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News from June 2013

MCPER fellow Andrea Flower wins prestigious Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award
June 27, 2013

MCPER congratulates Andrea Flower, a fellow with the Dropout Prevention Institute and assistant professor in the Department of Special Education, for winning a 2013 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award.

The highest honor of The University of Texas System, the award recognizes "faculty members at the nine academic and six health University of Texas System institutions who have demonstrated extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in undergraduate instruction," according to the UT System website. Students, other faculty members, and external reviewers evaluate nominees for the award. Among other areas, the review panels considers candidates' "classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development, and student learning outcomes," according to UT System. Winners also receive a $25,000 award.

Flower completed her doctorate at the University of Washington in Seattle. Prior to that, she taught for several years in Southern California in multiple special education settings across the K–12 continuum. Her current research and teaching focus is on academic and social/behavioral instruction and interventions for students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders. More specifically, she is interested in the intersection of academic intervention and secondary- and tertiary-level positive behavior support interventions that promote improved outcomes for these students.

Tags: Dropout Prevention Institute 

Del Valle Independent School District nominates MCPER for Distinguished Partnership Award
June 18, 2013

MCPER has been nominated for the Del Valle Independent School District Distinguished Partnership Award in recognition of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities' work in the district. MCPER's Michael Solis, John McKenna, and Jessica Kelly attended an awards banquet on May 28 to receive a plaque and be recognized for the nomination. Joyce Bannerot, principal of Popham Elementary School, officially nominated the project.

For more information on the project, visit the TCLD external website.

Tags: Reading Institute  Texas Center for Learning Disabilities 

Kristina Metz successfully defends dissertation, sets sights on internship
June 12, 2013

MCPER congratulates Kristina Metz, a researcher with the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities and Middle School Matters Institute, for successfully defending her dissertation: "The Role of Family Functioning, Family Messages, and Child Cognitions in the Development and Maintenance of Depression." Metz next will begin a psychology internship at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which specializes in treating children with chronic illnesses, with developmental disabilities, or who have been abused.

Metz, a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Psychology with a concentration in school psychology, earned her bachelor of arts degree in child development at Vanderbilt University. She went on to conduct research on early intervention programs at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University. Her research interests include school-based early intervention programs, family-school connections, and international education development.

Tags: Reading Institute  Texas Center for Learning Disabilities 

New product arms parents with strategies for summer reading with their children
June 7, 2013

MCPER's Project ELITE has created a read-aloud routine that parents can use during the summer to increase their children's vocabulary and comprehension. And the eye-catching resource is already receiving rave reviews. 

"Parents want to know how to read to their children, and this is perfect to use," said Deb McKinney, a kindergarten teacher at Baty Elementary in Del Valle Independent School District, where Project ELITE has been working. "Students are told, step by step, what to do—and exactly how to do it. Sure, you can say, 'Read a book every night.' But how should you read? This routine takes it to the next level."

The large-format bookmark, pictured at right and posted in our Library, is the brainchild of ELITE Project Director Leticia Romero Grimaldo and MCPER Senior Graphic Designer Carlos Treviño. It features the routine in English on one side and in Spanish on the other. 

For more information about Project ELITE, visit its project website. For more information about this tool, contact Dr. Grimaldo.

Tags: Language for Learning Institute  English Learner Institute for Teaching and Excellence: Project ELITE 

Jennifer Wick Schnakenberg named principal investigator of Texas Literacy Initiative
June 4, 2013

MCPER and the Vaughn Gross Center congratulate Jennifer Wick Schnakenberg on her new role with the Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI) as the project's principal investigator. In her 10 years at the centers, Schnakenberg has specialized in professional development and technical assistance at the national, state, district, and campus levels to build capacity and implementation of evidence-based and sustainable literacy practices. The goal of TLI is to improve school readiness and success in language and literacy of disadvantaged students in targeted local education agencies and their associated early childhood education providers through coordinated implementation of the Texas State Literacy Plan. For more information, visit the Vaughn Gross Center TLI project page or the Texas Education Agency TLI webpage.

Tags: Reading Institute