Neag School Accolades: February – March 2019

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

A view of the Gentry Building illuminated at night.
The Neag School is ranked No. 17 among public graduate schools of education, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Education Schools. (Sean Flynn/UConn)

U.S. News & World Report has issued its 2020 rankings of the best graduate schools of education in the nation, with the Neag School ranking among the top 20 public graduate schools of education in the United States for the fourth consecutive year. According to the report, the Neag School ranks No. 30 among all graduate schools of education in the nation, and No. 17 among public graduate schools of education. In addition, five of the Neag School’s specialty programs now place among the top 25 in the United States: special education (No. 16), elementary education (No. 19), educational psychology (No. 19), educational administration (No. 19), and secondary education (No. 22).

The work of 60 Neag School faculty, graduate students, and alumni will be presented next month in Toronto as part of the American Educational Research Association 2019 Annual Meeting. Read more about the Neag School’s presence at meeting, the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning.

Jessica Stargardter sits smiling in front of a bookcase.
Alumna Jessica Stargardter ’16 (ED), ’17 MA is the recipient of the 2019 Rogers Educational Innovation Fund. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Stargardter)

The Neag School Alumni Board selection committee named two Neag School graduate students the recipients of its 2019 Neag School of Education Alumni Board Scholarship: Ashley Robinson, a doctoral student in educational leadership, and Tashua Sotil, a sixth-year graduate student in educational psychology. They are being formally recognized at the 2019 Neag School Alumni Awards Celebration this month.

Alumna Jessica Stargardter ’16 (ED), ’17 MA has been named by the Neag School of Education as the recipient of the 2019 Rogers Educational Innovation Fund award, which provides $5,000 to an elementary or middle-school level teacher in Connecticut for use toward an innovative classroom project. Stargardter serves as a gifted and talented educator for Norwalk (Conn.) Public Schools. She is being formally recognized at this month’s 2019 Neag School Alumni Awards Celebration. A story on her winning the award was featured in The Hour.

Dignitaries from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology and from Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting met with Del Siegle last monthto learn about gifted and talented education best practices, as the Ministry has recently developed a five-year education plan that includes promotion of gifted and talented education for the first time at a national level.

Department of Curriculum and Instruction (EDCI) and Teacher Education

Cara Bernard looks on while Katie Cummins leads her music class.
Cara Bernard, left, looks on while Katie Cummings ’14 (ED), ’15 MA leads her music class during a visit to UConn. (Frank Zappulla/Neag School)

Alumni Katie Cummings ’14 (ED), ’15 MA and Jack Zaino ’14 (ED), ’15 MA brought their students from Swift Middle School in Watertown, Conn., to the UConn Storrs campus in February. Coordinated by Neag School music education assistant clinical professor Cara Bernard, the gathering included visits from current music education students who had the opportunity to work with the young artists; Dominique Battle-Lawson and Mia Hines, academic advisors from the Neag School, who provided a college readiness workshop; and Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, who shared his advice about the art of possibility. Check out photos from the visit.

The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund announced a new $240,000 grant to advance ongoing Neag School efforts to diversify the teacher workforce. The grant will be used specifically to support stipends to students of color enrolled in the Neag School’s Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s (IB/M) program.

Shanza Hussain, Mia Hines, Dominique Battle-Lawson, and Anne Denerville present.
Shanza Hussain, Mia Hines, Dominique Battle-Lawson, and Anne Denerville (from left to right) visit the Rhode Island Department of Education earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Lauren K. B. Matlach, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)

Teacher Education representatives, including Leadership in Diversity’s president, Anne Denerville; and Shanza Hussain, secretary, along with Neag School academic advisors Dominique Battle-Lawson and Mia Hines, visited Rhode Island’s Department of Education earlier this month to share insights into ways of improving recruitment and retention of student candidates of color. In attendance were representatives from Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, Teach for America, Roger Williams University, Providence College, Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island School of Design, Principal Residency Network, University of Rhode Island, Brown University, and The Learning Community. View photos from the visit.

