Masters' Program Orientation
Gentry room 144
1st Day of
Gentry room 142 from
9:45am to 12:00pm
RECENT ALUMNI & STUDENT NEWS
John Wallace Middle School announces UCAPP alum, Dan Dias, as the new Assistant Principal on the Newington Public Schools website.
Congratulations to our Neag School alumni, faculty, staff, and students on their continued accomplishments inside and outside the classroom, outlined in this month’s issue of Neag School Accolades.
Editor’s Note: The following piece — written by Neag School doctoral student Kristi Kaeppel — originally appeared on the UConn Graduate Certificate in College Instruction blog.
I recently began working on a project that looks at how teachers form their beliefs and conceptions of teaching. Like so much of learning, it seems teachers’ beliefs develop incidentally through experience and observation. Perhaps we model our beloved high school science teacher or we imagine ourselves rousing students from boredom a la Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society.”
When I got reflecting on my own conceptions of teaching, it struck me that so much of how I conduct myself as a teacher comes from having been a failing, disengaged student in high school. When I stepped into my first teaching role in Adult Basic Education, my main objective was to avoid creating the kind of educational environment I so loathed as a teenager.
“I spent a long time hiding the fact that I dropped out of high school. … I think I have finally overcome the stigma and can instead turn my early experiences failing in school into a strength.”
— Kristi Kaeppel, Doctoral Student
Two anecdotes illustrate my loss of faith in schooling that led, along with a slew of other factors, to my eventual dropping out of high school. Looking back on them now, they also make good case studies of what NOT to do as an instructor (especially the first):
- It was sophomore year, and I was just starting to check out of school, but finally, we were reading a book that captivated me: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I hadn’t done many of the assignments all year, but I applied myself to an essay assigned on the book with rare enthusiasm and concentration. I was proud of my work and eager for feedback. When I got my paper back, I had failed with a note saying that it was “very, very, well-written” and that I must’ve plagiarized. And like that, I checked back out beyond return.
- It was senior year. By this time I was merely a seat warmer in school on the rare occasion that I showed up. Again, there was a glimmer of hope in my high school English class as the teacher held up two books — Go Ask Alice, a (in my opinion) poorly written piece of anti-drug propaganda and The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, a masterpiece and (sadly for me since it features a depressed teenager) one of the books I most identified with. The teacher asked the class which one we should read. I think I was the only one who voted for The Bell Jar. This confirmed that I did indeed have nothing in common with my classmates and that I would be better off staying home and reading.
Adolescent angst and arrogance aside, these two stories illustrate some teaching approaches I was determined not to replicate:
First, I would trust my students and give them the benefit of the doubt. I would not make accusations; I would listen and approach them with compassion. Even if someone does cheat, why are they cheating? What is going on with them that cheating is a viable option and how can I make authentic learning more attractive to them?
While the teacher in the second story did at least try to have a democratic classroom and allow student choice, I think one could go a step further by allowing even more autonomy and choice in assignments. If some people were drawn to one book and others to another, why not have book groups?
The larger point I took away from both of these stories was to always look for those signs of student interest and curiosity and try to kindle, not extinguish, them.
This is easier said than done. It was much easier to be the failing student with my head down in class who muttered insults about the class under my breath than to become a teacher and have one of the most important responsibilities in society.
“My goal as a teacher is to try and create those conditions where … natural-born, inherent curiosity can thrive.”
I spent a long time hiding the fact that I dropped out of high school. Now that I am in a Ph.D. program, I think I have finally overcome the stigma and can instead turn my early experiences failing in school into a strength.
Perhaps one difficulty for many instructors is that they were model students, and so it’s hard to conceive of the mindset of those students who appear lazy, disengaged, and unmotivated.
I was that person. But I had curiosity and a love of learning. I just didn’t find a home for it in school. My goal as a teacher is to try and create those conditions where that natural-born, inherent curiosity can thrive. If hadn’t been for my own experiences failing out of school, I may not have appreciated just how much potential and dormant academic interest can be concealed under the guise of an apathetic student.
Kristi Kaeppel is a doctoral student in the Neag School’s Learning, Leadership, and Educational Policy program with a concentration in Adult Learning. She works as a graduate assistant for the UConn Graduate Certificate in College Instruction (GCCI) program. GCCI is a nine-credit program for individuals interested in expanding their preparation in and understanding of college teaching.
