Month: February 2018

James Cohen wins Fulbright

James Cohen

James Cohen

James Cohen will spend the summer of 2019 in Uruguay as a Fulbright Scholar.

The associate professor of ESL/Bilingual Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction will work alongside Aldo Rodriguez, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations. Rodriguez is also the national director of Second Language Policy for the Uruguay National Board of Education.

“Essentially,” Cohen said, “I will be going around the country, from region to region, working with high school English teachers, focusing on a combination of English as a Foreign Language pedagogy and cultural sensitivity issues.”

Cohen hopes to make these educators “more culturally responsive in their teaching strategies and teaching approaches.”

“I want to provide a venue in which they can understand the hierarchical nature of these systems of injustice that exist in every country, including theirs,” he said. “I also want to provide a venue in which they are aware of their perspectives of the students – in other words, are they viewing their students from a deficit model or from a strength model? We are learning that the research is very, very clear on this.”

His reason is equally clear.

“No child should be treated as ‘the other,’ and I’ve seen it many times where teachers and school systems treat kids as ‘the other.’ It’s unethical, it’s immoral and it’s wrong, and a lot of times, teachers aren’t always aware that they’re doing this. It’s all about raising awareness,” said Cohen, who joined NIU in 2010.

“My experience here in the United States is that when teachers gain the awareness of how they’re interacting with their students, and how they’re viewing their students, it’s a win-win for everybody,” he added.

Aldo Rodriguez

Aldo Rodriguez

“The teachers are no longer frustrated with their students; the students are no longer upset about going to class; and the students end up working harder for the teacher because the teacher is respecting them. I’m passionate about this because I know it makes a difference in kids’ lives.”

Before Cohen and his family embark for South America, he plans frequent and extensive conversations with Rodriguez to discuss the specifics of the implementation of the proposed project.

In preparation for this time in Uruguay, Cohen is taking an advanced-level Spanish course this semester during his sabbatical because he does not know what level of English proficiency the teachers will have. He also hopes that, by spending three months in Uruguay, he and his daughter will continue to improve their Spanish.

Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

Fulbright awards approximately 8,000 grants each year to roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars and 900 visiting scholars, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals.

Cohen’s first application for a Fulbright grant, one he submitted four years ago in hopes of visiting Paraguay, the country located directly north of Uruguay, received “alternate status” and never came to fruition.

However, this year’s attempt seemed predestined to succeed.

fulbrightDuring a recent academic conference, while he awaited word on his proposal, Cohen bumped into a close friend who teaches at Western Illinois University. She unexpectedly mentioned that she had applied for – and had received – a Fulbright grant.

The good news was enough to excite Cohen, but the “rest of the story” sent him over the top: His friend was going to Uruguay. “I’m like, ‘This is awesome!’ ” he said. “She’s there now. She just went down there in January, and she’ll be there for the whole semester. I didn’t even know that she was applying.”

Cohen got his good news while in Washington, D.C. for the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Institute, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges and Universities and held from Jan. 19 through Jan. 23.

“I was listening to a presentation and then, all of a sudden, I get this email, and it says, ‘Congratulations! You have won!’ ” he said. “Needless to say, I have no idea what that presenter said. From that moment on, I was no longer listening.”

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Engage U.S. ready to launch with trip to Olympic City USA

Brandon Male

Brandon Male

All of the world’s eyes – Brandon Male’s included – are on South Korea.

But the instructor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE) is looking at the Winter Olympics through a different lens, one that understands that the games are far more than athletes, medals, national anthems and must-watch TV.

Male is preparing to select and accompany a dozen NIU College of Education students this May to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, also known as Olympic City USA, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Stop One on the trip, coming at the half-way point of the drive, is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where the Engage U.S. students will visit the Nebraska Athletic Performance Laboratory.

It’s among the first ventures of Engage U.S., a new addition to the Educate and Engage Program and tailored for students who are not in teacher-licensure candidates. Thanks to generous funding from donors to the college and the department, students selected for the trip will pay almost nothing.

“This is a big opportunity for our Exercise Science and Sport Management students to gain a little insight and to get their own Olympic experience,” Male says. “This is going to be the start of something cool.”

team-usaHuskies chosen for the trip will engage with, and learn from, coaches and other practitioners and administrators who work at the U.S. Olympic headquarters. Male also hopes his travelers will meet current Olympic athletes.

