Tag: Annie Malecki

Future elementary teachers find good ideas within interventions

Courtney Rieb explains her project during the Student Research Symposium.

Courtney Rieb explains her project
during the Student Research Symposium.

Courtney Rieb could not help but notice the boy.

“He was frequently off-task,” says Rieb, a junior Elementary Education major from Antioch. “He was trying to talk to his friends, or taking laps around the classroom. I identified him as needing some help.”

The first-grader, a student in the classroom where Rieb completed a clinical placement during her first professional seminar, inspired Rieb to develop and deliver an intervention.

And she had help – from the young boy himself.

“I wanted to help him self-manage his behavior. I worked with him to come up with some goals for what it would look like for him to be on task, to keep his ‘eyes on the prize.’ Classroom rules. Doing homework. Being a model for his peers,” she says.

“We put that on a chart,” she adds, “and we used that along with a timer to check his behavior every time the timer would go off, which was every minute on the minute for 10 minutes.”

Rieb turned her work with the boy into a research project, one she shared not only at the April 18 Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day but at the College of Education’s Student Research Symposium two days later.

Eight students joined her in poster presentations.

Annie Malecki and Bill Pitney

Annie Malecki and Bill Pitney

Annie Malecki, of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE), took the undergraduate award for Outstanding Poster Presentation. Sharif Shahadat, of the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA), won the graduate-level award.

Other presenters included Dalal Alfageth, Kylie Cousins, Rania Kokandy, Alexandria Patinka, Addison Pond, Kathryn E. Rupp (a master’s student from the NIU Department of Psychology) and Steven Smart.

Graduate students Joshua Pak and Wilson Hernandez Parraci, from KNPE and ETRA respectively, gave table talks.

Bill Pitney, associate dean for Research, Resources and Innovation, calls this year’s symposium “an excellent display of what is possible in every academic program.”

“Students presented studies from didactic and clinical classes as well as extracurricular engagement. I was very proud to see the expertise and effort that went into their work,” Pitney says.

“Engaging students in the process of research builds their capacity to think critically and creatively. Having them disseminate the findings of a study enhances their ability to communicate,” he adds. “These skills will transfer into their professional lives and set them apart from other graduates.”

For Rieb and Patinka, a junior Elementary Education major from St. Charles, their research projects showed what “their passion to better understand kids with disabilities who will likely be in their general education classrooms in the future.”

Natalie Andzik presents at the Student Research Sypoisum.

Natalie Andzik discusses “Research to Practice”
at the Student Research Symposium.

So says Natalie Andzik, an assistant professor in the Department of Special and Early Education.

“It was very rewarding for me to see pre-service, general education teachers take such an interest in developing interventions for students with disabilities in their clinical placements,” Andzik says.

“By having them complete a case study research project, these ladies not only were able to experience the rewards of putting an individualized intervention into place for one of their students,” she adds, “but they also got to go through the entire research process from idea, to method development, to implementation, through presentation and, hopefully, publication.”

Patinka adapted a kinesthetic intervention for a first-grade girl struggling with “sight words” – high-frequency words that young readers should recognize without sounding out or decoding.

“I looked at baseline data from the district’s test for sight words; there are 68 words, and first-graders are supposed to get 68 out of 68,” she says.

Unfortunately, the best Patinka’s student could achieve was nine of 68 – a 13 percent success rate. “There was definitely a need there,” she says.

The intervention involved a tiny sandbox that Patinka’s cooperating teacher had but rarely used because of the mess factor. Patinka asked her student to write the sight words in the sand, either with her finger or with a stylus.

“It was something very engaging and something she really enjoyed doing, which I think is really crucial in student learning,” she says. “I would work with her a few times each week. We would work together for about 15 minutes and cover 10 to 15 words that we would really focus on. I would read them, spell them with her, have her write them for me, sound them out, read them back to me.”

Sharif Shahadat and Bill Pitney

Sharif Shahadat and Bill Pitney

Eventually, she scored a 62 on the sight word test – an impressive 91 percent that took her from far below the class average to above it.

And while the child drew words, Patinka drew conclusions.

