March 6, 2020

Dear Morgridge College of Education Community, 

I am pleased to announce that Craig Harrer has been named Director of the Ricks Center for Gifted Children. Since last summer, he has been serving as the Interim Director at Ricks. Craig will now serve as the permanent Director.

As our Interim Director at Ricks, Craig has been focused on community building, gifted learning, and creating internal and external organizational trust at Ricks and the University of Denver (DU). This work has been vital to Ricks and its continued success as a national leader in gifted education. Under Craig’s leadership, we will continue to provide our community – Ricks parents, students and families – an unprecedented educational experience. Something that I have appreciated about Craig and his approach to gifted education is his physical presence in the classroom specifically leading project-based initiatives.

With over 25 years of educational experience in Denver, we are lucky to have Craig as the Director of Ricks. As a native, he grew up blocks away from the DU campus and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. Since then, he has taught Kindergarten and grades 2 through 8 in a variety of subjects. As an Administrator, he was Principal of Rishel Middle School before helping to open the Denver Green School, a Pre-K through 8 innovation school in Denver Public Schools. Read more about Craig’s success at the Denver Green School.

Before coming back to Ricks in February 2019, he worked as a high school Assistant Principal and as a School Leadership Consultant. During his doctoral coursework, he worked part-time at Ricks from 2016-2018 and was excited about the opportunity to rejoin the Ricks community. Craig is also a proud Pio and values his deep ties with DU, including being a member of the doctoral cohort in our nationally recognized Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program with a dissertation in shared leadership.

Personally I am so thrilled to have Craig leading the school and look forward to working with him long into the future.

Please join us at a celebratory reception to congratulate Craig on Tuesday, March 10 at 3 p.m., Ricks (2040 South York Street, Denver, CO 80208).

Best,
Dean Karen Riley

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.”

From dreaming up a competitive gaming event to reimagining how to expand the historic Lincoln Hills resort, more than 50 Colorado high schoolers got the chance to put their creativity to the test by developing business plans at the Inaugural Teen Entrepreneurship Challenge. The University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education hosted the NEXUS Summer Program, which aims to set up college-bound teens with resources to thrive on campuses across the country. Read the full story.

Last week, we were joined by Amitabh Shah, who shared his inspiring story with our students. When he was just 23 years old, Amitabh founded the non-governmental organization (NGO), Yuva Unstoppable. Today, Yuva Unstoppable has worked in 950 schools and transformed the lives of 500,000 kids, providing improved drinking water, sanitation and women’s hygiene among other efforts across India. Amitabh was in the United States receiving the Ellis Island Award in New York alongside Eric Schmidt of Google and His Majesty Mohammad the 6th King of Morocco, and made a special visit to Morgridge. Thank you to the Morgridge Family Foundation for both supporting his efforts and coordinating his time with us.

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

Kaleen Barnett—Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) Ed.D. student—has been selected to run the Colorado High School Charter (CHSC) satellite campus serving Denver’s Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods.

CHSC is a charter school for students who need an alternative academic environment to succeed and to achieve post-secondary goals. The satellite campus, which opened in August 2016, supports a low-resource area with a high underserved population. Barnett’s goal with the new campus is to “create a tailored curriculum in an inclusive environment that values community partnerships” and to “empower students to succeed in their life and positively contribute to their families and community.”

The campus has partnered with the Colorado Construction Institute to provide vocational training, infusing the curriculum with individualized skill-building to help students reach future goals. Barnett says there is nothing like it in Denver for a school to run an outsourced model which utilizes existing, strong, established training already rooted in the community.

Barnett cites her education in the ELPS program as something that has prepared her for this opportunity, saying that “because of DU I’m better equipped to utilize a cultural leadership lens and continue to help create a community that values inclusivity.” The infusion of turnaround leadership into all ELPS coursework has prepared Barnett to step into a leadership role responsible for transforming a community.

This story is featured in our 2016 Dean’s Report, which you can read in its entirety here.

The Educational Leadership Policy Studies (ELPS) Program at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) is a nationally-recognized leader in the field, and is ranked in this year’s Top 20 programs for Educational Administration and Supervision by U.S. News and World Report.

