Neag School Accolades: Spring 2020

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 for Accolades from Faculty/StaffAlumni; and Students; as well as In Memoriam.

Dean’s Office and Departments

U.S. News & World Report has issued its 2021 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 fifth consecutive year. In addition, two of the Neag School’s specialty programs now place among the top 25 in the United States: Special Education (No. 12) and Elementary Teacher Education (tied at No. 25).

Jason Gilmore painting with his students.
Art teacher Jason Gilmore, left, winner of the 2020 Rogers Educational Innovation Fund award, paints with students. (Photo courtesy of Jason Gilmore)

Jason Gilmore of Guilford, Conn., an art teacher at Hartford’s McDonough Middle School, has been named by the Neag School as the recipient of the 2020 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. Read more about Gilmore’s winning project.

Department of Curriculum and Instruction (EDCI) and Teacher Education

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction recently updated its website, which now includes recent department news, research highlights, and upcoming events.

Dominique Battle-Lawson represented the Neag School at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)’s annual conference in Atlanta, Ga., in February; she gave a presentation about the Neag School’s collaboration with other institutions on recruiting Black and Latino men into university teacher education programs.

U.S. News & World Report has issued its 2021 rankings of the best graduate schools of education in the nation, including its rankings for specialty programs, with the Neag School’s program in the Elementary Teacher Education category tied at No. 25.

Department of Educational Leadership (EDLR)

Brian Jacob speaks in front of slide presentation.
Brian Jacob from the University of Michigan was CEPA’s featured speaker earlier this month. (Angela King/Neag School)

The Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) co-hosted a Speaker Series on the UConn Storrs campus in March featuring Brian Jacob, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy and Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan. Jacob shared insights about the demand for and effects of high school career and technical education. The event was co-sponsored by the Philip E. Austin Chair, the Center for Economic Policy and Analysis, and the Department of Economics. View photos from Jacob’s talk.

Students in sport management hosted the fourth annual Sports Business Conference, featuring such speakers as Taylor Kielpinski-Rogers, director of communications at the NFL, and Ari Borod, chief commercial officer at the Action Network. The full-day event, held on the UConn Storrs campus in January, featured workshops, networking, and panel discussions. Mentors from a multitude of companies led students through case studies. Check out photos from the student-led conference.

The sport management program hosted a visit from UConn alum Billy Haubrich, senior manager of learning and development for business operations at Disney; and Brent Colborne ’05 (BUS), director of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, who facilitated a workshop, “Building Your Personal Brand,” for current sport management undergraduate students. 

Students at Sports Business Conference.
Attendees of the Sports Business Conference, held in January, gather during a session break. (Angela King/Neag School)

Department of Educational Psychology (EPSY)

Sandra Chafouleas.
Sandra Chafouleas serves as co-director of the Collaboratory of School and Child Health. (Tom Hurlburt/Neag School)

The Department of Educational Psychology recently updated its website, which now includes recent department news and upcoming events.

A research project led by UConn’s Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH) known as the National Exploration of Emotional/Behavioral Detection in School Screening, or the NEEDs² Project, was featured in UConn Today. The project team includes alumna Amy Briesch ’05 MA, ’09 Ph.D., ’09 MA, ’09 6thYear, co-principal investigator from Northeastern University; Betsy McCoach, co-principal investigator; Jennifer Necci Dineen, from UConn’s Department of Public Policy; and Helene Marcy, from the Collaboratory on School and Child Health. CSCH is co-directed by Sandra Chafouleas.

U.S. News & World Report has issued its 2021 rankings of the best graduate schools of education in the nation, including its rankings for specialty programs, with the Neag School’s program in Special Education ranked at No. 12 in the country.


Michelle Back.
Michele Back was named a 2020 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Mead Leadership Fellow. (Photo courtesy of Michele Back)

Michele Back was awarded a 2020 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) Mead Leadership Fellow. This award provides support for the development of a project contributing to the foreign language teaching profession and advancing quality language instruction. She was recognized at the NECTFL Awards Ceremony in February in New York, N.Y.