Hartford Courant, Gayle Allen-Greene is an ELP alum and 2016 Alumni Award winner
New Haven Independent, Alum Kelvin Roldán ’15 6th Year and assistant professor Sarah Woulfin served on panel as consultants
Editor's note: This piece originally appeared on the Neag School website and was written by Shawn Kornegay.
In our recurring 10 Questions series, the Neag School catches up with students, alumni, faculty, and others throughout the year to give you a glimpse into their Neag School experience and their current career, research, or community activities.
Four-time Neag School alumnus Miguel A. Cardona ’01 MA, ’04 6th Year, ’11 Ed.D., ’12 ELP is the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning at Meriden Public Schools in Meriden, Conn. Prior to that, he was a performance and evaluation specialist and also served for 10 years as a principal for Meriden Public Schools. In 2012, he was recognized by the Connecticut Association of Schools as Connecticut’s National Distinguished Principal and, in 2013, by the Neag School’s Alumni Board as Principal of the Year. Today, Cardona also serves as adjunct faculty in the Neag School’s UConn Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP).
What drew you to the Neag School of Education?
As a fourth-grade teacher, I heard about a program that was being offered at UConn for a master’s degree in bilingual/bicultural education. After looking into it, I was hooked. Soon after, I was encouraged to join a leader preparation program. After researching different programs, I felt UCAPP was the best in the state, and I was honored to be accepted. Similarly, the Ed.D. and Executive Leadership programs were the ones that I felt best prepared me for a successful future in education and leadership. I feel blessed to have had the great learning opportunities at UConn over the last 20 years. The Neag School is a tremendous resource, not only as a school of education, but as partners as we work to improve education in Connecticut.
“Great educators build relationships with students and set a high bar for their growth. Great educators believe in the potential of their students, even if the students don’t yet. Great educators pay attention to detail and … value the importance of preparation.”
What led you to choose to pursue the field of education?
Kids. There are few things as gratifying as knowing that your hard work will improve the lives of children. Coming from a family who modeled service to others, I knew I wanted a profession that would give me the opportunity to serve others and help strengthen my community. Teaching did that. Initially, I wanted to become an art teacher. I love the arts and the important role it plays in the development of a person, but I gravitated toward elementary education once in the program. Being an elementary teacher is akin to being an artist, so I got the best of both worlds.
What do you believe makes a great educator?
Great educators are ones that do not look at their work as a job, [but] as an extension of their God-given gifts. The passion and commitment from great educators comes from within … Great educators build relationships with students and set a high bar for their growth. Great educators believe in the potential of their students, even if the students don’t yet. Great educators pay attention to detail and, like any other profession, value the importance of preparation. Whether that is lesson design, or getting to know their students, great teachers invest in their work — and they reap the benefits of their students’ success. … The role of teacher is the most important of all. Teachers shape lives.
How did the Neag School prepare you?
The Neag School prepared me in many ways. I had the fortune of learning from some of the best professors, latest research, and driven cohorts. Neag instructors balanced research and practice well, whether it was through program design that required field experience, or through partnerships with some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the state. The coursework was enhanced with seminars, invitations to functions in the state, and guests that provided unique perspectives from which I grew.
What do you like about working with the Meriden School District?
I love being a part of the Meriden team. As a lifelong resident, and product of its schools, I love being a part of the important work for this city. I work with amazing people, and it is really important to me to remember that the decisions I make in my role as assistant superintendent affect all children, including my own.
What have you enjoyed about serving as an administrator?
It is about relationships. Working with adult learners and a greater number of families was a highlight of serving as building principal for 10 years. I enjoyed working with driven teachers whose input always made our building better. I learned so much from my colleagues and feel that my success is a result of the collective experiences I had as a teacher and school leader.
What are some recent initiatives of which you are most proud?
Serving as co-chairperson of the Connecticut Legislative Achievement Gap Task Force has been a great source of pride. It has resulted in legislation and practice that works to support student success in ways that make it truly the great equalizer it needs to be in this country. Supporting and advocating for quality programming for our youngest is some of the most rewarding work there is. At the local level, establishing systems that empower teacher collaboration and systematically raising the bar for tier 1 instruction have given me great pride. Another local initiative that brings me great pride is being able to bring community partners into the educational process. Whether that is a local agency aiming to improve the experiences of children after school or a local college that wants to collaborate to create a dual enrollment program for our high schoolers —connecting the K-12 experience to the community is a great source of pride and satisfaction.
What are your thoughts on the Neag School’s participation in the new University Preparation Program Initiative (UPPI) and how it will help school administrators?
