Laura Finkelstein (PhD ’14), has been keeping very busy since graduating from Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver (DU). She spent the first year of her post-graduate professional career as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. She then accepted a position as a staff psychologist at the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) Counseling Center until she was promoted to Outreach Coordinator. In her roles at UTD, she provided individual counseling for students dealing with a broad range of concerns, from adjustment issues to the emergence of more severe mental health symptoms. She ran several groups, including an Expressive Arts Therapy Group, a Men’s Issues Group, and a Self-Compassion group. She also oversaw outreach training, coordination, and provision for UTD students and staff.

More recently, Laura moved back to Washington, DC to be closer to family and has since opened her own private practice where she sees adults with a range of concerns and symptoms.  She focuses on trauma, relationship issues, men’s issues, and expressive art therapy, and she just recently accepted a position as the Director of the Counseling Center at Marymount University.

Laura remembers her time at DU and Morgridge fondly, particularly the relationships she built with faculty and instructors.

“They embodied the type of compassionate, curious psychologists I wanted to be, and in many ways continue to be important examples to me,” Finkelstein said. She also appreciated the broad scope of experiences and counseling skills that were a part of both the MA and PhD programs, which prepared her well for an assortment of challenges she has faced professionally.

Finkelstein was initially drawn to the field of counseling based on her fascination with people’s stories; their childhood, relationships to self and others, and construction of narratives. Before entering the field as a student and eventually a professional, Laura wrote for a fashion magazine but found that she was more interested in how individuals functioned psychologically in the industry than she was the fashion itself.

“I applied to the MA program to see if these interests would fit for me as a career,” she said. “Absolutely loving it from day one, I knew I wanted to continue through a PhD program and make a professional life out of psychology.”

“DU first came on my radar because I had a lot of friends from the East Coast, where I grew up, who had recently moved to Denver and loved the lifestyle. Through my research of the program and my interview, I was excited by the breadth of learning and experiences offered by the counseling program. The people in the program, my cohort and professors, kept me going and feeling inspired professionally.”

In the future, Finkelstein is open to different roles as a psychologist, including further work in counseling centers, either in a teaching or administrative capacity. In whichever direction her career in the field of counseling moves, she feels very prepared for a wide array of positions, which is one of things she appreciates most about having her degrees in Counseling Psychology.

“The path of a counseling psychology student, especially a Ph.D. candidate, was not always smooth,” she said. “There were many challenges and I definitely had moments where I questioned if I could do it. I have so much admiration and respect for students in these programs. To them I want to say, this can be such a rewarding and meaningful path, and it does get easier!”

For Child, Family, and School Psychology alumna Dr. DoriAnn Adragna, work is family business. Adragna and her husband, Joe, a family medicine physician, formed Peak Professionals in their hometown of Montrose, Colorado. Through their joint practice, they can help not only the whole child but the whole family navigate injuries and behavioral struggles together. They noticed one injury in particular affected both of their practices and was also possibly preventable – traumatic brain injuries. Then while at a skate park in Montrose, they noticed many of the children were not wearing helmets.

Dr. Dori’s specialty is in pediatric traumatic brain injuries. While at Morgridge College of Education, she specialized in traumatic brain injury and autism spectrum disorders.  She and her husband decided to take action to prevent traumatic brain injuries in their own community. In 2016, they were awarded two grants totaling $30,000 from the Colorado Brain Injury Program. One of the grants was specifically used to prevent these injuries and helped produce the HeadSTRONG program, a helmet awareness campaign designed to increase helmet usage amongst individuals on Colorado’s Western Slope.

The campaign targeted youths and encouraged them to be STRONG, to stand up to peer pressure, and to wear a helmet. Individuals who signed up and pledged to be HeadSTRONG were entered in a contest to win a helmet and everyone who made the pledge could receive a discount at local vendors to purchase a helmet.

“In my practice, I work with families who have been affected by traumatic brain injuries and I help them mourn the loss of the child they once thought they were going to have,” said Dr. Dori. “It’s a grieving and acceptance process, and it changes goals parents have for their children, it changes their perception of their child’s future.”

Through the HeadSTRONG program, a total of 73 individuals pledged to wear a helmet, over 40 helmets were given to adults and children, and information on the importance of wearing a helmet was distributed and embraced by the community through events, local organizations, and press releases. The campaign was so successful that the City of Montrose is trying to get funding to keep the campaign going into the next year.

“The initial grant period is over,” Dr. Dori explained. “But we want to continue this and we are working with our local government to make that happen. Eventually we would love to expand to include all traumatic brain injuries, not only pediatric.”

New Morgridge College of Education Assistant Professor of Research Methods and Information Science, Denis Dumas, recently published research that could potentially change the way educational researchers understand student learning capacity, and the way students are tested in school.

