Neag School Accolades, September-October 2016

Congratulations to our Neag School alumni, faculty, staff, and students on their continued accomplishments inside and outside the classroom. If you have an accolade to share, we want to hear from you! Please send any news items and story ideas to

In addition to the Dean’s Office and Department achievements, explore this edition’s list of Accolades for the following: Faculty/StaffAlumniStudents, as well as In Memoriam.

Dean’s Office and Departments

Jahana Hayes National Teacher of the Year
The Neag School of Education hosted its annual “Celebration of Diversity in Education” event at UConn’s Alumni Great Hall in Storrs on Sept. 28, 2016. The event, held to bring together students of color and encourage them to consider a career in education, featured keynote speaker Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year. (Photo Credit: Shawn Kornegay)

The Neag School hosted Jahana Hayes, 2016 National Teacher of the Year, at its annual Celebration of Diversity in Education event in September. Current education students as well as prospective students from Hartford’s Bulkeley High School were in attendance, along with Neag School alumni and professors, UConn administrators, and community leaders. See more photos from the event, which was held on the Storrs campus, here.

Department of Curriculum and Instruction (EDCI) and Teacher Education

Faculty members in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, led by Mark Kohan, organized a visit from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC), located in Cincinnati. As part of the visit, Richard Cooper, NURFC’s director of museum experiences, presented to all campus partners in September.

Justis Lopez; teacher, Manchester High
Alum Justis Lopez ’14 (ED), ’15 MA, far left, serves on an urban teaching panel discussion last month. (Photo courtesy of Just Experience —

Students from all three cohorts from the IB/M program gathered for a networking event, followed by a panel discussion on teaching in diverse communities, earlier this month. Alum Justis Lopez ’14 (ED), ’15 MA (at left) was among the panelists.

Alan Marcus and Wendy Glenn, Fellows of the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., hosted their third interdisciplinary workshop around teaching the Holocaust this past September with Neag School seniors and fifth-year students in the IB/M program. The workshop included sessions focused on teaching controversial content, choosing appropriate literature, and considering contemporary genocide, and featured the participation of a Holocaust survivor and expert in human rights education. See photos from the workshop here.

Department of Educational Leadership (EDLR)

The Center for Education Policy Analysis kicked off its Fall 2016 Speaker Series this past month, with Peter Youngs of the University of Virginia, who spoke about the role of social context in novice teacher development. Check out photos from the CEPA event. The next featured speaker in the series will be Amy Ellen Schwartz of Syracuse University on Oct. 25; she will speak on the impact of universal free meals on student outcomes. RSVP here.

The State Department of Education is hosting a conference on Oct. 25, featuring training in the Parent Teacher Home visit Project as well as Real Dads Forever, a fatherhood initiative. CommPACT will have 12 people there representing Waterbury, East Hartford, and Meriden. The conference has wide stakeholder representation, including parents, parent liaisons, principals, and district staff.

Erica Fernandez and Jennie Weiner were tapped for the role of co-directorship of the Ed.D. program in August.

Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead; Connecticut General Assembly; Hartford
Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead spoke on findings of an early childhood regression discontinuity study at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford last month. (Photo Courtesy of Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead)

Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead, Hannah Dostal, Shaun Dougherty, Tamika La Salle, and Jennie Weiner participated as sub-contracted researchers for the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering to conduct an Early Childhood Regression Discontinuity Study on behalf of the Education Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly. The Neag School researchers — led by Montrosse-Moorhead — designed, implemented, and wrote up the study findings, which were presented at a briefing in Hartford at the Legislative Office Building in September. Check out the news release here.

UCAPP is hosting Howard Klebanoff on Oct. 18, a Hartford-area attorney who specializes in special education law, for a professional development workshop. Attorney Klebanoff will share with second-year UCAPP students insights from his career on the importance of school leadership to special education administration.

Robert Villanova and Diane Ullman launched the sixth year of the Neag School/CAPSS Early Career Superintendent Community of Practice and Seminar Series in August. Fifteen “early career” superintendents participated in the first session, and more than 20 have registered for future, monthly sessions.

Department of Educational Psychology (EPSY)

One of Neag School’s literacy research projects, CK3LI (Connecticut K-3 Literacy Initiative), was mentioned positively in the recent Connecticut school funding court ruling. The court ruling, which was shared by the New York Times, quotes the testimony of Deputy Education Commissioner Ellen Cohn (Page 59).