Joseph Abramo, Cara Bernard, William Cepeda, and David Moss in Puerto Rico. (Photo courtesy of Cara Bernard)
Joseph Abramo, Cara Bernard, William Cepeda, and David Moss (from left to right) in Puerto Rico. (Photo courtesy of Cara Bernard)

Starting in 2020, the Neag School of Education will offer a music study away program in Puerto Rico, where music education students will get hands-on experience with teaching and playing Puerto Rican music through the guidance of four-time Grammy winning composer, William Cepeda. Joseph AbramoCara Bernard, and David Moss recently met with Cepeda in Puerto Rico to plan the new program.

Department of Educational Leadership (EDLR)

Staff from Husky Sport, along with nutritionists from UConn Health, hosted a food demonstration titled “Cooking is an ART form!” at Wish Elementary School in Hartford, Conn. The demonstration included four 30-minute sessions on creating healthy snacks. Husky Sport staff and nutritionists from UConn Health were on-site to offer bilingual instruction and dietary information to families.

Carol Stiff delivers her address.
ESPN’s Carol Stiff served as the Sports Business Conference’s keynote speaker. (Frank Zappulla/Neag School)

Students in sport management hosted the third annual Sports Business Conference, featuring ESPN’s Carol Stiff, vice president of programming as the keynote speaker. The full-day event, held on the UConn Storrs campus in January, featured workshops, networking, and panel discussions. Mentors from a multitude of companies, ranging from ESPN, Lagardere Sports, the Hartford Yard Goats, and the NBA, led students through case studies. Check out photos.

Sport management students organized a “Beyond the Field” speaker series event featuring Claire Smith, longtime Major League Baseball journalist, on the UConn Storrs campus in February. The event was co-sponsored by the UConn Women’s Center, UConn Athletics, and the African American Cultural Center. View photos from the event.

Sue Saunders sits, gesturing.
Sue Saunders, HESA professor emerita, received the Esther Lloyd-Jones Professional Services Award in Boston earlier this month. (Danielle DeRosa/Neag School)

Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) hosted a number of networking events for faulty, students, alumni, and friends during the month of March, including at the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education national conference in Los Angeles; near the UConn Storrs campus, which included HESA alumni who work at UConn; and an event that occurred as part of the annual American College Personnel Association’s national conference in Boston. There, professor emerita Sue Saunders was awarded the Esther Lloyd-Jones Professional Services AwardSee photos from the Boston event.

Department of Educational Psychology (EPSY)

The Center for Behavioral Education and Research (CBER) hosted a Breakfast Brown Bag featuring UConn’s associate vice president for research, Michelle Williams, who gave a talk titled “Creating a Culture of Research at UConn” on the UConn Storrs campus in March.

In honor of Black History Month, the ScHOLA²RS House Living and Learning Community, which is led by faculty advisor Erik Hines, hosted, along with the African American Alumni Council, a networking evening for student scholars and alumni. The event was held at the UConn Storrs campus in February.

ScHOLA²RS House students pose at the Alumni Center.
Student from the ScHOLA²RS House Living and Learning Community gather at the networking event. (Defining Studios/UConn)
Graduate students in counselor education smile together.
Graduate students in counselor education, including Lorenzo Chavez Jasmine Morel, Amanda Perrault, Katrina Zaciek, and Emily Sears, along with assistant professor Erik Hines, Melanie Banks, Johnny Banks, Tyler Burley, Kimberly Traverso, and Aaron Gilberto, gathered at UConn’s School of Social Work in February to recognize National School Counseling Week. (Photo courtesy of Erik Hines)


Michele Back wrote an article titled “Teacher Leadership Through Advocacy: The World Language Advocacy Project” for the February/March issue of The Language Educator.

Ronald Beghetto was a featured speaker for UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InChip), delivering a talk titled “What If? Engaging in Possibility Thinking with Interdisciplinary Research Teams” for UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InChip) on the UConn Storrs campus in February.

