Alumna Karen Philbrick has a PhD in educational psychology. She decides how tax dollars are spent in San Jose, CA. The executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute is leading the research within the California State University system to make sure gas taxes are spent on solutions that actually improve commutes, advance safety and save money.

Each year the Denver Business Journal (DBJ) chooses 40 professionals under 40 who are movers and shakers in the Denver community. These hardworking individuals are some of the brightest Denver has to offer and Morgridge is delighted to call one of our alumni a DBJ 40 Under 40 winner. Scott Laband, MA ’10, is the current president of Colorado Succeeds, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan coalition of business leaders focused on improving the state’s education system. Scott recently sat down to chat with us about his award, his time at Morgridge, and where he sees himself in the future.

Tell me about your time at Morgridge.

The Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver is known for encouraging out of the box thinking and my time at Morgridge did not fall short of my expectations. I came to Morgridge at a time when I was making a seismic shift in my career, from corporate to nonprofit – with a stop in public service along the way. I was inspired, challenged, and met amazing people who are still engaged in the movement to improve our nation’s schools today.

Why did you choose a degree in higher education?

I remember it vividly. I’m the oldest of five children and was doling out advice to my siblings entering their adult life, encouraging them to follow their passions. While chating with my youngest sister about her college major, it struck me that I should take a dose of my own advice. In a matter of weeks, I quit my comfortable corporate job, found a new role as a Legislative Director with in the State Senate, and enrolled at Morgridge to study leadership and organizational change inside education.

Coming from a family of educators, I have immense respect and admiration for their radical commitment to the next generation.  It was important for me to understand how I could contribute and do my part. The Morgridge College helped me find my role. My focus then, and still is today, large-scale systems change to create educational experiences that work for all students.

This starts with understanding the diverse needs and interests of all learners and empowering eduators to address them in relevant ways. When we talk about great leaders, we talk about educators and we are committed to supporting them and clearing a path for them to succeed.

Did your degree help you in your career path?

Both personally and professionally. The professional growth is perhaps the most obvious through the expertise, networks, and educational thought-leaders I gained during my time at Morgridge. On a more personal level, I was able to fine tune my skills in time management and discipline as I suddently found myself reporting to one of the most prominent Senators in the Statehouse by day, pursuing a full time degree by night, and learning the ropes as a father for the first time. Talk about a growing opportunity!

What lead you to Colorado Succeeds?

Colorado Succeeds came as a welcomed and natural transition after my time at the Capitol. I was 2010 and I brought on as employee #2, with big expectations to meet. Succeeds was in its infancy, created by a coalition of passionate, prominent business leaders who wanted to exert their leadership and acumen to improving schools, ensuring all students benefit from the types of high-quality educational experiences they received. At the time, we were largely a policy and advocacy shop.

Nine years later, it’s fun to look back and see how we’ve evolved. We’ve all grown together – as a staff, as a membership, and as an incubator for innovation and employer-educator partnerships that are reimagining the learning experience. What led me to Succeeds is the same reason I’m still here today, nearly a decade later: I can be a social entrepreneur laser focused on impact, while reporting to a board comprised of wickedly-smart business executives who a deeply committed to this work.

How does it feel to be listed as one of Denver’s 40 Under 40?

It is humbling and a true honor and at the same time, I know that the reasons I’m being acknowledged are hardly my own to tout. The Board and team at Succeeds was just excited to hear the news and is equally deserving of the recognition. We’re all attending the award reception to celebrate together. It’s a great opportunity to step back, reflect, and toast to the journey.

What is next for your future?

I have never been more excited about the vision and trajectory of Colorado Succeeds. Our leadership is working to create agile learning pathways that respond to the diverse needs and interests of learners. Employers have an important role in coming together with educators to inform those pathways. We’re expanding beyond policy to incubate partnerships and direct philanthropy, putting both our network and money to work. Together, these 3 focus areas – policy, practice, and philanthropy – will increase student access to relevant and rigorous learning environments where they can acquire transferable skills and competencies that will help them achieve economic security and mobility regardless of where the future takes us.

 

 

Morgridge College of Education (MCE) faculty member William Cross, Ph.D. has been selected as the 2015-16 University Lecturer by the University of Denver (DU). The University Lecturer award was first given in 1955 and is one of the University’s most distinguished honors, based solely upon creative contributions and scholarly work. “Dr. Cross honors MCE and DU every day and we could not be more proud to have him as our colleague” said Dean Karen Riley.

Dr. Cross 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.

Dr. Cross is a passionate member of the DU community and exemplifies the high standard of excellence found among MCE and DU faculty. His positive impact extends beyond the classroom and into the communities he engages with as he strives to make the world a more inclusive place. Please join MCE in recognizing Dr. Cross for his significant contributions to the world of academia.