USA Swimming and USA Shooting also house their national headquarters on the complex, which covers 35 acres and can provide housing, dining, training facilities, recreational facilities and other services for more than 500 athletes and coaches at one time.

NIU students will stay in the training center’s dormitories and enjoy use of the fitness facilities and swimming pools, he adds.

Field trips are planned to the Air Force Academy and the headquarters of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

“Colorado Springs is kind of the fitness, strength and conditioning capitol of the United States,” Male says. “It’s kind of like Silicon Valley is for the technology industry.”

KNPE Chair Chad McEvoy was instrumental in bringing Male’s vision to life.

“Dr. McEvoy had a couple contacts there, including a former student who’s moved on to the USA Triathlon. He still knows some folks there, though, and did a little networking, made a few phone calls – business development is his title – and they ate it up,” Male says.

“Every once in a while, the Olympic Training Center has a university tour that comes out, but they’re trying to get more experience with more young people, with more up-and-coming professionals, and they’re really trying to push the Olympics to help grow and cultivate Team USA. They’re very on board. They love the idea.”

Chad McEvoy

Chad McEvoy

“Our Kinesiology program at NIU provides exceptional opportunities for students to pursue their passion for working in fitness and exercise related professions,” McEvoy says. “This Engage U.S. experience with the Olympic Training Center will allow our students to immerse themselves in sport performance at its peak.”

Past the invaluable lessons of the industry lie the kinds of experiences that are only available outside the classroom, Male says, including new skills, greater confidence and the inspiration to “better themselves to become the highest level of professional.”

“I hope these students realize that it’s a big world out there with a lot of really great opportunities. I hope they come back with a more global perspective, and that it’s important to reach out, to make contact with people and to take a chance,” Male says.

“I want them to think about those employers, those graduate schools and those jobs that might seem too good to be true, or too much of a big fish, and to go for it,” he adds. “At its core – at its root – what this is is a networking opportunity, to just go out there and meet people, and this is an opportunity to go out there and meet the best of the best. Who better to talk to you about that than Team USA?”



SEED faculty chosen to present at engaged learning conference

Laura Hedin

Laura Hedin

Laura Hedin leaves no doubt of her feelings on engaged learning.

“It’s the best way for students to learn. That’s the bottom line,” says Hedin, who teaches Special Education in the Department of Special and Early Education (SEED). “If it’s just listening – and not doing – then students are not getting everything they could be getting from my expertise. Practicing their skills just bumps everything up in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning.”

The associate professor is one of two College of Education faculty members chosen to present at NIU’s first Conference on Engaged Learning, Teaching and Scholarship.

Natalie Young, an instructor of Early Childhood Education in SEED, is the college’s other “exemplar” at the Tuesday, March 6, event in the Holmes Student Center.

Several faculty and staff will present on best practices in engaged learning, teaching and scholarship. All are welcome to attend; registration is open online.

Lisa Freeman, acting president of NIU, will deliver the opening remarks as well as the keynote address: “Bringing NIU’s Mission to Life through Engagement.”

Concurrent “Best Practice” sessions begin at 9:15 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A plenary session is scheduled from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m., and a poster session will begin at 11:45 a.m.

Participants will close the day with a discussion on “The Future of Engaged Learning at NIU.”

kanelandHedin will discuss her department’s collaboration with Kaneland School District 302, where her teacher-licensure candidates in Special Education are collecting and analyzing assessment data to design and deliver effective lessons.

“We have so much positive feedback from our candidates, the district teachers and the school districts,” Hedin says. “It’s one thing to hear something from a professor, but it’s another thing for that information to come directly from your clinical site and your cooperating teachers. Our students get that reflection; they get that piece where they say, ‘You know, I just saw this in my clinical placement. Why do you do it that way?’ ”

Faculty, meanwhile, are on site in Kaneland.

“As we started working with the district representatives about what they need, we made them aware of the advantages of having a cluster of candidates working there so that we could bring our coursework to Kaneland,” she says. “We came up with some curriculum to deliver to their classroom teachers, specifically about writing IEPs and IEP goals.”

Young will talk about Open Doors, her Educate Local program that takes NIU students to teach at Lincoln Elementary School in Bellwood, Ill.