Brent Talbot presents a slide.
Brent Talbot of Gettysburg College speaks to music education students last month. (Photo courtesy of Cara Bernard)
Book cover of Teacher Evaluation in Music.
Cara Bernard and Joseph Abramo co-authored a new book titled Teacher Evaluation in Music: A Guide for Music Teachers in the U.S.

Cara Bernard hosted a visit by Brent Talbot from Gettysburg College to her class of music education students on the UConn Storrs campus in February. In addition, Bernard and Joseph Abramo co-authored a new book titled Teacher Evaluation in Music: A Guide for Music Teachers in the U.S. (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Eric Bernstein co-authored a book chapter titled “Medicolegal and Ethical Considerations in Oral Surgery by the General Dentist,” published this month in the edited volume Evidence-Based Oral Surgery: A Clinical Guide for the General Dental Practitioner (Springer, 2019). He is also is serving on the American Dental Education Association Annual Session Planning Committee, elected to a three-year-term, representing the faculties of all 66 Accredited U.S. Dental Schools and the 10 Accredited Canadian Dental Schools.

Todd Campbell co-published “Passing the Torch; and, A Word From the Incoming Co-Editors-in-Chief” for the January issue of Journal of Science Teacher Education.

Rebecca Campbell-Montalvo co-published “School Employees as Health Care Brokers for Multiply-Marginalized Migrant Families” for the February issue of Medical Anthropology.

Milagros Castillo-Montoya received a $2,000 Scholarship Facilitation Award, from UConn’s Office of the Vice President for Research, for research on teaching through diversity. She also co-published “Teaching Assessment in Student Affairs Through Service Learning” in the winter issue of Research & Practice in Assessment.

Sandy Chafouleas points to her Powerpoint slide.
Sandy Chafouleas presents at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention in Atlanta in February. (Photo courtesy of Michael Li)

Sandra Chafouleas presented at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention in Atlanta in February.

Sandra Chafouleas, D. Betsy McCoach, and doctoral student Dakota Cintron, along with other colleagues, co-published “Factorial Invariance of the Usage Rating Profile for Supporting Students’ Behavioral Needs (URP-NEEDS)” in February issue. In addition, an article co-authored by Chafouleas and McCoach titled  “Methods Matter: A Multi-Trait Multi-Method Analysis of Student Behavior” was recognized by Journal of School Psychology as the runner-up for the 2018 article of the year.

Casey Cobb joined the editorial board of Education Sciences, an international open-access journal. He also started serving on the University Council for Educational Administration’s Program Centers Advisory Board for a three-year term (2019-21).

Joseph Cooper speaks at the front of a classroom.
Joseph Cooper shares insights about his newly released book during a book launch event held in Storrs last month. (Eve Lenson/Neag School)

Joseph Cooper celebrated the launch of his new book, From Exploitation Back to Empowerment: Black Male Holistic (Under)Development Through Sport and (Mis)Education (Peter Lang, 2019) on the UConn Storrs campus and in Hartford in February. View photos from the Storrs event, and read more here. Also, he was the keynote speaker for the 2019 Active Citizenship Dinner, hosted by the UConn Community Outreach on the UConn Storrs campus in January, and he gave an opening address for the MLK Day of Service event on the UConn Storrs campus in February.

Michael Coyne and D. Betsy McCoach’s co-published article titled “Racing Against the Vocabulary Gap: Matthew Effects in Early Vocabulary Instruction and Intervention” was featured in the Marshall Memo in January.

Michael Coyne presented “The Importance of Teaching Vocabulary Within a Structured Approach” at Southport School, in Southport, Conn., in March.

Morgaen Donaldson was featured on the Department of Educational Leadership’s website.

Preston Green co-wrote an original commentary titled “Charter Schools Exploit Lucrative Loophole That Would be Easy to Close” for The Conversation and was featured in UConn Today in regard to a new report he co-authored on charter school equity published by The Century Foundation.

