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.

On Monday, February 19, 2018 the University of Denver (DU) Black Alumni Affinity Group (BAA), in conjunction with the Leadership Insights program, celebrated Black History month at Cableland, the official residence of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, with a reception and conversation with Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) alumni Nick Dawkins (ELPS MA ’16). Dawkins is a principal with Denver Public Schools (DPS) at Manual High school, a historically black school in the Whittier neighborhood in Denver. His public conversation with Dr. Frank Tuitt, professor of Higher Education at Morgridge and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Inclusive Excellence, was preceded by remarks from Denver Councilman Albus Brooks (MBA 16’), attending on behalf of Mayor Hancock.

This annual event is meant to engage DU’s communities of color by giving them an opportunity to ask questions and provide them with information regarding how the University is addressing issues of inclusive excellence through DU’s leadership and DU Impact 2025. Dawkins was the night’s featured conversationalist.

According to Dawkins, his education at Morgridge prepared him for his current role. He firmly believes in creating a culture of happy kids in his school. Many of his students face familial or personal deportation, homelessness, trauma, and other challenges in their daily lives. He worked hard to create a culture of access where his students know they can come to him with any trouble they are facing.

Recently, Dawkins himself was facing an exceptional challenge. In the fall during a high school football game, reports of racism and a rebel flag catapulted Dawkins and Manual High into the spotlight. As the he-said-she said grew, Dawkins discovered an ally in Morgridge and in DPS. Both the district and MCE stood by Dawkins as an exceptional leader who has the best interest of his students at heart.

Dawkins is a change agent. It is something he takes very seriously and he relentlessly challenges the status-quo in order to build better a future for his students.

“If I’m not in trouble,” he says, “I’m not doing my job.”

Educational leadership and policy studies PhD student Natalie Lewis has been selected by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) as part of the 2017-2019 Jackson Scholars Program. The Jackson Scholars Program develops future faculty of color for the field of educational leadership and policy.

Lewis is the current Assistant Principal at McAuliffe Manual Middle School, part of the Denver Public School (DPS) system. A graduate of DPS Manual High School, Lewis is began her career as a substitute teacher in Philadelphia. Her experience led her to pursue an advanced degree in education in order to be a leader to underserved populations.

“I am excited, honored, and extremely privileged to receive this award,” Lewis said. “This sets me on a path to my ultimate goal to blend educational theory and practice.”

Lewis plans to utilize this program to create more equitable opportunities where educators can integrate research into their schools and classrooms.

The UCEA Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Network began in November 2003 after a vote of the members of the UCEA Plenum. The two-year program provides formal networking, mentoring, and professional development for graduate students of color intending to become professors of educational leadership.

UCEA facilitates the development of a robust pipeline of faculty and graduate students of color in the field of educational leadership. As a result, Barbara Jackson Scholars and Alumni enhance the field of educational leadership and UCEA with their scholarship and expertise.

MCE’s  Counseling Psychology (CP) department has been identified as one of the top 20 PhD programs in the nation by Best Counseling Degrees. The ranking was created by compiling programs offering a doctoral degree in counseling psychology from the American Psychological Association (APA), along with the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP) pass rate gathered from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

“We have always attracted people who strive to live lives of purpose, and to pursue careers of distinction,” says Jesse Owen, CP Department Chair. “I think this recognition speaks to the quality of these students, the customization of the program, as well as the diversity of our faculty research.”

Diverse faculty research is a hallmark of the CP department that affords students unique and enriching collaborative opportunities. Current faculty research areas include:

  • Multicultural counseling
  • HIV counseling
  • Psychotherapy research
  • Romantic relationships
  • Health psychology and health disparities
  • Group dynamics
  • Supervision and training
  • Vocational psychology and career development
  • Cancer survivorship

“I think one of our program’s greatest strengths is the collaborative atmosphere. We have been told from the beginning that each individual student will create their own path towards their career goals, and no two paths look exactly the same,” says CP PhD student Ellen Joseph. “Therefore, we as students are here to support each other and build relationships that we can maintain throughout our careers.”

