Outstanding faculty, staff, students recognized

April 12, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Once again this year, the College of Education has recognized faculty, staff and students who have made significant contributions to their fields, the college, and the University. The award winners were selected through nomination letters prompted by their outstanding service and dedication to their jobs. This year's honorees follow.

Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award: Efraín Marimón

The award recognizes and rewards exemplary leadership in the College of Education. During his time at Penn State, Efraín Marimón has pursued several programmatic initiatives that involve robust partnerships across the University and beyond, including Penn State Law, the College of the Liberal Arts, the Rock Ethics Institute, and Georgetown University. He also has succeeded at connecting different parts of the College of Education.

College of Education Dean David H. Monk said about him, "He has distinguished himself repeatedly by his remarkable ability to both conceive of impactful outreach programs and to organize and turn ideas into actual programs. In my 25 years as an academic administrator at Penn State and previously at Cornell University, I have never seen anyone who is as skilled as Mr. Marimón at reaching out across academic units to build powerful and sustainable outreach programs. What stands out for me is the breadth as well as the depth of his contributions. We are indeed fortunate to have him as a faculty colleague here at Penn State."

Marimón is the developer and director of the D.C. Social Justice Teaching Fellowship, a collaborative project between the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the Office of Multicultural Programs, and Georgetown Law in Washington, D.C. He also established a research collaboration with Ashley Patterson, assistant professor of education (language, culture and society), to investigate the lasting impact of participation in the course on students’ personal, academic and activist identities.

Monk also said, "More notably, however, is that Mr. Marimón is a gifted teacher. He fully grasps the learner-centered, interactive approach that characterizes 'good' instruction. … He makes learning a joy for his students and enjoys developing the students' capacity for critical thinking and problem solving."

Marimón also developed and directs the Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI) at Penn State, a coalition of faculty members from across the University, graduate students, staff and community groups dedicated to providing educational opportunities to incarcerated populations. Early on he developed a partnership with the Rock Ethics Institute and CentrePeace, a community nonprofit that works with individuals who are incarcerated, and has since led an interdisciplinary team to create quality curricula and instruction in local correctional facilities. Moreover, he was able to develop a for-credit internship program so graduate students could earn course credit for teaching in correctional facilities.

Marimón also created Penn State’s Street Law Program, a collaboration between the College of Education and Penn State Law, where law students teach law-related lessons on the constitution and human rights to middle school students and high school students in State College and Bellefonte. The program offers a unique professional development opportunity for law students while providing service to the outside community.

Climate Enhancement Award: Elizabeth Smolcic

The Climate Enhancement Award 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 Elizabeth Smolcic.

Smolcic is associate professor in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program and past-chair of DCEC, a position she held for four years. During her time as chair, Smolcic worked collaboratively with others on the committee to propose a social justice minor. Ashley Patterson co-chaired the committee to establish a minor and was amazed by her colleague's faithful support.

"The process moving toward establishing the minor has been arduous, time-consuming and fatiguing, and [she] has been there every step of the way whether attending meetings, participating in check-in conference calls, re-asking questions that had gone unanswered or serving as a sub-sub-committee chair for one of the courses newly developed for the minor," Patterson said.

"All of this she did with a selfless grace, always willing to do what sometimes is more than her fair share of the work for the benefit of the team and of the students who are anxiously awaiting the sort of supplements the minor can provide to their educational experience."

During Smolcic's tenure as DCEC chair, the committee also saw the success of several initiatives, including the Diversity in Education program and Bias-Based Bullying Prevention workshop, among others.

According to her colleague Carlos Zalaquett, Smolcic's commitment to diversity is something that comes naturally. "She is diversity-sensitive and utilizes a strength-based approach in everything she does. I believe her understanding of persons with different worldviews helped her establish positive working relationships with diverse colleagues and students," he said.

Outside of her work with DCEC, Smolcic also leads the college's ESL with Immersion in Ecuador program, which takes students and current teachers to study abroad in Ecuador each summer as a part of earning their ELL certifications.

"She embodies the criteria for the Climate Enhancement Award," said nominator Karen Eppley, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. "She is a role model for faculty in their efforts to consider ways to enhance their teaching by thinking though issues of equity and diversity."

Outstanding Staff Award: Heather Decker and Brenda Martinez

The Outstanding Staff Award recognizes the accomplishments of a staff member in the College of Education for their outstanding service and commitment to faculty, staff and students of the Penn State community. This year, two recipients were honored.

The first award winner is Heather Decker. Decker is an administrative support coordinator in the college's Office of Research, a multifaceted position that requires her to communicate with many offices across the college.

Senior Associate Dean Greg Kelly said of Decker: "Over the past eight years while I have been in this role, Ms. Decker has taken an increased workload, bringing into her portfolio outreach, technology and faculty council work, in addition to her work on graduate programs and research."

Decker is highly organized and dedicates time to finding efficient practices, Kelly said. "Her demonstrated commitment and efficiency has led to cost savings in the college."

