Our Students

EDLR Student Researchers Stand Out at Conferences

Lisa Sepe at UCEA conference 2017
Neag School Ed.D. student Lisa Sepe presents on the topic of exploring teacher collaboration to support diverse learners at the 2017 UCEA Convention, held last month in Denver. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Sepe)

The 31st annual University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) Convention was recently held on November 15-19, 2017 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, CO. This year, six students from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership presented their research. Daron Cyr, Jonathan Carter, Shannon Holder and Alexandra Lamb represented the Learning, Leadership and Educational Policy Program, while Scott Hurwitz and Lisa Sepe represented the Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) Program.

The UCEA Convention engages participants in discussions about research, policy, practice and preparation in the field of education with a specific focus on educational leadership. This year’s theme was Echando Pa’lante: School Leaders (Up)rising as Advocates and (Up)lifting Student Voices, and the intended discussion was centered around encouraging opportunities for reflective dialogue regarding the educational contexts that students, teachers, principals, and superintendents will be facing within a changing national climate and its impact on educational policy.

Such an opportunity has a meaningful impact on the development of doctoral students as researchers in addition to their professional advancement. Scott Hurwitz, a third-year doctoral student pursuing his Ed.D. and the current principal of Gideon Welles School in Glastonbury, CT, commented on the experience saying,

“Presenting at conferences like UCEA affords us the opportunity to collaborate with university faculty and leadership scholars around the globe. We are able to share our research and receive feedback that informs our current and future work.”

Hurwitz’s presentation was titled, “Institutionalizing School Security: A Case Study,” for which he utilized two branches of institutional theory, logics and myths, and symbols to analyze the organizational shifts that took place in Connecticut schools following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He worked on this research with the Department of Educational Leadership’s Dr. Sarah Woulfin and Dr. Jennie Weiner, who he said, “...served as guides and mentors,” in helping him produce relevant and robust research. Hurwitz is an accomplished researcher, who recently defended his Capstone proposal in October 2017. His proposal examined the how school leaders frame policy specifically around Connecticut’s anti-bullying policy.

Shannon Holder at UCEA conference 2017
Ph.D. student Shannon Holder presents at the annual UCEA Convention in Denver last month. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Holder)

  Shannon Holder, who is a third year doctoral student in the Leadership and Educational Policy program presented two projects at this years UCEA conference. Her first presentation was titled, “The Sheff v. O’Neill Decision and Interest Convergence,” where she analyzed the ruling using Derrick Bell’s (1980) Interest Convergence principle which suggests the interest of Blacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when it converges with the interests of Whites. Her findings revealed two themes: interests converge in the court documents, and interests have diverged since the case was decided. Holder’s second presentation was titled, “Teacher Sensemaking in the Detracked High School Classroom.”  This qualitative study of high school teachers examined how they made sense of a detracking reform. Sensemaking theory is utilized to analyze participants’ conceptualization of detracking. Holder found that participants tended to have different definitions of detracking and as participants transitioned to teaching in a detracked environment those definitions became increasingly amorphous. These findings signal that teachers may create definitions of detracking that diverge from its formal intentions with implications for policymakers and practitioners.

Like Hurwitz, Holder had previous exposure to UCEA as they both presented at the 2016 conference in Detroit, MI. Jonathan Carter, a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the Leadership and Educational Policy program was a newcomer to the student research scene as the 2017 UCEA Conference was his first time presenting research with the Educational Leadership Department at UConn. His research, titled, “Supplementing the core curriculum in a university principal preparation program,” looked at an improvement initiative undertaken by one university’s  principal preparation program to develop a supplemental workshop model to address identified gaps in the core curriculum. Carter was guided by EDLR’s Dr. Richard Gonzalez. As a researcher, Carter found the entire experience valuable to his development saying, “The feedback from other scholars in the field was very useful and will help guide our revisions as we prepare the paper to submit for publication.”

The UCEA conference was one of three academic conferences that the University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership students had the opportunity to present at this past year, including the The Harvard Graduate School of Education Student Research Conference in which six students attended and presented their research and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting where five different students were able to present at.

Chelsea Connery, a second year Ph.D. student in Leadership and Education Policy, who attended the Harvard Conference offered a sentiment that all of the student researchers could identify with as she explained,

“Attending conferences such as these, being around motivated and like-minded individuals, can be reinvigorating, which is important, especially in the current sociopolitical context; it can re-foster your hope and resilience.”