James Kaufman delivered a keynote titled “The Science Behind the Art: How Everyone Can be Creative, and Why it Matters” as part of an exhibit opening at the Silvermine Art Center in New Canaan, Conn., in February. Kaufman also published “Uniquely Creative: Developing a New Outline for Positive Outcomes” and “Creativity’s Need for Relevance in Research and Real Life: Let’s Set a New Agenda for Positive Outcomes” for the December issue of Creativity, was a co-publisher of “Advancing Creativity Theory and Research: A Socio-cultural Manifesto” for the January issue of the Journal of Creative Behavior, and co-published a chapter titled “The Relation of Creativity to Intelligence and Wisdom” for The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (Cambridge University Press, 2019), for which he also served as editor. He presented “Why Creativity? Toward Better and Newer Positive Outcomes” at Rice University in Houston in February and participated with a masterclass on the psychology of creativity over Skype with the University of Alabama in March.

Devin Kearns co-published “The Role of Semantic Information in Children’s Word Reading: Does Meaning Affect Readers’ Ability to Say Polysyllabic Words Aloud?” for the January issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology. He also co-presented a webinar titled “To Be Clear: What Every Educator Needs to Know About Explicit Instruction” for the National Center on Intensive Intervention in February and the National Center on Intensive Intervention’s Everyone Reading Conference at City University New York, N.Y., in March. In addition, he appeared at the Council for Exceptional Children’s Special Education Convention in January as a panelist for a discussion titled “Dyslexia: A Conversation About Aligning Practice With Research and Legislation.” His co-authored study “The Neurobiology of Dyslexia” was published in the January issue of Teaching Exceptional Children and subsequently featured in the Marshall Memo.

Tamika La Salle is a co-PI for a new National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities grant titled “Reducing Youth Violence and Racism/Discrimination: The Efficacy of Comprehensive Prevention Strategies (CPS).” The grant is a five-year, $2.4 million award with the UConn sub-award of about $250,000. The grant is in collaboration with University of Alabama researchers and will focus on middle school students in Alabama.

Professor Emeritus Donald Leu co-published “Exploring the Collaborative Synthesis of Information During Online Reading” for the June issue of Computers in Human Behavior.

Allison Lombardi co-presented “Main and Moderating Effects of an Online Transition Curriculum on Career Readiness” with graduate student Graham Rifenbark at the 2019 Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity at Honolulu this month.

Sally Reis gives a keynote address from a podium.
Sally Reis gives a keynote at the California Association for the Gifted’s annual conference in Palm Springs, Calif., last month. (Photo courtesy of Sally Reis)

Jennifer Michno, Jennie Weiner, Laura Burton, and doctoral student Daron Cyr were featured on the Department of Educational Leadership’s website for their research on administration preparation.

Kenny Nienhusser co-published “Awakened Hatred and Heightened Fears: ‘The Trump Effect’ on the Everyday Lives of Mixed-Status Families” for the December issue of Cultural Studies Critical Methodologies.

Joseph Renzulli was recognized among Global Gurus’ Top 30 Education Professionals for 2019 (No. 12). Also, he and Sally Reis were keynote speakers at the California Association for the Gifted’s annual conference in Palm Springs, Calif., in February. Last month, they were the featured speakers at the 2019 International Congress of Enriching Outstanding Minds, held in Mexico. Research on schoolwide enrichment by Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis was featured by The Century Foundation.

Christopher Rhoads received the first Connecticut Faculty Mobility Grant funded by the Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts.

Book cover: Supporting Successful Interventions in Schools.Lisa Sanetti co-published with alumna Melissa Collier-Meek ’08 (CLAS), ’09 MA, ’11 6th Year, ’13 Ph.D. Supporting Successful Interventions in Schools (Guilford Press, 2019). They also co-published with other colleagues “Evaluating Implementation Supports Delivered Within Problem-Solving Consultation” for the February issue of the Journal of School Psychology. 