Todd Campbell co-published with Neag School alumnus Thomas J. McKenna ’18 Ph.D. and curriculum and instruction doctoral student Laura Rodriguez, along with another colleague, “A Responsive Methodological Construct for Supporting Learners’ Developing Modeling Competence in Modeling-Based Learning Environments” a chapter in Models and Modeling in Science Education series (Springer, 2019). Campbell also co-published “Developing and Supporting the Next Generation Science Standards: The Role of Policy Entrepreneurs” for the January issue of Science Education Policy and “3D Interim Assessments Guided by Coherence, Shared Models of Learning, and Attention to Equity” for the January issue of STEM Teaching Tools. He also co-presented with doctoral students Byung Park and Laura Rodriguez ’16 (ED), ’17 MA, along with David Moss and postdoctoral researcher Lisa Lundgren at the 2020 Association for Science Teachers Education (ASTE) International Convention in San Antonio, Texas, in January.

Milagros Castillo-Montoya has been working with doctoral students Jillian Ives and Joshua Abreu on publishing faculty profiles for the “People in the Reform” Project funded by Strong Start to Finish, a network supported by the Education Commission for the States. The profiles included education experts Milena Cuellar, Sarah F. McGinley, Jeremiah Pitts, and Brenda Oursler White. Castillo-Montoya and Ives’ recent article “First-Generation College Students as Academic Learners: A Systematic Review” also was featured by the Center for First-Generation Student Success. In addition, Castillo-Montoya has been selected to be part of the University of Michigan Diversity Scholars Network, a distinguished international research community focused on using scholarship to advance social transformation.

Casey Cobb published “Geospatial Analysis: A New Window Into Educational Equity, Access, and Opportunity” for the February issue of Review of Research in Education, and book chapter “Droppin’ the Mic: Framing the Implications of Policy-Relevant Research for Maximum Impact” for the forthcoming Maximizing the Policy-Relevance of Research for School Improvement. In addition, he co-authored a chapter titled “Private Interests and the Common Good: Conflicting Priorities in a School Choice World” with Jason Irizarry in Handbook on Promoting Social Justice in Education (Springer, 2020). Cobb also has been named the 2020 UConn-AAUP Service Excellence Award by University of Connecticut’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors. He will be formally recognized at a ceremony in April at the State Capitol Building in Hartford, Conn.

Rachael Gabriel’s papers Running Records: A Quick and “Surprisingly Fruitful” Diagnostic Tool” from The Reading Teacher and “Three Questions School Leaders Might Ask About Literacy Instruction” from Educational Leadership were featured in Marshall Memo.

Melissa Bray and faculty member of UC Berkeley.
Melissa Bray, right, attends the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs national meeting in Hollywood, Fla., in January. Alejandra Ojeda-Beck, left, a faculty member from the University of Berkeley, California, won the Neag School’s drawing prize. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Bray)

Doug Glanville wrote a commentary for the New York Times about the baseball cheating scandal.

Richard Gonzales hosted a webinar titled “Lessons Learned by ReDesign: Assessing Candidate Outcomes in UConn’s Administrator Preparation Program for the National Association of Secondary School Principals in March.

Robin Grenier, along with doctoral student Kristi Kaeppel and two colleagues, presented a paper at the Academy of Human Resource Development’s (AHRD) 2020 Conference in the Americas in Atlanta, Ga., in February. 

Robin Hands co-published “Daring Greatly: School-University Partnerships and the Development of Teacher Leadership” with alum June Cahill 92 (CLAS) ’93 (ED), ’94 MA and former faculty member René Roselle in a special 2020 themed issue of the National Association for Professional Development Schools’ School-University Partnerships journal.

James Kaufman co-published “The Creative Student in the Eyes of a Teacher: A Cross Cultural Study” for the January issue of Thinking Skills and Creativity; “The Development of Mathematical Creativity Across High School: Increasing, Decreasing, or Both? for the February issue of Thinking Skills and Creativity; and “The Assessment of Creative and Innovative Performance” for the November issue of Creativity and Innovation in Organizations.

Allison Lombardi co-hosted a webinar titled “How Do You Know Students Are College and Career Ready?” for the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition in February.

