Morgridge College of Education is one of the few graduate schools in Colorado that offers the Addiction Counseling Certification coursework required to obtain the professional certificate, CAC II. Dr. Mike Faragher, Director of the Problem Gambling Treatment and Research Center in the Counseling Psychology Program, was a key player in establishing MCE’s Addiction Counseling Coursework Track. Faragher and the Counseling Psychology Department worked together to find a way to offer the variety of courses and content required to meet CAC II coursework requirements.

“Our students kept asking for it, so we kept adding classes,”  he states.

In January of 2012, MCE completed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Office of Behavioral Health at the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Counseling Psychology Graduate Program that recognizes MCE’s Addiction Counseling coursework track as meeting the course requirements for the CAC II credential. Upon completion of the Counseling Psychology addiction track classes, graduates have all coursework required to earn the CAC II credential. Students interested in obtaining the certificate must also complete 2,000 hours of CAC supervised counseling and pass the national professional examination. To get official CAC supervision, students must be supervised by a Certified Addiction Counselor III (CAC III) or a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC).

“We have a vision of also adding a formalized way of completing the supervised work experience through our program,” adds Faragher.

The Addiction Counseling coursework track consists of six classes:

  • Group Counseling
  • Ethics
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Pharmacology of Addiction I&II
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Motivational Interviewing.

Faragher explains:

Two of the six courses – Ethics and Group Counseling – are already required for Counseling Psychology graduate students, so the additional coursework for the Certificate is a valuable investment considering the benefits of having CAC II on your resume. And, our Infectious Disease class is taught by perhaps the most qualified instructor in the state, Dr. James Neid, from Rocky Mountain Infectious Disease. It is extremely rare in Colorado to have a licensed physician specializing in infectious diseases actually teach this required class.”

Addiction is becoming a critical issue in mental and behavioral health. Having been in the addiction field for over 40 years, Faragher is a Licensed Psychologist as well as a Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC III) and a Certified Problem Gambling Counselor (Level II). He is also one of Colorado’s two Board Approved Clinical Consultants endorsed by the International Problem Gambling Counselor Certification Board. He describes the importance of the Addiction Counseling Certificate in the field:

CAC II is held in high regard at every treatment center and is a powerful credential when applying for jobs; even agencies that don’t specialize in addiction treatment are aware that addiction is important in a variety of settings. Addiction counseling helps identify problems in elementary schools, high schools, couples and family counseling, correctional institutions, and treatment centers.”

In the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the addiction section was greatly expanded to include, for the first time ever, non-substance using behaviors, while also broadening the criteria of addictive disorder, resulting in a more common diagnosis. Faragher comments on the impact of the May 2013 edition:

“Now that addiction is more visible and commonly diagnosed, there is more interest in having a better understanding of addiction, where it comes from and what treatments work and don’t work. With the rewriting of DSM-5, the whole addiction piece of mental/behavioral health is going to become a bigger issue in coming years and our Addiction Counseling coursework track makes our students even more prepared.”

To learn more about the Addiction Counseling Coursework Program and the Counseling Psychology MA and PhD Program, contact the Office of Admissions at Morgridge College of Education at or 303-871-2509

Dr. Norma Hafenstein was recently elected to the National Board of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted). She was appointed the position at this year’s Conference, Growing Gifted Globally, in Florida, and will serve three years on the National Board. As a member of the National Board, Dr. Hafenstein will help carry out SENG’s mission of “[empowering] families and communities to guide gifted and talented individuals to reach their goals: intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually”. Denver was selected to be the location for the 2015 SENG Annual Conference, giving the University of Denver, Morgridge College of Education, and the Institute for the Development of Gifted Education an opportunity to showcase their work in Gifted Education at a national level.

Influencing the way her country’s Minister of Education looks at the current educational system in Jamaica while changing the way the world looks at the education of post-colonial native populations. Stewart’s seminal research has attracted worldwide attention from the halls of Oxford University in Great Britain to educational centers in Brazil and Australia with its relevant and revelatory social justice perspective.

“The MCE doctoral program has provided a solid platform for what I am working to achieve on an international level. The school’s highly developed social justice and Inclusive Excellence components fit right into the “catalyst for change” philosophy that many Morgridge students are embodying in both the classroom and the communities in which they live and work.”

