The Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at the Morgridge College of Education is pleased to announce Dr. Tracy L. Cross as recipient of the 2020 Palmarium Award, an annual award given to an individual who most exemplifies the vision of the Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. The office seeks a future in which giftedness will be understood, embraced, and systemically nurtured. Recipients of the Palmarium Award demonstrate the vision through understanding of giftedness in the areas of:

  • Practice by impacting graduate education, pre-service, and P-12 community
  • Outreach through advocacy at a variety of levels (local, national, international)
  • Publications informing teachers, children, parents, policy makers, and academia
  • Research influencing theory, practice, and policy

“Through the generosity of the Considine Family Foundation, the Palmarium Award provides professional acknowledgment and tangible support to eminent leaders in the field of Gifted Education,” said Norma Hafenstein, the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. “Dr. Cross’ commitment to the social and emotional needs of gifted learners is inspirational. We are pleased to recognize Tracy’s visionary leadership in support of mental health challenges and positive intervention.”

Cross is the Jody and Layton Smith endowed chair and Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education and Executive Director of both the Center for Gifted Education and Institute for Research on the Suicide of Gifted Students at William & Mary. He previously served Ball State University as the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Gifted Studies, and the founder and Executive Director of both the Center for Gifted Studies and Talent Development and the Institute for Research on the Psychology of the Gifted Students. For nine years, Cross served as the Executive Director of the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities, a residential high school for intellectually gifted adolescents, and was the former director of two state associations for gifted education: Wyoming Association for Gifted Education and Indiana Association for the Gifted.

He has published over 200 articles, book chapters, and columns; made over 300 presentations at conferences; published ten books, with number 11 in press; edited five journals in the field of gifted studies (Journal for the Education of the Gifted, Gifted Child Quarterly, Roeper Review, Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, Research Briefs) and two general education journals (The Teacher Educator and the Journal of Humanistic Education). In 2011, Cross received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and the Distinguished Service Award from both The Association for the Gifted (TAG) and NAGC. He is President Emeritus of NAGC and TAG, having served terms as President of TAG on two occasions. In 2009, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the MENSA Education and Research Foundation.

Cross will receive his award and present the lunchtime address at the 10th Annual Gifted Education Symposium and Conference, “Celebrating Gifted Education:  Reflecting on our Past and Impacting Our Future” at the Wellshire Event Center, Denver, CO on Jan. 30 and 31, 2020. Please visit the conference link for registration and other conference details. For more information about this award, visit the conference webpage.

DU to partner with a local school district

 

DENVER – The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) at the University of Denver is pleased to announce three faculty members have received prestigious U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) grants to fund their research in education and to develop solutions that improve school readiness and academic achievement.

 

MCE’s Marsico Institute of Early Learning co-directors Julie Sarama, Ph.D., and Douglas H. Clements, Ph.D., Principal and Co-Principal Investigator, have been funded to evaluate the comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum Connect4Learning (C4L), previously developed by Sarama and Clements through National Science Foundation (NSF) funding with colleagues Drs. Nell Duke, Kim Brenneman, and Mary Louise Hemmeter. The $3,295,431 IES grant, “Evaluating an Interdisciplinary Preschool Curriculum” will be conducted over four years in collaboration with a yet to be decided local school district.

 

Although the importance of all young children gaining competence in four core curricular domains—social-emotional, language and literacy, mathematics, and science—is well established, research results on the efficacy of comprehensive curricula are dismal, with no measurable effects in comparative studies and near zero effect sizes for the most commonly-used preschool curricula. C4L builds upon and integrates empirically-tested practices, connecting the four domains to achieve more than the sum of its parts. C4L seamlessly weaves together child-centered, play-based and teacher-directed intentional education, placing math and science at the core to build sequences of topics that are grounded in empirically-proven learning trajectories. Literacy and social-emotional skills develop in the context of these sequences, as well as through focused lessons. With this new IES grant, Sarama and Clements will be able to evaluate and possibly improve C4L.

 

Additionally, Garrett Roberts, Ph.D., has been awarded a $499,311 four-year IES Early Career Development and Mentoring Grant. Roberts will serve as the Principal Investigator and Phil Strain, Ph.D., of MCE’s Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center, will serve as the primary mentor. The goal of the grant is to develop a reading program with behavioral supports to improve reading outcomes for students with reading disabilities and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in upper elementary grades.

