COE Newsletter: Spring 2020

Greetings from the Dean

Dean Hill-ClarkeI am pleased to introduce the College of Education’s inaugural newsletter. The College of Education (COE) is dedicated to an environment that values diversity, equity, inclusion, respect, innovation and service. Over the past year, our faculty, staff, students and alumni have demonstrated their dedication to these values – as you will see through this newsletter. The COE’s 2019-20 quote of the year is from Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” This quote demonstrates our commitment to be driven through excellence and to transform innovation into action. Through the spotlights and featured events in this newsletter, you will see our zeal to know better and do better. I hope you will partner with us in the College of Education as we continue in our commitment to our values and to our drive for excellence. Explore our website  to learn about recent events, to partner with us or to enroll in one of our nationally-ranked programs.

Dr. Kandi Hill-Clarke
Dean of the College of Education

River City Partnership Inaugural Cohorts Begin Classes

RCP Undergrad students with Joris Ray

The River City Partnership, an innovative collaboration between the College of Education, Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District, welcomed its inaugural cohorts in fall 2019. Eighteen freshmen and 33 graduate students serve as the inaugural River City Teacher Scholars. The program focuses on social justice, equity and urban education as well as culturally relevant and community-centered teacher preparation. Upon graduation, Teacher Scholars will receive job placement assistance to teach in Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District. Scholarships and funding are made possible by the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, the Dorothy Snider Foundation, the Hyde Family Foundation, International Paper, Memphis Education Fund, School Seed, Sedgwick, the Urban Child Institute, Urban Strategies, the Walmart Foundation and individual donors. 

RCP graduate student with teacherThe River City Partnership serves to highlight the unique opportunities provided by public schools in Memphis and to train new teachers – many of whom are recruited from Memphis public schools – to excel in teaching at these schools. Members of the River City Teacher Scholars Graduate MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) cohort greatly appreciate the support and networking the program offers. Lauren Crowe, MAT student, said, “The best part of being a River City Teacher Scholar is the constant support and reassurance from the program facilitators and my peers. The monthly sessions allow me to talk with other scholars who are in the same unique stage of life as I am.” Q.D. Adams, another MAT River City Teacher Scholar, appreciates the “personalized graduate program [through which] the leadership team is available for our every need.” The River City Partnership is currently recruiting for fall 2020. Learn more at  memphis.edu/rcp>.


The COE Promotes Social Justice through State and National Education

Dean Hill-Clarke with Penny Schwinn and Dr. CrossAs part of the COE’s mission, we are committed to advancing an environment where diversity, social justice and equity are paramount. We have had several opportunities this academic year to meet with state and national leaders to help share how the College is committed to promoting our values.

In fall 2019, the College of Education was honored to welcome Dr. Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Education Commissioner, and her team. Hill-Clarke and Dr. Beverly Cross, holder of the Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education, met with Schwinn to discuss the College of Education’s newest grow-your-own teacher pipeline initiative, the River City Partnership, which recruits, trains and develops local scholars to teach in Memphis. The next week, the UofM was proud to host a luncheon for the Shelby County Legislative Delegation. The COE Dean’s Office welcomed House Education Committee Chair Mark White and Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham to discuss how the COE affects education in Tennessee.

Luann Ley Davis and team at Capitol BuildingThe COE has also promoted diversity, social justice and equity on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Over the summer, Dr. Luann Ley Davis, assistant professor of Special Education in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership (ICL), worked with the Council for Exceptional Children and Council for Administrators of Special Education to advocate on behalf of children and youth with exceptionalities and professionals who work with them. While there, Davis had the opportunity to meet with Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the HELP Committee, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn to discuss current special education bills. Davis continues her national-level special education policy advocacy and plans to invite the senators to the COE to continue the conversation.



Alyssa Nucaro, CEPR Student,and Dean Hill-Clarke Featured at New Memphis event

Alyssa Nucaro photo

On Sept. 10, New Memphis presented an event called "Celebrate What's Right in Education" which focused on changing the narrative around teaching. The event featured the Educators of Excellence award celebration for local teachers who are graduates of a New Memphis program and serve Memphis with excellence. Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research (CEPR) doctoral student Alyssa Nucaro (pictured left), who serves as a special education teacher at Wooddale Middle School, received one of the Educators of Excellence awards. Nucaro says of the award, "The Educator of Excellence Award was a true honor to receive, not only because it celebrates the hardworking educators in Memphis, but also because it displays the great work we are trying to do to improve the community. My studies through the COE have allowed me to have a voice, as well as provided me with a network of people who collaboratively work together to advocate for the educational needs of this city."

The New Memphis event also included a panel discussion with Hill-Clarke and other educational leaders. The discussion focused on supporting teachers and the school community and celebrating ideas and advances in local education. The panel featured prominent Memphis education leaders: Dr. Carol Johnson, dean and interim president at LeMoyne-Owen College; Dr. Joris Ray, superintendent of Shelby County Schools; Chris Terrill, executive director of Crosstown High; Karen Vogelsang, executive director of ARISE2Read; and moderator Caroline Bauman of Chalkbeat Tennessee.

New Memphis' mission includes a commitment to forging a more prosperous and vital Memphis by attracting, developing, activating and retaining talent. "Celebrate What's Right in Education" promotes this mission by saluting educators and encouraging support for our schools.

