School of Education promotes Inclusive Excellence with Students of Color Reception
by Emma McKay

For the Morgridge College of Education, diversity means more than just a number of minority students – it means a higher quality education. That’s why the school held its third annual Students of Color reception last Friday evening in an effort to promote inclusive excellence in all of its higher education and teacher training programs.

The reception, which was held in Ruffato Hall and gathered approximately 40 professors, current and prospective students, was meant to inform prospective students of why inclusive excellence is important to Morgridge, and also to give them a taste of what the Morgridge experience is like, according to Ryan Barone, second year PhD student in the Higher Education program who coordinated the event.

The evening began with an hour or mingling over hor’d’oeuvres and drinks including chocolate covered strawberries, roasted vegetables, cheese, coffee and various alcoholic beverages, so that attendees could get a chance to meet each other and informally network.

“In the past students who have attended felt like it was a really unique opportunity to meet other students of color at [Morgridge] to talk in an authentic way about some of the challenges and opportunities that are unique here at the college,” said Barone.

After short speeches by Gregory Anderson, dean of the school, and Frank Tuitt, associate provost of multicultural excellence, a panel of six current masters and doctoral students answered questions about their time at Morgridge

The students didn’t only discuss their experiences with diversity at the school. Many questions were focused on things like the school’s unique class schedule, which allows students to take classes at night or on the weekends, internships or time management. Two students spoke about what it is like to raise children while still attending school.

“As a parent, I really appreciate the fact that there is a family bathroom here,” said panelist David Kennedy, laughing. “My daughter is here so much some people say she’s going to earn her honorary degree.”

Another panelist, Sujie Kim, spoke about how the program helped her decide what she wants to do after school.

“If I had guessed a couple years ago, I never would have thought I’d be working with veterans,” said Kim.

All panelists agreed that the school’s commitment to inclusive excellence has added to their education.

“We have a wide variety of life experiences and we each bring those different perspectives to the things we’re working on,” said panelist Myntha Cuffy.

“In my cohort, there’s probably about 14 of us, and eight out of the 14 are students of color,” said Jesús Rodríguez, first PhD candidate in education leadership and policy studies. “That’s a really different experience for me.”

According to Barone, the school does take into account diversity when admitting students.

“I think the more diverse our classrooms are with all identities, better training they’ll get in their programs and they’ll be better professionals down the road,” said Barone.

Morgidge is trying to diversify its pool of students as much as possible in order to create a more rounded learning experience.

“We are always trying to diversify in terms of race but also in terms of other identities,” said Barone.  “Folks from out of state, folks from all over the world, different religions, gender, sexual orientation, that’s all part of our strategy.”

Originally posted through the Clarion Newspaper at the University of Denver
http://duclarion.com/multicultural-mixer-provides-mingling-at-mordridge/

Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM)

Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM)

The Morgridge College of Education’s Dr. Nick Cutforth is furthering his work with the Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM) Project. Dr. Cutforth’s interests focus on school-based interventions related to physical activity and healthy eating.  Funding for HELM has been extended for three more years, in the amount of $3.1 million through the Colorado Health Foundation. The funding will allow for a continued partnership between the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center, Colorado School of Public Health and the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.

Colorado had the second fastest rate of increase in obesity in the United States in 2007. In 2003, Colorado ranked 49th in the United States with 22% of 10-17 year olds recognized as overweight or obese. By 2007, this group had increased to 27%.

The partnership between the Morgridge College of Education and the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center will allow for increased opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity, and high quality physical education in forty-six K-12 schools in the San Luis Valley and expand the program’s reach to 73 schools in Southeast Colorado.

After the first three years of the HELM Project, the San Luis Valley Physical Education Academy, co-founded by Dr. Cutforth, resulted in a  66% increase in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in elementary school physical education classes. The project also provides a Morgridge College of Education student the opportunity to gain InContext experience. The student will work part-time with the project by assisting with field research.

For the first time ever, the DU ASIS&T student chapter was selected as a recipient of the ASIS&T (Association of Information Science & Technology) Student Chapter of the Year award for 2013. This award is given to student chapters to recognize their participation and contributions to ASIS&T and the advancement of information science. The University of Denver’s Library and Information Science (LIS) program supports multiple student chapters that aim to build skills and grow together professionally. The DU ASIS&T group primarily focuses their attention on introducing and furthering knowledge of LIS technologies to students in the field.

According to the Chapter Assembly, Association for Information Science and Technology, DU was chosen because “for a chapter of its size, the student chapter at the University of Denver is extremely active. Among the particularly noteworthy activities of this chapter are the number and quality of local events, the frequency and constancy of communication with its membership, the oversight and concern for local chapter finances and the quality administration provided by the officers. The chapter offers many diverse and interesting activities and has attempted to work with other organizations. It has also shown creative use of social media as communication tools. They not only have a well-maintained organization, but also clearly articulated future plans.”

During the 2012-2013 school year, the group recruited professionals to present short 30-minute talks, called TechBytes, to students. Some of these presentations included Jamie LaRue on the Future of Ebooks in Libraries, Alex Martinez on the Information Architecture of DU’s VideoManager, and Megan Kinney on using Drupal in Libraries. In addition, they planned and executed a full-day Technology Bootcamp. In an attempt to collaborate with students in other programs at the Morgridge College of Education, the group asked COESA (College of Education Student Association) to co-sponsor the event and invited all students in the college to attend. The 37 students that attended the event attended 4 sessions from DU professors and DU ASIS&T Officers throughout the day with topics ranging from Digitization to Visual Programming Language to Creating Community with Social Media.