Best Counseling Degrees is the No. 1 online resource for exploring and choosing from the nation’s best counseling degree programs that will develop the knowledge and skills needed to further a career in this helping profession. The site’s mission is to share expert information about the top counseling degrees to help people achieve their professional goals.

The University of Denver’s (DU) Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE) Ricks Center for Gifted Children has received accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The accreditation comes from the largest nonprofit association in the United States representing early childhood education and reflects the highest professional standards for quality young children programs.

“Ricks Center for Gifted Children is committed to the accreditation process, which provides a framework for continuous improvement according to the highest standards of school performance.  NAEYC accreditation ensures top performance in our education of young children, including family support, teacher training, student safety, and community engagement.  Accredited by both NAEYC and AdvancEd, Ricks supports all of its students in realizing their full potential,” Anne Sweet, Ricks Center Director said.

Achieving NAEYC Accreditation is a four-step process that involves self-study, self-assessment, candidacy, and meeting and maintaining accreditation over a five-year period. Directors, teachers, and families all participate in the process. Programs are required to meet standards grouped into 10 areas: relationships with children, curriculum, teaching approaches, child assessment, nutrition and health, staff qualifications, relationship with children’s families, relationship with the community, physical environment, and program leadership and management.

“The Morgridge College of Education represents distinction in early childhood; from the Marsico Institute to the Fisher Early Learning Center to our Early Childhood Special Education programs, MCE serves as a leader,” said Dr. Karen Riley, Dean of Morgidge College of Education. “As such we want to ensure that we are meeting the highest standards for the children and families that we serve and that we are engaged in continual improvement.  NAEYC is the gold standard in this area and provides a framework to ensure exceptional quality and a means for thoughtful reflective practice.  This accreditation assures the families that we serve that we meet or exceed the highest of national standards and provides our graduate students with a model of excellence in the field.”

The Ricks Center for Gifted Children is operated by the Morgridge College of Education and is an extension of the College’s renowned work in the area of gifted education. In addition to providing a rigorous educational experience for gifted children from preschool to 8th grade, the model school also serves as an on-campus training and research facility for graduate students across the college including but not limited to school psychology, early childhood, curriculum and instruction and educational leadership.

As part of KUSA Channel 9 Denver’s Recovery Week special on addictions, news anchor TaRhonda Thomas interviewed Counseling Psychology (CP) Addictions Specialization director, Mike Faragher. Faragher is a Level II National Gambling Counselor, as a Board Approved Clinical Consultant by the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board, and as Level III Senior Addiction Counselor by Colorado Office of Behavioral Health. Dr. Andi Pusavat, Counseling Service Clinic Director and Clinical Assistant Professor addressed addiction causes in a live interview during the broadcast. Faragher and Pusavat were joined by Amy Hudson, CP PhD student, Wesley Pruitt, ’15 CP MA grad, and Tammy Pope, MS, NCGC1 from Choice Counseling & Recovery. All five manned the live phone lines answering questions on a wide range of addiction issues and connecting callers with local resources and support groups, including MCE’s Counseling and Educational Services Clinic.

You can find more photos from the interview in our Flickr album.

The 9th annual Students of Color Diversity Celebration was held November 7th in Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE) Katherine Ruffatto Hall. The event showcased the College’s commitment to producing a new generation of change agents passionate about working together to create an inclusive and diverse community for all students.

After opening remarks by Dean Karen Riley, Dr. Lolita Tabron, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, facilitated the panel discussion.

The panelists described their experiences as first-generation and underrepresented students, as well as the unique challenges that their individual culture has on their educational career. Several panelists stressed the value of the cohort model used at MCE and described how faculty members embrace all students into the academic community. During the Q&A session, panelists discussed scholarship opportunities for students and the funding of graduate degrees, work life balance, and the need for commitment to your degree.