Dr. Odis Johnson Welcomed as Inaugural COE Research Series Speaker

Odis Johnson with Dean Hill-Clarke and Dr. ZanskasThe College of Education was honored to host Dr. Odis Johnson as our inaugural Research Series speaker. On Sept. 13, Johnson traveled to Memphis to host two talks. His first talk, “Broadening Participation: Research Isn’t Done in a Vacuum,” focused on broadening research participation among underrepresented groups as a means to increase equity and social justice. His second talk focused on his own research on STEM and social justice and was titled “Does filling the STEM pipeline require draining the school-to-prison pipeline?” Johnson also met with individual faculty members to discuss their research and areas of collaboration.

Johnson is a professor in the Departments of Sociology and Education and associate director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Equity at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as director of the NSF Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational and Mixed Methodologies. Johnson’s visit represents the COE’s commitment to research and scholarship as well as our desire to increase collaboration within the COE and throughout the UofM and other institutions.

Driven by Excellence: COE Spotlights


Celia AndersonDr. Celia Rousseau Anderson, a professor in the ICL department who specializes in mathematics education, was recently named associate editor for the American Educational Research Journal, the flagship journal of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Anderson is also serving as interim graduate program coordinator of the River City Partnership. Her research focuses on equity in mathematics education, mathematics teacher professional development and critical race theory in education.

AERA, a national research society, strives to advance knowledge about education, encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. As associate editor, Anderson will initiate the selection of peer reviewers, engage with reviewers and senior editors and follow up to secure expert reviews. She will also synthesize and review feedback for authors and make recommendations for manuscript determination. According to AERA, Anderson was selected for her high visibility, experience and demonstrated engagement in the educational sciences.


Amy WilsonAmy Wilson, Dean’s Office, was elected to serve on the UofM Staff Senate for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.



Ayanna PerkinsAyanna Perkins, COE career specialist, was awarded Memphis Urban League’s “Diamond Rockstar Award” at its 2019 Empowerment Gala. Perkins was awarded for work with Memphis Urban League Young Professionals.


Daniel Lattimore at conferenceDaniel Cruz Lattimore, counseling psychology doctoral candidate in CEPR, traveled to Spain in November to present at the International Congress of Clinical Psychology. His presentation “Affiliative Humor, International Students (IS), and the United States: Reviewing the Literature” was co-authored by William Mitchner, Elin Ovrebo, Jean Black and Emily El-Oqlah.



STEA OfficersFive Student Tennessee Education Association (STEA) officers — Anna Derrick, Audrey Lizzy Archer, Kierra Piliere, John Benji Akridge and Hannah Little — participated in the fall STEA conference in Nashville. To learn more or join the COE chapter of the STEA, email steamemphis@gmail.com.



Students at Student Appreciation The COE hosted our inaugural Student Appreciation Day in October. Faculty, staff and student organizations shared treats and mingled with students.


Michelle MillerMichelle Smith Miller (BS ’03, EdS ’10) was recently named 2019-20 Collierville Schools Teacher of the Year, Southwest Tennessee Teacher of the Year, and a finalist for Tennessee Teacher of the Year. Miller currently works as an academic interventionist at Bailey Station Elementary in Collierville.



Smetana photoKatelyn R. Smetana (Moore) (BS ’12) was recently selected from all sea commands under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet as the 2019 Mrs. Sybil Stockdale Ombudsman of the Year Award recipient.



Innovation into Action: COE Highlights

  • Dr. Alfred Hall received the 2019 Eye of the Tiger Award, an award presented to individuals or groups who contribute to the welfare and traditions of the University of Memphis and the Memphis community. Dean Hill-Clarke received the Eye of the Tiger Award in November 2017.
  • The Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) is partnering with the Smithsonian Science Education Center on a new five-year grant focusing on “Smithsonian Science for the Classroom” for elementary students in North and South Carolina. Dr. Christine Bertz will serve as principal Investigator.
  • Dr. Carolyn Kaldon, CREP, and Dr. Rachael Ross, assistant professor of Elementary Education in ICL, are partnering with Promise Academy Hollywood to provide and evaluate high-quality and tailored professional development that will help teachers provide small-group instruction dedicated to progressing students toward reading proficiency.
  • Dr. Lee Allen, school library specialist in ICL, participated in the national panel of reviewers for revisions to the edTPA handbook for school librarians/library specialists. The new handbook will be released in 2020.
  • Dr. Will Hunter, associate professor of Special Education in ICL, was elected to the Council for Exceptional Children Board of Directors in its recent member-wide election. His three-year term began in January 2020.
  • Dr. Brian Wright, associate professor of Early Childhood Education in ICL, and Dr. Beverly Cross, Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education in ICL, were invited by the National Association for Multicultural Education to join the Cuba delegation to explore the educational systems and literacy efforts in Cuba.
  • Dr. Wendy Griswold, assistant professor of Higher and Adult Education in the Department of Leadership, served as the keynote speaker for the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education conference in St. Louis in October.
  • Dr. Eraina Schauss, assistant professor of Counseling in CEPR, and her team at the BRAIN CENTER were featured in the Daily Memphian for their work helping teenagers who have been affected by trauma and adverse childhood events through neurofeedback training. Schauss and her co-researcher from the UT Health Science Center, Dr. Khyobeni Mozhui, received the 2019 UTHSC/UofM CORNET Award in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Research for their project “A Combined Environment and Epigenetics Study (ACES): Impact of Neurofeedback Therapy on the Health and Behavior of Adolescents.”
  • Dr. Steve Zanskas, associate professor, and Dr. Dan Lustig, professor in Counseling in CEPR, were awarded a five-year, $1 million grant from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Rehabilitation Services Administration. The goal of their Rehabilitation Counselor Training Program is to prepare graduate-level rehabilitation counselors to assist individuals with disabilities to secure competitive employment in meaningful careers and with full participation.