May 18, 2018—There is strong agreement among many scientists and poets that all things are connected; the human and natural world are not separate but rather constitute an integrated whole.  The naturalist John Muir observed that “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  And the author and story teller Annie Dillard argues that the best way to attend to the fears and uncertainties of life is not to dismiss them but rather to walk with them deep into the mystery: But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, … the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. This is given. It is not learned.”  If Muir and Dillard are correct that all of life—physical and emotional—is interconnected and bound together in a unified whole, why is it that education, which teaches about life, is often informed by metaphors of disconnection?  What drives the fragmentation of self and knowing into content knowledge, outcomes, and facts rather than curricular integration, completeness, and unity?  And how might being schooled in a context that favors separation over fullness, parts over wholeness, and mind over emotions impact the instructional life of teachers and students?

Western ways of knowing, curriculum, and pedagogy have a history of breaking things into smaller and smaller parts which fuels the impulse in education toward disintegration; taking the whole of life and fracturing it into pieces.  For instance, curriculum writers—professionals who map out the day to day instructional activities of teachers and students—have at times “written” teachers out of the craft of teaching.  What has been dubbed “teacher-proof” curriculum is built on the promise that following a prescribed script will efficiently transfer abstracted forms of knowledge—subject matter—through the teacher, into the minds of learners.  The teacher, under such a model, becomes one more piece in a linear system of knowing to be moved around for the purpose of accomplishing strategic outcomes and performance goals.  In 21st century schools, many critics of testing, accountability, and standards chafe against the ways that assessments, if improperly applied, tend to reduce the wholeness of the learner into numeric indicators to be tracked and managed.

Data and the patterns that can be discerned over time are an important tool for educators hoping to make the most efficacious instructional choices for their students.  Numbers can answer the question, “what does this student need right now to enhance their learning?” Yet when employed too regularly, or without taking time to reconnect with the wholeness of life and the learning task, it becomes easy to lose track on the unified whole of the world, which puts the teacher and student in opposition to each other.  According to the quantum physicist Richard Feynman the danger of focusing on the narrow and particular story, one goal of data, is to lose the essence of the larger story: “The internal machinery of life, the chemistry of the parts, is something beautiful. And it turns out that all life is interconnected with all other life.”  The fullness of learning occurs when teacher, student, and text are in dialogue with each other, each with a distinct voice to contribute to the conversation and living into the process of being connected, of being fully human.

What would teaching and learning spaces look like if measures of wholeness, integration, and interconnectedness were the indicators of success in schools?  Imagine if pay for performance was anchored around the degree to which a teacher puts the world back together for students, re-connecting learners with the immensity and interconnected nature of reality.  What if teaching was an act of integration rather than disaggregation?

Morgridge College of Education alumna Kendra Carpenter (ELPS, ’16) has been selected by the Colorado Association of Elementary School Principals (CAESP) and the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) to be the 2017 recipient of the Reba Ferguson Memorial Rookie of the Year Award. The award is given annually to a Colorado administrator in his or her first three years as an elementary school principal and honors elementary school principal Reba Ferguson, who tragically died in a traffic accident on her way to work in 2008. Carpenter is in her first year as principal of the Dillon Valley Dual Immersion Elementary School in Dillon, Colorado.

“I feel honored to be recognized in the name of Reba Ferguson,” said Carpenter. “Although I did not have the privilege of knowing her, I have heard what an amazing leader she was and know I have big shoes to fill to live up to her name.”

To win the award, Carpenter needed to be in her first three years as a principal and demonstrate remarkable leadership qualities, allowing her to make a positive impact as an instructional leader, community leader, and/or innovative leader.

Carpenter has worked for Dillon Valley Elementary for over 15 years, with a focus on diversity with its dual language model. Her passion is working with families and teachers to create an engaging environment where all learners will be successful.

According to Carpenter, the support she receives from both The University of Denver and her Morgridge Mountain Cohort is invaluable.

“These two entities continually help me grow my leadership skills,” she said.

Her goals for the future include continuing to work to create inclusive learning spaces where the whole child is honored, individualized professional development for teachers, and maintaining high expectations for all learners.

Carpenter will receive the award on Thursday, July 27 at the CASE Summer Convention in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) alumnus and Denver Public Schools (DPS) graduate Allen Smith has led a highly successful career in education administration that has taken him across the country and earned him national  recognition. Smith, who earned his MA at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and completed the ELPS Ritchie Program for School Leaders Certificate program, credits his education at the University of Denver as a major influence in his success.

