Accolades: Read About the News and Accomplishments from our Students, Alumni and Faculty/Staff

104516017-hands-clapping1-300x2001Accolades – below are news and notes from our alumni, faculty, staff, and students. We are proud of all the amazing accomplishments by our Neag family. If you have an accolade to share, we want to hear from you! Please send any news items (and story ideas) to


John Paul Williamson, a fifth-year student, was recently recognized for helping to raise Bacon Academy’s SAT scores. He did his master’s thesis on sophomore and junior perceptions of the SAT at Bacon Academy and concluded that the students had not practiced and felt unprepared to take the SATs. He suggested establishing a SAT preparation program and an initiative to encourage students to take the SATs.


Sandra Bidwell, ’87 MA in curriculum and instruction, ’90 Sixth-Year Diploma in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in reading education, is a reading educator at Staffordville School and was recently recognized with reading awards. Three awards were given – one to Staffordville School; one to the school’s reading program, which Bidwell oversees; and one to Bidwell.  At a recognition event, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Collin read a letter and Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney to Bidwell; State Sen. Tony Guglielmo read a citation to her; and State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi read yet another one.

Scott Hurwitz has been selected as the next assistant principal at Gideon Welles School. Most recently a history teacher at Glastonbury High School, Hurwitz previously taught at Gideon Wells for five years before moving to the high school.

Steve Kilgus, former doctoral advisee to Sandy Chafouleas and now an assistant professor at East Carolina University, was awarded the Outstanding Dissertation Award by Division 16 of the American Psychological Association.  His dissertation was recently published in the division journal, School Psychology Quarterly.  The study involved collaborative efforts with committee members (Chafouleas and Welsh in Neag) around new directions in school-based behavior screening.

Chris Martin, ’79 finance (School of Business) and ’80 MA foundations in education, was recently named senior vice president and senior private banker for Webster Bank. He has been at Webster since 1982.

Jane Simao, ’89 MA, a fourth-grade teacher at Putnam Elementary School was recently named the district’s 2013 Teacher of the Year by the Putnam Board of Education. Simao, a former special education instructor, began her career in the Putnam district 30 years ago as a special education teacher. After 19 years, she became a classroom teacher.


The EDLR Department has a revised PhD program in Learning, Leadership and Education Policy. Applications are currently being accepted.

Teacher Education hosted a special dinner recently, Celebrating Diversity in Education, to encourage students of color to consider teaching as a profession. The dinner featured presentations from Neag alums, Violet Sims and Leslyann Jimenez, along with a spoken word performance by UConn student Shantel Honeyghan.

Lawrence Armstrong is serving as a second vice president for the American College of Sports Medicine. This is an elected position, as voted by the international membership of ACSM.

Phil Austin, former UConn president and current EDLR faculty member, was recently named interim president of the Board of Regents of Higher Education.

Doug Casa was an editor of the newly released book ACSM’s Sports Medicine: A Comprehensive Review.

Kathy Gavin has received the Distinguished Curriculum Award for nine consecutive years from the National Association for Gifted Children.

Susan Glenney received her Geriatric Specialty Certification.

Robin Grenier gave a presentation in Salt Lake City at the Annual Conference of the American Association of State and Local History on the “Role of Adult Learning in Supporting Museum Visitors.”

Jason Irizarry was invited to deliver the keynote address for the Summit for Courageous Conversations around Race in San Antonio, Texas. The Summit, hosted by Pacific Educational Group, brings together dedicated leaders for racial equity from across the nation to engage in a deepened conversation about systemic racism and its impact on opportunity and achievement for all students.

Donald Leu received the Connecticut Reading Association Literacy Award. This award, presented by state associations of the International Reading Association recognizes institutions, individuals, and organizations that have made significant contributions to literacy at the state level.

David Moss has taken on the director of teacher education position for the academic year.

Shamim Patwa was a door prize winner at the UConn Work/Life Expo. She won a Dairy Bar visit with President Herbst.

René Roselle had a recent publication with a past IB/M grad in the Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching and Research. She collaborated with Kevin Liner (‘11) on “Pre-Service Teacher Vision and Urban Schools.”

George Sugai is on a national consensus-building project — Council of State of Governments (CSG) Justice Center — with 100 leading policymakers, experts and advocates. The 18-month project will focus on documenting better ways to match youth to appropriate interventions that can produce academic successes and less frequent juvenile justice involvement. He also recently co-published a series of articles in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, where he reviewed research in this area and outlined a way at looking at culture in schools from the perspective of school-wide positive behavior supports.