Decker was instrumental in the establishment of new onboarding procedures for newly hired faculty. According to Kelly, "[She] proposed a systematic solution by working with CETC (Carrara Education Technology Center) to create an online, web-based onboarding page to inform all relevant parties (dean's office, department, accounting, communications, technology) of new hires.

When evaluating Decker's nomination, colleague Sue Tighe said, "Outstanding staff look for problems ahead and attempt to solve them proactively. Outstanding staff seek feedback and make changes based on it. Outstanding staff look beyond themselves and their four walls to create collaborative relationships. Outstanding staff help their colleagues to learn and grow. Heather does all these things and more."

The second Outstanding Staff Award goes to Brenda Martinez.

Martinez's nominator Cori Donaghy said, "Brenda exemplifies what it takes to foster positive social environments, facilitate positive communication and promote productivity. Her basic attitude and approach to her work, whether it be on her own or collaborating with others, is infectious."

Martinez is an administrative support assistant in the Office of Multicultural Programs, a position she has held for more than three years. During that time, she has demonstrated a strong work ethic as well as a high degree of honesty and integrity.

"It is evident that Brenda makes teamwork a high priority. She interacts with staff and students in a way that promotes unity, harmony and a shared knowledge base," her supervisor Maria Schmidt said. "The past 18 months have been significantly arduous and demanding with the lack of a multicultural coordinator. It would have been impossible to sustain the number of commitments, programs and initiatives, let alone coordinate S.C.O.P.E. (Summer College Opportunity Program in Education), without an individual like Brenda."

While working with faculty member Efraín Marimón on the Restorative Justice Initiative and the D.C. Social Justice Fellowship, Martinez has demonstrated a willingness to grow, learn and take initiative and leadership. Marimón said, "Brenda performs at the highest levels of competence and her integrity, organization and demonstrated passion for student affairs make her an ideal candidate for this award."

Outstanding Teaching Award: Maryellen "Mimi" Schaub

The Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes a faculty mentor who demonstrates teaching excellence, shows respect to all students as individuals, and creates an environment conducive to learning. Maryellen "Mimi" Schaub is this year's winner.

Schaub is an associate teaching professor in Educational Theory and Policy and professor-in-charge in Education and Public Policy (EPP). She has been a full-time faculty member in the Department of Education Policy Studies (EPS) for seven years, and during that time, she has taught an engaging and comprehensive course called "Education in American Society," an introductory undergraduate class, to nearly 200 students who are exploring their options. She also alternates course projects such as Adopt-A-Classroom, Poster Walk and Story Corps.

"Dr. Schaub's focus is as much on students' knowledge as it is on building their skill set for studying," said Katerina Bodovski, associate professor in EPS. "Dr. Schaub incorporates in her teaching specific activities aimed at improving the learning process."

Bodovski said one of Schaub's teaching assistants said: "Working with her has been eye-opening in regard to how I hope to instruct college-level students in the future. Despite having a class that is more than 150 students, Dr. Schaub finds a way to know each of their names and often checks in with students who have struggled on previous assignments."

Kevin Kinser, EPS department head, has witnessed Mimi in the classroom. "Dr. Schaub draws connections from national and international perspectives on education problems to the local issues that students in Pennsylvania might encounter," Kinser said.

"This context is significant for the internships EPP students engage in, as well as classroom assignments that require understanding local schools in practical and significant ways. I see Dr. Schaub as a dynamic classroom instructor who is constantly seeking new ways of serving her students. Her impact on students in EPS has been profound. She deserves recognition for her outstanding teaching in the College of Education."

Outstanding Junior Researcher Award: Elizabeth M. Hughes

Elizabeth M. Hughes, assistant professor of education (special education) in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education (EPCSE), is this year's winner of the Outstanding Junior Researcher Award. This award typically recognizes the significance of a particular contribution to the research literature, and Hughes' research focuses on academic achievement of students with learning disabilities and high-functioning autism.

She currently is conducting a student of a mathematical writing intervention that she developed over the past three years as the result of iterative design evaluations and a quasi-experimental pilot study.

"Dr. Elizabeth Hughes continues to make a positive impact on the field of special education and beyond," said Paul Riccomini, associate professor of education (special education) and the person who nominated Hughes for this award. "She has the grace and ability to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines and disseminate her research to varied audiences."

Riccomini also said Hughes is deserving of this award for reasons that cannot be measured by publications or citations. "Dr. Hughes is invested in her research because at the heart of her research, she wants to help students with disabilities be successful — academically and beyond," he said.

Charles Hughes, professor of education (special education) said Elizabeth Hughes, in just a short time at Penn State, has established in the field of special education and is nationally recognized for her contributions. "Recognizing that many students with disabilities that impact learning mathematics also impact learning reading, Elizabeth's recent research explores the intersection of language and mathematics," he said.

