In the Spring of 2018, before Dr. Phil Strain and his team from the Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center made their official move to the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education, Strain collaborated with Morgridge Dean, Dr. Karen Riley, and Dr. Elaine Belanksy, director of the Center for Rural School Health & Education (CRSHE), on a pilot virtual learning series focused on early childhood education through the newly launched ECHO-DU, a hub-and-spoke model of distance learning with a home base inside Morgridge College. The three leaders, in addition to Hema Visweswaraiah, Director at Morgridge’s Fisher Early Learning Center, put together a proposal for Constellation Philanthropy, a community of individual funders working together to increase philanthropic investment in early childhood development in Colorado.

The proposal outlined a pilot project to increase the capacity of early childhood educators in underserved communities in order to provide inclusive educational opportunities for all children. According to the literature, the primary barrier to inclusion is not developmental status or cognitive or physical challenges, but rather problem behavior. Through this ECHO-DU series, educators and therapists would learn the tools to manage problem behaviors in their classrooms and create an atmosphere where children with special needs can learn with their typically developing peers. The Morgridge College team, led by Strain, would begin by teaching the Strain-authored Prevent-Teach-Reinforce for Young Children (PTRYC) method. Internally, Morgridge College would leverage the connections of Belansky in rural Colorado, its existing urban partnerships to ensure this information would be widely available to communities who need it, and the invaluable daily lived experiences of the staff from the Fisher Early Learning Center.

Through relationships, research, and reporting, Constellation Philanthropy helps donors invest wisely so all of Colorado’s children can have a great start in life. Kate Kennedy Reinemund, Executive Director of Constellation Philanthropy, was already aware of Morgridge College’s work in this arena through her personal connection to Fisher. She was blown away when Riley came to talk to her about this project.

“When Karen came to talk to us about this proposal, she had an energy that was contagious,” Reinemund recalled. “We were so impressed with the use of new technology to reach students and families who would otherwise go without.”

Other funders to Constellation, including the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, Piton Foundation, Zoma Foundation, and many individuals, felt the same. They decided to fund the very first ECHO at the University of Denver. ECHO-DU is unique, because while most ECHO sites across the world focus on healthcare, ECHO-DU is one of a few focused on the P-20 education system. ECHO-DU participants collaborate with other educators in a case-based learning environment in order to learn about evidence-based practices and develop advanced skills related to mental health, school health-wellness, and school leadership. This pilot project would set the bar for other ECHO-DU projects and address a key finding of the Colorado Early Workforce Survey 2017, by helping teachers build the skills to meet the care and learning needs of children with special needs and challenging behaviors in order to increase the opportunities for inclusion for all children across the state.

The project launched with two ECHO-DU cohorts in the Spring of 2019. The cohorts totaled 35 participants, and each participant had direct contact with 20-25 children, for a total of 700-875 children impacted by the pilot. Additionally, participants became “specialists” in PTRYC and are now able to serve as a resource for the other teachers and children in his or her center or school, potentially impacting hundreds of additional children. The program served to build capacity, which is the vision of Project ECHO globally.

The use of ECHO-DU created a network of practitioners, especially in rural areas, who are now able to use a child and family-centered approach that, with continued implementation, could adequately support both the short and long term social and emotional outcomes of young children and inclusion. Participants were hungry for information and extremely engaged both between and within sessions; for many participants, this was their first exposure to PTRYC or to any evidence-based process for reducing challenging behavior.

“We [Constellation] look for what we call the ‘stickiness factor’,” said Reinemund. “We want to fund evidence-based, high quality programs with scalability. We love how DU takes resources and sees how they can get into the community with maximum potential.”

Strain agrees with Reinmund on the importance of the stickiness factor.

“In the course of my 45-year career I have had the good fortune to hold faculty positions in Schools of Medicine and Education,” he said. “One thing that both fields have in common is a gross disparity between known evidence-based practices and the use of these practices in typical settings.”

According to Strain, the time between vital information appearing in a journal and its appearance in everyday practice can approach two decades. He identifies this lag time as a waste of resources, depriving clients of the most effective services and disproportionately discriminating against the already underserved.

“ECHO-DU is perhaps the most effective antidote to this problem that we have,” he said. “This initial trial, generously supported by Constellation, provided invaluable data about how ECHO-DU can be utilized in the delivery of a very complex behavioral intervention for extreme problem behaviors in young children.”