NTACT logo.Devin Kearns co-presented three sessions at the Council for Exceptional Children’s annual conference in Portland, Ore., in February. He also co-published “Using Information-Theoretic Measures to Characterize the Structure of the Writing System: The Case of the Orthographic-Phonological Regularities in English” for the January issue of Behavior Research Methods.

Gladis Kersaint co-published with Rebecca Campbell-Montalvo and Hesborn Wao, a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, along with other colleagues, “Pursuing an Engineering Major: Social Capital of Women and Underrepresented Minorities” for the 2020 issue of Studies in Higher Education.

Lisa Lundgren, a postdoctoral research associate, co-published “Social Media Interaction as Information Science Learning: a Comparison of Message Design in Two Niches for the January issue of Research in Science Education.

Jennie McGarry has been selected the University of Illinois Distinguished Speaker for the College of Applied Health Sciences Distinguished Lecture Series. 

Natalie Olinghouse, along with educational psychology doctoral student Sally Valentino Drew, and another colleague, co-published “Reconceptualizing Instruction for Writing in Science Using the WiS Planning Tool for the January issue of Teaching Exceptional Children.

UConn’s BOLD Women’s Leadership Network, led by Sally Reis, has been re-funded for another two years for $1.2 million by the Helen Gurley Brown’s Pussycat Foundation.

Lisa Sanetti co-wrote with Hao-Jan Luh, a doctoral student in special education, a chapter titled “Treatment Fidelity in School-Based Intervention” in Student Engagement (Springer, 2020). Sanetti also co-published “Treatment Integrity of Intervention Studies in Professional School Counseling From 1997 to 2018: A Systematic Review” in the March issue of Professional School Counseling.

Del Siegle, alumna Lisa Davia Rubenstein ’07 MA, ’11 Ph.D., and D. Betsy McCoach co-published “Do You Know What I’m Thinking? A Comparison of Teacher and Parent Perspectives of Underachieving Gifted Students’ Attitudes for the January issue of Psychology in the Schools. Siegle also gave a keynote and two conference presentations at the Whitworth University Breaking Barrier: Understanding and Responding to Diversity in Student Potential Conference in Spokane, Wash., in February. Also last month, he gave a keynote and two conference presentations at the 46th Annual Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented Annual Conference in Phoenix, Az., and a keynote and two conference presentations at the Illinois Association for Gifted Children Conference in Chicago, Ill. In addition, he penned a blog post about gifted students for Gifted Assessment Insights.

Brandi Simonsen co-published with retired faculty member George Sugai “Reinforcement Foundations of a Function-Based Behavioral Approach for Students With Challenging Behavior” for the January issue of Beyond Behavior.

Brandi Simonsen, Jennifer Freeman, alumna Kathryn Dooley ’17 Ph.D, alumna Laura Kern ’11 MA, ’17 Ph.D., and doctoral student Sang Byun ’13 MA, along with another author, co-wrote “The Effects of Targeted Professional Development on Teachers’ Use of Empirically Supported Classroom Management Practices” for the 2020 issue of Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

Megan Staples co-published “Justification as an Equity Practice for the February issue of Mathematics Teacher: Learning & Teaching PK-12.

Violet Jiménez Sims wrote a commentary for CT Mirror about eliminating teacher performance assessment (edTPA) for students in teacher training.

Jaci VanHeest was profiled by UConn’s Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH).

Jennie Weiner published “From New to Nuanced: (Re)Considering Educator Professionalism and its Impacts” for the February issue of the Journal of Educational Change.

Sarah Woulfin was awarded the American Education Research Association’s Districts in Research & Reform SIG-Outstanding Publication Award for her article Mediating Instructional Reform: An Examination of the Relationship Between District Policy and Instructional Coaching, originally published in AERA Open.


Joshua Abreu, a doctoral student in educational leadership, was selected as one of 10 new cohort members of UConn Graduate School’s Dr. Radenka Maric Graduate Fellowship. Through this fellowship, Abreu received a stipend and has the opportunity to network with 10 other graduate students at UConn and attend professional development workshops. Abreu also co-wrote a book chapter in Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Approaches for Diverse Populations (Routledge, 2019).

