University of South Florida

College of Education

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USF College of Education announces recipients of 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards

The University of South Florida (USF) College of Education is proud to announce the recipients of the College’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Each year, the College of Education presents our Distinguished Alumni Awards to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of our graduates. Recipients are selected by a committee of College of Education faculty, staff and administrators from nominations submitted by the USF community.

Troy Sadler

Troy Sadler

Troy Sadler, PhD `03

Dean’s Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award

The recipient of the Dean’s Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award is recognized as a community member who has demonstrated long-term contributions, achievement and service within education or a related profession—on a local, state, regional, national and/or global level.

Troy Sadler graduated from USF in 2003 with a doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in science education. Today, Sadler is the Thomas James Distinguished Professor in Experiential Learning at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill’s School of Education.

Sadler started his career as a biology researcher and later transitioned into high school teaching. He soon began graduate-level research in science education and has continued this work for more than 20 years. His areas of expertise include experiential learning, socio-scientific issues and issues-based teaching and epistemic practices.

Sadler’s research focuses on how students negotiate complex socio-scientific issues and how these issues may be used as contexts for science learning. His work has been funded by national organizations including the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, the US Department of Education and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

In addition to his PhD from USF, Sadler received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Miami and a Master of Education in science education from the University of Florida. Prior to his current role at UNC, Sadler served as associate dean of research at the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s School of Education and as a professor of science education and director of the ReSTEM Institute and the MU Science Education Center at the University of Missouri. He also held faculty positions at the University of Florida and Indiana University Bloomington.

While a professor at UNC, Sadler has become a mentor to a new generation of graduate students and his research continues to make an impact on the field of science education. He has received numerous awards throughout his career such as the Early Career Research Award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, the Cultural Studies of Science Education Distinguished Paper Award from the academic journal “Cultural Studies of Science Education,” and the Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award from the National Association for Research in Science Teaching.

LaShawn Frost

LaShawn Frost

LaShawn Frost, MEd `04

Spirit of Partnership Alumni Award

The Spirit of Partnership Alumni Award is presented to an individual who has gone “above and beyond” in their service to the College of Education, and who the College of Education expresses deep appreciation for as someone who has created and sustained partnerships within both the community and the College to help achieve its mission.

LaShawn Frost graduated from USF in 2004 with a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership. Today, she serves as principal of Booker Middle School in Sarasota, Fla., where she has worked since 2011. Before becoming principal, LaShawn served as an assistant principal at both Booker Middle School and Venice High School.

As a collaborative partner of the university and the College of Education, Frost works with the Florida Center for Partnerships in Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT) at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus and coaches USF interns who complete their field experiences at Booker Middle School. While principal, she has maintained a personal goal of hiring at least one USF intern a year to join the faculty at Booker.

In addition to her master’s degree from USF, Frost earned two bachelor’s degrees from Florida State University, a master’s degree in counseling from Norwich University and a doctorate in counseling and leadership from Cornerstone University.

Frost has received many awards throughout her career. In 2019, she was selected as the 2019 Principal of the Year for Sarasota County Schools. She also received the Freedom Education Award from the NAACP, the Outstanding Educator Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Community Leader Award from Rotary Club of Sarasota, the Community Impact Award from The Junior League of Sarasota, the ‘She Knows Where She’s Going’ Award from Girls Inc. of Sarasota County and the ‘BIZ 941 Women to Follow’ Award from Sarasota Magazine.

Frost is an alumna of the “Art of Leadership” Institute at Harvard University, an immersive educational experience that helped to foster her appreciation for and understanding of the complexities of leading in 21st century schools. She was also the first principal from the school district to serve on the Arts Schools Network board, a nonprofit association that aims to inspire emerging and seasoned leaders in K-16 arts schools by providing quality resources, support, and networking opportunities to elevate their institutions. As a board member, she currently serves as treasurer.

Edna Jones Miller

Edna Jones Miller

Edna Jones Miller, Communications `06, MA `08, PhD `12

Young Educators Alumni Award

The Young Educators Alumni Award recognizes a graduate of the university who received their degree within the past 10 years and who is 35 years of age or younger. The award recognizes the work of a graduate who serves as an exemplary leader in the field of education among their peers and in their community.

A three-time USF graduate, Edna Jones Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2006, a Master of Science degree in management in 2008 and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction in 2012. Today, Jones Miller is the inaugural dean of students and lead student affairs administrator at Valencia College’s downtown campus in Orlando.

Jones Miller has nearly 15 years of administration, teaching, research and writing experience and has dedicated her career to student success. In her role at Valencia College, she helped lead the development and implementation of an innovative partnership with the University of Central Florida Student Affairs team to offer a unique student experience to students at Valencia who will transfer to the university after completing their associate degree. As a result, students at the downtown campus benefit from joint services such as orientation, advising, student engagement and health and wellness activities.

Jones Miller is a published author and scholar-practitioner who has served in numerous teaching and administration roles in the higher education field. She recently ended a three-year term as a member of the Review Board for the “Journal About Women in Higher Education” and began a three-year term as a member of the Editorial Review Board of the “Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice.”

Outside of her work in higher education, Jones Miller is the founder of “Wealth in Wisdom,” a personal development blog and coaching service. At the beginning of 2021, she also launched “Edna Jones Miller Enterprises, LLC,” a professional editing and consultation service.

For more information, please contact:
Elizabeth Engasser
Director of Communications
USF College of Education    
(813) 974-8723

About the University of South Florida: 
The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at

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About the USF College of Education:

As the home for more than 2,200 students and 130 faculty members across three campuses, the University of South Florida College of Education offers state-of-the-art teacher training and collegial graduate studies designed to empower educational leaders. Our college is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and our educator preparation programs are fully approved by the Florida Department of Education.