As a result of the pilot, the PELE Center has adapted all of its distance training and coaching efforts to reflect ECHO-DU learnings.

“The impact of the initial gift from Constellation Philanthropy cannot be overstated,” said Riley.  “It not only successfully funded this program, which will benefit hundreds of children with special needs and their families, it launched ECHO-DU and serves as an exemplar for how this technology, which was originally designed for use in medicine, can advance evidence based practices in education and other fields.”

Nancy O’Sullivan, ECHO-DU Program Manager, says it was because of Constellation’s generosity that Morgridge College was able to build much of the ECHO-DU infrastructure.

“The experience and knowledge we gained were used to successfully launch three more ECHO series within six months after finishing the PTRYC pilot,” O’Sullivan said.

Those ECHO series were: Behavioral Health Solutions for Rural Schools (CRSHE & ECHO-DU), with 68 registered participants; Empathy and Social Emotional Learning (mindSpark & ECHO-DU), with 75 registered participants; and Wellness Coordinators Make It Happen (CRSHE & ECHO-DU), with 23 registered participants.

According to O’Sullivan, “Based on our initial pilots and continued success in the virtual professional development space, we have many other groups interested in using ECHO-DU to build capacity in their region.”

Clearly, the ECHO in ECHO-DU is making an impact.

“I am so grateful to Kate Reinemund and her staff as well as all of the Constellation Philanthropy partners for their support,” Riley added. “This was a new project and their sponsorship and vision have allowed this to become a reality, resulting in lasting impact for our community for years to come.”

Jesse Owen, PhD, Professor and former chair of our Counseling Psychology department, was awarded a $2M, multi-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation to study how psychotherapy can contribute to people being able to live more meaningful lives.

In an effort to build out psychotherapists’ toolkit for understanding the role of virtues in psychiatric patients’ well-being, Owen and Dr. Steven Sandage, professor of the psychology of religion and theology at Boston University, are leading a multi-year, multi-site investigation to measure whether growth in gratitude, forgiveness, and humility can predict — or even help to cause — growth in general flourishing and well-being among mental health clients.

“I am excited for the possibilities to explore client and therapist flourishing, to promote what we all truly want — to live the good life,” Owen said of the new grant, which begins April 2020 and closes March 2023.

During this pressing time, we wanted to share some good news. We hope that you can pause and reflect for a moment on the hard work that the Morgridge community – our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, parents and community members – have contributed to the College in the past several years to get us to this point. In this moment, we have a lot to be thankful for, and we are thankful for all your contributions.

We are happy to announce that the Morgridge College of Education has jumped 22 spots in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, a reflection of the College’s continued dedication to improving lives by advancing systemic solutions to complex societal challenges. Morgridge made the list at 112 out of 200 in the top graduate schools in education.

“This type of recognition is wonderful, but what is truly impressive is what these numbers represent,” said Morgridge Dean, Dr. Karen Riley. “These numbers denote years of work on the part of every member of our community and reflect our collective commitment to excellence in teaching and scholarship. This type of success would also not be possible without thoughtful and deep collaborations with our community partners.”

For several years, Morgridge College’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program has earned a spot in the top programs in the nation. This time, the program came in at number 25 for Education Administration on U.S. News and World Report’s annual list, released March 17. New to the top 25 rankings is Morgridge College’s Teacher Education Program, ranked 18 in the nation for Secondary Education.

Both programs at Morgridge have deep community partnerships, which allow their students to connect theory to practice while receiving invaluable experience, setting them apart from competitors. The Teacher Education Program specifically offers an Urban Teacher Fellowship (UTF), an innovative one-year program made possible by a partnership between Morgridge College and Denver Public Schools. The goal of UTF is to support teacher fellows and provide them with the resources and experiences necessary to ensure that all children have access to highly-trained educators. The Ritchie Program for School Leaders, part of the Educational Leadership program, involves partnerships with several school districts across the state and immerses students in graduate-level coursework and project-based learning that prepares them to meet challenges within complex systems. Each student’s experience is customized to their individual needs and the school where they work.