 

“Based on the importance of both reading and student engagement in lifelong positive outcomes, this is a really exciting opportunity to directly improve outcomes for students in need of extra support,” said Roberts.

 

Both grants bring new possibilities in research opportunities to students at MCE and have been funded, in whole, by the Institute of Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

 

About DU’s Morgridge College of Education (MCE): MCE is a graduate college of education dedicated to creating positive change by unleashing the power of learning. The college infuses social justice, diversity and inclusion across its 23 advanced degrees in higher education, teacher preparation, public policy, special education, counseling psychology, research methods, and information science.

About the The Institute of Education Sciences (IES): IES is the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Independent and non-partisan, its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information in formats that are useful and accessible to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public. IES conducts six broad types of work that addresses school readiness and education from infancy through adulthood and includes special populations such as English Learners and students with disabilities.

DENVER CO – The University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program has been named in the top 30 nationally ranked best Educational Administration and Supervisionprograms by US News and World Report’s 2020 rankings. Coming in at number 27, the coveted spot in the top 30 was officially announced last week.

“This is big for us,” said Morgridge Dean, Dr. Karen Riley. “We’ve worked hard to create a program where the leadership skills are transferrable in and out of the classroom. We are seeing transformative leaders who graduate and keep in contact with their class cohorts for support, collaboration, and continued education. It is a unique program and it’s an honor to be recognized.”

According to the ELPS department chair Dr. Susan Korach, the ELPS faculty and staff are honored to receive this recognition.

“It fuels our efforts to continually improve our preparation and support for leaders, scholars and researchers,” Korach said. “Our students and the communities, schools, and districts where they serve are the center of our work and this ranking is reflective of their leadership efforts to improve teaching and learning.”

Morgridge is in good company in the top spot, listed among Vanderbilt, Columbia, and Harvard’s Educational Administration programs. The education college as a whole also made the top schools list, ranked at number 134 out of 200 in the top graduate schools in education.

The U.S. News & World Report rankingsare based on two types of data: expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students. Rankings data come from statistical surveys of more than 2,054 programs and from reputation surveys sent to more than 22,018 academics and professionals. The most recent surveys were conducted in fall 2018 and early 2019.

About DU’s Morgridge College of Education (MCE):MCE is a graduate college of education dedicated to creating positive change by unleashing the power of learning. The college infuses social justice, diversity and inclusion across its 23 advanced degrees in higher ed, teacher prep, public policy, special ed, counseling psychology, research methods, and information science.

DENVER – The Center for Rural School Health & Education (CRSHE) at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education has been funded by the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute to create a taskforce to address and combat the growing youth mental health crisis. Called the Community-University Partnership (CUP), the taskforce is comprised of 11 individuals with expertise in the areas of San Luis Valley K-12 schools and mental health services, evidence-based practices to promote student health and wellness, community-based participatory research, culturally and linguistically responsive mental health services, adverse childhood  experiences, positive youth development, and resiliency. The goal is to create a community informed, data driven, evidence-based action plan that can be implemented across all 14 San Luis Valley school districts to improve the social-emotional health of all San Luis Valley K-12 students.

 

“I was thrilled to find out we were funded and couldn’t wait to share the good news with our San Luis Valley Community Advisory Board,” said Dr. Elaine Belansky, CRSHE director and lead academic partner from Morgridge College. “The board went through an extensive ‘Year of Learning’ process that culminated in a decision to establish an upstream approach to addressing adverse childhood experiences. While the community has many assets, it also faces challenges of poverty and opioid addiction. This grant gives us the opportunity to take an important next step in making sure students have the coping and life skills they need to be healthy and happy.”

 

The action plan will include strategies related to 1) professional development for teachers on trauma-informed instruction, self-care to avoid teacher burnout and compassion fatigue, and meeting mental health needs of students; 2) evidence-based practices to implement in schools such as social emotional learning curricula to build youth resiliency, communication skills, and positive self-esteem; 3) systems-level strategies to align, coordinate, and leverage resources across key partners; 4) strategies to address the mental health workforce shortage by increasing clinical services through innovative partnerships with universities. Once the action plan has been established, the taskforce will develop a separate grant proposal to implement.

 

The long-term goal is to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to support children’s social-emotional needs in the classroom, increase mental health clinical services by finding creative ways for universities to partner with communities, and help children obtain the knowledge and skills they need to be healthy and happy individuals.

 

The taskforce will begin its work this summer.