The University Lecturer award recipient is announced at the Fall convocation and presented at the University Lecture in the spring. More details will be made available in the near future.

We are excited to highlight Morgridge College of Education Higher Education PhD student Delma Ramos. Delma focuses on social justice in higher education and explores systems of access and opportunity for underserved populations that stem, in part, from her experience as a first generation student. Her inspiring scholarship has led to a variety of opportunities including a summer associate position at the American Council on Education Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy! Below Delma shares her professional experience and advice:

Current research

I have been involved in collaborative projects guided by both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Currently, I am participating in a study that explores the transition to college of low-income and first generation families and the systems institutions have in place to determine their involvement in their children’s college experience. Another project examines the academic trajectories of low-income, first generation women of color in racialized and sexualized academic settings.

Most recently I was invited to collaborate in two studies one which seeks to understand the role that low-income and families of color play in cultivating their children’s educational aspirations and ideologies, and one that involves the construction of a series of measures of Funds of Knowledge. I am also currently working with the Colorado Department of Higher Education on projects related to developmental education and performance metrics.  This summer, I look forward to joining the American Council on Education Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy in DC as a graduate summer associate exploring federal policies impacting higher education. Findings from at least two of the projects have been widely disseminated at forums including ASHE, NASPA, and AERA. Several publications that have emerged from this work are currently in the pipeline.

Collaborators

Most of the research inquiries I have participate(d) in are collaborations with various researchers.  In these settings, I play different roles as part of the research process from proposal development to finding dissemination and the creation of recommendations. These partnerships have taken place within the University of Denver, primarily with my academic advisor Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama and with colleagues from outside organizations including the University of Missouri, the University of California-Los Angeles, Teachers College, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, RAND Corporation, and the Education Commission of the States.

Initial Inspiration

My research interests include access, retention, and graduation from higher education institutions, with an emphasis on underserved populations. Additionally, I focus on the assessment of programs with similar foci and on issues pertaining to educational quality and inclusive pedagogies in higher education, with a special interest in measure development. Philosophically, my research agenda is driven by my passionate commitment to social justice and my vision for a more inclusive and accessible higher education system. My research interests are further strengthened by my background as a first generation student and my exposure to scholars who study inequities in higher education as influenced by economic, social, and political contexts.

Biggest Challenge

As a woman of color, my biggest challenge has been to identify support systems that strengthen my ability to persist and succeed in my program at DU. My support network is composed of colleagues within and outside of DU as well as family and friends outside of Higher Ed.

Research Advice: Make Connections

I have found networking to be a very effective tool to access a wide array of research and other professional development opportunities.  Reach out to those people you would like to work with, you’ve got nothing to lose!

NOTE: This blog post is being featured from the official blog of the University of Denver’s Office of Graduate Studies.

Dr. Julie Sarama, the Morgridge College of Education’s Kennedy Endowed Chair and Curriculum and Instruction professor, will be joining the Design for Impact in Early Childhood Education Initiative, funded by New Profit and its Early Learning Fund. Led by Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, former director of the Office of Head Start, this project brings together a network of scholars, program and policy leaders, communities, and support organizations to develop, implement, and evaluate variants of a comprehensive design for an early education program for three to four year olds. The goal of this initiative is to develop and test effective, adaptable, and holistic support models for early education programs that are based on contemporary evidence. The pilot program is scheduled to launch in 2016.

Dr. Sarama is a leading curriculum designer for early childhood education, particularly for mathematics instruction. She is the co-creator of the pre-K math curriculum, Building Blocks, Building Blocks Learning Trajectories (BBLT)—a teaching tool for early math educators—and the forthcoming Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2), a web application that updates BBLT to reach an even wider audience.

nick cutforthDr. Nick Cutforth, Department Chair and Professor of Research Methods and Statistics, is helping to improve physical education practices in underserved, rural, and low-income Colorado schools through a community-engaged research project, Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM). Obesity has been identified as the biggest health threat to U.S. children according to the Institute of Medicine. Alongside Dr. Elaine Belansky from the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health, Dr. Cutforth aims to turn this around with HELM, partnering with K-12 schools to implement evidence-based, school-level environment and policy changes. HELM has two proven approaches: AIM (Assess, Investigate, Make it Happen), which promotes healthy eating and physical activity in students; and the Physical Education Academy, a professional development program for teachers that increases the quality of physical education. Initially funded by the Colorado Health Foundation in 2010, HELM provides participating schools with the training, equipment, and monetary resources needed to implement healthy changes.

