ICL News

Growing Project Memphis: ICL Faculty Provide Early Intervention for Young Children and Families with Special Needs

Dr. Laura Casey, professor in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership, and her commitment to serving young children (aged 0-2) with special needs and their families continues to be rewarded through state and federal grants with recent awards from the TN Department of Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) totaling $2.7 million dollars. These recent awards are the result of Casey’s ability to sustain, maintain, and grow a long-standing home and community grant with the state known as Project Memphis (PM). Under her leadership, this early intervention (EI) service-based grant has grown exponentially in terms of the number of families seen and the type of services provided.

Over the last few years, PM expanded beyond developmental therapy to also include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) assessment/therapy and psychological evaluation/diagnostic services through the TEIS’s vendor program. This expansion to other disciplines resulted in a team-based, interdisciplinary approach to EI. The team approach is the gold standard for EI with UofM leading the way in west TN.

The grant will allow Casey and her team to continue home and community-based services through 2024 as well as add center-based therapies. The center-based services, once housed and ready to launch, will offer a wide array of services from diagnostics to individualized and small group programs aimed at maximizing each child's development across several domains (adaptive-social-emotional- behavioral) using a team-based approach designed to promote inclusive preschool readiness. The new center-based grant will work in tandem with the home-community grant and will seek to employ licensed behavior analysts, registered behavior technicians, developmental therapists, social workers, and psychologists.

These new opportunities will serve as an opportunity for wraparound services for families at the Integrated Community Health Clinic (ICHC) that will be comprised of ABA faculty and faculty and students from the Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research department. The new grants received, along with the existing initiatives, will also provide more on campus practicum and internship placements for students in the COE and better connect with other free service grants on campus such as Regional Intervention Program (RIP: a parent training program for children 0-6 with behavior disorders), UofM Autism Treatment, Training and Research Clinic (an autism focused grant shifting to a billing model) and TN Behavior Supports Project (a school based positive behavior intervention grant currently working with SCS).

For more information on these awards and/or these initiatives, contact Dr. Casey at lpcasey@memphis.edu.

Dr. Mia Obiwo Receives AACTE Dissertation of the Year Award

Obiwo photoDr. S. Mia Obiwo, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education in ICL, has received the prestigious 2021 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award for “Bringing Clarity to the Construct: A Content Analysis of Disposition for Urban Teaching and Learning.” Dr. Obiwo is in her first year at the UofM, having received her PhD at Georgia State University. She was honored at the February AACTE annual meeting and virtual conference. The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) represents educators throughout the United States who advance tshe profession through innovation, high standards and leadership.
Dr. Obiwo elaborates on her dissertation topic and its impact on future research and practice: “The triad of knowledge, skills, and dispositions is used in the field of teacher education as a common way to account for all of the components of good teaching. We know how to define and think about knowledge and skills. However, the term ‘disposition’ is ambiguous with varying perspectives and definitions. In my past experiences as an urban elementary school teacher and current experiences as a teacher educator, I've observed and collaborated with teachers who I knew had dispositions that would aid the success of a diverse range of children. Though I knew these teachers had desirable dispositions, it was hard for me to put them into words. I embarked on my dissertation journey with the goal of using decades of research on dispositions to clarify what we mean when we use the term. I also looked specifically at research that discussed dispositions relative to the urban school context to identify and describe desirable urban teacher dispositions. Taking it one step further, I outlined programmatic features during teacher preparation that help cultivate dispositions for urban teaching and learning.  
Ultimately, I like to think of teacher dispositions as a teacher’s (un)conscious attitudes, beliefs, and commitments that directly influence their instructional practices and relationships with children, families, schools and communities.” 
Dean Hill-Clarke said of Dr. Obiwo’s research, “Her dissertation has great and impactful implications for the field of teacher education. We are delighted to have Dr. Obiwo as a colleague in the College of Education at the University of Memphis where she will continue expanding her research and scholarly work on teacher dispositions.”

Dr. Obiwo’s commitment to be driven by equity is evident in her response to receiving the award. She states, “I am honored to be the recipient of the 2021 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award. I will continue using urban teacher education research as an informative vehicle for helping educators become culturally responsive, equity-oriented change agents in their classrooms and communities.” Congratulations, Dr. Obiwo! 

Dr. Mia Obiwo Recently Published

Dr. S. Mia Obiwo, Early Childhood Education, recently published an article co-authored with Diane M. Truscott called "Context Matters: Cultivating Dispositions of Responsive and Equitable Teachers for Urban Schools" in School-University Partnerships. The article (found here>) explores teacher dispositions in urban schools. 

Dr. Helen Perkins Elected to Literacy Board

Helen PerkinsDr. J. Helen Perkins, ICL Professor, has been voted as a Board member of the International Literacy Association (ILA) beginning July 1 for a three-year term. The ILA is a global advocacy and membership organization of more than 300,000 literacy educators, researchers, and experts across 146 countries. With more than 60 years of experience, ILA set the standard for how literacy is defined, taught, and evaluated.

This honor certainly reflects Dr. Perkins' impressive career, especially her commitment to literacy, and is another example of the excellence of the faculty in the COE. Read more about her appointment here>.

Dr. Byford interviewed about his book on East Germany and the Cold War

Byford photoDr. Jeff Byford, ICL Professor in Secondary Social Studies Education, was recently interviewed on The Radio GDR podcast about his book Behind the Iron Curtain – A Teacher's Guide to East Germany and Cold War Activities. Dr. Byford discussed his fascination with East Germany history, writing the teaching manual and his current research on the Free German Youth, also know as the FDJ, an East German youth movement. Listen to the podcast here> or purchase the teacher's guide here>.


Dr. Andrew Tawfik and UofM team receive NSF grant

Andrew Tawfik photoThe National Science Foundation awarded a team from the UofM a $3.4 million grant to train individuals in the field of data science and fund research into programs that make data science easy for the public to use. Andrew Tawfik (ICL) worked on the grant as well as Dale Bowman (Math Sciences) and Vasile Rus and Scott Fleming (both from Computer Science). Andrew Olney (Psychology) serves as PI. Data science combines computer science, software design and statistics to analyze and increase access to data. The grant will allow the UofM to develop a data science program that will be accessible to those with and without computer science knowledge. To learn more about this project, read about in the Daily Helmsman here> and also read about Congressman Steve Cohen's support of the project here>.