 

Community Partner: Clarissa Woodworth, Operations Director of Center for Restorative Programs

Academic Researcher:  Elaine Belansky, Director of Center for Rural School Health & Education

Funding period:  May 1, 2019-April 30, 2020, Funded by the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute

 

 

 

About DU’s Morgridge College of Education(MCE): MCE is a graduate college of education dedicated to creating positive change by unleashing the power of learning. The college infuses social justice, diversity and inclusion across its 23 advanced degrees in higher ed, teacher prep, public policy, special ed, counseling psychology, research methods, and information science.

To veteran Denver real estate attorney Ed Barad, his retirement is important, but his legacy is more so. Barad had been considering how he would approach retirement when he accompanied his friend and client, Robert Metzler, on a tour of the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. Metzler recently gave a historic legacy gift to students at Morgridge, and he was touring the education college to see firsthand how the students would benefit. During the tour, Morgridge Dean Dr. Karen Riley talked with Barad about their initiative for inclusion, social justice, and change. Riley made sure he had a copy of Evicted, the book faculty and staff were reading to discuss at an upcoming retreat.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond, follows eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Barad was touched by the book, and around the time he finished it The Denver Post published a series on local families also facing eviction. In the middle of Colorado’s housing shortage, an eviction is devastating to low-income renters. Once on their record, tenants have a nearly impossible time finding a new home.

One of the Top Real Estate lawyers in Colorado, Barad had an idea. He approached his firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck , about creating a pro-bono team dedicated to fighting evictions for low-income families. The firm has always been dedicated to pro-bono service and has built-in pro-bono hours for all areas of law and according to Barad, not every hour has to be billable. Creating this team focused on evictions was a natural move for the firm, and something the firm considered consistent with its mission. The team launched in the spring of 2018 with 20 lawyers on board, and by the fall they had taken on 16 cases.

Clients first contact the Colorado Poverty Law Project, a nonprofit partner in fighting eviction in Colorado that refers cases from Colorado Legal Services. The project filters requests for help through various lawyers and firms, referring clients to Brownstein when there is availability and need. All partners have the same goal: to keep people from having an eviction, something Barad calls “a death warrant,” on their record and becoming homeless

A death warrant is an accurate description. According to Facing Eviction Alone, a 2017 joint report from the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and the Colorado Poverty Law Project,

“In 2016, there were more than eight thousand eviction complaints filed against residents of Denver, in addition to nearly 37,000 evictions filed in other Colorado counties. The stakes of these eviction proceedings are high, as a loss in court not only results in a tenant’s dispossession of their home, but also produces an ‘eviction record’ that limits future housing prospects. Further, the loss of shelter, even for brief periods, often causes unemployment, educational disruptions, and food insecurity for families.”

Further, the study concluded

  • Tenants are virtually never represented by counsel in eviction cases. While landlords had legal representation in every case reviewed, tenants were only represented by an attorney in 1 to 3 percent of the cases reviewed.
  • The assistance of an attorney significantly improved tenants’ chances of remaining in their homes. In the few instances in which a renter had legal counsel, they usually prevailed in the eviction proceeding. Without representation, the dispossession rate was 43 percent in DHA cases and 68 percent in the sample of private housing cases.
  • Many tenants lost possession of their homes due to “stipulated” agreements. This suggests that, without the assistance of counsel, many renters are unable to protect their interests in court.
  • Landlords filed many evictions due to only a few dollars of unpaid rent. For example, Denver Housing Authority filed one eviction over an alleged $4 of unpaid rent, and the median amount in dispute was only a bit higher than $200.
  • Physical addresses of defendants suggest that evictions disproportionately affect neighborhoods with more people of color and areas of rapid growth and gentrification.

So far, people are paying attention to this social problem – something Barad considers to have national dimensions. Locally, the City of Denver created a pilot legal defense team to fight evictions, which launched in June. The fund was initially created through Denver City Council Members who pooled their leftover office budgets.

For Barad, this is not a bad start for what he wants to achieve. As he continues to move toward retirement, he has no plans to slow down. Rather, he wants to make sure his firm creates a larger platform for young attorneys to help people in need. His visit to Morgridge turned out to be an inspiration and perfect timing.

