“As many schools in the U.S. figure out how to safely and fully resume in-person instruction, much of the focus is on vaccinations,” says Neag School Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Sandra Chafouleas. “But there’s another type of ‘vaccine’ that may be beneficial for some returning K-12 students that could be overlooked. Those are known as ‘behavioral vaccines.'”
T. J. McKenna’s career revolves around one simple question: how can we make science meaningful, engaging, and relevant to our everyday lives? He began that career as an animal behaviorist and entomologist. But as a grad student, McKenna says, he realized that the audience for research papers is relatively limited and he sought ways for sharing his passion for science with a broader audience.
Says UConn’s Rachael Gabriel, associate professor of literacy education: “Since schools shut down, students have been called the ‘hobbled’ generation and the ‘Covid class.’ They have been told they have or will experience Covid-related slides, losses, gaps, and other deficiencies that are ‘disastrous’.”
She’s quick to add: “They should be told the opposite,” considering the challenges they have faced and the learning adaptations they have made.
“As education leaders navigate our emerging new reality, it is critical that their decisions, and guidance that informs their decisions, be effective and usable. The evolving education environment demands nimble decision-making that relies on the best available knowledge,” say Neag School’s George Sugai and Sandra Chafouleas.
Lisa Sanetti said the “levels of heightened stress and waves of uncertainty” adults have experienced during this past year have very real effects on children. “I’d say that it’s not possible to focus on the children without making sure that the adults around them are healthy as well.”
Sandra Chafouleas, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut, said most schools she’s researched do academic and health screenings, such as for lice. “But when we looked at what people were doing in the social-emotional-behavioral space, only about a third of districts (nationally) said they were engaging in that kind of practice,” she said.
“We have to start thinking about the whole student,” said Jason Irizarry, dean of the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. “Having a more holistic understanding of our students and their communities is central to reaching all students.”
“There has to be some happy medium there between finding assessments that will provide reliable information for parents, students, and teachers,” said Morgaen Donaldson, an associate professor at the University of Connecticut who researches educator evaluations, “and then having teachers set goals based on those assessments that are smart, realistic and context-specific, and can be part of their evaluation.”
Weston High School Principal Lisa Wolak has been selected to take the reins on July 1 as Superintendent of the Weston Public School District. She completed her superintendent certification program at the University of Connecticut and remains in the doctoral program.
Uyi Osunde, principal of Windsor High School since 2016, has accepted the position of school superintendent in Stratford. A former defensive end and co-captain for the UConn football team in 2003 who played briefly in the NFL, Osunde earned a bachelor’s in psychology from UConn, then later earned a master’s in educational psychology and a doctorate in educational leadership. He is also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program at UConn’s Neag School of Education.