“At a time when fewer people are entering the field of education we could not be prouder of the impact of these two programs,” continued Dr. Riley. “Facilitating the development of exemplary classroom teachers and school leaders is not only central to our mission as a college of education, but has a cascading effect. Our faculty, students, staff and alumni are working every day to improve the lives of children and families in our communities.” Read Dr. Riley’s Q&A on the teacher shortage in the U.S.

The College of Education traces its roots back to the 1890s when teacher preparation was its primary focus. Today, in addition to teacher preparation, the College has expanded to offer master’s and doctoral degrees in the disciplines across the spectrum of education, wellness, data, information and human development.

Each year, U.S. News & World Report ranks professional school programs in business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing, including specialties in each area. The Best Graduate Schools rankings in these areas are 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.

The data for the rankings in all six disciplines comes from statistical surveys of more than 2,081 programs and from reputation surveys sent to more than 24,603 academics and professionals, conducted in fall 2019 and early 2020.

Just like their urban counterparts, school districts in rural Colorado confront plenty of daunting health and wellness challenges — everything from hungry children to students stressed by family turmoil and economic instability.

But unlike their urban peers, rural districts typically confront their challenges under the radar. For all their assets (think close-knit communities where everyone knows everyone’s name), rural districts often are hampered by tiny staffs, minimal support and scant access to resources.

The Center for Rural School Health & Education (CRSHE) at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education aims to help change that. Armed with two recent grants totaling $5.1 million from the Colorado Health Foundation, the CRSHE will spend the next two years equipping 27 high-poverty rural school districts with the support, evidence-based resources and professional development essential to fostering student health and wellness. Read the full story.

The University of Denver Morgridge College of Education (MCE)’s Marsico Institute of Early Learning has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to embark on a new research collaboration with Boulder Valley School District to research evidence-based interventions to support teachers.

“ULTIMATE” (Understanding Learning Trajectories in Mathematics: Advancing Teacher Education), under the direction of Drs. Douglas H. Clements, Julie Sarama, from Morgridge College of Education, and Dr. Douglas Ready from Teachers College, Columbia University, is a five-year grant totaling $4,575,683. Despite the documented importance of early mathematics and of teachers as a critical lever in facilitating its development, there are stunningly few evidence-based interventions available to support teachers. Over two decades, Clements and Sarama have built a professional development tool, called Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories, or [LT]2, a web-based tool for early childhood educators to learn about how children think and learn about mathematics and how to teach mathematics to young children (birth to age 8).

The DU team will work with Boulder Valley School District teachers, blending high quality in-person professional development with the [LT]2 professional development. The grant will allow DU to collaborate with teachers in deepening their understanding of how children learn mathematics and how they can incorporate this knowledge into their instruction.

According to Sarama, “This funding from NSF allows us to directly contribute to teachers of early mathematics and to the hundreds of children they serve, while producing rigorous research that documents the power of teachers’ understanding children’s thinking—serving as a model for the rest of the nation.”

The Center for Rural School Health & Education (CRSHE) at the University of Denver (DU) has a vision for happy, healthy children and families living in vibrant rural communities. The Colorado Health Foundation has stepped in to “Make it Happen” with a $4.9 million grant awarded to CRSHE to increase healthy eating and physical activity among high poverty, rural students and school staff. CRSHE, already a known partner in rural Colorado, will build on existing partnerships with 27 rural school districts to support them in implementing community-driven comprehensive health and wellness plans. CRSHE’s involvement in this process is key; it helps rural districts identify and successfully implement culturally relevant evidence-based practices. The Make it Happen grant period kicked off in October with expected completion in Oct. 2021.

“I’m excited for our rural school district partners. They’ve worked hard to develop thoughtful health and wellness plans and now have both financial resources and CRSHE support to put those plans in place,” said CRSHE Executive Director, Elaine Belansky, PhD.

According to Belansky, one of the top concerns of rural districts is mental health. With that in mind, CRSHE is also launching The Resiliency Project, specifically designed to complement Make it Happen by promoting youth mental health and resiliency. This effort is also generously funded by the Colorado Health Foundation and makes it possible for CRSHE to continue providing hands-on support in rural Colorado through in person meetings with rural educators to discuss mental health promotion strategies and a regional convening to share the latest best practices and school success stories. CRSHE will capitalize on DU’s state-of-the-art ECHO-DU technology, a virtual professional learning tool, in order to provide rural educators information about the latest best practices on topics such as social-emotional learning, suicide prevention, and bullying prevention.