Morgridge College of Education’s Counseling Psychology Clinic is excited to roll out Lyssn, a new partnership that brings counseling and assessment to the digital age. Developed through years of scientific research and repetitive studies, Lyssn is a technology company focused on improving the quality of mental health and addiction therapy. When Morgridge Professor of Counseling Psychology, Dr. Jesse Owen, published on a different project with one of the owners of Lyssn, he heard about the product and knew he needed to integrate it into the Morgridge Clinic.

“Lyssn is the only group, [that I know of], that is integrating natural language processing into actual theoretical and empirically supported principles to support learning,” Owen said.

Lyssn’s HIPPA-compliant, double encrypted system allows counselors to record, store, and review therapy sessions; provides session transcripts via automatic speech recognition, designed and tuned for psychotherapy; and the artificial intelligence takes the spoken language of therapy and evaluates it relative to specific fidelity benchmarks. Put simply, Lyssn’s technology allows the therapist more time to focus on the client and revisit sessions to better serve their needs.

The Lyssn prediction models automatically estimate the therapist’s empathy, collaboration, reflections, and questions, to provide detailed performance-based feedback on Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT, in development). Lyssn will allow our students to receive feedback on their sessions like never before.

Owen worked with the Morgridge technology team to adapt the product to the existing clinic and then turned the reins over to Drs. Andi Pusavat and Jessica Reinhardt to implement in their day to day clinic activities.

According to Pusavat, Lyssn’s ability to read empathy is a major factor in allowing her team to better assess their sessions and better teach their students. The technology allows them to record and assess sessions with extreme accuracy and speed. Reinhardt is equally excited to use the technology and sees a future where remote counseling sessions can be made available to individuals and groups in rural areas, where access to mental health professionals is difficult.

”This can be the future,” Reinhardt added.

The Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at the Morgridge College of Education is pleased to announce Dr. Frank C. Worrell as recipient of the 2019 Palmarium Award, an annual award given to an individual who most exemplifies the vision of the Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. The office seeks a future in which giftedness will be understood, embraced, and systemically nurtured. Recipients of the Palmarium Award demonstrate the vision through understanding of giftedness in the areas of:

  • Practice by impacting graduate education, pre-service, and P-12 community
  • Outreach through advocacy at a variety of levels (local, national, international)
  • Publications informing teachers, children, parents, policy makers, and academia
  • Research influencing theory, practice, and policy

“Through the generosity of the Considine Family Foundation, the Palmarium Award provides professional acknowledgment and tangible support to eminent leaders in the field of Gifted Education,” said Norma Hafenstein, the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. “We are pleased to recognize Frank for his visionary work in recognizing potential in gifted and talented youth and in advocating for populations frequently underserved.”

Worrell is a Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he serves as Director of the School Psychology Program, Faculty Director of the Academic Talent Development Program, and Faculty Director of the California College Preparatory Academy. He also holds an affiliate appointment in the Social and Personality Area in the Psychology Department, and was a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland (2014–2017). His areas of expertise include at-risk youth, cultural identities, gifted education/academic talent development, scale development and validation, teacher effectiveness, time perspective, and the translation of psychological research findings into school-based practice. Worrell served as Co-Editor and Editor of Review of Educational Research from 2012 to 2016 and as a Member at Large (2016 – 2018) on the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association (APA). He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Educational Research Association, and five divisions of APA, and an elected member of the Society for the Study of School Psychology and the National Academy of Education. Worrell is a recipient of UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence (2011), the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children (2013), the Distinguished Contributions to Research Award from Division 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race) of APA (2015), and the Outstanding International Psychologist Award from Division 52 (International Psychology) of APA (2018). He has ongoing international collaborations in China Ethiopia, Germany, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Worrell will receive his award and present the lunchtime address at the 9th Annual Gifted Education Symposium and Conference, “Theory & Practice: Conceptual Foundations and Classroom Strategies in Gifted Education” at the University of Denver on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2019. Please visit the conference link for registration and other conference details. For more information about this award, visit the conference webpage.

The Ricks Center for Gifted Children, a preschool through grade 8 model school on the University of Denver campus and part of the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), is gearing up for the new school year and excited to capitalize on its model Innovation Space.

The Ricks Innovation Space, originally developed over the summer of 2017, came to life in response to overwhelming support from the Ricks community. Engaged parents in the Ricks Community Association (RCA) headed up a fundraising drive through the annual Gala. The MCE technology team saw the Daniels College of Business Innovation Center and decided to assist in additional funding toward the creation of an innovation space for a younger audience at Ricks.