Finally, chapter members helped with two panel presentations, one on web services librarianship and one on getting hired as a professional librarian. In addition to DU LIS students, individuals from the local community were invited to attend. Both events were a huge success and provided great career information. In order to publish these events, the group needed a robust web platform; therefore, members created a new chapter website, documented policies and procedures, and started a video archive of the recorded TechBytes.

Officers for the 2012-2013 Board:

Christine Coughlan, Chair

Lindsay Roberts, Vice-Chair

Jules Robinson, Treasurer

Josh Davies, Co-Program Director and Secretary

Julia Havelick, Web Content Manager

Kathleen Carothers, Co-Program Director

Rebecca Bolger, Marketing Director

“When I was growing up, I didn’t think I’d be a teacher. My parents were both teachers; my sister is a teacher; it’s the family occupation,” explains Aaron Stites, a fresh face in this year’s Teacher Education Program cohort at the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. “I was a probation officer for the State of Colorado for over four years, volunteered for six months to teach in Latin America and ended up as the director of an education program down in Nicaragua for 22 months. I was the program coordinator for a teen homeless shelter for a year and worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver in an educational summer camp teaching 5th grade. I learned firsthand, that teaching was what I enjoyed most.”

His work experience, time abroad, and his family’s influence, along with some inspiration from teachers back home in Grand Junction helped Aaron confirm his passion for teaching. After deciding on a career path, Aaron started researching Teacher Education programs in the state of Colorado. “DU is head and shoulders above other programs in the state,” commented Stites. “It’s a selective, one year program based on a gradual release model, where students are placed in cohorts for a brief classroom period before learning InContext with an apprentice teacher and a classroom of students. I applied, interviewed, got accepted, and now I’m here.”

A Day in the Life of an Apprentice Teacher_1Among several cognate options, Aaron selected focused coursework around culturally and linguistically diverse learners for his masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Before starting classes at Morgridge College of Education, Aaron received his apprentice teacher and classroom assignment at Bryant-Webster Elementary School in the Denver Public School System to learn from and teach with Ginger Skelton and her 5th grade classroom. Bryant-Webster is the only early childhood education through 8th grade dual-language school in the state. Students at Bryant-Webster are on the course to be bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-literate in both Spanish and English by the 8th grade.

The first quarter of classes at DU started with four intensive courses: Second Language Acquisition with Dr. Maria Salazar, Teaching and Learning Environments with Jessica Lerner, Special Education with Dr. Molly Leamon, and Teaching Mathematics for Elementary Teachers with Dr. Richard Kitchen and Dr. Terrence Blackman. Stites elaborates: “In a matter of weeks, everything we’ve learned feels like six months of coursework. But I’ve already developed baseline fundamentals of managing a classroom, working with diverse populations and breaking down the subject most elementary teachers fear the most, math. All of these classes moved quickly to get us in our classrooms where it all comes together with experiential learning. You start with your classroom on their first day of school and observe the apprentice teacher for a while; eventually, you teach a lesson, then a few lessons, a full day, and ultimately a full week. It’s overwhelming, everything teachers have to do, but we get to see the whole process, from day one to the end of the year, all with the same group of kids.”

Before students filled the classrooms and hallways, Aaron joined Ginger and other Bryant-Webster faculty and administration for professional development, reviewing the philosophies of the school and the district and setting goals for the 2013-2014 academic year. Aaron describes his first few weeks in his apprentice classroom: “It has been rewarding to observe Ginger the past few weeks. She is a consummate professional and with 16 years of teaching experience, she has everything set up perfectly and collaborates often with other teachers. That first week with students is all about establishing expectations, behaviors and routines. It surprised me how much she went over transitions like changing classrooms or sitting down for floor time, but the kids really responded to it. I am excited to get to know my 5th grade classroom better; it’s a really interesting age because the kids are getting ready to transition to the next level, but are still definitely kids.”

Throughout the year, the InContext learning at Bryant-Webster will be coupled with many more classes at MCE. Stites reflects on his experience at MCE so far: “My cohort is filled with people of all different ages, from various places and diverse backgrounds. People came from occupations such as finance, the corporate world, international education, or are recent graduates. Most of the students are from Colorado, but many of my fellow classmates are from New York, California, and Tennessee (as well as other states). It’s enlightening for everyone when you have that kind of diversity. And each professor I’ve had has been extraordinary; no matter what the situation, they’ve ‘been there, done that’. Our teachers do the things that we need to do in our classroom, like setting up different ways of learning and displaying objectives for the day; they are modeling how to be an effective teacher.”

There are months to go and there is much to learn, but when asked what his dream job is, Aaron answers, “I’m concentrated on being a good teacher, to feel like I’ve made an impact and that my kids are getting the knowledge and understanding they need to move on to the next level … that, is my dream job.”

Click here to learn more about the program Aaron Stites is in, the Teacher Education Preparation program.


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