The humble beginnings of a new testing model.

“Dynamic Measurement Modeling: Using Nonlinear Growth Models to Estimate Student Learning Capacity” (Denis G. Dumas and Daniel M. McNeish) focuses on the problematic aspects of single-time-point educational testing, and ways we can improve methods for predicting student learning trajectories. Dumas explains that standard practice typically tests a student only once, at a single point in time on a single day, and uses that test to predict the student’s future potential. The idea for his research was born on a bar napkin in Chicago; over drinks with his co-author, McNeish, the two were discussing ways to better predict a student’s capacity. Why not test a student multiple times and use a non-linear pattern to better predict their growth? Why do we currently use this single time-point measurement?

Dumas explains that, according to his perspective on the literature, we test this way because in 1917 the United States was under pressure to build its defense and sort enlisted men into their best positions in the military. Because there was not time to train the men on jobs they were not currently able to do, if a serviceman had experience in welding, they were assigned a welding job; if they had experience with engines, they were assigned a job as a mechanic; if they could cook, they could cook in the army, and so on. The military did not have time to train them on something new, but this did not mean that the men were not capable of learning something new. The practice was soon applied to sorting students.

This means that if student A arrives to school with previously developed knowledge of colors, shapes, and letters and takes a text they will likely test higher than Student B who did not arrive with that basic knowledge. It does not mean that Student A is necessarily smarter than Student B, or that Student B lacks the capability to learn those things, simply that Student A already knew them. Currently, the standard of testing will project Student A on a higher path of success than Student B. As educators and parents know that is not the case. Teachers are well versed in spotting the “late bloomer” or working with students who learn at a different rate than others, but this idea, until now, has not been put into practice within educational measurement. According to Dumas, the current standard of testing does not just document an achievement gap, it creates it.

Dumas and McNeish argue that the way to correctly test and predict student potential is through dynamic assessment, a technique that features multiple testing occasions integrated with learning opportunities. Dynamic assessment is time and labor intensive, making it accurate but expensive. Dumas and McNeish began to write a computer program to apply dynamic assessment to already available testing data, thus creating a way to accurately predict student growth using a series of algorithms. Their method changes the focus of the assessment from how much the students currently know to how much they can grow.

To test their theory, Dumas and McNeish used federal testing data available through the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Kindergarten (ECLS-K) 1999 cohort. According to their published paper, these data were collected at seven timepoints: fall and spring of kindergarten, fall and spring of Grade 1, spring of Grade 3, spring of Grade 5, and spring of Grade 8. This publicly available data set contains several thousand variables, including direct cognitive assessments, teacher reports, parent reports, and a host of questionnaires as well as demographic and background variables. Their first run through the data took the computer a month and a half to complete. What they found was, when the focus of measurement was shifted from ability or achievement scores to estimates of student capacity, the combined effect of race, gender, and SES drastically decreased in the ECLS-K 1999 data set. What does that mean? That differences among students on their developed ability levels do not imply differences in those students’ future capacity for learning.

Dumas is excited to continue to test his research and continue to apply the assessment method to other datasets. He is currently working with the Department of Defense and others to apply his theory on their existing data. His long-term goal? To change the way we think about measuring outcomes. He and McNeish have tweaked their computer program to run a full dataset in an hour and a half, making this method, he hopes, a viable, inexpensive, and widely used option to assess student data.

“If,” he says, “In fifty years we are using this method to assess students, I would be thrilled.” Until that time, he plans to keep testing and keep spreading the word. He wants to close the achievement gap, one dataset at a time.

On Saturday, September 23, eight Morgridge Counseling Psychology students were recognized at the annual NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals (formerly the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors) conference in Denver as National Minority fellows for Addiction Counseling. The students and Morgridge were acknowledged in front of over 800 participants at the conference.

The fellowships are awarded by the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) and seek to increase the number of culturally-competent master’s level addiction counselors available to serve underserved and minority populations.

Congratulations on this rare accomplishment!

Chesleigh Keene, a doctoral student in the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) Counseling Psychology program, is an exceptional student and an exemplar of inclusivity. She is an American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellow, is working on her dissertation, coauthoring a book chapter on best psychological practices for Native American girls and women, and working on her first first-authored article. In addition, she serves as the Research Chair for CO Psychological Association of Graduate Students (COPAGS).

Chesleigh combined professional and personal interests when she reached out to the Native American community in Denver through a nonprofit called Denver Indian Center. Through Denver Indian Center, she has volunteered her time to assist with community events and participated in sociopolitical events including attending the Sand Creek March in 2013 and raising awareness about the issues and controversy surrounding Standing Rock.

According to Keene, participating in these events puts her close to the current issues and allows her to see the impact of sociopolitical events on the Native community.