Pauline Batista ’16 MA.
Doctoral student Pauline Batista ’16 MA has received UConn’s NAACP Youth & College Division with the Faculty of the Year Award. (Photo courtesy of Pauline Batista)

Pauline Batista ’16 MA, a doctoral student in educational leadership, was recognized by UConn’s NAACP Youth & College Division with the Faculty of the Year Award for her commitment to excellence. She also accepted a full-time job as a program specialist at her graduate assistant site, the UConn African American Cultural Center.

Batouly Camara 19 (ED), ’20 MA, a sport management master’s student and current UConn women’s basketball team player, was featured in a UConn Magazine Q&A.

Robert Cotto, doctoral student in educational leadership, presented at Race and Identity Matters Initiative, a one-day symposium on the UConn Storrs campus in February. He also was interviewed last month by WSHU Public Radio (24:56) about the ongoing movement around opting out of standardized tests, in addition to co-publishing “The Under-funding of Latinx-serving School Districts” for the February issue of Phi Delta Kappan.

Joseph Galarza, a higher education and student affairs graduate student, wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant about the need for international students to engage.

Emily Iovino ’15 (ED), ’16 MA, a doctoral student in educational psychology, co-wrote with Sandra Chafouleas, Amy Briesch ’05 MA, ’09 Ph.D., and another colleague “Exploring the Alignment of Behavior Screening Policies and Practices in US Public School Districts” for the January issue of Journal of School Health.

Jillian Ives, doctoral student in educational leadership, along with Milagros Castillo-Montoya, co-published “First-Generation College Students as Academic Learners: A Systematic Review for the January issue of Review of Educational Research. Ives was also recently awarded the Jim Rhatigan Fellowship Scholarship from the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), which will support her attendance at the national conference in March, in Austin, Texas; she also has been appointed to the new professional and graduate student review board of the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice.

Batouly Camara.
Husky forward Batouly Camara ’19 (ED), ’20 MA is a first-generation college student whose parents moved to New York City from Guinea, West Africa. (Stephen Slade/UConn)

Susan (Meabh) Kelly, doctoral student in curriculum instruction, has been elected National Science Teacher Association’s District I director for Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Ian McGregor, doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, along with Alan Marcus and David Moss, co-published “Promoting Intercultural Competence in Professional Spaces: Educational Abroad Experience in England for Social Studies Pre-Service Teachers for the January issue of Promoting Intercultural Competence in Professional Spaces.

Jessica Monahan ’09 (ED), ’09 MA, doctoral student in educational psychology, co-published with Allison Lombardi, Joseph Madaus, Jennifer Freeman, and alums Sarah R. Carlson ’12 (ED), ’13 MA and Nicholas Gelbar ’06 (CLAS), ’07 MA, ’12 6th Year, ’13 Ph.D. “A Systematic Literature Review of College and Career Readiness Frameworks for Students with Disabilities” for the February issue of Journal of Disability Policy Studies.

Thienly Nguyen ’20 MA, a student in the Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates, has been named the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium (CSGC) Outreaching Graduate Fellow. She will be working with the CSGC as a grants office liaison this spring, connecting their office with in-state K-12 schools and other education institutions (e.g., museums) to support STEAM education programs for students and their teachers.

Ashley Robinson, doctoral student in educational leadership, has been appointed to the editorial board for the Journal of Critical Scholarship in Higher Education and Student Affairs (JCSHESA). Robinson has also been awarded the College Student Educators International (ACPA) 2020 Distinguished Commission Directorate Member Award in recognition of her work with the ACPA Commission for Housing and Residential Life.

Dakota Cintron, Jocelyn Perez, and Jennifer Richardson, doctoral students in educational psychology, have been awarded National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) Fellowship for underrepresented professionals in educational measurement. Fellows will receive funding for travel to attend the annual meeting, free registration for pre-conference workshops, free NCME conference registration, a series of professional development activities designed to support them in building a successful trajectory in the educational measurement field, and access to a network of colleagues and mentors within the field.


Charles Britton.
Charles D. Britton ’07 Ph.D. has been selected superintendent of schools for Portland (Conn.) Public Schools. (Photo courtesy of The Hour)

Charles D. Britton ’07 Ph.D. has been selected superintendent of schools for Portland (Conn.) Public Schools. Britton, an educator for the past 25 years, currently is the school system’s director of curriculum, instruction, and technology.