“Part of being a school leader is building systems and empowering staff to transform schools to meet the needs of all students,” explains Dr. Susan Korach, researcher in leadership preparation and co-creator of the Ritchie and ELSS cohorts at the Morgridge College of Education. Korach, along with the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) faculty, attended the biannual Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) Educational Leadership Convention this July in Breckenridge. The Convention brought over 1,000 principals, assistant principals, superintendents and school leaders from across the state together to engage in workshops, seminars, and professional development to share ideas, research findings, and stories with the mission of improving Colorado schools.

Many current MCE students and ELPS program graduates were presenters at the 2013 CASE conference, speaking on their experiences as school leaders and how they’ve come to ignite change within their schools and educational organizations. Nelson Van Vranken, MCE alum and Principal at Hanson Elementary School, and his leadership team presented on their school’s recent transformation. In 2009, Hanson was identified as one of the lowest performing schools in the nation, based on student growth and performance data, but in 2012 ranked in the highest performing TACP category. Van Vranken attributes much of his schools success to his training at MCE: “The Ritchie cohort fully prepared me for the challenges of urban school reform. Through our reform efforts, we gathered data to build a clear vision for the school, then focused on creating a school culture that supports learning. In all of this, our goal is centered on lasting change, so our biggest learning is in front of us. It was powerful to have the opportunity to share the lessons we have learned through our work with colleagues from around Colorado. ”

Morgridge College of Education is a “Friends of CASE” sponsor because the two organizations share the vision and commitment to helping improve Colorado schools and districts. Dr. Korach elaborates, “We want to create more partnerships and support leadership work throughout the state. Supporting CASE is an opportunity to help MCE have a broader prospective of leadership, expanding our support, programming and relationships from mainly urban districts to rural areas.”

Through the ELPS program at Morgridge College of Education, students work InContext within their schools and educational organizations while developing their leadership and professional skills. “We intentionally prioritize adding value back to the schools and educational settings in which our students are working;” Korach states, “through the Ritchie and ELSS InContext learning opportunities, though each capstone project at the masters level, and through the doctoral courses and research projects, our students are serving as active change agents in our schools and our community.” ELPS students are encouraged to be members of CASE to continually further their educational leadership development and collaborate with other educational leaders.

Morgridge College of Education offers Certificate (Ritchie and ELSS cohorts), Masters, EdD and PhD programs in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Typical students in the ELPS programs have anywhere between 3-20+ years experience as an educator, however, a smaller number of students come from outside of the field of education. The Ritchie Program for School Leaders is a district partnership cohort with Denver and Adams County School Districts, while the ELSS cohort utilizes blended online technologies in district (Aurora and DPS) and regional cohorts with InContext opportunities for the integration of coursework and internship. Both Ritchie and ELSS consist of 4 quarters of coursework, focused on school-based inquiry projects, and a 300+ hour integrated internship to meet the requirements for principal licensure and evaluation. Upon completion of a Ritchie or ELSS cohort, graduates must pass the PLACE principal exam for state licensure and receive approval from Colorado Department of Education. Both cohort options immerse candidates into practice of real situations in real schools, resulting in a unique learning experience that retains a high hire rate for assistant principal, principal, or educational leadership positions. Many Ritchie and ELSS graduates continue with 15 hours of coursework at MCE to receive their Masters. The ELPS EdD and PhD programs support educational leaders with aspirations of being superintendents or getting involved in district level leadership and policy making. For more information on any of the ELPS programs, please contact the Office of Admissions at

“When I was growing up, I didn’t think I’d be a teacher. My parents were both teachers; my sister is a teacher; it’s the family occupation,” explains Aaron Stites, a fresh face in this year’s Teacher Education Program cohort at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. “I was a probation officer for the State of Colorado for over four years, volunteered for six months to teach in Latin America and ended up as the director of an education program down in Nicaragua for 22 months. I was the program coordinator for a teen homeless shelter for a year and worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver in an educational summer camp teaching 5th grade. I learned firsthand, that teaching was what I enjoyed most.”

