School of Education celebrates student excellence

The School of Education hosted its first Celebration of Excellence event on Thursday, May 4, and recognized outstanding achievements and academic excellence of the class of 2017.

The School of Education hosted its first Celebration of Excellence event on Thursday, May 4, 2017 and recognized outstanding achievements and academic excellence of the class of 2017.

The celebration began by honoring 43 undergraduate and graduate students as they were inducted into the Sigma Gamma Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in education. Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) was founded in 1911 by leading thinkers in education at the University of Illinois. Since that time, it has grown to an international organization that exceeds 1.2 million members. Acceptance into KDP is based upon the criteria of academic excellence (GPA of 3.6 or higher) and the recommendation of three teacher education faculty members. 

Ann Bullock, dean of the School of Education, opened last night’s ceremony with the lighting of the white Kappa Candle acknowledging the organization’s commitment to Elon’s motto, Numen Lumen. Lesley Henry, instructor in education, Terry Tomasek, associate professor of education and director of the Elon Academy, Mary Knight-McKenna, associate professor of education, and Erin Hone, lecturer in education, led the students in affirming the society’s ideals of Fidelity to Service, Fidelity to Science, Fidelity to Humanity, and Fidelity to Toil.

Stephen Byrd, associate professor of education and faculty sponsor, offered an inspiring charge to the inductees on the theme “Embrace your calling; Honor your commitments.” Marna Winter, department chair and lecturer of education, concluded the ceremony with the society motto:  “So to serve that each day may enhance the growth of exploring minds; so to live that we may guide young and old to know the truth and love the right. To the fulfillment of these objectives we pledge our efforts.”

​The School of Education is proud of the following undergraduate and graduate inductees: 

Ashley Abrams, Elementary Education

Melina Accarpio, Special & Elementary Education

Amber Adams-Kuebler, Elementary Education

Nicole Ammerman, Special & Elementary Education

Yamil Ardila, M.Ed., Special Education

Caroline Bailey, Elementary Education

Brittany Ballard, Special & Elementary Education

April Brantley, M.Ed., Special Education

Abigail Bridge, Special & Elementary Education

Erica Castillo, M.Ed., Elementary Education

Taylor Cesarski, Secondary Mathematics

Jayna Coyle, Elementary Education

Jeannette Delorge, M.Ed., Special Education

Margaret Dunphy, Elementary Education

Taryn Gaffney, Special & Elementary Education

Caroline Hoffman, Elementary Education

Bailey Jennings, Elementary Education

Kelsey Johnson, Special & Elementary Education

Alyssa Lucas, Elementary Education

Madeline Lynch, Early Childhood Education

Sarah Maloney, Elementary Education

Elizabeth Meynardie, Elementary Education

Elizabeth Murphy, Elementary Education

Victoria Murphy, Early Childhood Education

Shayna Nash, Elementary Education

Hope Nolin, Elementary Education

Abigail Peel, Secondary English

Emily Petersen, Elementary Education

Katelin Quick, Special & Elementary Education

Kelly Richard, Secondary English

Katherine Robertson, Special & Elementary Education

Christina Ruzzi, Secondary English

Madison Shea, Elementary Education

Amanda Shoenfelt, Special & Elementary Education

Jacqueline Spencer, Special & Elementary Education

Alexandra Strelow, M.Ed., Gifted Education

Kelly Swaim, Secondary History

Molly Sweeney, Elementary Education

Victoria Taylor, Early Childhood Education

Isabelle Thibault, Special & Elementary Education

Anthony Velasquez, Special & Elementary Education

Megan Weissman, Elementary Education

Hannah Wilpon, Secondary History

In-between the induction and award ceremonies, the junior Teaching Fellows class presented their research during a poster session. Research topics are as follows:

Nicole Baugh 
Mentor: Cherrel Miller-Dyce
Learning from Black Teachers: Closing the
Achievement Gap for Students of Color

Amanda Cassaday
Mentor: Jeff Carpenter
Pinterest as Professional Development

Eliana Chervin 
Mentor: Jessica Wery
Perceptions on Effective Interventions for those with NVLD, from those with NVLD

Samantha Childers 
Mentor: Jeff Carpenter
Exploratory Research on the r/Teachers Subreddit

Izzy Fagen 
Mentor: Scott Morrison
Beyond Science: Examining the Effects of Teaching Social Studies Outside

Samantha Friedman
Mentor: Scott Morrison
Investigating the Effects of Outdoor Learning Environments on Children with Autism

Emily Gaa 
Mentor: Liz Bailey
The Impact of Alamance Girls in Motion on Resilience and Self-Esteem

Jossie Geyer 
Mentor: Aaron Trocki
The Effects of an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Position on Pedagogical Mathematical Knowledge

