, hiring, supporting and retaining highly effective teachers. Without a well-prepared, stable educator workforce, the state will not be able to reach its educational goals,” Riley says. “Teacher residencies provide a balanced approach to teacher preparation that combines classroom-based experience with academics and theoretical foundations to create a comprehensive learning experience. Teacher candidates graduate with skills in what to do, the theoretical understanding of why methods are effective, and the foundational knowledge of how to modify practice when necessary.”

The research is considered the first large-scale project of its kind to bring together collaborators that represent both the institutions where the teachers are trained, as well as the schools in which they teach. Data from this two-year study are expected to inform best practices in teacher training across the country.

This IES award is one of 15 nation-wide grants from the National Center for Education Research (NCER). The nation-wide grants total more than $12 million and are intended to foster partnerships between researchers and practitioners to study education policies, programs and practices.

Morgridge College of Education alumna Kendra Carpenter (ELPS, ’16) has been selected by the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals (CAESP) and the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) to be the 2017 recipient of the Reba Ferguson Memorial Rookie of the Year Award. The award is given annually to a Colorado administrator in his or her first three years as an elementary school principal and honors elementary school principal Reba Ferguson, who tragically died in a traffic accident on her way to work in 2008. Carpenter is in her first year as principal of the Dillon Valley Dual Immersion Elementary School in Dillon, Colorado.

“I feel honored to be recognized in the name of Reba Ferguson,” said Carpenter. “Although I did not have the privilege of knowing her, I have heard what an amazing leader she was and know I have big shoes to fill to live up to her name.”

To win the award, Carpenter needed to be in her first three years as a principal and demonstrate remarkable leadership qualities, allowing her to make a positive impact as an instructional leader, community leader, and/or innovative leader.

Carpenter has worked for Dillon Valley Elementary for over 15 years, with a focus on diversity with its dual language model. Her passion is working with families and teachers to create an engaging environment where all learners will be successful.

According to Carpenter, the support she receives from both The University of Denver and her Morgridge Mountain Cohort is invaluable.

“These two entities continually help me grow my leadership skills,” she said.

Her goals for the future include continuing to work to create inclusive learning spaces where the whole child is honored, individualized professional development for teachers, and maintaining high expectations for all learners.

Carpenter will receive the award on Thursday, July 27 at the CASE Summer Convention in Breckenridge, Colorado.

The Morgridge College of Education commons area was home to an overflow crowd of family, friends, faculty, and soon-to-be graduates at this year’s Graduate Reception. The event celebrated all MCE graduates and featured remarks from Dean Karen Riley, who encouraged graduates to “put the ladder down” for those who follow in their footsteps.

A live jazz band added to the festive occasion, accented by a live stream of hashtagged photos and a video memory corner where graduates recorded their favorite Morgridge memory and left words of inspiration to future students.

To see tagged event photos, search #MCEgrad17 and view the entire reception photo gallery here.

Congratulations to all graduates who go forth to be Morgridge agents of change!

Teina McConnell and Eric Ward wear a lot of hats. In addition to both being doctoral students in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program, they also make up the leadership team at Pickens Technical College in Aurora, CO. McConnell serves as the executive director; Ward is the assistant director.

They now share an additional title: Directors of the #1 Best Community College in Colorado as ranked by Bestcolleges.com. The national ranking organization evaluated variables such as graduation rates, program offerings and tuition costs.

McConnell sites PTC’s student completion, placement, and licensure rate as qualities that helped her college rise to the level of recognition.

Ward agrees with this assessment.

“The last couple years, we have really focused on the completion and placement rates of our students. We have spent a lot of time cultivating relationships within our community that provide employment opportunities for our students. Many of our programs have a reputation of producing top-quality students that are more than ready to make an immediate impact on the

Teina McConnell

company that hires them,” Ward said.

According to McConnell, PTC places a strong emphasis on hiring the most qualified industry experts and equips them with tools and pedagogy necessary to become effective teachers.

“Pickens does contextual and applied academics inside of work-based learning that results in nationally recognized industry based certificates. We incorporate industry input in everything we do through Occupational Advisory Committees,” McConnell said.

McConnell points to the fact that many businesses that hire PTC students support the college through a number of additional initiatives.

Eric Ward

“Subaru of North America recently donated three cars and an engine to our automotive services program for our students to work on and have provided an opportunity for our students to earn their level 2 Subaru certification that is transportable across the world,” Ward said.

“Much of what I am doing right now to retool our career advisors is a result of the work I have done so far in my program (at Morgridge) . . . It is an ongoing process, but we are certainly making progress,” McConnell said.

Ward agrees, “One of the benefits of the Morgridge program is the diverse individuals with a wealth of expertise and knowledge that make up the cohort. Also, I believe that the experience and backgrounds of the professors and adjunct enhance the learning experience.”

Morgridge College congratulates McConnell and Ward on their work to bring educational and career-building opportunities through their leadership at the #1 Community College in Colorado.


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