His work experience, time abroad, and his family’s influence, along with some inspiration from teachers back home in Grand Junction helped Aaron confirm his passion for teaching. After deciding on a career path, Aaron started researching Teacher Education programs in the state of Colorado. “DU is head and shoulders above other programs in the state,” commented Stites. “It’s a selective, one year program based on a gradual release model, where students are placed in cohorts for a brief classroom period before learning InContext with an apprentice teacher and a classroom of students. I applied, interviewed, got accepted, and now I’m here.”

A Day in the Life of an Apprentice Teacher_1Among several cognate options, Aaron selected focused coursework around culturally and linguistically diverse learners for his masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Before starting classes at Morgridge College of Education, Aaron received his apprentice teacher and classroom assignment at Bryant-Webster Elementary School in the Denver Public School System to learn from and teach with Ginger Skelton and her 5th grade classroom. Bryant-Webster is the only early childhood education through 8th grade dual-language school in the state. Students at Bryant-Webster are on the course to be bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-literate in both Spanish and English by the 8th grade.

The first quarter of classes at DU started with four intensive courses: Second Language Acquisition with Dr. Maria Salazar, Teaching and Learning Environments with Jessica Lerner, Special Education with Dr. Molly Leamon, and Teaching Mathematics for Elementary Teachers with Dr. Richard Kitchen and Dr. Terrence Blackman. Stites elaborates: “In a matter of weeks, everything we’ve learned feels like six months of coursework. But I’ve already developed baseline fundamentals of managing a classroom, working with diverse populations and breaking down the subject most elementary teachers fear the most, math. All of these classes moved quickly to get us in our classrooms where it all comes together with experiential learning. You start with your classroom on their first day of school and observe the apprentice teacher for a while; eventually, you teach a lesson, then a few lessons, a full day, and ultimately a full week. It’s overwhelming, everything teachers have to do, but we get to see the whole process, from day one to the end of the year, all with the same group of kids.”

Before students filled the classrooms and hallways, Aaron joined Ginger and other Bryant-Webster faculty and administration for professional development, reviewing the philosophies of the school and the district and setting goals for the 2013-2014 academic year. Aaron describes his first few weeks in his apprentice classroom: “It has been rewarding to observe Ginger the past few weeks. She is a consummate professional and with 16 years of teaching experience, she has everything set up perfectly and collaborates often with other teachers. That first week with students is all about establishing expectations, behaviors and routines. It surprised me how much she went over transitions like changing classrooms or sitting down for floor time, but the kids really responded to it. I am excited to get to know my 5th grade classroom better; it’s a really interesting age because the kids are getting ready to transition to the next level, but are still definitely kids.”

Throughout the year, the InContext learning at Bryant-Webster will be coupled with many more classes at MCE. Stites reflects on his experience at MCE so far: “My cohort is filled with people of all different ages, from various places and diverse backgrounds. People came from occupations such as finance, the corporate world, international education, or are recent graduates. Most of the students are from Colorado, but many of my fellow classmates are from New York, California, and Tennessee (as well as other states). It’s enlightening for everyone when you have that kind of diversity. And each professor I’ve had has been extraordinary; no matter what the situation, they’ve ‘been there, done that’. Our teachers do the things that we need to do in our classroom, like setting up different ways of learning and displaying objectives for the day; they are modeling how to be an effective teacher.”

There are months to go and there is much to learn, but when asked what his dream job is, Aaron answers, “I’m concentrated on being a good teacher, to feel like I’ve made an impact and that my kids are getting the knowledge and understanding they need to move on to the next level … that, is my dream job.”

Click here to learn more about the program Aaron Stites is in, the Teacher Education Preparation program.

Dr. William Cross Jr. is a leading theorist and researcher in the psychology and identity development of minorities. His book, “Shade of Black”, is considered a classic in the field of racial identity. He is the President-Elect of American Psychological Association’s Division 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues), an Elder of 2013 National Multicultural Conference, a CUNY Professor Emeritus, and a Distinguished Lecturer at Georgia Southern University.

Cross began his academic career at the University of Denver, graduating in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He became heavily involved with the social movements of the 60’s and 70’s and pursued a PhD from Princeton in Psychology with the focus on African American Studies, which has been at the heart of his research and career for the past 40 years. Cross’s most noted contribution to the field was the development of the Nigresence Theory in 1971, distinguishing the different stages of a person’s life as they explore their identity as it relates to their race and the race of others around them. Cross’s Nigresence Theory on identity development has been adapted to apply to both racial and social minority groups.