The Students of Color event was created by Dr. Frank Tuitt, MCE Higher Education faculty and current Sr. Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost on Diversity and Inclusion.

This year’s student panelist included:

See photos from the event here or view the entire panel discussion here.

Laura Finkelstein (PhD ’14), has been keeping very busy since graduating from Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver (DU). She spent the first year of her post-graduate professional career as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. She then accepted a position as a staff psychologist at the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) Counseling Center until she was promoted to Outreach Coordinator. In her roles at UTD, she provided individual counseling for students dealing with a broad range of concerns, from adjustment issues to the emergence of more severe mental health symptoms. She ran several groups, including an Expressive Arts Therapy Group, a Men’s Issues Group, and a Self-Compassion group. She also oversaw outreach training, coordination, and provision for UTD students and staff.

More recently, Laura moved back to Washington, DC to be closer to family and has since opened her own private practice where she sees adults with a range of concerns and symptoms.  She focuses on trauma, relationship issues, men’s issues, and expressive art therapy, and she just recently accepted a position as the Director of the Counseling Center at Marymount University.

Laura remembers her time at DU and Morgridge fondly, particularly the relationships she built with faculty and instructors.

“They embodied the type of compassionate, curious psychologists I wanted to be, and in many ways continue to be important examples to me,” Finkelstein said. She also appreciated the broad scope of experiences and counseling skills that were a part of both the MA and PhD programs, which prepared her well for an assortment of challenges she has faced professionally.

Finkelstein was initially drawn to the field of counseling based on her fascination with people’s stories; their childhood, relationships to self and others, and construction of narratives. Before entering the field as a student and eventually a professional, Laura wrote for a fashion magazine but found that she was more interested in how individuals functioned psychologically in the industry than she was the fashion itself.

“I applied to the MA program to see if these interests would fit for me as a career,” she said. “Absolutely loving it from day one, I knew I wanted to continue through a PhD program and make a professional life out of psychology.”

“DU first came on my radar because I had a lot of friends from the East Coast, where I grew up, who had recently moved to Denver and loved the lifestyle. Through my research of the program and my interview, I was excited by the breadth of learning and experiences offered by the counseling program. The people in the program, my cohort and professors, kept me going and feeling inspired professionally.”

In the future, Finkelstein is open to different roles as a psychologist, including further work in counseling centers, either in a teaching or administrative capacity. In whichever direction her career in the field of counseling moves, she feels very prepared for a wide array of positions, which is one of things she appreciates most about having her degrees in Counseling Psychology.

“The path of a counseling psychology student, especially a Ph.D. candidate, was not always smooth,” she said. “There were many challenges and I definitely had moments where I questioned if I could do it. I have so much admiration and respect for students in these programs. To them I want to say, this can be such a rewarding and meaningful path, and it does get easier!”

The Colorado Consortium of Residency Educators (CO-CORE), a unique group of partners across higher education and non-profit organizations in Colorado, has received a $400,000 federal grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to study what makes teacher residencies effective as a teacher preparation strategy and how to sustainably fund their most important elements.

As the number of teacher residency programs has grown in Colorado and across the country, the range of preparation approaches has grown as well, raising questions about the quality and effectiveness of these different approaches. This two-year study will analyze data from a range of residency program models from across the state to understand what makes programs effective and determine and provide comparable metrics to understand program success.

The principal investigators for this study are Rebecca Kantor, dean of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, and Karen Riley, dean of the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.

“Teacher preparation residencies show great promise, including strong findings that their graduates are more diverse and stay longer in the profession,” Kantor says. “Clear definitions of residency practices and research evidence to support investment in the model’s critical elements, however, are lacking. This study will help fill the gap in the existing research.”