Richard Schwab served as a panelist with Robert Villanova, along with Neag School alumni Carol D. Birks ’08 ELP and Michael T. Connor ’14 ELP, and others at Shipman & Goodwin’s community series, “The Achievement Gap: Legal and Educational Challenges” in Hartford, Conn., in February. Schwab was also featured on the Department of Educational Leadership website in a piece about his innovative course where students work on getting op-eds published.

Research and work on gifted and talented by the National Center for Research on Gifted Education (NCRGE), led by Del Siegle, is featured in District Administration here and here. In addition, Siegle spoke this month about NCRGE’s findings on strategies to increase equity at the National Association for Gifted Children’s Leadership & Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. At Vanderbilt University’s Differentiation for Gifted Learners Conference in Nashville, he gave a keynote titled “Addressing Low Motivation in Students” and made a presentation titled “Research Is More Than Googling: Using Technology to Conduct Authentic Research.”

George Sugai testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives.
George Sugai testifies before the House education subcommittee in Washington, D.C., last month.

George Sugai testified about the use of restraint and seclusion in schools before the U.S. House of Representatives’ subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, at the Rayburn House Office Building in February in Washington, D.C.

Jennie Weiner co-published “Control as Care: How Teachers in ‘No Excuses’ Charter Schools Position Their Students and Themselves” for the February issue of Equity and Excellence in Education. In addition, through a $50,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation, Weiner and Laura Burton will investigate how microaggressions and discrimination affect the experiences of 25 black female principals.

Sarah Woulfin co-published “Got Theory?: Reconceptualizing the Nature of the Theory-Practice Gap in K-12 Educational Leadership” for the January issue of the Journal of Educational Administration. She also co-published a chapter for the book Educational Leadership, Organizational Learning, and the Ideas of Karl Weick (Taylor and Francis, 2019).


Kelly Chuquihuanca smiles outdoors in her regalia.
Kelly Chuquihuanca is a TCPCG student and aspiring agricultural educator. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Chuquihuanca)

Kelly Chuquihuanca, a student in the Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates, was featured in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ blog, Naturally@UConn.

Miguel Colón, a master’s student in sport management, was featured on the Department of Educational Leadership’s website.

Jesús Cortés-Sanchez ’18 (ED, SFA), ’19 MA performed on the Grammy-winning album “American Dreamers (Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom).”  He was one of the 53 musicians on the album.

Monique Golden sits among a panel of experts.
Doctoral student Monique Golden serves on a panel at the U.N. earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Monique Golden)

Monique Golden, a doctoral student in educational leadership, was a co-presenter with Sabrina Tucker-Barrett, founder and CEO of Girls for Technology (GFT), at the Annual International Women’s Day event at the United Nations in New York, N.Y., earlier this month. Golden has been working with GFT, a local nonprofit seeking to promote STEM engagement for youth girls of color via educational programming, trips, summer programs, and competitions.

Shannon Holder, a doctoral student in educational leadership, is co-hosting a new podcast titled “The Hidden Curriculum,” launched by the University Council for Educational Administration’s Graduate Student Council. The podcast will focus on topics in educational policy, leadership, and administration.

Denée Jackson, a master’s degree student in higher education and student affairs, was featured on the Department of Educational Leadership’s website.

Diana Kelley, a doctoral student in educational leadership, was featured on the Department of Educational Leadership’s website.

Taylor Koriakin and Emily Auerbach, doctoral students in educational psychology, along with Sandra Chafouleas, co-presented “Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child” at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention in Atlanta in February.

Kaitlin Leonard, a doctoral student in educational psychology, co-presented “Attendance and Response to Intervention: The Effects of Intervention Dosage and Exposure on Reading Achievement” at the National Center for Leadership in Intensive Intervention’s Council for Exceptional Children Special Education Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, along with Michael Coyne and Taylor Koriakin.

Grace Mandy, an English education student and volunteer at the UConn Women’s Center, was profiled in The Daily Campus.