A Colorado native, Smith has served as principal at multiple DPS schools, as well as filled superintendent roles in North Carolina and California. He was honored by President Barack Obama for his work as the executive director of Denver Summit Schools where he implemented innovative community engagement efforts. Smith currently serves as the associate chief of the DPS Culture Equity & Leadership Team.

Smith says that the opportunities in the ELPS program helped to establish a larger career trajectory and enable him to more effectively create a lasting impact. To this day, he translates the tools and lessons acquired in the program into his work.

Career Achievements

Smith founded the Skyland Community High School which serves at-risk students in Denver and graduated its first senior class with 100% graduation and 100% college acceptance rates. He also worked at Barrett Elementary School, where he reduced discipline rates and increased student achievement and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College (MLK), which, under his leadership and a turnaround initiative, improved from one of the nation’s lowest-ranked schools to one of the top schools in DPS. The MLK Early College was also recognized with two Distinguished School Awards from the Colorado Department of Education. Smith acknowledges the support of fellow ELPS graduates, who served as assistant principals at the school, with helping to make a lasting impact on the environment.

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.

Faculty member Norma Hafenstein, Ph.D., has been named the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. The Chair reflects the University of Denver’s—and the Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE)—long history of commitment to gifted education through service to gifted children, training of teachers to serve children’s needs, and support of doctoral research around giftedness.

Dr. Hafenstein’s award-winning professional career spans numerous positions in leadership and scholarship. She is a Full Clinical Professor—and former Ricks Endowed Chair for Gifted Education—in the Teaching and Learning Sciences (TLS) department at MCE. She founded the Ricks Center for Gifted Children, a PS-8 school on the DU campus, in 1984. In addition, she founded the Institute for the Development of Gifted Education in 1997, which has moved to a dormant phase. The work of the Institute will be subsumed by the Ritchie Endowed Chair, and the widely respected annual conference on gifted education will continue to be offered.  The cast bronze bell at the entrance of the Ricks Center carrying the inscription, “Dr. Norma Hafenstein, Our Founder”, was a gift from former Chancellor Ritchie, and is tuned with the carillon at the Ritchie Center.

The impact of the gifted programming in MCE extends beyond the DU campus. In 2013, MCE launched an Ed.D. with a Specialization in Gifted Education in the TLS department. Led by Dr. Hafenstein, students work on research and impact projects such as training preschool teachers to understand giftedness, working with principals to implement school gifted programs, and examining social and emotional curricula for gifted learners.

Dr. Hafenstein’s accolades include the Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented Lifetime Achievement Award and DU’s Outstanding Service to the University Award. She is the Co-Principal Investigator on a federally-funded Jacob K. Javits state grant for Right 4 Rural (R4R), a project developed in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education. R4R focuses on the identification of and service to underrepresented gifted children in rural Colorado. Additional research work includes E-RiDGE, a Bradley Foundation-funded project to measure the impact of doctoral training at the student-service level.

Dr. Hafenstein presents extensively on giftedness at national and international conferences. Upcoming engagements include the National Association for Gifted Children, where she will give three presentations at the 2016 conference titled, Evaluation and Replicability in Doctoral Gifted Education: Impact and Implications; Radical Acceleration: When is it Time to Imagine Early College Attendance; and Giftedness in Rural Poverty: What do we Know? Furthermore, Dr. Hafenstein has presented at the International Dabrowski Congress, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted Annual Conference (SENG), World Council on Gifted and Talented Children Biennial World Conference (WCGTC), and the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (AERA).

The Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair of Gifted Education was established in October 2016 by the Considine Family Foundation, making it the fourth endowed chair in the Morgridge College of Education. The College expresses its gratitude to the foundation for this generous gift.

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!

Curriculum and Instruction alumna Juli Kramer, Ph.D. (‘10), has begun working with the Multicultural Division of the Soong Ching Ling School (SLCS) in Shanghai, China, where she will serve as the Director of Curriculum for grades 6-8 and develop curricula for the new high school, which will open in 2017. Her role supports the middle school as it strives for higher levels of academic excellence and care, and works to facilitate consistency in teacher flow. Furthermore, the high school will allow students to continue their education in the multicultural environment.

SCLS opened in 2008, and devotes its mission to “providing children the opportunity to explore and gain valuable opportunities and experiences in education and life.” The school incorporates Western educational principles into the curriculum, and has an International Division for students from outside of China and a Multicultural Division for Shanghai residents. The school utilizes care theory, or creating a learning environment that adapts to needs and interests. Working at SCLS appealed to Dr. Kramer because she identifies with the mission and its commitment to providing an environment of care.