Teacher residencies, often compared to medical residencies, offer yearlong experiences co-teaching with accomplished teachers as a central part of the preparation of novice teachers. The first of its kind in the country, this study will determine the components of residency programs that serve as quality indicators of teacher effectiveness. Ultimately, the research will provide the state with the capacity to assess the quality of teacher residency programs, follow the transition of residents into the first years of teaching, and evaluate their investment.

Kantor and Riley say that the quality of a child’s teacher has been identified as the single most important in-school factor in educational attainment.

“Even in relatively high performing districts, Colorado faces challenges recruiting, preparing, hiring, supporting and retaining highly effective teachers. Without a well-prepared, stable educator workforce, the state will not be able to reach its educational goals,” Riley says. “Teacher residencies provide a balanced approach to teacher preparation that combines classroom-based experience with academics and theoretical foundations to create a comprehensive learning experience. Teacher candidates graduate with skills in what to do, the theoretical understanding of why methods are effective, and the foundational knowledge of how to modify practice when necessary.”

The research is considered the first large-scale project of its kind to bring together collaborators that represent both the institutions where the teachers are trained, as well as the schools in which they teach. Data from this two-year study are expected to inform best practices in teacher training across the country.

This IES award is one of 15 nation-wide grants from the National Center for Education Research (NCER). The nation-wide grants total more than $12 million and are intended to foster partnerships between researchers and practitioners to study education policies, programs and practices.

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.

The Morgridge College of Education commons area was home to an overflow crowd of family, friends, faculty, and soon-to-be graduates at this year’s Graduate Reception. The event celebrated all MCE graduates and featured remarks from Dean Karen Riley, who encouraged graduates to “put the ladder down” for those who follow in their footsteps.

A live jazz band added to the festive occasion, accented by a live stream of hashtagged photos and a video memory corner where graduates recorded their favorite Morgridge memory and left words of inspiration to future students.

To see tagged event photos, search #MCEgrad17 and view the entire reception photo gallery here.

Congratulations to all graduates who go forth to be Morgridge agents of change!

Teina McConnell and Eric Ward wear a lot of hats. In addition to both being doctoral students in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) program, they also make up the leadership team at Pickens Technical College in Aurora, CO. McConnell serves as the executive director; Ward is the assistant director.

They now share an additional title: Directors of the #1 Best Community College in Colorado as ranked by Bestcolleges.com. The national ranking organization evaluated variables such as graduation rates, program offerings and tuition costs.

McConnell sites PTC’s student completion, placement, and licensure rate as qualities that helped her college rise to the level of recognition.

Ward agrees with this assessment.

“The last couple years, we have really focused on the completion and placement rates of our students. We have spent a lot of time cultivating relationships within our community that provide employment opportunities for our students. Many of our programs have a reputation of producing top-quality students that are more than ready to make an immediate impact on the

Teina McConnell

company that hires them,” Ward said.

According to McConnell, PTC places a strong emphasis on hiring the most qualified industry experts and equips them with tools and pedagogy necessary to become effective teachers.

“Pickens does contextual and applied academics inside of work-based learning that results in nationally recognized industry based certificates. We incorporate industry input in everything we do through Occupational Advisory Committees,” McConnell said.

McConnell points to the fact that many businesses that hire PTC students support the college through a number of additional initiatives.

Eric Ward

“Subaru of North America recently donated three cars and an engine to our automotive services program for our students to work on and have provided an opportunity for our students to earn their level 2 Subaru certification that is transportable across the world,” Ward said.

“Much of what I am doing right now to retool our career advisors is a result of the work I have done so far in my program (at Morgridge) . . . It is an ongoing process, but we are certainly making progress,” McConnell said.

Ward agrees, “One of the benefits of the Morgridge program is the diverse individuals with a wealth of expertise and knowledge that make up the cohort. Also, I believe that the experience and backgrounds of the professors and adjunct enhance the learning experience.”

Morgridge College congratulates McConnell and Ward on their work to bring educational and career-building opportunities through their leadership at the #1 Community College in Colorado.