“I’m thankful to the Colorado Health Foundation for recognizing that youth mental health is a top priority in rural Colorado school districts,” continued Belansky. “Allotting funds to address that need allows all of us to keep the momentum going.”

As a leader in Colorado’s Creede School District, Grants Manager and Health and Wellness Coordinator Lauren Sheldrake is looking at ways Make it Happen and the Resiliency Project can impact her constituents.

“In the past year, we have seen a significant increase in the mental health needs of our students and staff,” Sheldrake said. “The grant and these partnerships can open a door to addressing Colorado’s mental health crisis, creating the vibrant communities CRSHE envisions.”

Over the weekend, Elaine was able to chat with Colorado Public Radio about the project and ways the funding will be used in rural districts.

Chalkbeat Colorado kicked off their annual legislative session on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Prior to the session, Chalkbeat brought its annual Legislative Preview to the Morgridge College of Education for a collaboration and lively panel discussion on what to expect from Colorado’s upcoming legislative session on Friday, Jan. 3. Chalkbeat Bureau Chief, Erica Meltzer, moderated the discussion and was joined on the panel by State Rep. James Coleman, State Rep. Colin Larson, State Sen. Paul Lundeen, and State Sen. Nancy Todd.

According to Chalkbeat’s breakdown of the panel, here is what we can expect for the legislative session, which kicked off on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

  • Lawmakers have heard from Colorado voters loud and clear: No new taxes for education.
  • Without new money, one area where lawmakers seem poised to make changes is strengthening teacher preparation programs.
  • School accountability is here to stay.
  • Lawmakers want to see school funding distributed in a more equitable manner. But if some students get more money, that means others will get less.
  • Gov. Polis’s $27 million preschool expansion plan faces an uphill battle in the legislature.

You can read Chalkbeat’s full recap here and watch the recorded livestream video below (or on Facebook) of the morning panel discussion.

Rick Ginsberg (00’) is an alumnus of Morgridge College of Education’s Counseling Psychology PhD program. With over 25 years of experience in Psychology, the former owner of Beacon View Consulting, LLC recently accepted a position as president of the Colorado Psychological Association. Here, Ginsberg graciously discusses his new role, his goals for the future, and offers advice for newcomers in the field.

Tell me about your new(ish) role with the Colorado Psychological Association (CPA). What excites you about this position? I am currently the president of the Colorado Psychological Association (CPA) and began my term this past July. CPA is the oldest, and largest, professional organization of psychologists not only in Colorado, but in the entire Rocky Mountain region, and has been in existence since the 1940s. Our motto and mission is that the organization is the “The Voice of Psychology in Colorado”, and through its history CPA has really proven that to be the case, whether that has been educating psychologists and consumers and their support systems of the benefits of quality mental health treatment; providing training and educational services to psychologists to enable them to do their work more effectively; or working with state legislators to protect the public by ensuring everyone who practices in the field is well trained, maintaining ethical standards, and advocating for people with mental health needs. What excites me most about having the honoring as serving as CPA’s president is working alongside incredibly talented, creative, committed, and innovative psychologists who want to ensure that the field is vibrant and impactful in Colorado. When CPA works alongside other mental health partners in the state, be these other professional organizations, consumer advocacy groups, or legislators, one realizes how many people are working every day to improve the lives of others by advancing the various missions of mental health treatment, care, and awareness.

You’ve previously served as a board member of the CPA, specifically as chair of the CPA Legislative Committee and fought for high quality mental health services. As President, what issues do you want to address regarding mental health? Through the years, a great many passionate professionals and laypeople alike have designed plans to address a wide range of mental health issues in the state. CPA has been part of that chorus and almost to a topic, each of these initiatives has its own unique value. The challenge for all of us in the field of psychology, is to take these well-meaning plans and ensure their proper implementation, across time and through a political process that offers a continuing changing landscape in terms of administration and funding. I would say all of CPA, not just me as its president, is specifically committed this year to ensuring that providers of mental health services are well trained and licensed so that quality access can be ensured, and that Colorado joins the other 49 states in demanding that psychotherapy is an identifiable and vital health care service that saves lives, and as such needs to be appropriately regulated by the state. Unfortunately, for too long, Colorado has allowed individuals with little or no training to practice the health care service of psychotherapy. This undercuts its value, increases stigmatization by minimizing the proven medical nature of mental health issues, and continually puts the public at risk. In CPA’s viewpoint, emotional struggles should be normalized as a commonplace phenomenon of simply being human, and mental health awareness and treatment should be seen for what it is – a critical component to anyone’s overall health.