Marissa Nazarro, a junior elementary education student and mentor for UConn’s First Year Programs and Learning Communities, was elected to UConn’s Student Government’s 2019 Executive Board.

Nazarro smiles outside of the Gentry Building.
Marissa Nazarro, a junior elementary education student, was elected to UConn’s Student Government’s 2019 Executive Board. (Photo courtesy of USG)

Ajhanai (AJ) Newton, a doctoral student in sport management, co-published her first article with Joseph Cooper, for The Journal of Negro Education. 

Jesslynn Rocha Neves, a doctoral student in school psychology, received the Trainers of School Psychology Graduate Award at the National Association of School Psychologists’ Annual Convention in Atlanta last month. 

Natasha Schweitzer, a secondary English education major and volunteer for the UConn Writing Center, was featured in The Daily Campus.


Emily Armstrong ’16 (ED), ’17 MA has signed a letter of intent to join Sundsvalls, a professional women soccer team in Sweden.

Susan Baum ’85 Ph.D. presented at the California Association for the Gifted’s annual conference in Palm Springs, Calif., in February.

Jon Dahlquist ’03 (ED), ’05 MA (CAHNR) was appointed dean of wellness and athletics at East Catholic (Conn.) High School. He previously worked as associate athletic director for Towson University in Maryland.

Jamelle Elliott calls out from the stands.
Jamelle Elliott was featured in a recent Connecticut Post piece. (Photo courtesy of Connecticut Post)

Jamelle Elliott ’96 (BUS), ’98 MA UConn’s associate athletic director for the National C Club, was featured in the Connecticut Post.

Sandi Hastings ’89 MA, ’94 Ph.D. was featured on the UConn Foundation website in regard to a new Global Education Scholarship that will support study abroad opportunities for female students in the Neag School’s IB/M program.

Nina Klein ’17 (CLAS), ’18 MA, Quinnipiac University’s assistant field hockey coach, is joining the U-21 U.S. Women’s National Team and Development Squad roster. She will be joining the training camps in preparation for their international tour to Germany in April.

Jennifer Parzych ’13 PhD., a faculty member at Southern Connecticut State University, presented at the American School Counselor Association “Impact and Influence of School Counselors” event in Washington, D.C., in February.

Chloe Pavlech’18 MS wrote an article for Medium. A former member of the UConn women’s basketball team, she is the talent and digital content manager for Overtime and a women’s basketball analyst for ESPN.

Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis’05 (ED), ’06 MA, founder of nonprofit Classes 4 Classes and survivor of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., is being recognized with an honorary degree from Muhlenberg College. She will receive the degree at their Commencement ceremony in May in Allentown, Pa.

Loretta Rubin ’96 6th Year, an alumna of the UConn Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP), was featured on the Department of Educational Leadership’s website.

Doug Shearer ’13 (ED) was named the special teams coordinator for the Miami University Red Hawks.

Michael A. Smith with his middle school students.
Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Real-Time News

Michael A. Smith ’08 MS, a gifted support teacher at Warwick Middle School in Lilitz, PA, led a group of middle school students to win the grand prize out of 1,500 schools at the “2019 Future City Competition” in Washington, D.C. He has coached the team over the last 13 years, and has placed nationally a few times over those years.

Danielle Upham ’12 (ED), ’16 MS has been named the associate director of athletics for facilities, events, and operations at the University of Hartford. Most recently, she worked at UConn as director of event management.                                

In Memoriam

Karen E. Adamson ’79
Evelyn S. Albert 80
Helen Anita (Dressen) Bacon
Jean T. Barlow 47
Joan D. Burnett ’68
William J. Carrington, Jr. 60
Winifred S. Curtis
Rosemary (Miceli) Jakobsen
John D. Lineen
Philip L. Mountain 71
Judith F. Neubauer 61
Joan A. O’Connor 89
Pamela H. Potterton 79
Helen W. Robords 44
Thomas J. Serra
Raymond H. Tanguay
Ruth E. Von Euw 57
Richard Whiteside ’04