Dr. Kramer has worked in a wide range of roles supporting curriculum design and implementation. Her most recent positions include supporting the design and implementation of an online educational resource for teachers at the Denver Art Museum; developing a citizen awareness program to give individuals ownership over their security at The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab; and founding the high-achieving Denver Academy of Torah’s high school, raising it to academic excellence at a national level. Dr. Kramer attributes her professional achievements in part to a strong working relationship with “tremendous mentor” and Morgridge College of Education faculty member Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

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.

Joybox Studios—a startup established in 2015 by Will and Julie Clark, the creative minds behind Baby Einstein—has partnered with the University of Denver (DU) to develop early childhood curriculum materials including activities, music, videos, games, flash cards, books, and toys. The materials are designed based on research from early childhood education experts.

The collaboration between DU and Joybox Studios is a part of Project X-ite, a cross-disciplinary initiative at the University intended to ignite new ideas and build exciting, innovative partnerships with creative thinkers and doers in industry and government.

The partnership allows Joybox to leverage the expertise of three academic departments at DU, including the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), Daniels College of Business (DCB), and the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science. The project also leverages DU’s location at the heart of Colorado’s thriving high-tech innovation economy.

Carrie Germeroth, Ph.D, Assistant Director of Research at the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy at MCE, is the team lead for the project. Dr. Germeroth will lead a diverse group of students from across the University as they delve into longitudinal efficacy studies, resource creation, business analytics, Latino market studies, project management, video production, and application development. The students – who will come from MCE, DCB, and the Ritchie School – will work together to create a finished product.

Joybox Studios will also create a suite of tech-based and physical tools for parents and children—birth to three—providing parents with a road map for understanding, supporting, and monitoring their child’s development. Dr. Germeroth, along with Research Methods and Statistics students Heather Blizzard and Ksenia Polson, are providing research support for the development of the tools, including the creation of a research design intended to evaluate the suit of tools and the creation of a plan for data collection which supports iterative development. Utilizing the expertise of MCE faculty and students will enable Joybox to create more effective means of developing and measuring their products.

As part of MCE’s ongoing initiative to make a positive impact on the Denver community, the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy is proud to announce their significant contribution to the Jeffco Prosperity Project (JPP), a major collaboration between local educational, business, non-profit and government agencies aimed at tackling poverty in the greater Denver area.

Under a three-year contract, Marsico’s Assistant Director of Research Dr. Carrie Germeroth and Research Project Director Dr. Crystal Day-Hess will be evaluating the project and providing strategic feedback in an effort to maximize the JPP’s positive impact on the local community.

Drs. Germeroth and Day-Hess will be collecting data from a variety of sources including JPP participants, coaches, and administrators, as well as surveying key JPP partners to assess the project’s effectiveness. Based on their evaluations, they will be providing recommendations to JPP administrators on any programmatic changes that should be made to improve family services and support systems.

Jeffco Prosperity Project Model

Jeffco Prosperity Project Model

Initiated in 2010, “The Jeffco Prosperity Project will change the way human services and education services are provided to low-income families in Jefferson County.” The project aims to reduce generational poverty by providing vital support services for families, including those that focus on school readiness, family self-sufficiency, and health/mental health well-being.

The Marsico Institute was given $156,976 in funding for the three-year contract, part of a $1.6 million dollar award from the Daniels Fund to The Action Center, the JPPs primary funder. Other key partners include the Jeffco Schools Foundation, which is supporting the project’s implementation, as well as the Jefferson County Department of Human Services, Jeffco Public Schools, and Arvada Head Start.

Since its conception in 2010, the JPP has gone through vital early planning stages and launched what is now an innovative, implementation-ready program that aims to see tangible improvements by the end of the 2017-2018 school year. According to one JPP parent, “This program is a gift for a lifetime. My kids will have more opportunities for a better future than I had.”

Be sure to stay tuned for more updates from the Morgridge College of Education and the Marsico Institute on their involvement in this important collaboration.

Students Sarah Laffin and Aleksandra Matysek completed a six-week school-based mental health practicum this past fall in Beijing, China as part of an international exchange program between Beijing Normal University (BNU) and the CFSP program. The program – now in its fourth year – was developed to broaden students’ multicultural competence and to promote the field of school psychology.