Sandy Bell will present a talk titled “This is Your Brain on Learning: Using Neuroscience to Understand Learning and Behavior” as part of Huskies Forever Weekend on Oct. 21, following the Neag School of Education Alumni and Retired Faculty Breakfast with Dean Gladis Kersaint.

SUNY Potsdam/Crane School of Music; Music Education
Neag School music education students interact with schoolchildren during a visit to SUNY Potsdam/Crane School of Music last month. (Photo Courtesy of Cara Bernard)

Cara Bernard hosted a special field trip this past September with her music education fifth-year students to visit SUNY Potsdam/Crane School of Music for a series of workshops on multicultural music teaching and learning. The students had the chance to engage with one of the masters of multicultural music education, Patricia Shehan Campbell, and had the opportunity to make music with children as part of the visit.

Laura Burton and Jennie Weiner were awarded a grant from the Collaborative to Advance Equity Through Research on Women and Girls of Color for their work on female principals of color.

Laura Burton co-published “Pervasively Offside: An Examination of Sexism, Stereotypes and Sportscaster Credibility” in the September issue of Communication & Sport. Burton also publishedThe NFL Evolution: Does Prioritizing Player Welfare Influence Con­sumers” in International Journal of Sport Management.

Todd Campbell was featured in a recent “Research in Action” podcast interview with Oregon State University’s eCampus Research Unit, discussing applying for and managing large research grants. Listen in here. He also co-published “Explaining Ramps With Models” in the Summer 2016 edition of The Science Teacher.

Megan Staples presents at the Associated Mathematics Teacher Educators in Connecticut (AMTEC) annual fall conference, held in September. (Photo Credit: Victoria Schilling)

Tutita Casa and Megan Staples both served on the program committee for the Associated Mathematics Teacher Educators in Connecticut (AMTEC) annual fall conference, held in September. The theme of the conference was “Networking in Times of Transition,” with approximately 35 teacher educators and graduate students from across Connecticut’s teacher prep institutions gathering at CCSU for the event. Staples also presented, and both she and Casa were elected to positions in AMTEC this past spring — Staples as president, and Casa on the executive board.

Milagros Castillo-Montoya recently co-published a chapter “Pursuing Equity Through Diversity: Perspectives and Propositions for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education” in the publication Race, Equity and Higher Education: The Continued Search for Critical and Inclusive Pedagogies around the Globe. She will also be serving on the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE)’s 2017 Program Committee. 

Sandra Chafouleas and Betsy McCoach, along with former Neag School faculty member Megan Welsh, alum Janice Kooken ’15 Ph.D., and former Neag School research associate Faith Miller, co-published “The Kindergarten Transition: Behavioral Trajectories in the First Formal Year of School” in the online September issue of the Journal of Research in Childhood Education.

Casey Cobb and Richard Gonzales are serving as facilitators in the UCEA Professional Development Network initiative, a multi-year project aimed at supporting the continuous improvement efforts of principal preparation programs at universities across the U.S.

Morgaen Donaldson published “Focus, Feedback, and Fear: New Teacher Evaluation Systems at a Crossroads” in the publication Educational Leadership. She also co-wroteThe New Educational Accountability: Understanding the Landscape of Teacher Evaluation in the Post-NCLB Era” in the Summer 2016 edition of Education Finance and Policy.

Morgaen Donaldson and Kimberly LeChasseur co-authored with another colleague “Tracking Instructional Quality Across Secondary Mathematics and English Language Arts Classes” in the Journal of Educational Change.

Jessica Goldstein was named associate professor-in-residence. She is also a two-time alum of the Neag School, having earned an MA in educational psychology in 2004 and a Ph.D. in measurement, evaluation, and assessment in 2006.

Robin Grenier co-presented a webinar in September for the Academy of Human Resource Development titled “Faculty Development Webinar: Overview, Reflections and Advice on Applying for a Fulbright Grant Award.” Grenier co-authored “’Man, Have I Got a Story for You’: Facilitated Autoethnography as a Potential Research Methodology in Human Resource Development,” published in the September issue of the journal of Human Resource Development Review. She also co-authored “Shut Up and Be Quiet: The Promotion of Public Discussion of the 2008 Financial Crisis in Icelandic Museums” for the publication Adult Education and Museums: Social and Cultural Animation for Change.

Devin Kearns’ article “Semantic and Phonological Ability to Adjust Recoding: A Unique Correlate of Word Reading Skill?” was published in the September issue of Scientific Studies of Reading.

Dean Gladis Kersaint 100 Questions Promoting Mathematical Discourse Infographics
Click the image above to view this and the other free infographics.