Natalie Young

Natalie Young

Open Doors has two motives, one to motivate the college aspirations of Lincoln’s first- and second-graders and another to expose NIU teacher-candidates to “understand the importance of having experiences in a setting where minorities are the largest population.”

“When reflecting on their experiences through the Open Doors program, my students express appreciation for additional hands-on, in-the-field opportunities with young students,” Young says. “Students collaborate on teams to create lessons specifically targeted to the needs of the students. We go, and we work directly with young students directly. Who doesn’t learn best by doing?”

Experiences like the ones provided by Open Doors are essential for undergraduate students before they become actual classroom teachers, she adds.

“I can give my students lots of articles and tell them to read about what others say it looks like to teach in predominantly minority schools. We can read, read, read, and we can discuss, discuss, discuss,” she says, “but it’s completely different when you meet that primary school child who’s right in front of you, connecting with you, and you’re connecting with them. It’s different when you’re sitting there crisscross-applesauce, working directly with and engaging with students of color in a way in which you may have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing.”

Hedin and Young are eager to learn from the other presenters, and are grateful for the opportunity to do so.

“I am a lifelong learner, and I need not only to continue to work on my skills but to engage with colleagues who are doing the same things. I also need to be a model of that for my students,” Hedin says.

open-doors-fi

Open Doors

“To have engagement initiatives like this come down from the president and the provost is terrific,” she adds. “It really shows a dedication of resources to actually make certain that engaged learning occurs and to help people understand how it can occur.”

Young, a doctoral student in her department, regards the ELTS conference as a university-based version of what goes on in K-12 schools all the time.

“I like to see what types of engagement activities and program others are doing,” Young says. “I’m always curious about what other educators are doing and how it’s working for them, and that’s what teachers do all the time. We get creative ideas from each other, and if we listen and collaborate, we continue to grow as professionals.”

For more information on the ELTS conference, call (815) 753-8154 or email rkersh@niu.edu.



Getting to Know You: SEED finds creative way to engage freshmen, transfer students

Angie Lobdell

Angie Lobdell

Angie Lobdell knows her way around schools.

When her youngest child was born in 2001, she became a stay-at-home mom. And when that child began kindergarten, she maternally followed.

“I decided to work at the school. I got a job as a para,” Lobdell says. “Later I got a promotion to reading aide – or Title I aide – and I thought, ‘I’m already doing some lesson-planning, and I always wanted to finish college, so let’s just do it.’ ”

Heather Kerfoot found inspiration from one of her oldest son’s former teachers.

“Both of my sons, who are both teenagers, have special ed in their educational lives, and I have seen the great things it can do for students who really need it. I’ve seen it make a big change in their academic abilities and performance,” says Kerfoot, who lives in Naperville.

“There’s one great teacher who really made a difference for my 17-year-old when he was an eighth-grader,” she adds. “In fact, he still communicates with this teacher, and I can’t say enough about what he did for us.”

Roxanne Espinoza’s light bulb moment came long before adulthood.

“I got the wonderful opportunity to do a Partners Club in junior high,” Espinoza says. “They pair you up with a student with a disability, and you do fun activities after school. I just enjoyed the experience. I helped students with disabilities with their homework, and I just loved that.”

Lobdell, Kerfoot and Espinoza have plenty in common.

Toni Van Laarhoven

Toni Van Laarhoven

All are majoring in Special Education. All are transfer students, from Sauk Valley Community College, the College of DuPage and Harper College, respectively.

And all recently earned one credit each in a new course called “Exploring the Special Ed Major,” now required for all students who declare the major.

“For years, everyone has talked about the quality and importance of recruitment and retention,” says Toni Van Laarhoven, Presidential Teaching Professor in the Department of Special and Early Education.

“In our program – in Special Ed – we’d say the problem was that we never get to reach the freshmen and sophomores, and to pull them in to get to know our program, until they were in their junior year and in the professional block,” she adds.

Van Laarhoven noticed that her licensure candidates in Block 3 (the semester immediately before they begin to student-teach) were largely unaware of amazing resources and opportunities they had all through their NIU careers.

Student organizations. Student Services. The Educate and Engage Program. Undergraduate research. The Learning Center.