While AIM encourages healthy behavior for the entire day, the Physical Education Academy focuses on P.E. class and introduces teachers to the SPARK program, an evidenced-based P.E. curriculum, which involves teaching traditional games and sports in innovative ways, and more small-sized games and activities that cater to the individualized abilities of students. “We’ve introduced a new kind of P.E.,” says Dr. Cutforth, “which engages all the children, not just the athletes.” As a result P.E. classes provide more opportunities to increase moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among students.

Currently in his fifth year with the project, Dr. Cutforth’s work has shown significant improvements in the quality of physical education programs and teachers’ instructional practices. For example, in the 17 San Luis Valley elementary schools that participated in the P.E. Academy, the quantity of MVPA in P.E. class increased from 51.1% to 67.3% over a two-year intervention period, resulting in approximately 14.6 additional hours of physical activity over a school year. He says, “PE teachers are disguising fitness in the form of fun activities, so the kids are much more engaged, and the teachers are spending less time on classroom management.”

In 2013, HELM was refunded by the Colorado Health Foundation and has expanded to schools in southeast Colorado. HELM’s reach now extends to more than 15,000 kids in some of the poorest counties in the state.

Kitchen-150x150Dr. Richard Kitchen, Kennedy Endowed Chair and Professor in the Curriculum & Instruction program at Morgridge College of Education (MCE), aims to advance equity and diversity in education through Access in Mathematics for All (AMA), a project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. “The goal of the program,” says Dr. Kitchen, “is to recruit talented students of color and low-income students to come to DU to study mathematics, to encourage them to become mathematics teachers and return to their communities to serve as educators.”

Dr. Kitchen and his fellow researchers—Dr. Nicole Joseph and Dr. Alvaro Arias, also from DU, and James Gray from the Community College of Aurora (CCA)—are developing an infrastructure that will provide academic and social support for future students in AMA. The team has built relationships with CCA and Aurora Public Schools to recruit potential students through a pilot tutoring program, host math talks focused on the importance of mathematics and mathematics education, and integrate existing services at DU to better serve future AMA students.

To augment the impact of AMA, Dr. Kitchen and his team have submitted a second proposal to the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program for $1.45 million to fully fund five students in MCE’s Teacher Education Program each year for five years.

AMA addresses a critical need for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers, as identified in the National Science Foundation Authorization Act and the America COMPETES Act. The program also supports the National Science Foundation goal to “Prepare and engage a diverse STEM workforce motivated to participate at the frontiers.”

Doctors Julie Sarama and Doug Clements, the Morgridge College of Education’s Kennedy Endowed Chairs and Curriculum and Instruction professors, as well as Dr. Heather Ryan, Library and Information Science assistant professor, will present at the University of Denver’s Pioneer Symposium on September 25-26. During this two-day event, DU accomplished alumni and distinguished professors will present lectures and host panels and keynote speakers who will discuss a range of critical issues.

Doctors Sarama and Clements will lead a session entitled “The Surprising Importance of Early Math,” where they will discuss five research findings about early mathematics: its predictive power, children’s math potential, educators’ understanding of that potential, the need for interventions, and what we know about effective interventions.

Dr. Ryan’s session, “Preserving Our Digital Cultural Heritage” will address new challenges in maintaining access to our digital cultural heritage over the long term, and the “digital dark age.”

The Pioneer Symposium features a wide array of topics, including “The Right to Health in Practice: Lessons and Challenges,” “Film as Religion,” “Mental Illness and the Courts: Myths, Challenges, and… Hope?” among many others. DU’s Chancellor Rebecca Chopp will kick off the event during a welcome luncheon and panel discussion on September 25. View the full event schedule here.

The Pioneer Symposium is in its eighth year and open to everyone–alumni, parents, friends, and students of the University.

EVENT DETAILS:

Date: Friday, September 25 through Saturday, September 26, 2015
Time: 10 am to 6pm on Friday and 8 am to 2 pm on Saturday
Location:
The University of Denver
2199 S. University Boulevard
Denver, CO 80208
Cost: $40 fee covers all sessions and lunches on Friday and Saturday

The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) is excited to announce the Morgridge Fellows Program for Engaged Learning.

Sponsored by the Morgridge Family Foundation, participants of this new fellowship will engage in in-context learning opportunities that link the fellows with cutting edge community partners. The program aims to develop well-balanced leaders, advance transdisciplinary solutions, and promote transformative education by combining leadership development opportunities with authentic problems and real world applications. This developmental process involves cultural, community, and academic exchange between the fellows and the P-12 practitioners, giving the fellows a comprehensive view of educational challenges and opportunities.

Initially, fellows will work with the PBL Network to aid in the expansion of the network and the sharing of PBL ideas. The PBL Network is a community designed for educators, administrators, and school districts to support each other in transition to the Adams 12 STEM model. The fellows will work with the PBL Network and the Adams 12 STEM team ensuring access to resources, creating industry partnerships, and providing professional and curriculum development opportunities.