Morgridge College of Education (MCE) held its annual Hooding Ceremony in the Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall Commons on June 8, 2017. A total of 35 PhD and EdD graduates and candidates received the honorary doctoral hood from their faculty advisor.

After Dean Karen Riley’s welcome, each graduate was hooded by their faculty advisor and given a chance to share comments with the audience. Common themes of the doctoral reflections focused on overcoming obstacles, the impact of MCE faculty, the support of the student cohort, and the goal of creating more equitable opportunities for all.

The Hooding Ceremony is a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation of academic doctors to the next. Please see the entire Hooding Ceremony photo gallery on Flickr.

Kayanne Klipka, a 2017 graduate from the LIS program, is a featured student on DU’s special Commencement website. The following story, written by Jeremy Jones from DU’s Marketing and Communication Office, appears below.

As students across the country prepare for commencement, many will be faced with the important question of “now what?” Whether it’s continuing with their education, entertaining job offers or taking time to see the world, many are relying on a firm plan to guide their next steps.

For Kayanne Klipka, however, there is an excitement in not knowing exactly where the future will take her. Instead, she’ll let her own curiosity guide the way.

“My plans after graduation are to hold plans loosely,” says Klipka, who is earning her master’s in library information science (LIS) from the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education. “I’ve got an insatiable sense of curiosity and a pretty adaptable attitude. Hopefully with [my degree], my laptop and connections made at DU, I’ll be off on some pretty interesting adventures.”

The only adventure Klipka has planned at this point is a summer trip to Medellin, Colombia, where she plans to learn Ruby (a computer programming language), salsa and Spanish. After that, your guess is as good as hers — and that’s the way she likes it.

Spending time to experience another culture is well-deserved for someone who has spent the last two years working hard to earn her master’s while at the same time proving her theory that “all librarians are actually mad scientists,” a humorous statement she takes somewhat seriously.

Klipka has learned a lot as a graduate student, and having basically lived out of Ruffatto Hall during that time, she jokingly admits that she now knows which microwave heats soup most effectively and what corners are best for squeezing in a quick power nap between work and class.

“But seriously, my tenure at DU has been unique,” says Klipka, who worked as a graduate research assistant at the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy. “While most of my library school colleagues are graduating with a couple years of traditional library experience —which no doubt will serve them incredibly well in their careers — I’ve been practicing research data management on a true academic research team. I really think it has expanded my thinking about research and where else my library school skills can be applied.”

At Marsico, Klipka worked on a project referred to as LT Studies, or “learning trajectories.” Over the course of two years, she and other DU students spent time in preschool classrooms conducting math instruction with small groups of children using two different methods: traditional and learning trajectories — a more conscientious and tailored approach based on a child’s development, Klipka says.

In addition to her studies, the people Klipka has met, worked with and learned from have made her DU experience a memorable one.
“There have been so many people helping me through these last two years. I have felt wholeheartedly supported by my advisor Mary Stansbury, Professor Krystyna Matusiak and Kate Crowe, curator of special collections and archives,” Klipka says. “These women have helped me find my research interests, encouraged me to build collections around student activism and racial and ethnic minority students, and write and present research at conferences.”

Klipka also praised Stansbury for her receptiveness to the feedback she provided about the LIS program.

“I urged the LIS faculty to center more curriculum around serving diverse populations and recognizing our own biases. In response, Dr. Stansbury fought for funding to integrate the Intercultural Development Inventory into part of LIS student requirements,” Klipka says, adding that the integration enables students to recognize their own perspectives while becoming more interculturally competent.

With just a few days remaining until commencement, Klipka is preparing for her summer and is looking forward to seeing where her curiosity takes her. For those preparing to enter graduate school, Klipka encourages them to explore all the possibilities.

“Grad school is exactly what you make of it,” she says. “If you know what you want to do when you’re coming into a grad program, work like crazy at it but always leave yourself open to new opportunities.”

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.”


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