Faculty, staff recognized for contributions to College of Education

April 12, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For more than two decades, the Penn State College of Education has held an annual award ceremony recognizing faculty, staff and students who have made significant contributions to their fields, the college and the University.

This year's honorees for the Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award, the Climate Enhancement Award, the Outstanding Staff Award, and the Outstanding Teaching Award follow.

Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award: Anne Elrod Whitney

This award recognizes a faculty or staff member for exemplary performance and leadership efforts. The award, made possible by Joan and David Cotterill, includes resources for professionally related activities, including participating in conferences, seminars and sabbaticals.

This year's recipient is Anne Elrod Whitney. Whitney, a professor of education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has served on the department's Promotion and Tenure Review Committee, has been a University Marshal and was a liaison with Schreyer Honors College.

In September 2013, Whitney reached out to members of the faculty and pitched the idea of starting a writing group.

"Our group has become a foundational place of support, collegiality, advice, mentoring and therapy," Rose Mary Zbiek said. "While Anne humbly participates alongside the rest of us, there is no question that she is our wise, fearless leader, including head cheerleader in difficult times and recruiter of new folks each academic year."

She also participates in a writing group with local teachers that creates pieces to give voice to classroom teachers. They have had several publications in the Centre Daily Times.

Whitney recently was able to build a partnership between the University and Altoona School District, with a goal to seek new opportunities to connect with students, mentors and school district faculty.

"Anne's enthusiasm for her work is contagious," said Mark Kissling, assistant professor of education (social studies education).

Climate Enhancement Award: Samantha L. Walker

This achievement honors an individual who promotes the college's diversity agenda, including those efforts made through the Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC).

This year's recipient is Samantha L. Walker. In her role as an administrative support assistant in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education, Walker plans trainings for faculty and staff across the college, including SafeZone 101 through the LGBTQA Resource Center, Stand for State training for bystanders, and safety responsiveness training.

She serves as head of the staff subcommittee on the DCEC and currently is serving a three-year term on the University Staff Advisory Council.

"While there are many people who contribute to the work of the DCEC, Samantha Walker's organization skills and dedication are exemplary and her engagement has been critical to many of the DCEC events over the past years," said Elizabeth Smolcic, chair of the DCEC.

Walker's leadership and organization skills are recognized and praised by many, including other members of the DCEC staff sub-committee.

"Samantha possesses outstanding leadership skills. She keeps us on task preparing and sending out the agendas, compiling the minutes, and tracking the progress of all our projects," said committee member Wanda Wasilko.

DCEC co-committee member Bonnie Richardson said, "Samantha is supportive, dedicated, creative and consistently goes above and beyond to help further the DCEC mission. She shows compassion by calling coworkers who she thinks may be struggling with various issues and makes sure they understand she is willing to help whenever she can."

Walker also is working to obtain her bachelor's degree in organizational leadership and received an associate degree in letters, arts and sciences in 2017.

Outstanding Staff Award: Mary Pearce and Jennifer Glasgow

Two staff members are the 2018 recipients of the Outstanding Staff Award. This award recognizes the accomplishments of staff members in the College of Education for outstanding service and commitment to faculty, staff and students of the Penn State community.

One of the honorees is Mary Pearce, administrative support coordinator for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction within the college.

Prior to joining the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Pearce worked as facilities coordinator/financial assistant in the Office of the Dean.

Pearce's nominator, M. Kathleen Heid, got to know her during her time as the college liaison for the renovation of the Mathematics Education Lab and was not surprised that she brought her sparkling perfective and "can-do" attitude with her to her current position.

Heid said, "Mary's cheery and effective perspective came to the fore recently when one of our undergraduate students ran into a difficulty with a financial issue. After visits to several offices to address the problem, it was a visit to Mary that resulted in a resolution. It is with considerable confidence that I echo the cry from the 'Ghostbusters' movie. Who am I going to call? — Call Mary."

To colleagues, Pearce is known as a positive, productive woman who handles the tasks of her job with enthusiasm and grace.

Rose Mary Zbiek, head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, said, "Key to Curriculum and Instruction (C&I), or any department, are its people. She has helped people in a variety of roles deal with the aftermath of multiple family deaths and illnesses to the transitions precipitated by the Voluntary Retirement Program. She has been here to welcome, to comfort and to push forward on a daily basis."

The second Outstanding Staff Award recipient is Jennifer Glasgow, an administrative support assistant in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. An efficient event organizer and community builder, Glasgow has been deeply involved in changes in the department and has collaborated on ways to improve processes.

"Jen's direct approach and focus on getting things done has been unspeakably helpful in working through a number of challenges," said Zbiek. "Jen is central in most every aspect of our daily work in the department."

Mark Kissling, assistant professor of education and Glasgow's nominator, said, "Jen is, and has been since 2010, my go-to person for all departmental matters. She seemingly always knows whom I need to talk to, where I need to go, or what I need to do, ranging from getting batteries for my keyboard to creating itineraries for prospective doctoral students to formatting my promotion-and-tenure dossier."

Outstanding Teaching Award: Mark Kissling

The Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes exemplary teaching performance in the classroom.

This year's recipient is Mark Kissling. Kissling, assistant professor of education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is well-respected by both students and teachers.

Anne Whitney, professor of education, has worked with Kissling for many years. She has observed and guest-taught his classes, co-taught with him, and the two work with many of the same students.

"Mark's courses are planned with clear and challenging aims in mind. Yet when he is in the classroom with students, he has the talent of making sure that the students themselves, and the ideas they express in the room, always take precedence over what was planned," Whitney said, "This means that he listens with acuity, hearing students' emerging understandings, and then considers how those might affect his own next move."

Gwendolyn Lloyd, Hermanowicz professor of teacher education, had the opportunity to observe one of Kissling's class sessions. "Dr. Kissling's doctoral-level teaching is excellent," she said. "His purposeful use of relaxed and encouraging demeanor and strong rapport with students was particularly noteworthy."

Jonathan Bell has worked with Kissling as a student, advisee and research collaborator. Bell described Kissling's classroom environment as warm, supportive and safe.

"Mark's classroom environment treads the fine line between being supportive, warm and student-directed, while also being appropriately challenging and academically rigorous." Bell said.

Other past students have shared their respect for Kissling and his head-on style of addressing tough subjects as well as his well-known phrase of "opening something up and taking it apart."

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Last Updated April 18, 2018