According to Susan Korach, Ed.D.—ELPS department chair—“Our systems of support and coursework embedded in school and district contexts prepares transformative leaders who positively impact the educational outcomes for all students. Institutions of higher education across the country have consulted with ELPS to redesign their programs and to build partnerships with schools and districts.” The infusion of turnaround leadership into coursework and the drive of students, faculty, and alumni to innovate propel program success.

One leading example of the program’s innovative impact lies in Denver Public Schools, which has approved the creation of an Innovation Zone called the Luminary Learning Network where educators have more autonomy to influence student success. Three of the schools in the Network—Denver Green School, Ashley Elementary School, and Cole Arts & Science Academy—have been founded by, or are currently run by, ELPS alumni. Denver Green School, founded by alumni Mimi Diaz (2008), Craig Harrer (2008, current Ed.D. candidate), and Andy Post (2008) and currently co-led by alumni Prudence Daniels (2007), is unique in this group for infusing project-based learning and environmental sustainability into its curriculum.

This story is featured in our 2016 Dean’s Report, which you can read in its entirety here.

Students from the Child, Family, and School Psychology (CFSP) program—under the mentorship of faculty member Gloria Miller, Ph.D.—have been working with the Colorado African Organization (CAO) to connect with refugee families who have settled in Colorado.

The students and CAO Community Navigators assist refugee families in adapting to and succeeding in the American education system. School-based issues that the families have encountered include religious dietary restrictions conflicting with school lunch menus, expectations about parental involvement, trauma and mental health, language barriers, and education gaps due to prior unstable living situations.

The partnership enables students to obtain experience working with diverse communities and helps them become more well-rounded practitioners while providing newcomer families with tools and resources to thrive. Due to a rising population of refugees and asylum-seekers in the United States and Colorado, services such as those that CAO provide and the involvement of students who are training to serve these populations are becoming increasingly important.

This story is featured in our 2016 Dean’s Report, which you can read in its entirety here.

The Morgridge College of Education extends its heartfelt congratulations to Higher Education Ph.D. student Meseret Hailu, who received the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Award. Hailu will use the award to conduct a study examining gender inequality within science and technology in Ethiopia.

Prior to enrolling in the Ph.D. program, Hailu attended the University of Denver and Regis University for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in biological and biomedical sciences. She has served as an affiliate faculty member at Regis University and as an Academic Fellow at College Track, and currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant to supplement her doctoral studies. Hailu’s research interests revolve around international education and gender equality in STEM fields, particularly for Black women.

Congratulations, Meseret!

Robin Filipczak (MLIS ’11), a reference librarian at Denver Public Library (DPL), has produced a local installation of the Race Card Project. The Race Card Project is an initiative created in 2010 by Michele Norris—a former host at NPR—who describes it as “a place for people to talk about race and cultural identity in only six words.” In a recent Colorado Public Radio (CPR) broadcast with “Colorado Matters” host Nathan Heffel, Filipczak spoke about the library’s installation, a poster board where library visitors can share their six-word stories on postcards.

The installation began in July 2016 and has since collected hundreds of responses. In the CPR broadcast, Filipczak said she was empowered to do more to deepen the conversation around race and support her community after attending the 2016 Public Library Association national conference in Denver. The installation has been met with enthusiasm from other librarians, and will expand into additional DPL branches this fall. Furthermore, the project is expanding the view of libraries beyond a repository for books; rather, libraries are true public forums that promote community connections, freedom of ideas, and civil discourse, and are environments well-suited to host what Filipczak calls “thornier” conversations.

Filipczak also credits the Morgridge College of Education’s Library and Information Science program with her professional success, citing her specialization in reference and user services and faculty support in networking and hands-on experiences. She enjoys working in reference services—landing her dream job at DPL right out of school—in order to be on the front line of working with customers and helping to share information and resources.

Jeffrey Selingo Comes to MCE

Jeffrey J. Selingo is a best-selling author and award-winning columnist who helps parents and higher-education leaders imagine the college and university of the future and teaches them how to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Slate, and his work has been honored with awards from the Education Writers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Associated Press.

Selingo will be at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) on October 4 to hold a series of discussions on his latest book, There is Life After College.

