College of Education Newsletter, April 2023

The College of Education Partners with TN Department of Education for Grow Your Own Program

The University of Memphis College of Education has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Education through Tennessee’s Grow Your Own (GYO) initiative—immediately expanding opportunity to train future teachers and strengthening the teacher pipeline in Tennessee. UofM joins 8 other recently approved Educator Preparation Programs across Tennessee that will partner with local districts to help create a simple pathway for students who are interested in teaching to receive the training and credentials needed to serve in local classrooms. Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeships are a sustainable recruitment strategy to address both short- and long-term needs by addressing localized district staffing challenges.

"The GYO Program will positively impact the apprentices who participate as well as our district partners,” says Dr. Nichelle Robinson, Director of the Office of Teacher Education and Clinical Practice, “Each cohort of apprentices will build bonds with each other and our UofM College of Education faculty as they receive the supports needed to become teachers who will positively impact student learning. We will see the teacher pipeline grow over time as apprentices return to their community as highly effective classroom teachers familiar with their districts and the students those districts serve." 

In addition to the partnership, The UofM College of Education has been approved for subgrant funding from the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center to support teacher apprentices who will begin program coursework in Summer 2023. These funds will go to support apprentice tuition, fees, Praxis costs and mentor stipends – providing students in the program with a truly no-cost educational experience.

 “We are excited to have our College of Education approved as one of the state’s Grow Your Own teacher apprenticeship providers”, said Dr. Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean of the College of Education. “This collaborative effort will allow school districts and educator preparation programs to enhance teacher pipeline efforts as we work to prepare classroom and student ready teachers.” 

COE Hosts Professional Development Series

This year’s College of Education Faculty Research and Teaching Series, led by the COE Dean's Office and Dean's Faculty Fellow, Dr. Leigh Harrell-Williams, included sessions on the promotion and tenure process, increasing research productivity and collaborations, and teaching to promote student success. Specific topics included Avoiding Plagiarism, Accessing and Using Open Sources, Trauma-Informed Teaching, Building Research Partnerships with University Schools and Local District Partners and Preparing Budgets for Grants and Contracts.

Janet Wiens, COE Pre-Award Coordinator, states, "The Faculty Research and Teaching Series offers faculty extensive information regarding career advancement and building their research infrastructure in an effort to increase publications and success in securing external funding, which are especially important activities given the University’s R1 status."

The College also hosted social events including “Snacks and Such" and “Coffee and Conversations” designed to encourage faculty and staff to mingle in a more relaxed setting. The Dean's Office will host its inaugural Staff Appreciation luncheon in May. 

COE Awards

Dr. Batastini, CEPR, receives Early Career Teaching and Mentoring Award

Dr. Ashley Batastini, CEPR, received the 2023 Early Career Teaching and Mentoring Award from the Teaching, Training and Careers Committee of the American Psychology-Law Society. This reward reflects Dr. Batastini's impressive contributions to education, training and mentorship in the field of psychology and law. 

Dr. Rosie Phillips Davis, Professor in CEPR, says of Dr. Batastini, " Ashley is a hardworking contributor to our University and to our profession. She is working hard to engage with members of the Memphis community and is just the kind of professor we need."

Batastini says of the Early Career Teaching and Mentoring Award, "I was fortunate to have incredible mentors at every stage of my academic career, beginning as a first-generation undergraduate. By seeing more talent in me than I saw in myself, they proved how impactful a true advocate can be. Attempting to pay forward what was given to me is a main reason I chose this career path. This award is especially meaningful because it suggests I’m making some progress toward that aim. I also thank my students for trusting me and giving me opportunities to work with and support them."

Batastini was honored at the 2023 American Psychology-Law Society Conference in Philadelphia in March.

Dr. Bettencourt, LEAD, receives Emerging Scholars Award

Dr. Genia Bettencourt, Assistant Professor of Higher & Adult Education in the Department of Leadership, received the 2023 Emerging Scholar Award from the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). Dr. Bettencourt receives this award as completion of her two year term as an ACPA Emerging Scholar. The ACPA Emerging Scholars Program supports, encourages and honors early-career individuals who are emerging as contributors to student affairs and higher education scholarship and who are pursuing research initiatives congruent with the mission, interests and strategic goals of ACPA.

Dr. Platt, Chair of the Department of Leadership, says, “Dr. Bettencourt is a valued member of the Department of Leadership community. As a scholar, she not only contributes to the academic field of student affairs, but she also works diligently to ensure our graduate students have a quality programmatic experience as both practitioners and future scholars.”

Dr. Bettencourt was honored at the ACPA Conference in March.

Dean Hill-Clarke and Vanessa Cortez, COE Student, Honored at Office of Multicultural Affairs Event

In February, Dr. Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean of the College of Education, received the Freedom Award from the Office of Multicultural Affairs & the UofM chapter of NAACP. At the organization's Mahogany Ball, she was honored as an influential leader in the Memphis community for her service to education.

Dr. Steve Zanskas, associate dean, says, "We are so proud of Dean Hill-Clarke's recognition as an influential leader for service in the area of Education by The UofM's Office of Multicultural Affairs Chapter of the NAACP Freedom Award. Our College has long recognized Dean Hill-Clarke's leadership, inspiring our College's commitment to educational diversity, equity, and inclusion. Leadership matters, and we look forward to continuing our community's journey with her leadership."

