Newsletter Spring 2020

Rehabilitation of Horses at an International Equine Sanctuary

As part of her research in the Literacies of Stewardship and Sustainability, Dr. Régine Randall, from the Department of Curriculum & Learning, consulted with a Connecticut agricultural science teacher to develop a grant for better understanding how the training methods of both natural and classical horsemanship can be used to rehabilitate horses at an international equine sanctuary. This work will take place during the summer of 2021 in Malagda, Spain. Understanding such techniques can dramatically improve our ability to care for and handle horses that have suffered from neglect, trauma, or abuse. Further, this knowledge of special care and handling practices is transferable to other domestic and wild animals.

This project ultimately aims to enhance instruction in agricultural science and technology programs to better prepare high school students for the complexities of careers related to conservation, husbandry, and preservation

In addition to her research in stewardship and sustainability, Dr. Randall, in partnership with Michelle's House in New Haven, has acquired a micro-grant from the Connecticut Association of Reading Research to fund a children's and teen library at the facility. Michelle's House is a community affiliate of Yale-New Haven Hospital which provides support for individuals with sickle cell disease. One goal of creating a children's and teen library with diverse texts and resources is to facilitate academic tutoring for K-12 students with high absenteeism in school due to illness and treatment.

Change From Within: Building Capacity for Educational Justice

Over the past year, a collaborative team of faculty, students, and practicing educators have come together to create a professional development model called Change From Within: Building Capacity for Educational Justice. This program is an intensive, capacity-building model aimed at supporting educators in their journey towards understanding and engaging in culturally sensitive and anti-racist education.

Hamden Middle School has partnered with SCSU and the Change From Within program for the 2019-2020 school year. A cohort of teachers, administrators, and educational professionals from Hamden Middle are working together to bring about positive changes in their school and deepen their understandings around implicit bias, systemic racism, and culturally responsive teaching.

The Change From Within team consists of:

Victoria Louis: SCSU Elementary Education graduate,‘19, and first-grade teacher at Jumoke Academy in Hartford.

Jessica Powell: Assistant Professor of Education, Early Childhood Education program coordinator, and co-director of the SCSU Educational Justice Collective.

Alexia Reyes: Early Childhood Education graduate, ’19, and assistant director at Harmony Childcare Center in South Windsor.

Shanequa Sturgis-Nash: SCSU doctoral student in Educational Leadership and New Haven Public Schools math coach.

Meredith Sinclair: Associate Professor of Secondary English Education and co- director of the SCSU Educational Justice Collective.

Assistant Professor's Research Interest Focuses on Students with Disabilities

Dr. Yan Wei, assistant professor in the Department of Special Education, is conducting research on adolescent literacy instruction for students with learning disabilities. This includes motivation instruction, evidence-based literacy instruction, culturally and linguistically diverse learners, and remediate reading programs in tier-3 intensified classrooms. Dr. Wei is also interested in transition planning and services for high school students with learning disabilities.

Dr. Wei's Current Research Projects:

Improving Transition Outcomes for Adolescents with Disabilities: Examining the Impact of Motivation and Self Determination on Student Outcomes.

The research project is funded by IES (Institute of Education Sciences) grant that is conducted across states in collaboration with the University of Kansas (Center for Research on Learning). The purpose of this study is to determine the efficacy of evidence-based motivational interventions to improve transition outcomes and empower the transition services for high school students with learning disabilities.

Arousing Situational Interest Through Bookmaking as a Hands-On Literacy Activity.

This mixed method research study is funded by SCSU Faculty Research Grant and is conducted in elementary and/or middle schools. The results could have implications for future professional development and preparation of teachers working with struggling readers and students with disabilities. This study would extend previous research on the role of motivational interventions in literacy instruction.

Interview with Laura Bower-Phipps, Coordinator for Faculty Innovation for the Barack H. Obama Magnet University School

Would you mind describing your role further and what you’ve accomplished in it? ​

I am one of two faculty members on the steering committee for the partnership between BOMUS and SCSU. Dean Hegedus also named me as coordinator of faculty innovation. This role is still being developed. At this point, I have met with SCSU faculty who are interested in creating initiatives with BOMUS. Nearly 50 faculty and staff members have expressed interest, and their ideas range from working with BOMUS students to create comic books to teaching swim lessons to BOMUS students at the SCSU pool. I have also shared these ideas with the steering committee to determine feasibility. We are in the process of developing a standardized proposal through which faculty can pitch their ideas for partnering. I am also the go-to person when BOMUS wants volunteers from SCSU for projects. I recruited students, faculty, and staff to read to all BOMUS classes for World Read Aloud Day. I am also coordinating a self-study of our practices as a steering committee. This work was accepted for presentation at the New England Educational Research Organization.

How did you get involved in this initiative?

I have been involved with the relationship between SCSU and New Haven Public Schools in various ways since I arrived at Southern. I had been really involved with a partnership between the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and the local school district when I was a doctoral student at UNLV. I found that work to be an essential part of being an education professor, so I wanted to continue doing similar work at SCSU. I've been fortunate to work with deans who also value university/school partnerships. My initial work with BOMUS was when they were at their previous site. I started teaching one of my courses at the school, which was a great way to build relationship with the school administrators and teachers.

What’s the mission of the Barack Obama Magnet University School and the College of Education’s role in it?

BOMUS is an interdistrict magnet school with a STEM and communication focus. A strong part of their professional identity is also teacher preparation. The role of COE is to support the innovative practices that are happening at BOMUS.

What do you envision going forward? ​

We look forward to continuing our partnership with BOMUS when the school is back in the building. The steering committee will continue our self-study as a way to shape our partnership.

Associate Professor Reaches Out to International Population During Pandemic

Dr. Yavuz, founding director of the SCSU International Youth Leadership Academy (IYLA), has been supporting immigrants, refugees, and international students academically during the pandemic. Particularly, Dr. Yavuz is providing international students and their families with virtual support, educational resources, counseling strategies, skills, and a safe environment for learning. In addition, Dr. Yavuz’s new research project, “Exploring Professional Development Needs of School Administrators,” was approved on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 by The Institutional Review Board. This research study is designed to help the K-12 schools develop comprehensive and evidence-based professional development programs to improve student outcomes. 

Dr. Yavuz's Research Projects:

Dr. Olcay Yavuz’s research proposal entitled “Building a State-wide Effort to Reduce Inequality for Underprivileged Youth in High Poverty Urban Schools” has been selected to receive funding under the FY20 Proposal Incentive Program (PIP). The purpose of this study is to examine the impacts of the Comprehensive School Counseling Program (CSCP) on the academic success, social-emotional development, college and career readiness of underprivileged youth in the state of Connecticut.

Further, Dr. Yavuz’s faculty development grant “Building a University-wide Infrastructure to Support Faculty to Develop Hybrid/Online College Courses” has been approved and funded during spring 2020. As a part of this grant, Dr. Yavuz and his grant team collaborated with SCSU Office of Faculty Development and the Office of Online Learning to organize the first “Online Teaching Academy” and supported over 200 SCSU faculty to develop online and hybrid courses.