Of the issues you mentioned above, what is Colorado’s biggest challenge in addressing mental health? I look at the state much in the same way that I approach clients, be they individuals or larger systems and organizations; I am convinced that there is nothing wrong with Colorado and how it addresses mental health concerns that can’t be fixed with what is right with how Colorado strives in this area. Obviously, there are enormous challenges that the state faces, from suicide awareness and prevention; to racism, sexism, and other forms of persecution and unfairness to our community which adversely affects everyone’s mental health; to homelessness, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety across the age range of our population; to violence in our communities by means of guns and other methods. I believe the state’s biggest challenge is tapping its immense talent, especially among the community of psychologists, and being creative about identifying problems, offering solutions, mobilizing awareness and action, and shepherding the implementation of innovative, and time-tested interventions that work. When the professionals, consumers, advocates, and legislators work together real change can be made for the benefit of the entire citizenry of the state.

You’re enjoying a tremendous career. How has the University of Denver prepared you for this journey? Any success I’ve had in my career has been directly correlated to the many people who helped teach, mentor, guide, and befriend me along my educational and professional journey – so much of that occurred at DU’s Counseling Psychology Department and the wider DU community. I came to DU’s doctoral program with a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the University of Oregon, but the depth of my knowledge and growth came from the professors in the department at the time, including, but not limited to Drs. Karen Kitchener, Pat Sherry, Maria Riva, Cyndy McRae, Jesse Valdez, Nick Cutforth, Bobbi Vollmer, and Karen Green. Additionally, the incredible classmates that I shared my educational career with were always indispensable with their wisdom, passion, and good humor – the last being perhaps the most valuable asset when one is undertaking graduate school. These connections, along with all of the incredible professionals I met when in my practica and internships helped me understand how I could try my best to make a valuable contribution to the field.

What do you enjoy most about being a Licensed Psychologist? Undoubtedly what I enjoy most is doing the clinical work when I can sit with people, be honored with the privilege of hearing their stories, be invited into their worlds by offering my assistance, and seeing people’s existing strengths unfold to illuminate pathways forward that they make possible because of their commitment to themselves, their community, and the people and things that they love.

What advice do you have to individuals new to the field or exploring this as a possible career choice? Psychology is an incredibly rewarding field, and it can offer amazing avenues to fulfilling places, but my best advice is to go out and live your life as passionately, kindly, and courageously as you can. In the end, you will learn more about the field and helping others, by learning about life, who you are, and being close to the things in which you believe and love. Take care of yourself and, without reservation, dive into all of the goodness and tragedy and knowledge about life, and you’ll not only figure out if you want to be a psychologist and how to do that well, but you’ll do something even more important – figure out how to be a good person who can live a meaningful life.

On Monday, Dec. 2, educators and community partners from across Denver convened at Morgridge College of Education for the second annual Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Summit. Led by Morgridge College department of Teaching and Learning Sciences (TLS) and the Alumni Office, the SEL Summit is uniquely designed to gather educators (P-12 teachers, counselors, higher education faculty, administrators, social workers, therapists, MCE alumni, etc.) for the purpose of cross-professional education centered on social emotional learning. The summit fosters connections, resource exchanges, and provides information for a community of educators committed to collaboration around SEL integration. The day included whole group presentations, break-out sessions, and small-group discussions. Capped at 130 participants, the SEL summit offers an intimate setting to collaborate.

“The speed with which the RSVPs came in and the diverse roles participants held in education suggests how important social emotional learning is for students and educators,” said Paul Michalec, Phd, Clinical Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, TLS. “Summit participants gained a deeper commitment to SEL, a greater sense of their collaborators inside and outside of school, and a desire to learn more about implementing SEL practices and principles. We are already planning next year’s summit. ”

Watch the recorded livestream video below (or on Facebook) of the lunchtime panel discussion, Collaboration Inside a Local School, featuring representatives from Thomas Jefferson High School, Denver Public Schools.

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.


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