Alexandra Struzziero was hired as the Innovation and Technology specialist at Ricks, and in collaboration with Josh Davies, MCE Technology Specialist and Website Administrator, developed blueprints for the space.

“We had a specific challenge because we needed to make a space where creativity and innovation is encouraged, but also make it specifically applicable to be used in an elementary school setting,” said Davies.

Anne Sweet, Director of Ricks, reached out to contacts at other independent schools, and Struzziero, and Davies toured several in order to gather ideas.

The final Innovation Space was designed specifically for Ricks, specifically for gifted students, and specifically with their unique needs in mind. Over the course of the last academic year, Struzziero and teachers facilitated the use of the space, and children used their creativity to launch it to the next level.

One student in particular, Quinn London, took to the space and expanded her thirst for education outside the traditional classroom setting. She asked for a 3-D printer for Christmas, and once her dad taught her how to solder, she took her tools to school and taught her class in the Innovation Space.

According to Quinn’s father, Brian, “the Innovation Space has really allowed her to grow and embrace this side of her education.”

Struzziero continues to build the capacity of the Innovation Space, integrating it with the curriculum while leaving room for students and teachers to explore through collaboration and origianlity.  She is ready to start this fall with a better idea of how to tap into students’ passions in innovation and technology.

“Seeing students, like Quinn, who really pushed the envelope and grew each time they used the Innovation Space gave us confidence and reassurance that we are on the right path toward collaborative, innovative exploration,” said Sweet.

Struzziero continues to build off students’ and teachers’ use of the green screen for audio visual technology, 3-D printing, and coding technology. Students are engaged in the “maker movement,” tinkering without limits as they design new ways to engage technology. The RCA and teacher communities at Ricks supported this year’s initiative to implement LEGO robotics across the K – 8 learning spectrum. Ricks is hosting a 2-day LEGO robotics training on August 8 and 10, and has opened the training to MCE faculty and staff, along with local independent schools.

Ricks begins is 2018-2019 school year on August 13 for educator professional development and opens its doors to students August 20. For more information about Ricks, visit their site.

Morgridge College of Education graduate Dr. Jennie Mizrahi (EdD ’18) has been awarded the John Laska Dissertation Award in Curriculum from the American Association of Teaching and Curriculum (AATC). According to the AATC, each year it recognizes two outstanding dissertations in teaching and curriculum that best represent its mission and founder, Dr. John Laska. Laska earned his doctoral degree from Teachers College and was a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin from 1967 until his death in 1995.

Mizrahi’s award-winning dissertation, Underachievement of Creatively Gifted High School Students, tackles why under achievement is a common issue with gifted students, specifically creatively gifted students who may be at greater risk because of personality traits, lack of challenge in strength areas, a mismatch between school environment and student needs, low status associated with creative achievements and behaviors in the school system, and other factors.

“I am humbled by the honor,” Mizrahi said, “and hope that this will give me an opportunity to help raise awareness of the issues faced by creative underachievers so that we as educators may better meet their needs.”

Her research focused on “…six creatively gifted, underachieving high school students from an urban-cluster area in the western United States. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used to gather data in the form of interviews with underachieving, creatively gifted students, their parents, and teachers; observation of classrooms; and creative artifacts to uncover the essence of the experience of underachievement for these stakeholders. These data groups were then compared to each other and existing literature to help generate recommendations for changes in school programming and practice for helping this student population.”

According to Dr. Norma Hafenstein, Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at the University of Denver and Mizrahi’s academic advisor, Mizrahi’s conclusions “focus and elaborate on the themes of emotionality, learning versus achievement, shaping the student self, motivation and power, and student creativity in crises.”

Mizrahi’s results saw creative high school students, their parents, and their teachers experience underachievement in many ways. According to her, several major themes emerged; the first was the interaction of creativity and underachievement, which included differences in priorities and contradictory goals for various participants in various contexts. The second was motivation. Participants tended to discount or undervalue intrinsic motivation for creative tasks and experienced lack of motivation for school tasks (often seen as “hoop jumping”) as a character flaw on the part of the student, who was often viewed as having a poor work ethic. Participants had little understanding and no tools for increasing motivation. The third theme was the student self. All three sets of participants had similar perceptions of the student self, but the conflict between student needs and student perceived self, and the values and expectations at school and at home placed students sense of self under threat. The fourth theme was power. While a sense of student autonomy is key for creativity and academic success, when students underachieved, parents and teachers tended to exert types of power which undermined student autonomy, sometimes triggering reactance (rebellion against the attempted power influence) in an attempt to protect student autonomy and sense of self.