The Morgridge Fellowship for Engaged Learning is a half-time fellowship. Three positions are currently available and fellows will be expected to commit 10 hours per week for 35 weeks with their P-12 practitioners and community partners. This will include travel and site visits. Fellows will receive a tuition waiver and stipend for the 2015/2016 academic year, and reimbursement for any required travel expenses.

MCE’s Drs. Doug Clements and Julie Sarama, have been awarded a $3.5 million grant to study learning trajectories in early childhood mathematics instruction. Drs. Clements and Sarama, both Kennedy Endowed Chairs at the Kennedy Institute for Educational Success, have been funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences for their research. The project, which evaluates the effect of learning trajectories used in early childhood mathematics instruction, looks specifically at whether learning trajectories are better than other approaches in the support of young children’s learning.

Drs. Sarama and Clements will be working with colleagues Art Baroody and David Purpura, conducting research out of the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy and the Kennedy Institute. By conducting eight experiments in local schools, they will investigate the efficacy of learning trajectories. Their results will impact the ways in which learning trajectories are used across a variety of subject fields, but the implications for mathematics is particularly important. Mathematics is a strong predictor of later school success in mathematics, but also for overall school achievement, graduation, and even college entry.

On May 13, 2015, the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) Early Childhood Special Education (ECED) Certificate program received an endorsement as an Approved Educator Preparation Program by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

MCE’s ECED Certificate is a 24-credit hour program that aligns with the Masters of Arts in Early Childhood Special Education. The endorsement includes an additional set of courses, knowledge, and skills that will be attached to the CDE Teacher’s License. Candidates of the ECED Certificate program are required to complete 600 hours of practicum over three age-levels (infant-toddler, preschool, and school-age), pass the ECSE Place test or Praxis II, and apply to the state for the Early Childhood Special Education Specialist Endorsement. Additionally, candidates who wish to complete the ECED Certificate program must already hold a Colorado Teacher’s License.

Doctors Julie Sarama and Doug Clements’ pre-K math curriculum, Building Blocks, is being implemented throughout New York City, following successful results seen in Boston, Buffalo, and Nashville. This roll out is part of the New York City Department of Education initiative, “NYC Pre-K Explore,” which also promotes improved literacy and science programs. Deputy Chancellor, Josh Wallack, expects the Building Blocks curriculum will be used by 13,500 children in 750 district and community-based classrooms by fall 2015, and by the vast majority of New York City children within the next three years.

Early math skills are seen as a strong predictor of success in school and later in life; however, preschools across the country tend to ignore anything beyond basic counting games. Dr. Clements says that many preschool teachers aren’t comfortable with numbers because they went through the U.S. education system, which “is just not very good about teaching math and making it fascinating.”

With the implementation of the Building Blocks curriculum, preschool teachers will have the opportunity to use puzzles, games, art projects, and songs to help children learn more about numbers, shapes, and patterns. Those who volunteer to adopt Building Blocks will receive the books, related games, seven days of training, and coaching for one year to help facilitate successful outcomes.

If you have a Wall Street Journal account, you can read more about the New York City Building Blocks implementation here.

 

Morgridge Curriculum and Instruction professors and Kennedy Institute staff, Dr. Julie Sarama and Dr. Doug Clements, are a part of a team working to advance math and science skills in early childhood learning. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Sarama and Dr. Clements have developed the Connect4Learning (C4L) curriculum. Through C4L, preschool students are getting the opportunity to spend more time engaging in fun activities that promote science and math. C4L aims to educate pre-K students with a holistic approach that integrates academics, social and emotional development, and play in the classroom.  A key element to their research is video analysis of the program in action; this allows for program growth and provides ways to create better support for diverse student bodies.

Dr. Sarama and Dr. Clement’s work on C4L has been showcased in a new Science Nation video created by NSF. The video features their work at the All Souls School in Englewood, CO, which has adopted the C4L project. Through the use of sea creatures, pre-K students at All Souls School are learning their numbers and shapes. The highly engaging activities not only promote science and math-based learning, but are also fun for the students.

The C4L author team includes experts in all four domains. Nell K. Duke is a professor of literacy, language, and culture and a faculty affiliate in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan. She studies early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Kimberly Brenneman is Program Officer for Education at the Heising-Simons Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kimberly was research faculty at Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research where she led projects focused on curricular and instructional practices to foster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning for young children in school and home settings. Mary Louise Hemmeter is a professor in the Department of Special Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and is a co-faculty director of the Susan Gray School for Children. She studies professional development, strategies for preventing and addressing challenging behavior, and instructional approaches for young children with disabilities.


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