College of Education honors outstanding faculty, staff and students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Education recently honored the recipients of its 2014 Faculty, Staff, and Student Awards. Seven members of the College were recognized for their achievements at an April 16 reception hosted by Dean David H. Monk at the Nittany Lion Inn.

The following award winners were selected based on nomination letters as well as their own dedication and service to the college and community:

  • Graduate Student Recognition Award – Catharine Biddle
  • Outstanding Staff Award – Jeanette Tressler
  • Outstanding Staff Award – Beth Moyer
  • Climate Enhancement Award – Charleon Jeffries
  • Outstanding Teaching Award – Mark Threeton
  • Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award – Tammy Fetterolf
  • Career Achievement Award – James Johnson

Graduate Student Recognition Award

Catharine Biddle is the recipient of this year’s Graduate Student Recognition Award, which is awarded to a graduate student for outstanding scholarship, research, dedication to education, and the promise of professional excellence.

Biddle is a Ph.D. candidate in Penn State’s Educational Leadership Program, and also works at the Center on Rural Education and Communities. She is currently managing editor for the Journal of Research in Rural Education and has been published in American Journal of Education, Contemporary Sociology and Journal of Mixed Methods Research. Biddle has also done extended qualitative fieldwork in schools across the state, as well as quantitative, qualitative and documentary archive management.

Before coming to Penn State she was a Teaching Fellow in Gujarat, India, where she taught 9th- and 11th-grade standard English to classes of 50-to-70 students. There at the Nanubhai Education Foundation she helped to expand the scope of the foundation’s work from one to four schools.

“I have never worked with a doctoral student who writes with such clarity and with such a conceptual awareness of how to communicate complicated themes in a manner that is accessible to a general audience,” said Dana Mitra, associate professor of education in the Educational Theory and Policy program. Mitra is currently writing a research article with Biddle.

Kai Schafft, who along with Mitra nominated Biddle, said, “Cat is an exceptionally dedicated and capable student, who has established an impressive academic track record for herself, and, I predict, is at the beginning of a long and distinguished career.”

Outstanding Staff Award

Jeanette Tressler is the recipient of the Outstanding Staff Award. This award recognizes the accomplishments of staff members in the College of Education. This award is presented for outstanding service and commitment to faculty, staff and students of the Penn State Community.

Tressler has been the administrative support assistant for the Childhood and Early Adolescent Education major in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) since 2003. “Her positive attitude is infectious and helps to foster a welcoming work environment,” said C&I Department Head Carla Zembal-Saul, who nominated Tressler.

Tressler prepares the SRTE Final Evaluations for all C&I courses within the University Park Campus, and is the liaison for computer support in the department. Tressler is also the secretary for the C&I Curricular Affairs Committee.

Rose Mary Zbiek, director of graduate studies for C&I, said, “Jeanette excels in all of her work as she completes familiar tasks and willingly takes on new challenges. She has embraced a growing role and an increased workload as our department staff has needed to react to several retirements and to welcome new staff colleagues.”

Outstanding Staff Award

Beth Moyer is the winner of the Outstanding Staff Award. This award recognizes the accomplishments of staff members in the College of Education. This award is presented for outstanding service and commitment to faculty, staff and students of the Penn State Community.

Moyer has been a financial coordinator for the College of Education for more than 14 years. She started as an accounting aid in the finance office and is now an assistant financial officer. Assistant Dean for Multicultural Programs Maria J. Schmidt said of Moyer, “not only is she professional, but she works extremely well with all of her co-workers and through her example encourages them to be better.”

Emily Martell, the college financial officer and a co-worker of Moyer’s in the finance office, agrees with Schmidt about Moyer’s presence in the office. “One of the reasons our team gets along so well is that we encourage a good sense of humor, and Beth takes this part of her role very seriously.” Martell believes it is Moyer’s dedication to customer service that makes her so deserving of the award she is receiving. “Beth understands that there is always a customer in any role you play at the University, and she routinely goes above and beyond to provide top-notch customer service.”

Climate Enhancement Award

Charleon Jeffries is the winner of the Climate Enhancement Award, which recognizes contributions to the pursuit of the College's diversity agenda.

Jeffries is now the coordinator for diversity education in the Penn State Affirmative Action Office. She began her professional work at Penn State in 2002 as a program assistant in the College of Education’s Office of Multicultural Programs. She spent 11 years in that position, working with students, faculty and staff on issues related to the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body and preparing future educators to work and learn with and in diverse communities. In addition to this, she has served on the college’s Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee as both a co-chair and leader of several subcommittees. Jeffries is currently pursuing an M.Ed. in counselor education.