Mizrahi recommended separate support groups be formed for parents and students, a review of grading policy and goals at the school site, and the formation of a gifted and talented program at the site to help advocate for students and train teachers in differentiated curriculum and the needs of gifted students. The gifted and talented program would also provide extension and exploration opportunities for students.

“Dr. Mizrahi was an exceptional graduate student, a leader in her cohort and a meticulous and thorough researcher,” Hafenstein added. “Simultaneously, her passion for the arts and for a special population of gifted students created the context in which this extraordinary project occurred.”

Part of her award includes a one-year membership to AATC, a conference fee waiver to the annual AATC meeting where the award will be presented, and an invitation to present the dissertation at an AATC conference session. Mizrahi will accept her award and present in person at the 25th AATC annual meeting in Dallas, Texas in October 2018.

On Thursday, May 31, the Morgridge College of Education community came together to honor students in the inaugural Student Awards Celebration. Held in Katherine Ruffatto Hall commons, the awards ceremony was an opportunity for faculty from each program to honor students for their outstanding work and also an opportunity for the College of Education Student Association (COESA) to present four awards of their own.

List of awards and awardees:

Child, Family, & School Psychology
Emerging Scholar Award: Talia Thompson
Emerging Practitioner Award: LeAnn Risten
Outstanding Contribution to CFSP: Aaron Bagley

Counseling Psychology
Outstanding MA Student: Lisa Fuentes
Outstanding PhD Student: Eve Faris

Curriculum & Instruction
Outstanding Student in Curriculum & Instruction: Jodie Wilson
Outstanding Student in Curriculum & Instruction: Brianna Mestas

Early Childhood Special Education
Emerging Leader Award: Jaclyn Bauer

Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
Leading Change: Educational Funding Policy: Kendall Reiley
Leading Change: ELPS Department & COESA: Lorna Beckett
Leading Change: School & Community Partnerships: Kara Blanchard

Higher Education
Outstanding Achievement in Higher Education Praxis: Jillian Martinez
Outstanding Achievement in Higher Education Praxis: Liliana Diaz
Outstanding Achievement in Higher Education Praxis: Katherine Robert

Library & Information Science
Student Mentorship Award: Micah Saxton
Pacesetter Award: Jennie Stevens
Leadership Award: Hannah Craven

Research Methods & Statistics
Star of the Year Award: Lilian Chimuma
Outstanding Scholarship Award: Myntha Cuffy
Program Service Award: Peiyan Liu

Teacher Education
Outstanding Student in the Teacher Education Program: Carolyn Heaney

COESA Awards
COESA Inclusive Excellence Award: Syah Taylor
COESA Leadership Award: Perri Moreno
COESA Service Impact Award: Jessica Bishop
COESA Research Impact Award: Katrina Vandeven

When Library Information Sciences alumna Janet Lee (MLS, ’78) decided to apply for a Fulbright to return to Ethiopia, where she had spent her most recent sabbatical and previous time in the Peace Corps, she didn’t expect the process to move so quickly. But that it did, and within months of applying she was packing her bags (and lots of books, Chromebooks, and a server) for Axum, Ethiopia, a Denver Sister City, to spend 10 months engaging in research in open access publishing at the University of Aksum. In a country where there are only 35 open access journals, Lee is seeking to make access to academic articles much easier for University faculty and students.

She graciously made time to talk with us in June 2017, in the midst of the chaos of leaving.

Lee said at the time that she planned “…to explore avenues of scholarly publishing in Ethiopia that ensure that faculty are provided an opportunity to share their knowledge, perspectives and values and that students and colleagues have unfettered access to their collective scholarship.”

Her arrival in late August 2017 was met with a few hiccups, but eventually she arrived at what came to be her permanent residence in Axum, the Sebean Hotel. The hotel is within walking distance of her assignment at the Foundation Library and the staff is welcoming.

To her surprise, she passes Denver Street every day on her walk to the Foundation Library. Denver and Axum have been sister Cities for 21 years and this was one of the reasons Lee choose Axum as her Fulbright destination. With the help of some current Peace Corps volunteers and friendly residents, she learns the ropes and begins to study Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. Her greatest challenge is the Aksum University Library, which is under construction and will be moving to a new building in the next year. More than once the lack of technology has given her pause and caused her to question her assignment.