"Additionally, Elizabeth has extended her work to assistant developing countries in their efforts to improve services and programs for students with exceptional needs. Her work on special education professional development needs of educators in Africa has potential to significantly improve the lives of students with disabilities in Africa," he said.

Senior Outstanding Researcher Award: Karen Murphy

The Senior Outstanding Researcher Award recognizes the overall impact of one's research and typically is given to a faculty member who has achieved national and international recognition. This year, the college is honoring Karen Murphy.

As cited by David Lee, her nominator and department chair, Murphy has authored and co-authored 17 peer-reviewed journal articles, 14 book chapters, one edited book, and numerous technical reports on her Quality Talk model.

"What makes the Quality Talk model impressive … is its growing empirical base and wide appeal that spans content areas and countries," Lee said, adding that the research has gained more than $3.5 million in funding in the past five years.

"The evidence revealed by the narrative of her scholarship is even more compelling than the statistical evidence of her accomplishments," said Pani Kendeou, professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota. "But what I find really impressive about Murphy's work on Quality Talk is that she managed to translate our theoretical notion of high-level reading comprehension to a flexible, sustainable and effective instructional discussion model."

Kimberly Lawless, who heads the Office of Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said that Murphy's work with Quality Talk is compelling not only because of what it focuses on, but on where and whom she focuses the work.

"Dr. Murphy made the conscious choice to concentrate her work within low socioeconomic, urban and rural classrooms that are traditionally under-resourced," Lawless said. "These classrooms constitute our most vulnerable educational settings with persistent achievement gaps across the entire educational enterprise."

Aside from her Quality Talk research, Murphy has published more than 60 journal articles, contributed to more than 30 book chapters, edited two books, and has done more than 140 national and international presentations.

Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award: Krishawna Goins

This year's Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award goes to Krishawna Goins, a student in the Pre-K-4 program.

Her nominator, Assistant Professor Rachel Wolkenhauer, said Goins has risen to be a strong leader in service and civic engagement.

"She is respected by her professors and peers alike. I cannot think of a stronger candidate for this award," Wolkenhauer said.

Wolkenhauer also said Goins lives a social justice stance and does so in a way that invites and empowers others to join her in dialogue and action.

"Her consistent promotion of the importance of engaging in civic life is inspiring for all of us who work with her in the Professional Development School (PDS)," Wolkenhauer said.

In a letter of support for Goins, Erin Morgart, PK-4 PDS coordinator, said: "She is passionate about and advocates for equity and social justice in education. Krishawna exhibits teacher leadership within her school community by being professional, prepared, collaborative and hard-working. Krishawna is a highly admired and respected member of the University community who has given back just as much as she has gained while pursuing her degree in elementary and early childhood education."

Fellow Penn State student Shannon Walker said she and Goins have developed a relationship that encompasses scholarship, professional development, activism, introspection, compassion and understanding.

"She is a deeply reflective and progressive educator who is always looking for ways to better serve her peers, students and community," Walker said. "Krishawna exudes an authentic, bold energy that sparks creativity and risk-taking in others."

Graduate Student Recognition Award: Kathryn Bateman

The Graduate Student Recognition Award this year goes to Kathryn Bateman.

Scott McDonald, associate professor of science education, who nominated Bateman, said he met her when she was a classroom teacher in Philadelphia and was a participant in professional development associated with his research project in middle grades geoscience learning.

Bateman earned a bachelor of science degree in marine science from Rider University in 2004 and a master of education degree in elementary education from Holy Family University in Philadelphia in 2008. She is scheduled to graduate from Penn State in May with a doctorate in science education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

"Katie has engaged in a set of experiences here that very directly mirror those of a junior faculty member," McDonald said. "She has excelled in these different areas of service, teaching and scholarship. Katie has been an active part of the graduate student community during her time here at Penn State."

Bateman has taught SCIED 411 Teaching Secondary Science. In 2015-16, she co-designed and delivered a semester-long workshop for Upward Bound Math and Science mentors, a program for under-represented high school students who come to Penn State for the summer and are mentored and taught by graduate students in math and science.

She also co-designed and co-led teacher professional development on two of McDonald's other National Science Foundation-funded projects. One of those projects was in conjunction with The Concord Consortium, on which Bateman worked with Professor Hee-Sun Lee from the Consortium.

"Kathryn has shown sensitivity to facilitating student learning in urban settings and providing adequate teacher training to deliver quality science education," Lee said. "She has great potential to become an outstanding researcher, a compassionate intellect who addresses educational needs of local communities, and a talented teacher."

Bateman also served on the student board of the American Journal of Education for the past five years. Gerald LeTendre, professor of education (education policy studies), said Bateman has been a consistent source not only for reliability, but also for a high level of professionalism, dedication and leadership.

"The AJE Student Board is a much more organized, professional, efficient and productive organization as a direct result of Katie Bateman's contributions," LeTendre said.

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Last Updated April 17, 2019