And the hits keep on coming …

Eui-Kyung Shin and Thomas Smith

Eui-Kyung Shin and Thomas Smith

The spring awards season goes on for the NIU College of Education.

Eui-Kyung Shin, professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Tom Smith, Presidential Teaching Professor in the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment, join former colleague Andrew Milson of the University of Texas at Arlington, in an award from the National Council for Geographic Education.

For more than 100 years, the NCGE has worked to enhance the status and quality of geography teaching and learning at all levels of instruction. Through its awards program, NCGE recognizes excellence in geography teaching, mentoring, research, instructional design and service.

ncge“Each year, we are impressed by the level of innovation, quality and creativity of all our award nominees,” said Zachary R. Dulli, chief executive officer. “Understanding our world is critical to a high-quality education, and these award winners represent the best of the best in providing that to our students.”



A celebration of excellence

excllence-2College of Education Dean Laurie Elish-Piper, along with associate deans Bill Pitney and David Walker, rolled out the red carpet May 5 for the college’s annual Celebration of Excellence.

The event in Anderson Hall recognized winners of the College of Education awards.

  • Excellence in Teaching Award by Faculty/Clinical Faculty: Katy Jaekel, CAHE
  • Excellence in Research and Artistry Award by Faculty: Jim Ressler, KNPE
  • Excellence in Service Award by Faculty: Myoung Jung, SEED (not pictured)
  • Exceptional Contributions by Instructors: Jan Hart, SEED
  • Exceptional Contributions by Civil Service Staff: David Snow, LEPF
  • Exceptional Contributions by Supportive Professional Staff: Susan Schwartz, KNPE
  • Outreach/Community Service Award: Stacy Kelly, SEED
  • Exceptional Contributions in Diversity/Social Justice Award: James Cohen, CI, and Lauriece Zittel, KNPE

Also stepping into the spotlight:

  • Tom Smith, a newly named NIU Presidential Teaching Professor from the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment;


Laura Ruth Johnson to study civic engagement, advocacy of young parents in Humboldt Park

Laura Ruth Johnson

Laura Ruth Johnson

Laura Ruth Johnson has spent two decades observing the lives, struggles and triumphs of young parents in Chicago.

Throughout those years, the associate professor in the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment has seen many young parents thrive in spite of a lack of programs that could help them.

“Some of them are missing school to work, but not because they don’t value education,” Johnson says. “It’s because they’re extremely responsible. Some are working an extra job to provide for their children or help their parents pay the rent.”

Johnson will turn her attention this summer to how young parents in Humboldt Park engage with their community – and if that civic engagement can inform and enhance their advocacy skills, for themselves and their children, as well as for other young parents.



K-12 teachers to explore equity at Social Justice Summer Camp

Joseph Flynn

Joseph Flynn

Question: Can K-12 teachers without a deep understanding of social justice concerns effectively engage and enlighten their students on those topics?

Joseph Flynn, James Cohen and Mike Manderino would say “no.”

But the three professors from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are ready to start equipping teachers to tackle those tough conversations from a well-rounded perspective of the issues.

Nearly 60 teachers and other school professionals will arrive June 11 at NIU for the inaugural Social Justice Summer Camp for Educators, a four-day, three-night, candid and nonjudgmental exploration of multiculturalism, privilege, identity, oppression and more.

“Practicing K-12 teachers and administrators typically have the best of intentions, but it is important for them to also have experiences that can help further their understanding of various forms of oppression and social justice in general,” says Flynn, who first proposed the summer camp.



KNPE scholarships impact lives

Corina Salinas

Corina Salinas

Corina Salinas played sports in high school and college, including track and water polo.

“With any athlete, you’re always going to be in some sort of pain. It just depends on your perception of that pain,” says Salinas, a fifth-year senior from the South Side of Chicago. “That always intrigued me. Every human being has a different perception of pain, and a different level of pain. I wanted to learn more.”