COE undergraduate student Vanessa Cortez was also recognized at the ceremony for her work with A Seat At the Table >, an organization with the goal of empowering women students by providing mentorship opportunities, financial literacy lessons and career readiness skills. Vanessa is a sophomore River City Partnership student, Teaching All Learners major & President of A Seat at the Table.

We are so proud of Dean Hill-Clarke and Vanessa for their contributions to the College of Education and the UofM!

UofM College of Education and Memphis-Shelby County Schools Celebrate Teachers at Signing Day

The UofM College of Education and Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS) are working to change the narrative around teaching, beginning with garnering excitement as incoming teachers sign their contracts to work at MSCS after graduation. The inaugural cohort of the River City Partnership (RCP) - a specialized College of Education undergraduate program which prepares local, future educators to practice and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in Memphis classrooms – were honored in a special signing day event hosted by MSCS on March 1.

Cody Cameron, Brianna Farmer, Lindsey Harris, Brea Hinds, Bralyn Horton, Daejah McAlpin and Jadia Murphy make up the inaugural RCP cohort who will graduate this May and begin working with MSCS schools in fall 2023. These students have taken classes together, studied together and grown together throughout their four years as UofM College of Education students. Some of these students have been together longer as they participated in an RCP summer teaching experience before they graduated high school.

RCP does not just build a community of educators; it also prepares future educators to be culturally-responsive teachers who will support and advocate for Memphis students. Bralyn Horton told the Daily Memphian, “We learned about how to connect with students we might not be familiar with in different settings, how to use ethics in the classroom and how to be engaged with the social education aspect of the classroom. It’s awesome to build a community where we future teachers can help each other grow outside the classroom and while we’re in the field.”

The signing day event featured administrators from both the UofM College of Education and MSCS who are involved in the River City Partnership. Dr. Beverly Cross, the UofM Holder of the Chair of Excellence in Urban Education, and Dr. Celia Anderson, interim dean in the COE, called the River City Partnership a “a dream.” Cross confirmed the UofM College of Education’s commitment to the pipeline, stating “We will be your River City partner. We will prepare a different kind of teacher for you, so that when [graduates] come from the University of Memphis College of Education, you can count on them being really well-prepared, exceptional teachers.”

Dr. Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean of the College of Education, encouraged attendees to rethink the narrative around teaching, stating, “The work that is done in classrooms and in schools every day is not thankless. It is priceless. So please join me in embracing the priceless work that teachers do and that these future teachers will do in their classrooms as difference-makers and agents of change, making a profound and positive impact each and every day in the lives of children, families and our community.”

The event also featured remarks by Camille Clippinger, a current freshman in the RCP program, and MSCS alum. Teaching as a Profession students from White Station, White Haven, Kingsbury, Melrose, Southwind High Schools and the Career and Technical Center were also in attendance and acknowledged as the next generation in the teacher pipeline MSCS and the UofM College of Education has established through the River City Partnership.

CEPR Graduate Students Receive NBCC Minority Fellowship

BrennanTera WarfieldTwo CEPR graduate students in the Clinical Mental Health program, Masters’ student Brennan Steele (left) and Doctoral student Tera Warfield (right) were awarded the Minority Fellowship for Mental Health Counselors from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The scholarship includes a stipend as well as travel expenses and opportunities for training and mentorship.

The federally funded Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) administered by NBCC has helped increase diversity throughout the counseling profession since 2012. According to the NBCC Foundation website, the fellowship program “helps ensure that the behavioral health needs of all Americans are met, regardless of language or culture, thereby reducing health disparities and improving overall community health and well-being.” Overall, more than 400 doctoral- and master’s-level students have received scholarships through this program. These students go on to practice counseling in underserved areas, educate and lecture on topics of interest, and research and develop exciting new counseling initiatives.

Brennan says of the opportunity, "It is an honor to be named an NBCC Minority Fellow, as I believe that it will further expand my capacity, alongside my coursework in the CMHC program, to provide the best mental health treatment and services for underserved communities in our local community and beyond." 

Tera says, “"I am so honored to be chosen for this fellowship. This opportunity will provide additional tools, skills and connections to further serve minority populations, which is my life's work."


CREP partners with Seeding Success and SCCSP team to evaluate community resources in local schools

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $15 million to launch and sustain the community school model, positioning neighborhood schools as a base for providing resources for students and families in the community. These funds, along with $15M in matching and in-kind dollars, were awarded to the Shelby County Community Schools Partnership (SCCSP) from the U.S. Department of Education’s Full-Service Community Schools Program (FSCS). Led by DeVonté Payton, the SCCSP is a collaboration between Seeding Success, Memphis Shelby County Schools, Communities In Schools of Memphis, Memphis Business Academy, Millington Municipal School District, Frayser Community Schools and the University of Memphis. Approximately 3,400 families and students annually will benefit from this partnership.

The UofM team working on this project as the external evaluation partner is led by Dr. Todd Zoblotsky & Dr. Carolyn Kaldon, at the Center for Research and Educational Policy (CREP). CREP’s evaluation efforts throughout the award period will determine the outcomes of this program and if it should be scaled to more schools in the future.