“This helps me to inform my practice for other groups that are similarly impacted, “she said. It also impacts my research as I consider what the most salient concerns in a community might be.”

Keene’s path to counseling psychology was largely influenced by her decision to take time off from education after her master’s graduation. During this time she worked in an inpatient psychiatric hospital and got to work with every type of psychology provider in one setting. It was there that she was encouraged and motivated to pursue a PhD. Her master’s was a research-based community counseling degree and initially Keene thought that she’d pursue a clinical PhD. Working in a neuroscience laboratory changed her mind and she realized she wanted the freedom of practice and research that counseling psychology allows. In in the field of counseling psychology, she could use her scientific background and her community training to inform her research practice.

After having decided what she wanted to study, Keene needed to find a program and an environment that suited her. Initially, she had not considered the University of Denver (DU). A friend she knew from Denver Health referred her to an open house that was hosted by University of Denver Morgridge College of Education. It was there that she was introduced to Anthea Johnson Rooen at DU’s Center for Multicultural Excellence, who assured her that she would receive the support and resources she needed to meet her educational goals. Rooen provided Keene with contacts and helped her build a larger network. Based on this experience, she felt that DU and MCE could provide her the opportunities she was seeking, not just as a doctoral student but as a Native American student.

“I think prospective students should really consider which programs are going to support their professional and personal growth,” she said. “Even as doc students, we have growing pains and it’s so helpful to have mentors and faculty who can share their own experiences of managing difficult caseloads or overwhelming deadlines and who can provide guidance.”

“In the end, you want to finish your doctoral education as a psychologist who still has all of that early enthusiasm, empathy, and drive still intact,” she continued “It doesn’t help anyone if you finish a program just a shadow of yourself, so consider how you will fare in the programs you’re considering.”

Khara Croswaite Brindle graduated  from Morgridge College of Education Counseling Psychology master’s program in 2012 with a passion for helping and a keen ear for listening – and understanding – others. Today, she is a private practice licensed professional therapist with a focus on clients using Medicaid. At nights and on the weekends, she runs her own business developing an app to assess and prevent suicide.

“I saw a need for this assessment tool,” she said, as if this were the simplest thing in the world. “I want people who want to go ‘there’ to be able to have that tough conversation and be able to access resources to get help.”

By people who want to go “there,” she means teachers, coaches, case managers, anyone who may be in a professional position to see another person struggling but not be a clinical mental health professional. Her goal is to make the conversation about suicide easier to approach, easier to have, and easier to know what to do. Her app works like this. Said person (let’s call them the professional) sees another person struggling. Maybe they have every day contact, maybe they see them once a week, but they believe this person is having a hard time. They decide to broach THE question, the tough question, the one they know the answer to but maybe do not know what to do with the response.

“Do you want to kill yourself?”

“Are you suicidal?”

“Do you have thoughts of harming yourself?”

They bring up the app. The app is loaded with the suicide risk assessment, and the professional begins the heart-to-heart. Together, they talk, the professional listens, and they have the conversation. Once complete the app populates next steps, organizations to contact for additional help, where to find online and face-to-face support, and who to call for emergency assistance. It also goes one step further and populates resources based on factors such as age and geographical location. Currently its resources are for the entire state of Colorado.

Croswaite Brindle stresses that this app is not meant to be a total assessment. This is also not a one and done conversation. This app is meant to help on the spot and give the professional and the person hurting a beginning roadmap to intervention and recovery.

In her practice, Croswaite Brindle regularly works with at-risk populations. This is a conscious decision to provide the best possible care to patients with Medicaid. She works with teenagers, single parents, individuals struggling with gender identity, veterans; she works with regular, everyday people who are struggling and each and every day her goal is to provide them with the best possible care.

“I think my cohort at Morgridge helped to frame my career now,” she said. “My class graduated and we were so excited to get out and be agents of change.”

An agent of change she is. Already her app is in use and under development. She has started to work with the Mental Health Center of Denver and run workshops with other professionals to continue to build resources and continue to assess risk factors. She considers Colorado to be her pilot state, but her long-term goal is to have the application be used nationwide and endorsed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Through it all, she stays in contact with her professors at Morgridge. Now colleagues in the field, she finds their support and encouragement invaluable.

“My connections are wonderful to have,” she said. “It’s been great to continue to collaborate and exciting for me to see the cohorts grow. I definitely am a proud Morgridge alum, and someday I hope to be back in some capacity.”

Back as in, getting a PhD, teaching the next generation of mental health professionals?

“I can see all of that,” she smiles. “Someday.”

More information about the app can be found at Cacs-co.com.

While much of the country is eagerly headed back to school this week, the Morgridge College of Education has one last event before we can move into the fall – and it’s a big event. The summer quarter graduation ceremonies kicked off today, Friday, August 18 with the annual Hooding Ceremony in the Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall Commons. Candidates received the honorary doctoral hood from their faculty advisor. The Hooding Ceremony is a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation of academic doctors to the next.