“But it was almost too late,” she says, “so we as a faculty started talking about, ‘What are the cool things we would like potential Special Ed majors to know?’ And we just developed this course.”

Coursework includes the making and keeping of one-on-one appointments with academic advisers and with Van Laarhoven herself, who taught the fall class one day a week in a blended face-to-face and online format.

Greg Conderman

Greg Conderman

Students learn about the structure of the program, including the professional blocks, as well as the requirements of getting in and staying in the major. They are told where to find more information on the Educator Licensure Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP) as well as tutoring, counseling and more.

They must complete “passport” activities such as locating faculty and departmental offices, meeting Department Chair Greg Conderman and conducting interviews with professors to learn about their academic backgrounds, their daily work and their research interests.

“We also do silly things,” Van Laarhoven says. “They have to go down to the Learning Center and take a selfie of themselves getting coffee. It’s like our best-kept secret: You don’t have to go to the library! There are a lot of things here that are fun.”

Beyond the basics, she says, the course offers comfort and early camaraderie.

“I tell students that we want them to feel like this is their home, and that they can come to any of us at any time,” she says. “They also have to write directions for how to go downstairs, how to find the advisers’ offices and all the way down to the little lounge in the basement of Graham Hall – ways to find all these places where they can belong.”

After piloting the program in Fall 2017, the professor believes the department has earned a gold medal for innovation.

“I could see the students’ eyes lighting up, like, ‘Wow, I didn’t even know this was possible,’ or, ‘I’m feeling like I’m so connected already. It makes me feel like I belong,’ ” she says. “For me, it’s just plain fun. I’m even learning about my own peers by hearing some of the interesting facts that the faculty are telling the students.”

Roxanne Espinoza

Roxanne Espinoza

Espinoza, Lobdell and Kerfoot agree.

“You can have anxiety going from a community college straight into a four-year university, and especially into Special Ed, which is such a broad category,” says Espinoza, who is from Schaumburg. “This helps you to look at what’s ahead in the program in terms of, ‘This is what I need to do. This is what I need to prepare for my future.’ ”

With an hour-long commute between campus and her home in Sterling, Lobdell is grateful for being pointed to the free coffee and friendly study environment of the Learning Center. She also enjoyed meeting other transfer students.

“I was very nervous coming from my little community college to Northern; I was only doing that part time and working full time. I finally made the switch this fall,” she says, adding that most of her traditional-age classmates in other courses “weren’t really my peers. Having this class just made me more comfortable.”

Kerfoot, who formerly managed real estate for Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings Corp., calls Van Laarhoven “a great ambassador for the Special Education program.”

“Toni did a great job of getting us entwined in the department – who the professors are, who the head of the department is, meeting a professor and interviewing them, talking with Dr. Conderman,” she says.

Heather Kerfoot

Heather Kerfoot

“One thing I thought was really nice was that you get to meet people who also want to be in Special Ed,” she adds. “Special Ed is a lot more than helping out your kid at home, and if I can help somebody else’s kids the way my kids have been helped, I would love to be a part of that.”

Most of all, Kerfoot gained empowerment during her interview of Associate Professor Sarah Johnston-Rodriguez.

“She primarily works with transitional students between 18 and 21, and that’s something I’m possibly interested in but haven’t committed to yet,” Kerfoot says.

“And as a mom, and especially as a mom of kids who have special education and a disability, I’ve kind of struggled with the idea of, ‘I guess this is what I want to do, but how do I not want to take all these kids home with me?’ ” she adds. “Dr. Rodriguez told me, ‘You’re not there to feel sorry for them. You’re there to help them.’ That really spoke to me. That really made sense. That’s something I can take with me. And it kind of got me past that.”



Graduate Student Association fosters intellectual exchange, builds community within ETRA

Olha Ketsman

Olha Ketsman

Members of the Graduate Student Association of the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment are celebrating some good news.

NIU’s Student Association has recognized the ETRA-GSA as an official student association, which allows it to apply for funding to further its monthly workshops and presentations on technology topics

Beyond its professional development activities, ETRA-GSA also provides outreach, mentoring, support and information to benefit its members while serving as a liaison between graduate students and the department.

Olha Ketsman, the group’s faculty adviser, is happy to watch the growth and progress.