“Charleon has taught me a great deal not only about the strengths and needs of the college in relation to diversity goals, but she has also been a model for engaging in meaningful, collegial work,” said Gail Boldt, associate professor of education, who served on the Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee with Jeffries. “I find myself dependent upon Charleon for her insight, humor, strong work ethic and commitment to work of the committee on behalf of the college."

Outstanding Teaching Award

Mark Threeton has earned the Outstanding Teaching Award. This award recognizes a faculty mentor who demonstrates teaching excellence, shows respect to all students as individuals and creates an environment conducive to learning.

Threeton is an assistant professor of education and the coordinator of Field-Based Career and Technical Teacher Education within the Workforce Education and Development Program. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, he was a career and technical education instructor with an emphasis in automotive technology and career development. Currently he is an advisor to 203 undergraduate and 30 graduate students.

Threeton is known for his work on safety in career and technical education (CTE), and was awarded by the Association for CTE and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for a curriculum he developed. He is also one of few young professors whose names appear in all of the top publications read by CTE researchers.

Cynthia Pellock, associate professor of education, said, “Dr. Threeton’s research commitment and output are particularly noteworthy when one considers the competing time demands of the additional service and extraordinary advising responsibilities he performs for the Professional Personnel Development Center.”

Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award

Tammy Fetterolf has been named the recipient of the Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award. This award was made possible by Joan and David Cotterill to recognize faculty or staff for exemplary performance and leadership efforts. The award includes resources for professionally related activities, including participation in conferences, seminars and sabbaticals.

Fetterolf, the college’s grants and contracts manager, has been a member of the College of Education for 26 years. She first joined Penn State in the College of Agricultural Sciences shortly after graduating from State College Area High School. After a year, she moved to the College of Education where she worked in the workforce education and development program. She has worked in the grants and contacts department for 14 years.

As the grants and contracts manager, Fetterolf leads her department in supporting faculty from start to finish with the complicated proposal submission process. She coordinates activities between the department, finance, and research divisions. Together, the divisions set up accounts, administer awards, close out awards and do an overall monitoring of sponsored projects accounts.

Faculty member Kyle Peck said, “Tammy Fetterolf is a perfect fit for her job and a gift to those of us who work with her. She knows what she should know, and she can find out the new things as they emerge. She is efficient, hard working, and hard to fluster. Despite the immense and recurring pressures of her job, Tammy is kind, and helpful. She seems to attract other very capable people and has developed a strong team that serves dozens of very luck faculty members. The Cotterill award is a well-deserved honor.”

Career Achievement Award

James E. Johnson is the recipient of the Career Achievement Award, which is designed to celebrate the career of a tenured faculty member within the college. It is granted in recognition of superior leadership, scholarship, teaching, and research in education.

Johnson, a professor of education for curriculum and instruction, has been a College of Education faculty member for more than 30 years. Since arriving at Penn State in 1983, he has taught countless courses and also has been professor-in-charge of early childhood education.  Johnson has written and edited 11 books and has been published in journals such as The Journal of Educational Research, International Journal of Early Childhood Education, and Early Childhood Education Journal.

He has made more than 150 presentations to national audiences and has presented at professional meetings in Spain, Japan, Sweden and elsewhere abroad. He is also part of the Leadership Initiative for the Association for Children’s Museums and was president of the Association for the Study of Play in 2003-04.

Service is a large part of Johnson’s career as he has served on the Pennsylvania Professional Development Advisory Committee, Pennsylvania State Department of Education Early Childhood Certification Advisory Committee, and PennAEYC Board. He was also a member of the Council for Exceptional Children’s National Inquiry Study Team.

His research interests include parent-child relations and cognitive socialization and children's play. His teaching interests include parent involvement in education and contemporary approaches to early children education.

Carolyn J. Griess, NCATE coordinator and a former doctoral advisee of Johnson’s, spoke of Johnson’s contributions to education research.

“In the area of service, Dr. Johnson is an active contributor to the education program and the field of early childhood education," she said. "He consistently advises large numbers of graduate students and mentors them into the profession. He engages his learners in a content that is a blend of theory and application. He seeks to learn from his students and to challenge them to expand their thinking.”

Nandini Sengupta, a Ph.D. candidate, shared his experiences of having Johnson as a mentor and advisor.

“He is so kind to his students all the time," said Sengupta. "That teaches us how a teacher should interact with his or her students. Even in his sabbatical we were contacting him for his opinions and suggestions and getting his reply straightaway. His soft and encouraging voice and sincere guidance with immeasurable knowledge will take me to my success, I have a strong belief in that.”

Last Updated April 28, 2014