June Cahill ’92 (CLAS), ’93 (ED), ’94 MA, the principal at Kennelly School in Hartford, Conn., was featured by Fox61, along with fellow educators at the school, for their fun way of reaching students during the COVIS-19 outbreak.

Miguel Cardona ’01 MA, ’04 6th Year, ’11 Ed.D., ’12 ELP, is featured by CT Mirror about his role as the Connecticut education commissioner.

Melissa Collier-Meek ’08 (CLAS), ’09 MA, ’11 6th Year, ’13 Ph.D. and Lisa Sanetti co-presented at the annual convention for the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) in Baltimore, Md., in February.

Michael C. Crawford ’14 MA has been appointed director of diversity and inclusion for the College of Our Lady of the Elms, in Chicopee, Mass. Most recently, he was a research associate in a culture and mental health disparities lab at the University of Connecticut.

Michael Crawford.
Michael Crawford ’14 MA has been named director of diversity and inclusion for the College of Our Lady of the Elms in Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy of College of Our Lady of the Elms)

Neag School alums and current and former UConn women’s basketball team coaches Chris Dailey ’99 MA, Jamelle Elliott ’96 (BUS), ’98 MA, and Shea Ralph ’02 (ED) were featured in UConn Magazine’s Winter issue.

Jennifer Dolan ’17 Ph.D. wrote an original commentary for the Hartford Courant about how Native American mascots condone racism.

Gara Field ’07 Ph.D. brought her students from Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I., for a visit to the UConn Storrs campus in February. Field is a former Husky Sport graduate assistant who helped develop the curriculum for EDLR 3547: Introduction to Sport-Based Youth Development. She is director of global education and social innovation at Moses Brown and is teaching a mini-course with young girls entitled HERstory: Women, Sports & Society.

Robert “Bob” Garry ’05 6th Year, principal at Hatton Elementary School in Southington, Conn., was featured by NBC Connecticut for his initiative on making positive phone calls to family members of students.

Wally Lamb ’72 (CLAS), ’77 MA had his 1998 novel “I Know This Much is True” turned into an eight-episode HBO miniseries.

Bryan Olkowski  ’05 6th Year, ’15 ELP, has been selected superintendent of Washington Central Unified School District in East Montpelier, Vt. He is currently the principal at Torrington (Conn.) Middle School.

Leah Osborn ’19 Ph.D. and Robin Grenier presented a paper at the Academy of Human Resource Development’s (AHRD) 2020 Conference in the Americas in Atlanta, Ga., in February.

Tony Pulino ’69 (ED) was inducted into the Middletown (Conn.) Hall of Fame for track. Pulino was among the top cross-country and one-mile runners on the Connecticut high school scene in the early 1960s and competed at UConn in track and cross-country from 1965 to 1967.

Louise Spear-Swerling ’76 (CLAS), Yan Wei ’11 MA, ’15 Ph.D., Hannah Dostal, and doctoral student Brittney Hernandez, co-published “The Print Exposure of Teacher Candidates in Relation to Their Achievement and Self-ratings of Early Reading Experiences” for the March issue of Reading and Writing.

In Memoriam

David L. Boivin ’54
James B. Caulfield ’61
Andrea R. Cooley ’68
Barbara L. Campbell ’77
Richard R. Crockett ’63
Linda C. Dickson ’79
George G. Dunn ’68
Charles E. Funk III ’60
John S. Gray Jr. ’77
Anne C. Holzer ’78
Loisann B. Huntley ’86
James F. LeClaire ’56
Jeffrey K. Moeckel ’74
Terry W. Neu ’93
Andrew J. Nicholas II ’90
Virginia T. Palmer ’92
Eugene F. Phaneuf ’67
Carol K. Phillips ’73
Constance B. Pratt ’84
Robert E. Pratt ’75
Maxine R. Schortman ’67
Brian D. Sherman ’74
Dorothy B. Spaulding ’74
Laura A. Stasaitis ’72
Germaine L. Welch ’77