The Department is extremely proud of the research and work that our students continue to produce, and thankful for the brilliant and caring faculty that always support them.

Access the full 2017 UCEA Convention program at ucea.org/conference/program-2017

Macaulay Receives Neag School’s Outstanding Student Researcher Award

Charlie Macaulay and Dean KersaintCongratulations to Charles D. T. Macaulay, who received the 2017 Outstanding Student Researcher Award from the Neag School of Education’s Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Del Siegle last week.

Charles D. T. Macaulay is a graduate student in the sport management program who was nominated for the award by Joseph Cooper. Macaulay has authored or co-author three recent research articles, which were published in Sociology and AnthropologySport Management Review, and International Review for the Sociology of Sport.

Charles is a dedicated student who is committed to his research while also planning and facilitating the Beyond the Field Speaker Series over the last year.

For read more on the other recipients from the 2017 Neag Research Awards, please read the full story.

Celebrating Ed.D.’s Capstone Projects and Proposals

This fall, the Ed.D. students have been working towards completing their capstone projects and research proposals as part of the Ed.D. course requirements.  Congratulations to the following students on their dedication to the program as they are one step closer to their degree.

Anthony MangiaficoAnthony Mangiafico, member of the ’15 Ed.D. cohort, successfully defended his capstone proposal on September 27th.  Anthony’s capstone seeks to center the narratives and experiences of Students of Color while currently pursuing their GED.

Dr. Fernández was his major advisor, and Drs. Woulfin, LeChasseur, Femc-Bagwell, and Weiner served on his committee.

 


Scott Hurwitz headshotScott Hurwitz defended his proposal in October 2017. His capstone research proposal examines the how and to what extent school leaders frame policy with a specific focus on Connecticut's anti-bullying policy. He will also study the factors that shape how leaders frame their policy messages.

Scott was also recently awarded to receive the 2018 AASA Educational Administrative Scholarship Award.

Dr. Cobb is his major advisor, and Drs. Woulfin and LeChasseur are his associate advisors.


Dana ZiterDana Ziter, member of the ’15 Ed.D. cohort, successfully defended her capstone proposal on November 7th.  Dana’s capstone assesses the impact of a new student advising protocol on UConn students currently on academic probation via a regression discontinuity design.

Dr. Cobb was her major advisor, and Drs. Dougherty, Higgins and Weiner served on her committee.


Gail Lanza, member of the ’15 Ed.D. cohort, also successfully defended her capstone proposal on November 30th.  Gail's capstone will focus on public elementary school teachers’ perceptions of their abilities to deal with student misbehaviors, their perceptions of student misbehaviors, and the strategies that teachers use to reduce feelings of burnout.

Dr. Woulfin is her major advisor, and Drs. Weiner and Gabriel are serving on her committee.

EDLR Well Represented at the 2017 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement

Two representatives frPatti Bellamy and jenna Stone pose with their plaques after receiving their awards at the ceremony.om the Neag School of Education at UConn, Patricia Bellamy and Jenna Stone, were awarded the 2017 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement. The reception for the award winners was held on Nov. 14 to recognize these individuals for their exceptional dedication and significant contributions.

Patricia Bellamy, Assistant Director for Programs and Partnerships for Husky Sport, recently received the 2017 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement in a full-time staff position.

Patti began volunteering for Husky Sport, a program established through the Department of Educational Leadership in the Neag School of Education, during her undergraduate career in 2009. She said that her initial passion for working with Husky Sport, and the relationships that she built in doing so, ultimately led her to switch her career focus and pursue a Master’s Degree in social work.

In working with students similar to and different from her, Patti learned that to truly connect with someone, one must be willing to understand where and who they are, without forgetting about his or her personal experience.Patti Bellamy with her award during the 2017 Provost's Award for Public Engagement ceremony.

“Meeting people where they are is a social work term that I think more and more industries are grasping, but it’s understanding where people are, learning from them, not trying to be the expert of their career paths and their history, just letting people lead, listening and understanding from that and growing from that,” Patti said.

After receiving the award, Patti said that she was so proud that her experiences are being recognized, especially because she is normally shy when it comes to sharing her own accomplishments.

“I smiled like crazy but I couldn’t believe it, it seriously had not even been on my mind,” she said.

Justin Evanovich, Managing Director of Husky Sport, said that the people and partners of Husky Sport benefit greatly from Patricia’s sustained leadership, caring support and positive energy.

