Month: May 2018

Career and Technical Education Issue Brief: Current Trends and Results

Samuel J. Kamin, a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy program at the Neag School, prepared the following issue brief on career and technical education in affiliation with the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA), a research center based at the Neag School that seeks to inform educational leaders and policymakers on issues related to the development, implementation, and consequences of education policies.

HESA Alumna Receives Award

Congratulations to Lexy Parrill (HESA ‘17) who recently received the Chester A. Berry Scholar Award at the Association of College Unions (ACUI) National Conference.  The award is given annually to the author of an outstanding work of writing in the field of college unions and student activities. We caught up with Lexy to find out more about her research:

LP: My involvement in this work stems from an independent project I conducted as an undergraduate at Indiana University.  The project focused on memorial unions and, like any great research project, it led me to a series of unanswered questions. Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with the Union Idea and the notion that college unions (and campus centers) are more than just facilities: they are part of an educational philosophy that brings together the community using programming and physical space.

Lexy Parrill (’17)

I received this award alongside my mentor and research partner Mara Dahlgren. Mara was my advisor when I was a student at Indiana University. We have a shared appreciation for the college union idea, and we both understand the powerful role history plays in shaping our perceptions, attitudes, and–in this case–buildings. Mara is the Assistant Director of Activities and Events at the Indiana Memorial Union at Indiana University.

I received my bachelor’s degree in History, and I strongly believe that it is important to understand the context and background of an institution–in this case, the college union– in order to produce useful knowledge.  When Mara and I began looking into this phenomenon, we realized there was no central database that contained basic information about college union construction, naming practices, memorialization, services, funding, missions, student involvement, etc. We decided to develop this tool, and so far we have collected 750 unique data points (and counting!) from institutions across the world.

This data has allowed us to reframe the college union story and provide data to support (and rebuke) anecdotal stories. We plan to continue to collect information from additional institutions and set up systems to maintain our existing database. We hope this tool provides a jumping point for researchers and practitioners in the field of college unions and student activities.

The HESA community wishes Lexy the best of luck as she continues to examine higher education policies and systems as part of her exciting and important research.

We love to hear from HESA Alumni, so if you have a story to share click here to get in touch!


Husky Sport Collaborates with Local and Global Partners to Provide Additional Engagement to the Youth of Fred D. Wish School

One of the Husky Sport program’s strengths is its relationships, and from that, its partnerships. Since the program’s inception in 2003, it has been dedicated to maintaining community and campus partnerships to support youth and college student development. This past semester has been full of collaborative initiatives for Husky Sport including their partnerships with Fred D. Wish School,  where they participate in direct engagement with Hartford North End youth, and UConn’s Leadership In Diversity (LID) program for the 2018 Ignite Campaign. Husky Sport also partnered with UConn’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and local volunteers from ESPN to provide additional engagement to the youth of Fred D. Wish School.

Students at Wish School engage in physical literacy stations during a partner visit from YSEALI volunteers
Students at Wish School engage in physical literacy stations during visit from YSEALI volunteers

YSEALI is a grant-funded initiative started by the U.S. Department of State in 2013, which aims to support the leadership development of youth from Southeast Asia. Currently supported by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, approximately 40,000 individuals participate in the student exchange program each year. The Global Training & Development Institute (GTDI), which facilitates UConn’s  YSEALI program, gives students an opportunity to identify and develop a business plan for an issue in their home community or country that they are passionate about finding a solution for. Upon returning to their home country, they receive feedback and mentorship from the UConn program, and have the chance to apply for financial support for their social initiative.

Husky Sport helped facilitate YSEALI’s mission as they served as a host organization for YSEALI students and introduced them to the Fred D. Wish School in Hartford, CT, one of Husky Sport’s community partners. This is the fourth year that Husky Sport has hosted this event where YSEALI volunteers pair up with Husky Sport mentors for a day of learning and engagement with elementary students through physical activity. This year, YSEALI students participated in  a 30-minute information session about the organizational history of Husky Sport and their partnership within the Hartford North End community. YSEALI and Husky Sport program leaders then worked together to lead 3 dynamic sessions outdoors with Wish School’s fourth grade students. These sessions were centered around physical activity and nutrition, two of the Husky Sport program pillars. Both Wish School and YSEALI students then participated in a series of games and challenges that incorporated themes such as the USDA guided MyPlate and physical literacy. The day concluded with a debrief session which invited volunteers to ask questions and reflect on the experience.

“For most of the YSEALI students, volunteering with Husky Sport is their only opportunity to see the American school system up close as well as interact with youth during the 5-weeks here in the United States. During their time with Husky Sport, the participants learn valuable information that may help them start their own non-profits in their home countries when they return,” explains Cassandra Therriault, Husky Sport Graduate Assistant and YSEALI Program Staff Member on the takeaways for YSEALI participants.

However, this unique opportunity not only benefits YSEALI students, but it offers a one-of-a-kind experience for the elementary school students at Husky Sport’s community partner school. Therriault adds, “Each time the YSEALI students come to the school they share about their home country and their experiences in elementary school, which provides a great opportunity for our Wish students to ask questions and learn about places around the world!”