Dean Gladis Kersaint published a white paper titled “Orchestrating Mathematical Discourse to Enhance Student Learning,” which examines why is discourse plays such an important role in furthering student understanding of mathematical concepts and outlines strategies to support mathematical discussion in today’s classroom. Kersaint is also an advisor for Ready® Mathematics, which issued a series of free infographics — “100 Questions That Promote Mathematical Discourse” — based on Kersaint’s work and highlighting 100 questions that can be incorporated into mathematics instruction, which was sponsored by Education Week. She is also participating with a webinar on Oct. 20 through Education Week on “Digging Into Mathematical Discourse: Selecting and Sequencing Student Solution Samples.” 

Donald Leu served as the Jeanne S. Chall Lecture featured speaker at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Mass., in September. You can also hear him featured on Harvard EdCast, discussing online reading in schools.

Allison Lombardi wrote a chapter in the book Transforming Understandings of Diversity in Higher Education: Demography, Democracy, and Discourse (Stylus, 2016).

Jennie McGarry and Laura Burton are serving as mentors for an international initiative called the Global Sports Mentoring Program, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and espnW. The program brings together emerging female leaders from around the world with leading women executives and experts working in the U.S. sports industry. GSMP seeks to empower these emerging leaders to serve their local communities by increasing access to, and opportunities for, participation in sports — and, ultimately, inspiring women and girls around the world. Read more here.

Bianca Montrosse-Moorhead gave an invited talk at the European Evaluation Society conference in September, sponsored and chaired by the European Evaluation Society President, where she discussed the future of evaluation.

Food Justice; Food insecurity; Rene Roselle; Neag School of Education
Students hand out vegetables from their garden during an event at Goodwin Elementary School in East Hartford. (Peter Morenus/UConn photo)

Co-authored by René Roselle and first-year educational leadership doctoral student and IB/M alum Chelsea Connery ’13 (ED), ’14 MA, “Food Justice: Access, Equity, and Sustainability for Healthy Students and Communities” in the September issue of Kappa Delta Pi Record examines the issue of food insecurity and its impact on student achievement, touching on an example of one Connecticut city that is working toward a solution.

Richard Schwab spoke at a Learning Policy Institute policy forum, held in September in Washington, D.C., on “Solving Teacher Shortages: Attracting and Retaining a Talented Teacher Workforce.” He also served as a panelist on the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)’s recent webinar, titled “Solving Teacher Shortages: Key Roles for Educator Preparation.”

Staples; CT Science Center
Megan Staples, second from left, serves on a recent panel at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, on the Report of the Commissioner’s Council on Mathematics. (Photo Credit: Amit Savkar)

Megan Staples participated on a panel held this month at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, following Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell’s release of the Report of the Commissioner’s Council on Mathematics. Other panelists included Matt Fleury, head of the Connecticut Science Center, and superintendents from Windham and Meriden, among others.

George Sugai was the keynote speaker at the First Annual Asian-Pacific Positive Behavior Support Conference in June, which was attended by university and school personnel from Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. He also appeared on a September segment of WNPR’s “Where We Live” to

Li-Yu Hung, professor in the Department of Special Education at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei City and host of the Conference, greets George Sugai.
Li-Yu Hung, professor in the Department of Special Education at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei City and host of the Conference, greets George Sugai.

talk about zero tolerance policies. Listen in here.

Blanca Rincón co-published “Addressing Multiculturalism in STEM: An Analysis of Theories That Inform Our Research” in Multicultural Education in the 21st Century: Innovative Research and Practices. Rincón also co-published “Examining Departmental Climate for Women in Engineering: The Role of STEM Interventions” in the September issue of the Journal of College Student Development. Rincón also co-published “STEM Intervention Programs: Funding Practices and Challenges” in Studies in Higher Education.

Blanca Rincón and Milagros Castillo-Montoya were awarded a research grant as part of the White House Collaborative on Equity in Research on Women and Girls of Color. Their project is titled Examining Race Dialogues as a Tool for Mitigating Racial Climate for Women of Color in STEM.

Ravit Stein was recognized as the 2016 Model School Psychology Intern Supervisor by the National Association of School Psychologists. (Photo Courtesy of Ravit Stein)

Ravit Stein, a licensed psychologist who teaches graduate courses at the Neag School, was recognized as the 2016 Model School Psychology Intern Supervisor by the National Association of School Psychologists.

Jennie Weiner and Laura Burton co-publishedThe Double Bind for Women: Exploring the Gendered Nature of Turnaround Leadership in a Principal Preparation Program” in the Harvard Education Review’s fall issue.