“When I joined NIU in August of 2014, ETRA-Graduate Student Association didn’t have an executive board. I worked with the students to form one and to solidify responsibilities of board members,” says Ketsman, a clinical assistant professor of Instructional Technology.

“It’s really rewarding to work with the students, share ideas and see how excited they get about different professional development opportunities,” she adds. “We’re encouraging others to join ETRA-GSA. It’s a nice community.”

ETRA-GSA President Kenie Moses is grateful for “the fortunate pleasure of serving with some of the brightest graduate students here at NIU over the past three years.”

Kenie Moses

Kenie Moses

“Since our organization is probably one of the most diverse organizations here at NIU, I have the opportunity to experience and learn from the diverse views, cultures and ideas that our outstanding graduate students contribute to our organization,” Moses says.

“The mission of the ETRA-GSA is to foster community and intellectual exchange among NIU ETRA graduate students, faculty and alumni,” he adds. “Personally, I enjoy the Coffee Hours that our organization holds bi-monthly or monthly, which attempt to connect our graduate students with information, experiences and new ideas from faculty, employees, sponsors and graduate students from our department as well as other departments and colleges here at NIU.”

David Walker, associate dean for Academic Affairs in the NIU College of Education, was a recent guest speaker on the topic of applying for and receiving grants. Faculty, ETRA-GSA members and other graduaate students also give presentations on their research.

Many of the members are graduate assistants in the ETRA department, Ketsman says, and find in ETRA-GSA opportunities for networking, advice on applying for jobs and many opportunities for professional growth and development.

“The objective of the ETRA-GSA is to support the interests of current and future ETRA graduate students by promoting scholarly activities and providing leadership, service and social opportunities,” Moses says. “Our organization also provides a unified representation of our members, their concerns and their activities to the department and to the university.”



Exercise Science Club students shine at Abominable Snow Race

Caitlin Paxton (right) and Dave Benner work with a child in the Winners Circle.

Caitlin Paxton (right) and Dave Benner work
with a child in the Winners Circle.

Caitlin Paxton’s journey to the foot of a snowy Lake Geneva mountain drew her into the heart of the Abominable Snow Race.

But amid the frigid cold and friendly competition, the senior from Plano found affirmation of her dream to teach Physical Education to elementary school children.

“I helped with the ‘Little Yeti’ race, which was a kid’s version. It was so fun; they were so cute,” says Paxton, who will begin student-teaching in the fall.

More than 100 children from ages 4 to 12 participated in the Jan. 27 event, she says.

“We had six different obstacles. They had to go and run the obstacles, sled down one hill and run up another, sled down another and run across the finish line. They got medals, just like the adults did,” she says. “I was really surprised. It was cold and slippery, but they were determined to do it.”

Paxton joined a dozen classmates in NIU’s Exercise Science Club in making the trip to “The Midwest’s Premier Winter Obstacle Race,” which each year attracts up to 2,700 runners eager to tap into their “inner Yeti.”

Tony Calderala, an academic advisor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, arranged for the dozen club members to volunteer along the course and in the “Base Camp” area.

exercise-science-club

After arriving Friday evening in Wisconsin and grabbing some dinner, the Huskies made their way to the Grand Geneva Ski Resort to begin assembling their pegboard obstacle, which challenged racers to go up and over in a test of their athleticism.

“Overall, it went pretty well,” Calderala says. “On Race Day, we got there about 6:30 in the morning, set up our last-minute items, helped in the volunteer tents and at the starting line. All of the students were course marshals for the competition heats; if racers failed an obstacle, we took away one of their three wristbands.”

For an hour after the race, he says, NIU’s pegboard proved a popular and favorite attraction. Many of the racers called it “a great way to practice,” he says.

Bill Wolfe tackles NIU’s pegboard.

Bill Wolfe tackles NIU’s pegboard.

“Racers coming off the course wanted to challenge themselves more,” he says. “We had a timing competition – how fast could they do it? Or how many times could they go up and down without touching the ground? Bill Wolfe, the owner of Abominable Snow Race, said, ‘I gotta try it.’ He went for it and did pretty well. We had kids and their parents.”

NIU’s students were able to do some teaching of good race technique – “It’s not all upper-body; it’s about core,” Calderala says – and get first-hand looks at some aspects of sport management.