While the partnership with YSEALI allowed Husky Sport to collaborate with volunteers from around the globe, the ESPN partnership engaged more local volunteers. Four volunteers from ESPN’s Library Committee out of Bristol, CT joined Husky Sport for a day of engaging literacy, nutrition, and physical activity with K-2 students from the Fred D. Wish Elementary School. The day was organized into different stations including, reading a children’s book, a physically interactive game focused on hand-eye coordination, and an activity centered around  Wish School’s life skill theme: Be There, Be Ready!

Students at Wish School engage in physical literacy stations during a partner visit from ESPN
Students at Wish School engage in physical literacy stations during a partner visit from ESPN

The partnership with ESPN developed through an alumni connection, Leigh Michaud, who earned her M.S. in Sport Management in 2012, and now works in Remote Production Operations for ESPN. Having worked with Husky Sport throughout her time at UConn, Michaud thought it was the perfect place for her ESPN Library committee to volunteer. Since, they have been volunteering with Husky Sport for the past five years.

As many members of the ESPN Library Committee, including Michaud, return every year, volunteers are able to connect with students that they saw in previous years, promoting and facilitating Husky Sport’s commitment to relationships. This connection and association with fun memories from the previous year(s) always means something special for both the ESPN volunteers, Husky Sport and the Wish School students.

Assistant Director of Husky Sport, Patricia Bellamy reflected on the significance of the experience as she remarked,

“It’s always great when our ESPN volunteers are here! We get to further divide and engage our students for multiple activities but they [ESPN volunteers] also get to feel how exciting it is to work with our Wish Students. Having the adults that you see everyday telling you that reading is important is one thing, but when people who have the 'cool jobs' come and tell our students, it’s a big deal.”

Partnerships with programs and organizations like YSEALI and ESPN are not only important to the collegians participating in Husky Sport, but they offer a rewarding experience for the ESPN volunteers, help build YSEALI participants leadership development, and work cohesively to help engage and inspire local youth in Hartford.

The Department of Educational Leadership appreciates Husky Sport’s intentional relationship building with various partners around the world and throughout Connecticut. Their continued dedication to these partnerships lends itself to meaningful and reciprocal learning experiences for those involved.


UCAPP’s 4th Annual Change Project Day

2018 UCAPP Graduates during their Change Project presentations
Photo credit: Frank Zapulla

On Saturday, April 28th, the University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) held their 4th Annual Change Project Day at Laurel Hall on the UConn Storrs Campus. The Change Project is the capstone for the School Administrator’s 6th year certificate program, through which students identify opportunities for school improvement and develop a plan to ignite positive change in their home or mentor school.

This year, 37 graduating students presented their final projects to their host school mentors, clinical supervisors, UCAPP faculty, colleagues, friends and family. The reach of these projects went far beyond the presentation day, as they were put in practice, and directly impacted 4,500 students and 620 educators throughout Connecticut. Beyond the impact on students and educators, the UCAPP graduates gained learning that was not only supported by what they were exposed to in UCAPP coursework, but from first-hand administrative experience.

“I learned from the change project how important it is to build relationships as a leader, to support teachers and build capacity, as well as developing professional learning opportunities that are more meaningful and individualized for teachers,” offered UCAPP graduate, Lauren Poppe, regarding the experience.

Lauren Poppe
Photo credit: Frank Zapulla

Poppe’s project was centered around “Teachers Invested in Learning.” For which, she put together a book club after school for teachers that were interested in learning and growing together. The teachers met once a month to discuss the book, Joy Write by Ralph Fletcher, as well as to share student work, things they tried, and any ideas they had moving forward. Poppe explains that she developed this topic because, “Teachers were often expressing how they feel like they do not have enough say in their own learning, the curriculum they are teaching and many felt like there was little joy in the classroom for students and teachers.”

Hannah Sam, a UCAPP graduate, worked on getting higher rates of students to complete service hours with 8th grade capstone projects. Sam learned the importance of investing in appropriate structure to enact positive change, how to evaluate the big-picture in relation to student success, how to delegate based on strengths and empower team members, and how to involve parents and community members.

UCAPP graduate, Sara Spak, focused her project on the high school level. She worked with school and student leaders to add a “flexible block” of time in the school schedule to allow students to have choice in their educational decisions. She assisted in the design and implementation of a pilot offering 4 Flex Block opportunities in the Ellington High School schedule. Survey results completed by both students and teachers provided positive feedback and suggestions that led to full implementation of Flex Block for the upcoming school year.

“Giving students choice is powerful and allows students to find passion and voice in their learning.”

Sarah Spak
Photo credit: Frank Zapulla

Spak learned about the importance of listening to students in addition to educators as an administrator.  She explains, “Giving students choice is powerful and allows students to find passion and voice in their learning. This committee was led by 4 incredible student leaders who represented the voice of students throughout Ellington High School in a positive and meaningful way. Their perspectives were thought-provoking and challenged adults on the committee to think outside of the box and to impart change that did not conform with traditional norms.”

While all unique, each UCAPP Change Project was consistent with the program’s mission of preparing highly qualified school leaders to promote equity and excellence in schools throughout Connecticut. Therefore, exemplifying the readiness of the UCAPP program graduates to foster positive change in their new career path.

Sarah Barzee, Chief Talent Officer at the Connecticut State Department of Education delivered the keynote speech prior to the morning presentations. The event was a great opportunity for UCAPP graduates to present their capstone projects as well as learn from recent alumni and new school leaders.

To view the full album, please visit Neag’s Facebook page.