Katherine Kendall had her eyes on a career in nursing. She took all the right courses at Illinois Valley College and worked as a CNA in a local nursing home and hospital, but soon discovered “something missing.”

“It didn’t fit me,” says Kendall, a senior from Mendota, Ill. “I shadowed everyone in the physical therapy department, and I instantly connected with the athletic trainers and the goals they set for their profession. I completely fell in love with athletic training from then on.”



April 21, 25 offer two great ways to back College of Ed students

Two upcoming events will provide great opportunities for NIU College of Education faculty and staff to show their support of students.

CoE Student Research Symposium

researchStudents, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend the second annual CoE Student Research Symposium, scheduled from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, in the Learning Center of Gabel Hall.

As students learn about the process of research and academic inquiry, they can share outcomes of their research, creative works, scholarly activity and research ideas. They also can display their work during the poster session, explore research methods related to their own interests and learn how to become involved with faculty research.

Participants can present ideas at a Table Talk Session and obtain valuable advice on how to accomplish their research goals.

For more information, email Pat Weilert at pweilert@niu.edu or Bill Pitney at wpitney@niu.edu.

Student Appreciation Day



Judy Schneider named director of College of Ed advancement

Judy Schneider

Judy Schneider

Judy Schneider, a gift planning officer in the NIU Foundation since 2012, is joining the College of Education as director of Advancement.

Schneider begins her new role April 17 as she continues her mission to find the “hope” delivered through donor-funded scholarships and dollars that fuel innovative programs.

“I am excited to work in the College of Education for a variety of reasons,” Schneider says.

“For one, I have met such great alumni and friends from the college over the past 10-plus years. Their work is critical as educators, administrators, counselors and more in improving so many issues this country faces,” she says. “And I really think I can help connect these alumni and friends with the needs of the college and their personal philanthropic goals.”

Coming to the College of Education also will allow her to “narrow my focus a bit” as she collaborates with “a great group of people for a common goal,” she adds.



Iowa State honors David Walker

David Walker

David Walker

David Walker’s fervent curiosity about the world beyond the United States has shaped his life.

As an undergraduate at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history, political science and Russian studies. He also studied abroad in the former Soviet Union in 1987.

“I got a taste of being overseas,” Walker says, “and I enjoyed it immensely.”

Following graduation, Walker and his wife joined the Peace Corps, serving together from 1989 to 1991 in Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo) and from 1992 to 1994 in Mauritania.

Those years in Francophone Africa sparked his interest in the history of that region, and upon his return home, he enrolled at Iowa State University to earn a master’s degree in history. He later completed a Ph.D. there in education.



NIU connects Downers Grove with eighth-graders in Taiwan

The view from Taiwan: Students from National University of Tainan Affiliated Primary School returned late in the evening for the Skype session.

The view from Taiwan: Students from National University of Tainan Affiliated Primary School returned late in the evening to Skype.
Teacher Chen Jin-Ting is on the left.

It opened with simple hellos before the conversation turned to favorite foods and hobbies.

Peering into webcams, the strangers made small talk across oceans through the power of Skype. This was only Day One, though; the real conversation would come 48 hours later.

And when that began – at 7 a.m. Wednesday, March 22, inside an eighth-grade science classroom at Downers Grove’s O’Neill Middle School – hour-long scientific argumentation between U.S. students and their Taiwanese counterparts proved lively and educational.

For the next hour, they argued this question: If funding were limited, which form of alternative energy would you select as the best to promote and advance?



Community Learning Series: Five ways to make sure kids grow through their love of tech

Parents can’t help but worry.

Phones, tablets and apps galore are competing for the undivided attention of their children and teens – and chances probably seem good to many moms and dads that the technology is winning.

So what can we do to make sure that our kids are getting the most out of their Internet-connected gadgets? Is there a way to promote their educational potential while mitigating the negative consequences?

Five experts convened March 23 by the NIU College of Education to explore “The Digital Lives of Children: Giving Screen Time a Closer Look” offered opinions and strategies that can help parents make sense of it all.