Jennie Weiner and Shaun Dougherty co-published “Is the Federal Government in the Business of Improving Charter Schools?: An Investigation of the Unintended Consequences of ESEA Waivers” in Planning and Changing Journal.

Jennie Weiner, Sarah Woulfin, and Morgaen Donaldson were awarded a grant from the Connecticut Council for Educational Reform to evaluate alliance district grants.

Jennie Weiner, Sarah Woulfin, and Shaun Dougherty were awarded a grant from the National Academy for Advanced Teacher Education to evaluate their programs.

Sarah Woulfin received a grant from the Spencer Foundation for her study titledGauging the Institutionalization of Instructional Coaching in Charter Management Organizations and Public School Districts.” Woulfin published “Fusing Organizational Theory, Policy, and Leadership: A Depiction of Policy Learning Activities in a Principal Preparation Program” in the July issue of the Journal of Research on Leadership Education. She also co-published “Twenty-first Century Creativity: An Investigation of How the Partnership for 21st Century Instructional Framework Reflects the Principles of Creativity” in July’s Roeper Review.


Scholars House
ScHoLA2RS House students visited liaisons for Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy last month in Washington, D.C., to discuss educational issues and opportunities to intern and/or work on Capitol Hill. (Photo Courtesy of Erik Hines)

Students from the ScHOLA2RS House Residential Learning Community took a field trip to Capitol Hill and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., this past September. They visited liaisons for Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy to discuss educational issues and opportunities to intern and/or work on Capitol Hill. In addition, they attended the inaugural ceremony and opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Scholars were able to view the ribbon cutting and hear various speakers, including President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Will Smith, who spoke on the importance of the new museum. See photos from the visit to D.C.

Dakota Cintron, a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Psychology and Dean’s Doctoral Scholar, received a fellowship through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is one 40 Ph.D. students from across the country who will explore health policy research as part of the new Health Policy Research Scholars program.

Casey Cochran ’15 (CLAS), graduate student in sports management, continues to advocate to raise awareness about concussion in sports. He was interviewed earlier this month on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.” Listen in via iTunes to the Oct. 7, 2016 episode.

 Two doctoral students in educational leadership, Shannon Holder and Linda Darcy, have begun producing a new podcast, Edu Culture. They are releasing new free podcasts every other week focused on various topics in education that connect to cultural competency, research-based strategies, and real life experiences. In addition to iTunes, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Stitcher.

Shannon Holder, a doctoral student in educational leadership, has been selected as a Jackson Scholar by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). Over the next two years, Holder will receive one-on-one mentoring and opportunities for professional networking as she completes her Ph.D. coursework. She will also be presenting a paper with her advisor, Jennie Weiner, at UCEA this fall.

Christopher Lewicki, a Neag School IB/M student with a focus on secondary education and mathematics, was recognized by the Aetna Writing in the Disciplines Award with “Honorable Mention” in the science and engineering division for a paper, titled “Boolean Algebra: Its Origin and How It Accelerated Science,” which he wrote for a History of Mathematics class. His award, and others, will be celebrated on Oct. 27 at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Storrs Center.

TJ McKenna, a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, created a website, Phenomena for NGSS, which is used as a resource nationally and featured on the Achieve Inc. site (authors of the Next Generation Standards). McKenna was also recently appointed as a reviewer for the Journal of Science Education.

Sofia Read and Charlie Macaulay, graduate students in the sport management program, are coordinating a program to invite scholars to campus for discussions of social issues in sport. Their first speaker, Sarah K. Fields, presented on gender and sexuality in the sports scene at the Barnes & Nobles UConn Bookstore in October. Watch her presentation on CT-N.

Ruth Urbina-Lilback, a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in mathematics education and a mathematics professor at Naugatuck Valley Community College, published a paper titled “Snapshots of Equitable Teaching in a Highly Diverse Classroom” in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ (NCTM) Mathematics Teacher journal this past September. Her paper was then featured as part of a Twitter chat hosted in September by Mathematics Teacher. Her advisor is Mary Truxaw.


The following Executive Leadership Program graduates were recently appointed as superintendents of schools:

  • Sean McKenna, Griswold (Conn.) Public Schools
  • Peter Cummings, Narragansett, R.I. Public School
  • Maryann O’Donnell, Clinton (Conn.) Public Schools
  • Jason Hartling, Ledyard (Conn.) Public Schools
  • Robert Gilbert, Orange (Conn.) Public Schools
  • Sherri Turner, Litchfield (Conn.) Public Schools
  • Jeffery Solan, Cheshire (Conn.) Public Schools
  • Joshua Smith, New Milford (Conn.) Public Schools
Sport Management Alumni Networking in Hartford
Sport Management alumni gathered for networking at Salute Restaurant in Hartford, Conn., in August.