Stefania Monti 
Mentor: Jeff Carpenter
Educators’ Perspectives On and Use of Pinterest for Professional Development

Colleen O’Brien 
Mentor: Stephen Byrd
Perceptions and Use of Assistive Technology in the Classroom

Anna Pickard 
Mentor: Heidi Hollingsworth
Effective Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners

Nicole Schmidt
Mentor: Heidi Hollingsworth
Effective Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners

Grace Robertson 
Mentor: Stephen Byrd
Sonoflex vs. Words for Life: The Effectiveness of Speech Generating Devices to Prompt Expected and Unexpected Responses from Students with Autism (nonverbal)

Maia Salinger 
Mentor: Mary Jo Festle
What Students Find Meaningful, Interesting and Challenging about Learning History

Bryanna Schoenblatt
Mentor: Jennifer Zinchuk
Acclimation of International Students

Melody Titus 
Mentor: Aaron Trocki
Investigating Standards-Based Grading in a Math Classroom

Christina Truska 
Mentor: Stephen Byrd
Preservice and Classroom Teachers’ Understanding of Inclusion

Katrina Weil
Mentor: Joan Barnatt
Analyzing PISA Data to Inform 21st Century Mathematic Pedagogy

Sydney Weiss 
Mentor: Jeff Carpenter
What Happens in a Global Read Aloud Program

Following the poster session, the School of Education recognized each graduate in the class of 2017 and presented them with a gift. In addition, five outstanding seniors were honored for their exceptional contributions in and out of the classroom with the Arnold Strauch Award. Those honored meet the highest academic standards, demonstrate superior student teaching performance and high levels of professionalism, and have a great potential for contributing to the field of education.

Taryn Gaffney ’17, Special & Elementary Education
In his presentation remarks, Associate Professor Stephen Byrd stated, “Taryn is going to be an outstanding educator. She is always well prepared and excited to be working with children. She goes above and beyond in everything she does. She has a positive attitude that is contagious. While working with her, I didn’t feel like I was guiding a student teacher, I felt as though I was working with a seasoned teacher. I am honored to have gotten to work with her and I’m excited hear about Taryn’s first-year of teaching.”

Isabel Incorvati ’17, Secondary History
During her award presentation, Adjunct Professor Ren Bryan shared this story about one exceptional contribution Isabel made during her student teaching semester. “When Isabel was concerned that the 9 grade AP World History students did not have the composition skills necessary to be as successful on the AP exams as they might be, she suggested they begin reading more to learn how to write better. Isabel initiated a D.E.A.R. Program (drop everything and read) to promote self-selected reading, which she hoped would improve student writing, and it did.”

Emily Keefe ’17, Middle Grades Education
During her award presentation, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics Jan Mays said, “Among her most impressive attributes are her passion for teaching and learning, her interest in the success of her students, and her willingness to try new things. Emily’s future students will be very fortunate to be mentored by such a caring, dedicated educator.”

Hope Nolin ’17, Elementary Education
Lecturer Marna Winter presented the award to Hope on behalf of Lecturer Erin Hone. In her remarks, Hone stated, “her students loved being in her class because it was such a student-centered classroom. Each time I was in her room, I learned from her – both teaching strategies I will introduce to my future teacher candidates and also content knowledge!  She just has a natural way of making the subject matter relevant and relatable – in a way that you leave thinking, ‘oh wow, that was so beautifully explained’.” 

Victoria Taylor ’17, Early Childhood Education
During her award presentation, Associate Professor Mary Knight-McKenna said, “When I went to observe Tory teach, I was always delighted to see children who were happy to be at school and excited to be learning, and Tory loved nothing more than to be in their midst.”

Jordan Valentzas ’18, a rising senior majoring in physical education and health teacher licensure, was honored for her outstanding record of university involvement, service and professionalism with the Janie P. Brown Emerging Professional Award. During her award presentation, Senior Lecturer Lynda Butler-Storsved said, “Jordan is a member of the Dean’s list; co-president of the PEH Society; a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma, where she served as Special Events Chair and participates in service at the Robbie Page Memorial Play Therapy Room for terminally ill children; and has been an ISG Gymnastics Coach for the past five years in her hometown of Harrison, New York. Jordan is excited about dedicating her life to making a difference through teaching and coaching and is well-deserving of this award.”

During the Elon vs. UNCG home baseball game on Tuesday, May 2, Danny Crowe ’17 was honored with the Outstanding Physical Education and Health Major-of-the-Year award. This award recognizes an outstanding student who has distinguished themselves in the areas of academic, professional development, service and leadership. Well-done, Danny!

In her closing remarks and with a sense of pride and sincerity, Dean Ann Bullock stated the following to each member of the class of 2017, “I believe in you. The faculty believes in you. Elon believes in you and we all believe you can set the world on fire.”