“The library is grossly underfunded and understaffed,” she writes in her blog. “The infrastructure campus-wide is very weak and the Internet has extremely low bandwidth. I celebrate the small things, such as being picked up by campus service every morning and not having to negotiate with a Bajaj [three-wheeled taxi] driver.”

Lee approaches her trials with positivity and an open heart. She truly loves Ethiopia, its culture, and the rich heritage of its people. She treasures building relationships and learning from her experiences, so even though she may experience a setback, she takes it as part of her journey.

“I am grateful to be living in Axum, where every day is a gift,” she writes.

In October, her shipping container arrived from the United States, filled with donations and items Lee was able to secure before her trip. She was able to celebrate the arrival of a set of World Book Encyclopedias, heavy metal bookshelves, her Chromebooks, server, and lots of donated books.

“In one box, I found a near complete run of Journal of Ethiopian Studies. Who but a librarian or a researcher could be excited about this find?”

One morning in December, a colleague mentioned over tea that there were football protests and something about student protests on campus. After another confusing meeting, Lee received a call from the Embassy. She had been inadvertently left off of an important email.

“A student had been killed in nearby Adigrat,” she writes.  “I learned later that it might have been after two rival football teams met and the student killed was not from this region. This sparked protests nationwide causing many college campuses to be closed, Aksum University where I am working not being one of them.”

She assured the Embassy that she is safe. The next day a student from Axum was killed, and his funeral called for increased military presence around campus and the town. In response, and to prevent more rumors and violence, the government shut down access to all social media, internet, and data plans. Lee grew concerned – her mission in Ethiopia is to provide open access via the internet and the unforeseen shut down is stressful. The last access shutdown, before her arrival, lasted for months. Without access to their texts, students were forced to stop their studies and make up for lost time when the ban was lifted.

Luckily, it did not last long and she was able to load the Koha software to the library’s server and implement a new catalog system. Just in time, as the library will be moving to a new building and her next challenge is how to transfer the collection. She only needs to wait on some additional help to implement the Koha system across the library.

By early February, she is able to make a planned trip to Haramaya (formerly known as Alemaya) University to co-teach a class on Digital Libraries. A much older university than Axum, Haramaya is full of culture and history, and an interactive library. Haramaya had been closed during the December protests, and students were frantically trying to complete their missed work and keep up with their new semester course load. Still her lecture was well attended and the students delighted in hearing her American accent.

Lee enjoyed her time there so much she entertained thoughts of trying to move her location, but on her trip back to Axum her colleague called her. He had taken the same route as her, hours later, and been caught in a deadly protest. This was the beginning of a series of protests that resulted in the resignation of the Prime Minster, Hailemariam Deselegn, and a State of Emergency. She decided to stay in Axum, where it is peaceful and safe.

By this time, her work implementing the Koha system has stalled. Still waiting on additional help, she moves on to other initiatives. Two significant personal collections (Gebru Tareke and Zewde Gabre-Sellasie) have been classified, labeled, and placed in glass cases in the Ethiopian Collections room and cables have been laid on the new building to provide it with a network.  All they are waiting on is the ‘go’ to move into the new building.

In March, Lee is able to circle back to a project she began before her trip. In June 2017, she collaborated with a fellow Peace Corps alum to bring his technology with her to Ethiopia. Bill Graf is the founder of ET Learns and implements the RACHEL server with Chromebook operating systems to allow access to a wide array of databases. Once the server is loaded, students will have access to the Ethiopian curriculum, accompanying plasma videos, open access textbooks, power typing, and many science, technology, and mathematics resources. Because these resources are housed on a server, there is no dependence on access to the internet. In a country where internet access and shutdowns are common, the new technology allows students to continue their studies despite outside unrest. With the help of some volunteers and the new building complete, she is able to set up the new Chromebook lab, nearly a year after her initial meeting with Graf.

The library is slated to open in early May and Lee’s sons are expected to join her for its opening.

“Perhaps,” she writes, “they will come to understand what makes their mother tick and why she keeps coming back to this incredible country so often.”

You can keep up with Lee by following her monthly blog https://ilceig.wordpress.com/papers-presentations/

On May 30, the Fisher Early Learning Center completed another successful school year, which saw 42 children graduate on to kindergarten programs in the Denver-metro area. For the first year, the entire staff of teachers and administrators attended the graduation, making it a truly inclusive celebration. Early childhood is a critical time in a child’s life and we are very fortunate to have such dedicated professionals working on behalf of these children and families. Fisher’s exemplary program and ongoing commitment to serve as the model for high quality care and inclusive education are observed as the teachers and staff bring out the best in these littlest Pioneers each day.