I am thrilled we have an opportunity to partner with UConn in Meriden and know that the UPPI program will only enhance our work with leadership development. As a tier 1 research university, the resources we will benefit from will ultimately enhance the experiences of our learners in Meriden. Given the history I had with the educational leadership department at UConn, I look forward to a great partnership with the Meriden Public Schools.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I hope to continue in this role in Meriden for the foreseeable future. I enjoy what I do and love that it is in the same community in which I live. I feel my role is an extension of my commitment to this community, my family, and to the children in Meriden. I hope to also continue teaching at the university level. The courses I teach at UConn for prospective leaders inspires me. I love the passion and energy of the students whose role will be to shape the educational landscape for the next 30 to 40 years. In my plans, I also expect to enjoy my 10- and 12-year-old as much as possible, and never miss a school concert.
What were some of your favorite moments at UConn?
As the son of two parents who sacrificed so much so their three children could have more than they ever had, the favorite moment for me was being hooded and earning my doctorate. I remember filling up a school bus with family and driving up to Storrs, Conn., for my graduation. When I crossed that stage, it represented the hard work, sacrifice, and guidance that was given to me by my parents and those that supported me. It was a highlight for me as a father also. It sent the message to my kids that the sky is the limit.
RECENT FACULTY & STAFF NEWS
The Neag School’s Department of Educational Leadership welcomes Kari B. Taylor as the new program director for Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA). She begins her new appointment as the HESA program director and as an assistant professor-in-residence on July 31.
Taylor joins the Neag School after most recently having earned her Ph.D. in higher education and student affairs at The Ohio State University (OSU), where she conducted research into the process of developmental growth among undergraduate and graduate students who participated in an international service-learning experience. Her dissertation focused on how a service-learning course helped students develop critical consciousness, which represents a complex way of making meaning of one’s self in relation to one’s social world. In her third year as a doctoral student, she received the Porterfield-Dickens Graduate Research Support Award in support of her dissertation research.
Rising Up the Ranks
Taylor’s interest in the learning and development of students in higher education was ignited during her second year as an undergraduate at the University of Missouri, where she served as a peer advisor for the Freshman Interest Groups, an immersive living-learning experience that creates cohesive communities where students study, take classes, and live together. At the time, Taylor, who majored in journalism and biological sciences, was also working for a local newspaper. While she enjoyed her work as a reporter, she says she always found herself eager to return to her advisees at the end of the day, ultimately prompting her to pursue graduate study in the realm of higher education and student affairs.
“[Kari] deeply cares about students and their development, which will make a meaningful contribution to the experience that our students have here.”
— Milagros Castillo-Montoya, assistant professor and former interim HESA director
Going on to complete a master’s of science degree in college student personnel at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 2006, Taylor began serving as assistant director for academic and co-curricular support at Miami University’s Honors and Academic Scholars programs. In this position, Taylor provided holistic advising for a large group of high-ability students; developed academic, social, and community service student programming; worked with the university’s Office of Residence Life to oversee the Honors Living Learning Community; and assisted in recruiting, training, and supervising instructors for the introductory honors seminar.
By 2011, she had been promoted to senior associate director, developing and supervising academic support policies and procedures for the university’s Honors Plan for Liberal Education, which allows honors students to meet general education requirements through an outcomes-based framework. She also supervised assistant directors; facilitated ongoing refinement of the program’s electronic portfolio process; and implemented training modules for academic advisors as chair of the professional development subcommittee of Miami’s Undergraduate Academic Advising Council.
It was this commitment to student learning and development that led Taylor to her Ph.D. program at OSU. Describing her work as “bringing passion to practice,” Taylor says she looks forward to being a heavily involved leader and mentor for the HESA program.
“I was drawn to the program at UConn because of the sense of community and the opportunity to work specifically with master’s students,” says Taylor, a native of Topeka, Kan. “I was very interested in the system of graduate assistantships and practicums that HESA offers, and am excited to assist graduate students in their development as educational leaders.”
Practitioner and Scholar
“We are excited to welcome Kari Taylor to the HESA program and to the department. She brings a blend of practitioner and scholarly experience with her, as well as a focus on issues of equity that will be a great fit,” says Jennifer McGarry, professor and head of the Department of Educational Leadership.
Taylor succeeds Neag School assistant professor Milagros Castillo-Montoya, who served as HESA’s interim director this past year.
“Kari brings expertise and experience that will be a strong value to the program,” says Castillo-Montoya. “She also deeply cares about students and their development, which will make a meaningful contribution to the experience that our students have here and the strong reputation we have as a program for supporting the development of higher education and student affairs administrators.”