As the President-Elect of the Division 45, Dr. William Cross Jr. leads the American Psychological Association group to “encourage research on ethnic minority issues and [apply] psychological knowledge to ethnic minority issues”. At the upcoming 2014 American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention in Washington D.C., Cross plans on driving the agenda to highlighting two key topics: the incarceration of people of color and the lived experience of LGBT people of color. Cross and the rest of Division 45 are also drawing attention to the role of women, gay and lesbians, and people with disabilities within the American Psychological Association, as these minority groups are often underrepresented within the organization.

Cross blends his passion with scholarship to educate others and bring awareness to minority issues both nationally and locally. Later this month, Cross will be giving an important talk to students at the University of Texas at Austin to encourage scholars to continue to research the Nigresence Theory. “There are things about the Nigresence Theory that haven’t been researched enough, I want to push scholars to explore new areas of the theory and new directions in research,” Cross explains.

Over the course of his career, Dr. William Cross Jr. has come full circle, back to the University of Denver, where it all began. He currently serves a clinical professor at DU’s Morgridge College of Education in the Counseling Psychology and Higher Education programs. On the DU campus, Cross has worked with the Center for Multicultural Excellence (CME), supporting inclusive excellence and speaking at CME events on multicultural issues. In efforts to cultivate leadership and emphasize college access among young black males, Cross also participated in CME’s 2013 Black Male Initiative Summit.

Cross comments, “I feel very fortunate to have lived the life I’ve led. I’ve been married for over 40 years, with a daughter who lives in Denver; so moving to Denver has reunited our family.” Cross and his daughter have written two pieces together, one on self-concept and the other exploring racial identity development from a life span perspective. Cross and his daughter are also thinking about writing a third piece about the role of spirituality and personality development. “At 73, I’m still going pretty strong,” he adds.

Education is a cycle that affects the lives of every individual in a community. It’s a system that can be strengthened by relationships and two-way communication. Brian Elizardi, Morgridge College of Education’s Director of Alumni, Career and Community Services and Higher Education alum, is doing just that – establishing an interrelated and interconnected system of students, community organizations, and alumni at Morgridge College of Education to bring the MCE experience full circle.

As part of every academic program at Morgridge College of Education, InContext experiences are required – in the form of an internship, apprenticeship, or practicum at a clinic, school or organization. “When I went through the program, they told me that I needed an internship, gave a few examples of what other students have done, and said ‘good luck’,” recalls Elizardi. “Now, we are focused on helping to create more opportunities through new partnerships and strengthening our current community partners to ensure our students get the valuable experience they need to augment their in class learning.”

Elizardi Blog (2)InContext opportunities are mutually beneficial; they give students a real world application of their classroom learning, while giving community partners the benefit of working with talented, young professionals with fresh eyes and fresh minds. Elizardi elaborates, “We are establishing long-term relationships with community partners around the Denver Metro area that benefit our students and the organization. A goal of the college is to produce agents of change; so we look for partners that put our students in diverse situations that encourage growth.”

In addition to ramping up community partner relationships and InContext opportunities, Elizardi is helping develop a support system for MCE students and alumni to navigate through their careers and challenging experiences via workshops, career services, professional development, and 1:1 coaching. Elizardi explains, “Professional development services are often very broad. How you manage your career in education is very different than business or law. We want to provide ongoing value to our alumni and community partners in ways that work for them and to support their ongoing needs as educators, administrators, librarians, counselors, and researchers.”

MCE alumni also play a key role in helping the system run full circle. Brian states, “Once you graduate, you enter a new season with DU. Our alumni are valued partners in the MCE network; they can be some of best community partners – offering to supervise an intern, mentor a student, or connect MCE with their district or organization – giving back to the college in a way that benefits current and future students.”

Looking at the greater scheme of things, Elizardi notes, “The mutual relationships and networks that we are strengthening today, will continue to move and change our Denver communities for years to come. It’s a great time to be engaged in education. The world needs problem solvers.”

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