The College of Education’s staff and faculty are actively engaged in teaching, research and service activities both within the university community and beyond. Read about the accomplishments and achievements of our faculty and staff during the Spring 2022 semester.
To submit information for a future issue of College of Education Faculty and Staff Notes, please contact Elizabeth Engasser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professor Vonzell Agosto, PhD, was interviewed for a news story published by Washington Post in February. In the story, Dr. Agosto discusses the impact that recent legislation and executive orders have had on public school curriculum.
Professors Michael Berson, PhD, and Ilene Berson, PhD, were featured guests on Education for Sustainable Democracy, a civic and environmental education podcast, to discuss their online civic education site, KidCitizen, and their research on how elementary school children learn about their social world.
Additionally, Michael and Ilene served as members of a team at the National Council for the Social Studies that authored a new report titled “College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Inquiry and Engagement Online: Fostering Digital Civic Participation through Critical Inquiry.” The report identifies five basic principles for fostering digital civic participation through critical inquiry. It includes a curriculum purpose statement and guidelines and recommends many suitable resources for educators to use.
Professor William Black, PhD, co-edited a new book titled “Who Decides?: Power, Disability, and Educational Leadership.” The book, which explores the question of who decides how to organize schools around criteria of ability and/or disability and what these decisions imply for leadership in schools, features chapters published by USF Visiting Professor Sarah Semon, PhD, and USF graduates Rod Jones and Angela Passero Jones. USF graduate student Csaba Osvath assisted with the cover design. The book was published by Information Age Publishing.
Academic advisor Bobby Brown was named the 2022 U-Decide Instructor of the Year by USF’s Office of Undergraduate Studies. The recipient of the award is an instructor at the university who is committed to creating a student-centered classroom by using effective and creative teaching practices, increasing students' self-efficacy, and raising awareness of options for potential majors and careers.
Associate Professors Jolyn Blank, PhD, and Sophia Han, PhD, served as members of a panel that explored “Rethinking Early Childhood Education” at the Hillsborough Education Foundation in April. The event was hosted in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS).
Initiated by undergraduate students in USF’s Early Childhood Education Program, the event served as an opportunity for pre-service teachers to share what they’ve learned about early childhood education best practices in topics such as play-based learning, assessment approaches, professional support, and instructional continuity across the early childhood years. The event was also an opportunity to highlight the partnership between the College of Education and HCPS.
Associate Professor Cheryl Ellerbrock, PhD, was awarded the 2021-22 Margaret Burlington Tritle Excellence in Teaching Faculty Award, an annual award presented to college faculty members who demonstrate exemplary teaching. The Margaret Burlington Tritle Excellence in Teaching Faculty Award was created in 2017 through a gift made to the College of Education by USF alumnus Lawrence Tritle to honor his late wife’s teaching legacy. Faculty recipients receive an award to support their research, professional travel and other activities related to teaching and scholarship at USF.
Assistant Professor Nathan Fisk, PhD, was an online panelist for a Twitter chat hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education in February. The event was hosted to celebrate Safer Internet Day to foster discussion around media literacy and how it can be used as a tool to support a safer internet experience for children.
Assistant Professor of Instruction Jane Govoni, PhD, was awarded the 2021-22 Margaret Burlington Tritle Excellence in Teaching Faculty Award, an annual award presented to college faculty members who demonstrate exemplary teaching. The Margaret Burlington Tritle Excellence in Teaching Faculty Award was created in 2017 through a gift made to the College of Education by USF alumnus Lawrence Tritle to honor his late wife’s teaching legacy. Faculty recipients receive an award to support their research, professional travel and other activities related to teaching and scholarship at USF.
Associate Professor Thomas Miller, EdD, was interviewed for a story published by EdSource in May that explores how USF is helping students graduate sooner and providing support services to underrepresented populations, such as low-income and first-generation students.
Associate Professor of Instruction Helene Robinson, EdD, was a speaker at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus’s TEDx event in March. In her TED talk, Dr. Robinson shared the story of how ableism has shown up in her life and helped the audience understand how society can create a more inclusive environment by working together. A recording of her talk is available on the TED website.
Professor Janet C. Richards, PhD, edited a new qualitative textbook titled, “Engaging Students in Socially Constructed Qualitative Research Pedagogies.” The textbook contributes to the developing field of qualitative research pedagogy and offers strategies and approaches to actively engage students in qualitative inquiry. The book was co-edited with Audra Skukauskaitė from the University of Central Florida and Ronald Chenail from Nova Southeastern University. It will be published in May by Brill | Sense.