Among the issues: up-and-down temperatures froze the course overnight from Friday to Saturday; bright sun Saturday morning melted the ice and turned parts of course into mud and slush, snagging ATVs and requiring the distribution of water by foot; some volunteers failed to show.

“We met gym owners and were able to discuss what goes designing these courses: ‘What did you think about when you put it together? Why did you put it together this way?’ They learned that in the construction of these obstacles, they actually think through what this is going to look like and how it’s going to affect an athlete.”

Students also saw some injuries – “ankle sprains, bumps, bruises, nothing serious” – and learned how to help athletes keep going if they need some medical attention.

basecampOwners of the Abominable Snow Race were impressed by NIU’s contributions, which including “filling the void” caused by missing volunteers.

“The feedback from ASR was great,” Calderala says. “They want to do more here at NIU, so we want to see what they looks like and see what we can offer.”



Kiracofe among three co-editors of Education Law Into Practice

Christine Rienstra Kiracofe

Christine Rienstra Kiracofe

Christine Rienstra Kiracofe, professor in the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, has been named co-editor of Education Law Into Practice (ELIP).

ELIP is a special section of West’s Education Law Reporter and sponsored by the Education Law Association.

It publishes short, practical pieces on topics in education law that are important to practitioners, scholars and attorneys. These pieces include practical and useful checklists, charts, sample forms, model policies, sample memoranda, sample documents, procedural guidelines and short articles that are thoroughly supported by citations to statutes and case law.

All manuscripts are subject to a peer-review process.

Kiracofe, an adjunct professor in the NIU College of Law, teaches Education Law, Education Finance and Legal Aspects of School Business Management. She has authored more than 30 articles, books and book chapters, and her work has been cited in law reviews, education finance literature and court documents.

She recently was elected to the Board of Directors of the Education Law Association.



Double-alumna wins Fulbright

Barbara Abromitis

Barbara Abromitis

Barbara Abromitis wanted to become a teacher.

That goal brought her to the NIU College in Education, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 1983.

Life had other plans, though.

“When my kids were young, I started doing grant-writing because I could do that from home,” Abromitis says.

She had found her unexpected niche, and two decades later, became director of grants at the College of DuPage.

“I work closely with faculty to develop program ideas, write proposals, find funding for them and then oversee the management of those projects and troubleshoot,” she says. “I work with pretty much every department of the college, and I know a little about a lot of things. It’s interesting for me to see what they all do.”

Now the two-time NIU College of Education alumna is the thrilled recipient of a Fulbright grant.

Abromitis is among six Americans chosen to attend a two-week seminar in Moscow for community college administrators. Six counterparts from Russia also will participate.

Fulbright’s International Education Administrators (IEA) seminars help U.S. international education professionals and senior higher education officials create empowering connections with the societal, cultural and higher education systems of other countries.

Grantees can learn about the host country’s education system as well as establish networks of U.S. and international colleagues over the course of an intensive two week grant duration. They return with enhanced ability to serve and encourage international students and prospective study-abroad students.

globe“My understanding is that it’s basically an opportunity to share how we develop our programs, how we address issues such as student completion, how we help people with their career paths,” she says. “We will share what we do and learn from each other. The most interesting part of visiting other parts of the world is that people have such different perspectives.”

Other activities of the seminar, scheduled from March 31 through April 14, are field trips to Russian universities and technical colleges.

She wants to return with ideas that will benefit students and faculty at the College of DuPage.

“I’m very poised to take what I learn to the faculty – ‘Can we do this?’ What makes sense for us?’ Not everything is going to translate perfectly,” she says. “I’m hoping to make different connections and see what applies to us here.”

Those conversations will allow her to continue putting to good use her 1999 Ed.D. in Reading Education with a cognate in Educational Psychology and extensive coursework in Curriculum and Supervision.

“My doctoral program at NIU was wonderful. Even though I’m not working in the field of literacy right now, I feel like I use those skills all the time,” Abromitis says.

“I’m looking at statistics, working to analyze what’s happening in the situation, knowing theories about how people learn and the best way to teach,” she adds. “Even in just trying to build a case for why a funder should support a program, I’m using those things very often. One of our biggest grants is an Adult Education/Family Literacy Grant, and I enjoy working closely with those program people and looking for additional funding for literacy.”

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