The Atlantic (EDLR’s Preston Green weighs in on the possibility of charter schools being operated by religious groups)
SAGE Journals (Research by Neag School faculty member Robin Grenier is featured)
Congratulations to the following Spring 2017 EDLR Faculty who received the Teaching Excellence Honor by the University Provost's Office:
Based on recent teaching evaluations, these individuals are among a select group of faculty who excel in teaching, which involves successfully engaging students and facilitates an environment of learning around a spirit of inquiry and intellectual curiosity. These educators are innovative and are consistently seeking new ways to improve as teachers.
Congratulations on this success as you continue to serve as a model for the students and peers within the department, keep up the outstanding work!
Petra News Agency (Jordan’s Queen Rania Teacher Academy-UConn partnership mentioned)
Achieve Hartford! highlights ELP’s Bob Villanova involvement as facilitator during the Board of Education retreat.
Congratulations to our Neag School alumni, faculty, staff, and students on their continued accomplishments inside and outside the classroom, outlined in this month’s issue of Neag School Accolades.
Given the administration’s preference for funding programs that promote economic growth, the cut to career and technical education – which disproportionately benefits Trump’s base of largely white working-class voters – is bewildering.
In K-12 education, the administration would like to eliminate at least four distinct programs – including Title II grants for teacher and principal training, and programs designed to help lower-income students transition to college – and make significant reductions to many others. On the other hand, there’s a big investment in a few programs to support school choice and vouchers, an articulated
priority of Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The higher education budget faces severe cuts as well. Trump wants to eliminate subsidized student loans as well as a loan forgiveness program, and slash federal work study spending in half. These changes would substantially undermine efforts to help lower-income Americans attain a college degree, which would be a further drag on economic and productivity growth.
Of particular concern to me, however, is the $168 million, or 15 percent, reduction in block grants to states, called Perkins funding, that are used to support career and technical education in high schools and community college. Given the administration’s preference for funding programs that promote economic growth, the cut to CTE – which disproportionately benefits Trump’s base of largely white working-class voters – is bewildering.
CTE, also known as vocational education, exposes youth to practical, hands-on skills as a complement to academic coursework. Historically, CTE has included programs like auto mechanics and cosmetology, but increasingly also includes high-growth industries such as information technology and health services.
By supporting these kinds of career paths, CTE tends to train students for positions that could support small business growth, and that fill demand in the high growth fields of health services, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.
How CTE Helps the Economy
Though CTE is on Trump’s list of cuts, it is the area of education spending that my research suggests has the most potential to boost economic growth. These benefits would be realized through better-paying jobs and fewer dropouts, which also help achieve other positive economic and social outcomes.
Career Academies, which began about 35 years ago, are one such approach to providing CTE in high school by integrating career pathways into the school curriculum. They boast some of the best evidence on the effectiveness of CTE. A 2008 report on the program suggests it can help students earn 11 percent more in wages compared with their peers.
My own recent work using data from Arkansas shows that students who took more CTE courses in high school were more likely to be employed and earn more money – about 3 percent to 5 percent – than their peers who took fewer. Furthermore, I also found these students were more likely to finish high school and go on to college, both of which improve job prospects.
Evidence from Massachusetts shows similar educational benefits of CTE. Specifically, I found that students enrolled in vocational programs were significantly more likely to graduate from high school and attain industry-recognized certificates in specialized fields like IT.
Increasing high school graduation is critical; there is ample evidence that higher levels of educational attainment result in higher wages and better long-term employment prospects.
Studies show that a high school graduate will earn 50 percent to 100 percent more in lifetime earnings than high school dropouts and will be less likely to draw on welfare or get tangled up in the criminal justice system. The graduate’s higher earnings also mean she’ll pay more in taxes.
Beyond improving individual outcomes, investment in education and training fuels broader economic growth by bolstering productivity. The decreased demand for social services and welfare also frees up more state and federal resources to be invested in other areas of the economy.
Ideology Over Sound Policy
The Trump administration has claimed the high price tag of its tax cuts will pay for themselves through higher economic growth. A budget that aims to gut important social programs – which not only improve individual lives directly but also boost the economy – would make that a lot less achievable.
In the end, the Trump budget, it seems, is motivated more by ideology than sound, evidence-based policy. In education, the administration is clearly prioritizing school choice at the expense of bedrock areas like CTE that are known to promote achievement and a variety of economic benefits.
As a result, education development will suffer, as will the administration’s rosy economic growth projections.
Originally published in The Conversation.