Professor and Dean R. Anthony Rolle, PhD, was a featured guest on the Tampa Bay Politics Podcast with Angela Birdsong. During the episode, Dr. Rolle discussed his career in politics and higher education and the various career pathways available to students who study at the USF College of Education. The full episode is available on YouTube.
Associate Professor Stephen Rushton, PhD, was selected to receive the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus’s Outstanding Professor Award in April. The recipient of this award is chosen each semester by the graduating class at USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus. Dr. Rushton has been a faculty member at the Sarasota-Manatee campus since 1998 and will be retiring this year.
Professor Jenifer Jasinski Schneider, PhD, wrote a guest column for the Tampa Bay Times in February. In the column, titled “The dangerous messages in banned children’s books,” Dr. Schneider discusses the wave of book banning happening in schools across the country.
Associate Professor Ruthmae Sears, PhD, was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Sears is the first Black faculty member at USF to receive this recognition, which is one of the world’s most prestigious honors for academic research.
This semester, Dr. Sears received numerous awards from USF, including the Outstanding Faculty Award, the Office of Multicultural Affairs I Heart Diversity Award and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Opportunity’s Inclusive Excellence Award. She was also featured in Fox 13's "What's Right with Tampa Bay" storytelling series, which highlights positive stories in the Tampa Bay area. The story explores Dr. Sears's career as a mathematics educator and her national recognition as an AAAS fellow for academic research.
Associate Professor Ruthmae Sears, PhD, was interviewed by WUSF Public Media in January for a story about a study on structural racism that was conducted on behalf of the City of St. Petersburg last fall. Associate Professor Dana Thompson Dorsey, JD, PhD, also served as a co-principal investigator for the research study.
Associate Professor Patriann Smith, PhD, co-authored a new book titled “Affirming Black Students’ Lives and Literacies.” The book draws on the authors’ experiences as Black parents, researchers, teachers, and teacher educators to provide a multipronged approach to affirming Black lives and literacies. It was published in March by Teachers College Press.
Assistant Professor Sara Smith, PhD, was a 2022 recipient of the USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy program's Dr. Kathleen Moore Faculty Excellence Award. The Dr. Kathleen Moore Faculty Excellence Award recognizes women faculty who demonstrate excellence through their research at USF.
Dr. Smith was also featured in a story published by the Tampa Bay Business Journal in January about her project, Multimedia Augmented Reality Vocabulary Learning (MARVL), an award-winning augmented reality (AR) application that uses technology and research-based best practices to support learning vocabulary in a new language.
Associate Professor Dana Thompson Dorsey, JD, PhD, was a facilitator at an Enlightenment Series Workshop hosted in February as part of USF’s Black History Month activities. The event, titled “From Protest to Progress: Combating Discrimination, Bias, and Oppressive Practices,” was hosted by USF’s Institute on Black Life, the Black Employee Steering Committee and Black Faculty & Staff Association.
Associate Professor of Instruction Cindy Topdemir, PhD, published a note in May on behalf of the Florida School Counselor Association exploring ways in which school counselors can stretch their comfort zone and grow as practitioners. Dr. Topdemir serves as governing board chair of the Florida School Counselor Association.
Academic Program Specialist Heather Van Allen received the USF Quiet Quality Award in February. The recognition is presented by the USF Staff Senate to celebrate employees who excel in their work roles while demonstrating professional traits beyond their basic job duties, such as problem-solving, positive attitude, leadership and resourcefulness.
Associate Professor Nathaniel von der Embse, PhD, is the principal investigator for a research study that received a $50,000 grant from the Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood to launch a new project that will help caregivers identify early warning signs of mental health issues in young children. The project, titled “Project Begin Well,” will increase caregivers' mental health literacy and the use of critical support services available to preschool-aged children (3-5 years old). Gabrielle Francis, a doctoral student in USF’s School Psychology Program, serves as co-principal investigator for the project.
Associate Professor Jennifer Wolgemuth, PhD, co-edited a new book titled “Philosophical Mentoring in Qualitative Research.” The book, which was co-edited with University of Alabama Associate Professor Kelly Guyotte, PhD, features a chapter and two "mentoring moment" reflections written by USF doctoral students. The book was published in February by Routledge.