Sport management held two alumni networking events in August, with the first event in New York City and the second in Hartford, Conn. New graduate students from sport management also attended the event in Hartford.

Donna Ayer ’86 (ED), a leading member of the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA staff for nearly three decades, has been named the new executive director of nonprofit Bread for Life. She begins work in her new role on Nov. 1. Ayer has been the community development director of the local YMCA since 2005. Her 28-year career with the organization included stints as child-care director, membership and marketing director, and community development assistant. Prior to that, she was a resource room teacher at Reuben E. Thalberg School.

Louise Berry ’52 (CLAS), ’61 (ED), ’80 JD, the longest-tenured superintendent in the state, retired from Brooklyn Public Schools in Brooklyn, Conn.

UCAPP grads Paul Brenton ’06 6th Year, principal of the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor, and Jeffrey Larson ’03 (ED), ’05 MA, ’11 6th Year, principal of the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) Public Safety Academy in Enfield, were invited by Michele Femc-Bagwell to speak with her teacher leadership class this past September. See photos from the teacher leadership class event. Femc-Bagwell also brought in alumni Bonnie Fineman ’11 6th Year, a central office administrator in Windsor, and Christopher Todd ’16 MA, a teacher in Windsor and teacher-in-residence at the Connecticut State Department of Education, for a separate event addressing teacher leadership.

Peter Cummings ’01 6th Year, ’16 ELP was selected as the new superintendent of Narragansett (R.I.) Public Schools in October. Cummings, who is a resident of Wakefield, Conn., began his career as an English teacher at a Connecticut high school and also has worked as a high school principal in West Hartford, Conn. In 2013-14, he also served as a key content provider for LEAD Connecticut’s Turnaround Principal Program at the Center for School Change. He was most recently the associate executive director of LEARN, a regional education service center that oversees seven magnet schools.

Anna Cutaia-Leonard ’07 (ELP), ’13 Ed.D. joined the UCAPP faculty as an adjunct instructor of the Supervision of Educational Organizations course in Stamford and the Talent Management module in PLUS-New Haven.

TCPCG alumni Sam Goldberg ’15 (CLAS), ’16 MA and Reilly Lynch ’15 (CLAS), ’16 MA are serving as English teachers at Staples High School in Westport, Conn.

Fany Hannon; PRLAAC
Juan Carlos Sanchez of Univision, left, records Jen Morenus ’97 (SFA), assistant director; Neag School alum Fany D. Hannon ’08 MA, director; and Natalia Gutierrez ’18 (ENG) at the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center in August. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Fany Hannon ’08 MA, director of the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center at UConn, was recognized by television network Univision for her contributions to the Hispanic community. Read the UConn Today feature story here.

Kim Lawless ’94 MA, ’96 Ph.D., associate dean for research in the University of Illinois College of Education, received a two-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to enhance inclusion of underrepresented groups in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. Lawless is the principal investigator on the grant. Over the past decade, she has focused on innovative ways to integrate science into interdisciplinary spaces in school curricula, including reading. She has received several grants to devise ways to introduce global, scientific topics into middle school social studies classrooms, using a problem-based approach.

Jennifer (Williams) Maclaughlin ’03 (CLAS), ’05 MA was recently appointed as the assistant dean and director of Arts & Sciences Career Development at Cornell University.

Alum Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis Choosing Hope
Alum Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis’ book Choosing Hope was recently released in paperback.

Kaitlin Roig DeBellis ’05 (ED), ’06 MA, founder of nonprofit Classes 4 Classes and former Sandy Hook teacher, authored the book Choosing Hope, which recently came out in paperback. She is also will be speaking at UConn as part of the Series Encouraging Self-Discovery (SEEDs) on Oct. 20.

Timothy Unkert ’10 MA is president and founder of I Will Solve That, a website that includes resources designed to help students increase their math proficiency.


In Memoriam

Paul E. Campbell 69
Richard E. Cobleigh 69
C. Freiry 57
Leslie Geremia ’74
Virginia A. Highter 62
William R. Johnson 53
Carl E. Kimmons 76
Joseph P. McDonald 01
John R. Murphy 56
Michael J. Packevicz 12
George H. Patros 50
James F. Shea 59
Elizabeth C. Smith 88
Sylvia Velilla 79
Catherine S. Williams 65
Felix J. Winters 56