See all of our pictures from the event on our Flickr Album (linked below)!

Netflix has officially announced a release date for its highly controversial “13 Reasons Why” – May 18 the show will hit Netflix queues and be available to watch. We want to take this opportunity to share resources if you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide. These resources are recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) as well as our own Counseling Psychology Department and Child, Family, and School Psychology Department.

Additionally, NASP has crafted a statement and guidance for the upcoming season. Its general recommendations include:

  • Provide the guidance developed by NASP for 13 Reasons Why, Season 1 to parents and educators.
  • Encourage parents to watch the series with their child; children and youth who view this series may need supportive adults to help process it. Help students articulate their perceptions when viewing controversial content. The difficult issues portrayed do occur in schools and communities, and it is important for adults to listen, take adolescents’ concerns seriously, and be willing to offer to help.
  • Caution against binge watching, as doing so with intense content, particularly in isolation, can be associated with increased mental health concerns.
  • Reinforce that school-employed mental health professionals such as school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers are available to help.
  • Make sure parents, teachers, and students are aware of suicide risk warning signsAlways take warning signs seriously, and never promise to keep them secret. Establish a confidential reporting mechanism for students.
  • Reinforcing resiliency and protective factors can lessen the potential of risk factors that lead to suicidal ideation and behaviors. Once a child or adolescent is considered at risk, schools, families, and friends should work to build these factors in and around the youth.

If you are an educator and want more information about our alumna-designed suicide risk assessment app, click here.

On Saturday, March 31, graduates and faculty members of the University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) teamed with the Denver Public Library (DPL) on an extracurricular activity at the Leon Gallery – hosting an Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon. The group is part of ArtHyve, a Colorado collective of activists, artists, and archivists. The goal of the Art + Feminism campaign is to improve coverage of cis and transgender women, feminism, and the arts on Wikipedia. Since 2014, Art + Feminism has coordinated over 500 events to edit, create, and improve thousands of Wikipedia pages. For ArtHyve, hosting a Wikipedia-Edit-a-Thon is an example of its their commitment to document creative communities.

Co-founded by MCE Library and Information Sciences alumna, Jessie De la Cruz (MLIS’ 11), and her best friend, noted Colorado Creative Sigri Strand, ArtHyve’s mission is to “transcend and challenge mainstream art representation and to celebrate, preserve, and document the creative communities and practices throughout our state.” As a nonprofit organization, it fulfills its mission through developing public programming, workshops, and archival exhibitions to inspire creative engagement.

“It’s not an accident that there are multiple DU alumni and faculty involved,” said Kate Crowe, MCE affiliate faculty member of Library and Information Sciences (LIS) and DU Curator of Special Collections and Archives. “ArtHyve’s mission, to create a community-based arts archive that documents the creative history of this city and state, dovetails well with DU’s tagline ‘a great private university dedicated to the public good.’”

Crowe continues, “The Art + Feminism wikithons, which have been around for the last five years, are also run by grassroots groups of volunteers who want to make the history of women in the arts more visible. Participating in these kinds of programs is just one of the many ways that ArtHyve, DPL, and the LIS program can use the research skills we learn in school to make a positive community impact.”

According to Jane Thaler (MA ’16), marketing director of ArtHyve,  “[hosting an] Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon is a natural fit for our organization because not only were we founded by two creative women, but also because part of our mission is to preserve and document Colorado’s creative community. And what better way to get the word out about our creatives than to add them to the most used reference tool in the world?”

Only ten percent of Wikipedia editors are women, and Saturday’s event worked to change that. At the end of the day, the group saw 519,000 words added, 40 total edits, 16 articles edited, and 4 new articles added. The group included, in addition to De la Cruz, Strand, Crowe, and Thaler, alumna Hana Zittel (MA’ 14).

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies EdD student Geraldine “Gerie” Grimes was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Grimes is the President and CEO of Denver-based nonprofit, The Hope Center, a community-based agency dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities, developmental delays, and persons in need of specialized educational or vocational services. She was nominated to the CWHOF because of her life’s work and dedication to the needs of others, especially women and women of color of all ages, building community and using her voice to be a strong advocate for the voiceless.


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