Laffin and Matysek completed their practicum with graduate students from BNU at Jingyuan School, a public middle and high school located in Beijing’s fifth ring. They worked with an on-site supervisor to plan and deliver weekly classroom mental health lessons, group counseling, and career development services. Laffin and Matysek also engaged in a cross-cultural comparison of school-based approaches to identify and manage student anxiety and gave a joint teleconference presentation to graduate students and faculty at both BNU and the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) on the topic.

One important finding discussed was that while levels of general anxiety are about the same in both cultures, social anxiety is more prominent in China due in part to the cultural focus on harmonious relationships and social restraint. Laffin and Matysek learned that students in the United States are more likely to seek help managing anxiety, possibly due to a greater awareness and acceptance of the role mental health plays in academic and life success. Two graduate students from BNU will reciprocate the exchange this spring, coming to MCE to attend selected classes and accompany current CFSP graduate students to their local practicum sites. They will also give a cross-cultural, joint teleconference presentation.

Laffin and Matysek say that their increased global understanding has had a positive influence on their practice and has increased their confidence in communicating with bi-lingual students and families in the United States. The international exchange program has been of mutual benefit as peers and faculty at BNU have been able to employ the counseling tools and methods introduced by CFSP students. The exchange has fostered an increased international appreciation of school-based mental health, helping BNU to establish a graduate program supporting China’s emerging field of school psychology.

CRISPA is a six-dimensional Perceptual Teaching and Learning model that provides approaches to enrich learning beyond outcome-based standards. P. Bruce Uhrmacher, PhD, faculty of the Research Methods and Statistics, Curriculum and Instruction, and Teacher Education Programs, was inspired to create CRISPA based on interactions between artists and educators as well as the views of philosopher John Dewey; in particular, his view that aesthetic experiences can exist outside of the arts.

The six dimensions – Connections, Risk-Taking, Imagination, Sensory experiences, Perceptivity, and Active engagement – support research-based strategies that serve as a common ground for educators, enable teachers to enrich lessons, and allow students to explore their creativity. CRISPA is growing in popularity and is used by many educators nationwide – including many of Dr. Uhrmacher’s former students – to create better experiences for students and teachers alike.

MCE alumna Kristina Mahoney works at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) where she used CRISPA to co-develop and implement a tour program for young children this past year. Mahoney worked with DAM while completing her dissertation regarding the role of CRISPA’s elements in art museum education and recognized how the model can be applied in practice. The tour program was created to help children make connections to artists by using their imaginations to relate to the artmaking process. The tour program launched in 2015, providing children with opportunities to have hands-on experiences as well as to engage with art and artmaking materials.

Bradley Conrad, a former student of Dr. Uhrmacher’s and current Assistant Professor of Education at Capital University in Columbus, OH, frequently uses CRISPA in his teaching and has written about and presented on the model. He conducted a one-day lesson planning workshop utilizing CRISPA in Denver with K-12 teachers as part of a study recently published on curriculum disruption. The teachers’ perceptions changed noticeably after the workshop – those who had not considered themselves to be creative realized that CRISPA gave them the tools to design creative lessons and provide meaningful experiences for their students. One participant said that it was “important for us to be creative as educators. We are teaching the future doctors, the future scientists, people who are going to create the world that we live in”.

Now Recruiting Research Participants

Are you or your son/daughter between the ages of 6 and 25 years old? Do you like playing computer games? Your participation in this study could help us learn more about thinking and reasoning in individuals with intellectual disability.

The purpose of this research is to evaluate specialized tests for tracking cognitive changes.

wHO cAN pARICIPATE?1-29-16 MCE Research Measuring Cognitive Development in Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Photo 2

  • Individuals with a confirmed diagnosis of intellectual disability caused by Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, or another cause.
  • Males and females, between 6 – 25 years old
wHAT dOES THE sTUDY iNVOLVE

  • Cognitive and behavioral evaluations during 2-­‐3 visits. These visits typically last about 4-­‐4.5 hours scheduled over a two-day period.
wHAT wILL i RECEIVE?

  • The study will provide $30 compensation for your time and effort for the 1st study visit, $20 for the 2nd study visit, and $50 for the 3rd study visit.
  • One of our research psychologists will provide feedback on cognitive assessment results.
  • We can offer reimbursement for lodging and travel to the University of Denver from your home
aDDITIONAL iNFORMATION

The University of Denver is a private university dedicated to the public good.

All studies take place at the Morgridge College of Education which is located at 1999 E. Evans Ave. Denver, CO 80210.

Sign Up for rESEARCH

To learn more about participating in research, call Jeanine Coleman at 303-­‐871-­‐2496 or email
Jeanine.coleman@du.edu.


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