Dr. Doug Clements, Director of Marsico Institute for Early Learning at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver, has been appointed as one of 18 members of a new advisory panel created to encourage U.S. scientific and technological innovations in education, as authorized by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. Clements was chosen after extensive interviews and consideration of 500 other candidates by The National Science Foundation (NSF), in consultation with the Department of Education, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Marsico Institute for Early Learning post-doctoral research fellow Candace Joswick’s work was recently featured on the March 2018 issue cover of Mathematics Teacher, from the Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Joswick and her co-author, Dr. Anna A. Davis from Ohio Dominican University, offer insights and activities to use geometric constructs in art to teach math.

The Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy in the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education was recently awarded the Central Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) along with four other partners, led by Marzano Research Laboratory. The award for $181,000 spans the next year with opportunities for additional funding over the next five years.

The REL program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and serves the United States through ten designated regions. Each REL supports state and local agencies in its region and provides technical assistance, research assistance, and resources to introduce best and proven practices into the nation’s schools. Specifically, REL Central supports these efforts in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Marsico’s focus for this year will be on early childhood education in rural areas. Although Marsico resides in an urban setting at the Morgridge College of Education, the Institute and College are committed to educational equality across the age span and across the region. This includes a focus on the children and families that reside in the region’s rural communities. Across all levels of the College, researchers are pioneering innovative solutions to ensure that rural school districts have access to the best practices and resources in the field. Additionally, faculty are collaborating with rural school districts to improve student outcomes in areas ranging from early learning, to physical activity, to college access.

Led by Dr. Douglas Clements and Dr. Julie Sarama, who are national experts in the field of early childhood education, Marsico identifies the best in early learning research, practice and policy and delivers this information to academics, practitioners, policymakers, and parents.

“We connect with the people who can create and implement changes to improve the lives of young children,” said Sarama.

Dr. Carrie Germeroth, assistant director of research at Marsico, has previously worked with several states involved with REL Central and said, “Being awarded the Central REL will allow us to further our reach with communities who may otherwise not have access to these resources. Everyone at Marsico is thrilled to work with Marzano Research Laboratory to enact change and bring education to everyone.”

Morgridge College of Education Dean Karen Riley, is delighted to see the Institute continue to grow and believes being awarded REL Central highlights the great work being done by the entire College regarding education expansion to rural areas.

“We have several programs within Morgridge that allow us to work with educators in rural districts,” said Riley. “From our top-ranked educational leadership program to teacher preparation and piloting new approaches to distance learning, we are committed to working with rural partners across the region. For the University, being awarded the Central REL shows our dedication to the community beyond its campus borders and allows us to live up to our pledge to be a great, private University dedicated to the public good.”

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.

The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) had a substantial presence at the 2016 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference, which was held in Denver and attracted over 2,500 participants. Faculty from the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program, Kennedy Institute, and Marsico Institute were all in attendance along with Students from several MCE programs. MCE faculty and students presenting included:

  • Julie Sarama, Ph.D – MCE Faculty and Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies
  • Douglas H. Clements, Ph.D – MCE Faculty and Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning
  • Jeanine Coleman, Ph.D – ECSE Clinical Assistant Professor
  • Pilyoung Kim, Ph.D – Assistant Professor at DU’s School of Art, Humanities and Social Science
  • Rachel Schiff-Gray – ECSE Alumni
  • Heather Blizzard – RMS Graduate Student
  • Laura Dietert – CI Graduate Student
  • Ksenia Polson – RMS Graduate Student
  • Jessica Carswell – ECSE MA Student
  • Tara Brand – ECSE MA Student
  • Katie Belleau – ECSE MA Student
  • Brita Strub – ECSE Cert Student
  • Hazuki Tochihara – – ECSE Alumni

Drs. Clements and Sarama were the keynote speakers for the conference alongside Dr. Bob Sornson Founder of the Early Learning Foundation. They started the Saturday morning conference with their presentation on early math education setting the stage for the rest of the event.

“A few of the teachers in the audience commented that they could not wait to share what they had learned” said Heather Blizzard a Ph.D student in the Research Methods and Statistics (RMS) program. Blizzard presented on the effects of teaching geometry to young children alongside her peers Laura Dietert and Ksenia Polson.


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