After the hooding, graduates and their families stuck around for a reception in the commons area. Tomorrow, our 28 doctoral candidates and 59 masters or certificate students will receive their degrees in the annual commencement ceremonies at 8:30 a.m. on the Carnegie Green. Congratulations to all of our graduates, and please visit Flickr to see the entire event photo album.

Earlier this year, masters and doctoral students in the Morgridge College of Education Counseling Psychology (CP) program saw a rising need in their community for social justice and advocacy for underrepresented people. Instead of sitting idly by, the students decided to take action through the creation of the Social Justice Committee with help from faculty members Pat Garriott and Ruth Chao.

Many students attend the CP program here at Morgridge specifically for its focus on issues of diversity and multiculturalism, and while much of our course content currently reflects that focus, many students and faculty feel we could still be doing more, hence the formation of the committee. Since the committee’s inception, they have kept busy with lots of activities and efforts to promote inclusive excellence and create a more equitable and welcoming space for all community members, both on campus and in the greater Denver area. Here are just a few ways they are making an impact:

  • Revamping Curricula: The Social Justice Committee is currently collaborating with faculty to find ways to incorporate issues of power, privilege, and inequity into all of the Counseling Psychology curriculum through possible instructor trainings, and reflective surveys for students where they can provide feedback on their in-class experience, particularly related to socio-political and multicultural climate in the classroom. Their hope is that in the future, curricula across University of Denver (DU) programs will reflect those themes, and provide a space where all students and faculty feel safe.
  • Workshops: They are working with the Center for Multicultural Excellence in hopes of providing training opportunities and workshops for all community members that address these issues. In the fall, several students in conjunction with the Social Justice Committee plan to host one such workshop on “Responding to Microaggressions” (stay tuned for further details).
  • Bias Incidence Reporting: The committee has also taken steps across campus to address issues of social justice, particularly in the reporting of bias-related incidents, and the way in which individuals are described and identified in reports of crime or other incidents. Committee members noticed that bias-related incidents were not consistently reported to the whole university community, and that many reports only identified individuals’ racial and ethnic identity if they were a person of color, and in turn joined the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) to address these issues with Campus Safety (who was very responsive to the committee’s concerns). Using counseling skills they’ve learned in the classroom and in practice, the team was able to effectively work with Campus Safety to change the way incidents are reported and improve the relationship between campus law enforcement and students. While this change is a step in the right direction, the committee thinks we can still do more. First year PhD student, Ellen Shupe, who led this effort, had this to say about the process: “Anytime you try to change a system you experience barriers. Hopefully through continued work with the Campus Safety department, we can continue to move in the direction of minimizing racial profiling and the criminalization of people of color on campus. Additionally, we want to make sure that violent acts against people of color are reported and investigated with as much urgency as those against white people.”

The Social Justice Committee currently meets twice a quarter, and they are always looking for new members who are committed to social change. For more information on joining the committee or their current efforts, you can contact PhD student, J. Galluzzo at Joseph.Galluzzo@du.edu, or subscribe to the Social Justice listserv here.

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) graduate Lara Jackman  (MA’16) has recently accepted  the position of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator with Summit School District in Frisco, CO. Jackman, who leaves her position as Literacy Resource Teacher and Reading Recovery Teacher at Upper Blue Elementary School in Breckenridge, CO, will step into her new role for the 2017-2018 school year.

Jackman was in the Mountain Cohort of the Morgridge College of Education’s principal certification program, Executive Leadership for Successful Schools (ELSS). The Mountain ELSS cohort expands opportunities for educators and administrators to benefit from the program’s expertise and earn Certification for Colorado Principal Licensure. ELPS—which earned a top 20 ranking in Best Education Administration and Supervision by the U.S. News and World Report in 2016—launched the Mountain cohort of ELSS in the 2014-15 academic year to support leadership development within the rural mountain communities of Colorado and to meet the needs of region’s district superintendents. Since that time, the cohort has seen 13 graduates accept leadership positions within their districts, six of which are now in assistant principal or lead principal roles.

According to Morgridge Assistant Professor of Practice, Ellen Miller-Brown, Ph.D., the cohort provides a “high-quality, hybrid face-to-face and online program without the need for extensive travelling.” Face-to-face classes are held at locations in the high mountain region where the majority of the students reside.

Miller-Brown is incredibly proud of Jackman’s recent promotion.

“She [Jackman] is very knowledgeable about curriculum and this is the dream job she wanted with the certification she received through our program,” Miller-Brown explained.

The Morgridge Mountain ELSS Cohort will kick off another class in fall 2017 and is accepting applications now for the 2017 – 2018 academic year.

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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