"She shines in this work through both her ability to foster meaningful relationships, and her facilitation of effective systems in collaborative partnerships," he said. "Patricia continues to positively empower others as part of her impactful leadership throughout all facets of Husky Sport."

When asked about where she would like to see herself working in the future, Patti said that a few years ago she might have said that she would like to have her own program but Husky Sport seems to have changed that path for her.

“Everything for me starts with an experience, a relationship and connections, building connections with people and I don’t want just anything, I want to really enjoy it,” she said. “The next thing is going to have to be ten times more awesome, twenty times more awesome, for me to even consider.”

Jenna Stone, a senior Elementary Education major in the Neag School of Education, was awarded the 2017 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement as an undergraduate student.

Jenna currently serves as the coordinator for Jumpstart within Community Outreach, but has volunteered with the program since her freshman year at UConn. One of her primary focuses in this position is to decrease the achievement gap in early childhood education while acting as a liaison between team leaders and student leaders in Community Outreach.

Jenna Stone with her award during the 2017 Provost's Award for Public Engagement ceremony.Jenna has learned while working with Jumpstart that she can act as a leader not only for preschool students, but for college students as well. After receiving the award this year, she said that she was more excited to share her experiences than to receive the recognition.

“Any time I get to share about the programs I’m involved with, I get excited,” Jenna said. “Service isn’t about the need to be recognized, but when you are it puts a big smile on your face.”

Not only is Jenna involved with Jumpstart, but she also serves as a volunteer for Husky Sport. Justin Evanovich said that Jenna possesses an extreme work ethic and a mature approach to managing her many endeavors.

"I’ve been fortunate to learn from Jenna about her work with Jumpstart, as well as her peer-and-programmatic leadership roles with Husky Sport, the Office of Community Outreach and the IB/M Neag Teacher Prep Program, to name only a few," he said. "In her everyday life, Jenna impacts many as an active citizen. We at Husky Sport are excited to support her next steps at UConn and beyond.”

Upon graduation, Jenna said that she hopes to be working in either a first or third grade classroom or as a fifth or sixth grade math teacher. She said that ultimately, she hopes to find a school that is diverse and that encourages students to raise the bar every day.

Jenna mentioned that during her freshman year, she would have never expected to hold the Jumpstart coordinator position, or even serve as a volunteer coordinator as she did last year.

“I think when you’re passionate about a topic, and a program, you truly do give your everything and you love every minute of it,” she said. “That’s how Jumpstart makes me feel.”

 

Race, Sport, and Activism Panel

Written by: Dr. Joseph Cooper

Aaron Garland, Foley Fatukasi, Kelli Thomas, Tyrae Simms, Deshon Foxx, Angelo Pruitt and Dr. Joseph Cooper
Pictured from left to right: Aaron Garland, Foley Fatukasi, Kelli Thomas, Tyrae Simms, Deshon Foxx, Angelo Pruitt and Dr. Joseph Cooper; Photo credit: @UConnSPM Instagram

On September 1, 2016, before the NFL regular season game between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers, Colin Kaepernick captured the nation’s attention by kneeling during the playing the of the national anthem as an act of protest against police brutality and social injustices in the United States (U.S.). Although, Kaepernick had chosen not to stand during the NFL pre-season games of the 2016-2017 season, the visibility of the nationally televised Thursday night game generated a broader national conversation on activism and sport. Since Kaepernick’s initial kneel, there ongoing debates and discussions about protests, patriotism, police brutality, politics, and power relations in the U.S. society. These conversations have occurred everywhere from mainstream news shows, internet blogs, coffee shops, late night comedy shows, sports shows, schools, barbershops and beauty salons, political speeches, town halls, and community spaces. 

On October 18, 2017, the UConn campus community extended this dialogue by engaging in a formal conversation on the topic of “Race, Sport, and Activism.” This event was co-sponsored by the Collective Uplift student organization, UConn Athletics Department, and UConn Sport Management Program. The aim of the event was to facilitate a healthy discussion on how race, sport, and activism have been historically and contemporarily intertwined and contributed to positive social progress. Dr. Joseph Cooper, Assistant Professor in Sport Management, was the lead organizer and moderator for the event. According to Cooper, the event provided

“A much needed concerted space for the campus to focus on the ways in which sport and athletes use their respective platforms to communicate messages about broader social issues and ignite positive change in society.”