There Is Life After College offers students, parents, and even recent graduates the practical advice and insight they need to jumpstart their careers. Education expert Jeffrey Selingo answers key questions—Why is the transition to post-college life so difficult for many recent graduates? How can graduates market themselves to employers that are reluctant to provide on-the-job training? What can institutions and individuals do to end the current educational and economic stalemate?—and offers a practical step-by-step plan every young professional can follow. From the end of high school through college graduation, he lays out exactly what students need to do to acquire the skills companies want.

How can I Get involved?

Selingo will be in residence at MCE October 4 for a series of events focusing on his new book.

  • MCE Faculty are invited to a luncheon and discussion on October 4 from 12:00 AM -1:30 PM.
  • MCE Students are invited to a special student forum from 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM.
  • MCE Students, faculty, and staff can participate in a college-wide book talk from 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM. *

*Students can apply to participate in the student forum by sending a one-page response to the question, “Why do you want to participate in the forum, and how does it align with your educational interests?” to their department’s ASA by 5:00 PM on September 23. Space is limited, and students accepted into the forum will receive a complimentary copy of the book which they are expected to read before the event. Students can contact their ASA for more information.

The Higher Education (HED) Department at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) engages in teaching, research, and service that draws from and contributes to the resources of Denver, Colorado, and national communities. The University of Denver Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning (CCESL) recently recognized these efforts by awarding HED the Community Engaged Department of the Year award. This award honors an academic department that has developed a concentration of faculty members who engage in high quality community-based partnerships; carry out rigorous public good scholarship; and teach innovative service-learning courses that improve students’ academic knowledge.

HED’s bond with the community is exemplified by its connections with the many organizations throughout Denver that collaborate with them. One such collaboration, with the Denver Scholarship Foundation, places graduate students in Denver high schools to support the work of DSF’s future centers – places designed to support underrepresented students’ postsecondary opportunities. Also, each of the tenure-line faculty members in HED have pursued community-based research projects. For example, Dr. Cecilia Orphan received a grant from the CCESSL Public Good Fund for her research on higher education and the public good in collaboration with the Campus Compact of the Mountain West, an inter-institutional organization that focuses on civic engagement in higher education.

HED students actively engage with these community partners during their time at MCE. In addition to service-learning opportunities across the HED curriculum, students engage in independent and small group “praxis projects” wherein they design and deliver evaluation, assessment, and research-based recommendations in collaboration with student affairs, academic affairs, and business affairs offices at college and university campuses across the Denver metropolitan area. Through these connections HED students experience hands-on the ways in which they can challenge and inform change in the real world.

The Higher Education Department and our students are proud to have formed such strong bonds with these communities and to have the opportunity to work alongside them supporting the public good.

Recent Child, Family, and School Psychology program graduate Brittany Greiert focused her academic research and dissertation on sex and relationship education for individuals with autism, a topic that has seen little research or development of guidelines until recently.

Prior to enrolling at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), Greiert worked with a nonprofit reproductive health organization and noticed the lack of resources available for individuals with disabilities. This inspired Greiert to continue her education in order to address the resource gap, and she chose MCE because of the college’s support of her research interests. Greiert says that historically there have been extremely limited resources for comprehensive sexual education for those with autism, and that while there has been progress in the past few years, there are few guidelines on the topic.

Her work has led to a variety of opportunities for collaboration and sharing in the community and on a national level; in 2015, she collaborated with a colleague at Emerge: Professionals in Autism, Behavior, and Personal Growth to present a workshop at the Autism Society of Colorado titled “What happens in Vegas…Autism Style! Sex, dating, and intimacy.” Nationally, Greiert presented her findings on data, resources, and gaps in research at the 2016 National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) annual conference.

Greiert’s dissertation research resulted in the development of the Guidelines for the Development of Sexuality Education Curricula for High Functioning Adolescent Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The guidelines are intended to be used as a tool to guide future sex education curriculum development, address the unique needs of students with autism, and provide suggestions to modify existing curricula so that their needs are met. Furthermore, the guidelines function as an advocacy tool to increase awareness of the unique needs of high-functioning students with autism.  Greiert says that being proactive in creating a structured approach and presentation of information would be of huge benefit to individuals with autism as well as to school psychologists and parents of children with autism.


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