The panel began with an evocative video of a spoken word artist named Tariq Touré who delivered a powerful poem titled “For the Love the Game.” Members who presented and attended the Race, Sport and Activism Panel Discussion on 10/18/17The poem provided illustrative descriptions of contested sporting spaces that reinforce damaging power relationships between White male economic elites (i.e., NFL owners) and Black male laborers (i.e., a majority of NFL players) , reflect persisting racial inequalities, and fosters an apolitical culture that suppresses Blacks’ engagement in political and social justice engagement. Following the video, Cooper highlighted the historical legacy of activism efforts through sport for race-related social justice causes. Within this description, different types of activism were presented including symbolic, scholarly/educational, grassroots, sport-based, economic, political, legal, media, and music and art. Each of the aforementioned types of activism have been utilized by Black athletes and institutions redress injustices in society. In addition, the historical overview connected sport activism dating back to the late 1800s to the most recent acts of activism in the 21st century.

Following the historical overview, three videos of Colin Kaepernick’s initial post-game explanation of why he chose to take a knee, President Trump’s recent comments about how he feels NFL owners should respond to players who choose not to stand for the anthem, and President Obama’s response to a military service member who inquired about his feelings about the NFL anthem protests were presented. After the videos, the six panelists were introduced. The six panelists included

  • Deshon Foxx - current graduate student in the UConn Sport Management program, UConn alumnus (’14 in Sociology), former UConn football player (2010-2014)), and former NFL player (2014-2017)
  • Angelo Pruitt - current Financial Advisor for Merrill Edge, UConn alumnus (’15 in Economics), and former UConn football player (2010-2015)
  • Tyrae Sims - current undergraduate student in the UConn Sport Management program and former UConn football player (2013-2016)
  • Kelli Thomas - current undergraduate student in Human Development and Family Studies and current track and field athlete (2013-present)
  • Folorunso Fatukasi - UConn alumnus (’17 in Sociology) and current UConn football player (2013-present)
  • Aaron Garland - current undergraduate student in Political Science and current UConn football player (2015-2017)

The panelists were asked questions regarding their perspectives on the videos of Kaepernick, President Trump, and President Obama as well as their thoughts on athletes engaging in activism and specific recommendations that felt would contribute to positive change in society.

Pruitt emphasized how his heightened social consciousness during the latter stages of and following his athletic career influenced his perceptions of activism through sport. He said

“Your sport is what you play. It is not who you are.”

In his opinion, although he did not engage in activism during his playing career, if he could go back knowing what he knows now he would encourage more activism among current athletes. Foxx reflected on his NFL career when he was a member of the Seattle Seahawks immediately following Kaepernick’s activism. He described how he and his teammates agreed locking arms as a team would send a powerful message about unity while expressing support for Kaepernick. He also highlighted the real fear that comes with a lack of job security as a professional athlete when considering to engage in activism. However, he explained how his increased social consciousness throughout his playing career has motivated him to encourage athletes using their platform to foster positive change in society.

Sims expressed the need for athletes challenge power systems that suppress their authentic identities. He explained how athletes are not disconnected from social injustices occurring in the broader society and being educated on these issues is an important first step. Specifically, he referenced how in his hometown community, police brutality and other offenses were not uncommon and thus athletes like himself who are closely connected to these issues feel more compelled to speak out and do anything they can to address these issues. Thomas provided an important lens as a Black woman athlete and described how often times she feels she does not have the same influence as her same race male counterparts in more high profile sports (football and basketball). She explained the importance of athletes using a range of platforms to challenge social injustice outside of sport.

Fatukasi offered an insightful perspective on being a current college athlete and the legitimate fears associated with engaging in activism. Similar to Foxx, Fatukasi has NFL aspirations and said engaging in activism as a current player could hinder his chances of achieving his professional goals. He also emphasized the importance of athletes’ developing themselves holistically and accessing support systems to assist them with balancing difficult decisions about how to promote social change while minimizing the adverse impact on their sport aspirations. Garland expressed the power of collective efforts when seeking to address social injustices. He described how pursuing these efforts alone can be challenging and gaining the support and involvement of an entire team or a group of people is a way to achieve more impactful change. The panel concluded with Q&A from the audience.

The event was well-attended with over 60 attendees and media coverage from CTN and university based media outlets. Cooper said he hopes this is event serves as

“One more step forward within a larger legacy of social justice efforts to create more reflection, education, empowerment, and action that leads to positive changes in our society.”

For those who attended this event and heard from the panelists, it is clear this message resonated loud and clear. 

Connecticut Network covered the full discussion, click here to listen in.