“I learned that kinesthetic learning can be a great tool for sight word recognition. I’m a huge advocate for kinesthetic learning in general because humans were born to move. That’s how we’re built,” she says. “This really captivated my student’s interest. Her attitude did a 180. She loved the sand and really looked forward to it, and I think that having a student engaged in something they’re really looking forward to is the best education possible.”

Rieb also recorded a positive turnaround in her student as he checked his attention levels at the direction of the timer.

To start the process, Rieb taught the boy how to use the timer as well as the procedure.

Whenever the timer sounded, he was to document whether he was on task with a smiley face. His data sheet also contained another table where he would report whether his self-accounts were honest ones.

Dalal Alfageh explains her work to Zach Wahl-Alexander.

Dalal Alfageh explains her work to Zach Wahl-Alexander.

She also provided incentives for good behavior, including stickers and a bouncy ball, and soon stepped away to allow him to perform the tasks on his own.

“The goal was to get intrinsic motivation after we had used the little prizes as an extrinsic motivator,” Rieb says. “The intervention worked very well. In the data I collected before the intervention was implemented, I saw that he was on task zero percent of the time. He eventually reached 100 percent of the time.”

His classroom teacher “was very happy,” she adds. “She saw how it greatly impacted his behavior and his academic performance.”

Naturally, Rieb also grew from the interaction.

“I learned how to just make a connection with a student and to work one-on-one with him,” she says. “I learned how design and implement interventions. It’s extremely important to have their needs and interests in mind, and you can’t just impose an intervention on them. They have to be invested in making the change.”

And the award goes to …

Congratulations to these members of the College of Education family!

Annie Malecki

Annie Malecki

Annie Malecki, a Physical Education major, was recognized as a SHAPE America Major of the Year with about 80 other students from Physical Education Teacher Education programs across the country.

She plans to teach physical education with an emphasis on wellness and whole body fitness. Her focus is on yoga, Pilates and dance.

During the SHAPE America national convention in Nashville, Malecki also was awarded the SHAPE America Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarship.

The honor is given to a SHAPE member with a GPA of 3.5 to 4.0, scholastic proficiency, good leadership skills, professional service and good character. She receives a scholarship of $1,250 and a three year membership to SHAPE.

Malecki, a senior, will student-teach this fall. She already is a certified Zumba instructor.

* * *

Kristina L. Wilkerson

Kristina L. Wilkerson

Kristina L. Wilkerson, a doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program, has been named a Fellow of the National Board for Certified Counselors Minority Fellowship Program of the NBCC Foundation, an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

As an NBCC MFP Fellow, Wilkerson will receive funding and training to support her education and facilitate her service to underserved minority populations.

The fellowship also will assist her in becoming more involved in her research area through direct service, in receiving mentorship in her clinical and academic roles and in completing her doctorate degree. She is currently interested in researching the relationship between counselor education, supervision and multicultural counseling competency in novice counselors.

Wilerson is a Licensed Professional Counselor who provides individual and family counseling to diverse clientele. She also is an adjunct faculty member at National Louis University, where she provides counselor education in subjects such as counseling theory, counseling skills, psychological assessment and multicultural counseling.

She is also a graduate assistant in the NIU Office of the Ombudsperson, where one of her roles is to serve undergraduate and graduate students in developing skills to advocate for themselves when experiencing racial, gender or sexual orientation harassment or discrimination.

* * *

Julie Hapeman

Julie Hapeman

Julie Hapeman, a graduate student in the Department of Special and Early Education’s Project VITALL master’s degree program, has received the 2018 Community Giving Award from the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired.

The council’s annual awards celebrate individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to promote the dignity and empowerment of people who are blind and visually impaired.

Hapeman was nominated by the council’s fund development committee for her dedication to community education and the empowerment of young people through the annual White Cane Day Celebration as well as her generous gifts to the White Cane Fund.

She also is a 1992 alumna of the NIU College of Education, holding a B.S.Ed. in Special Education with a Visual Impairments emphasis.

* * *

The NIU Graduate School honored recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Awards and the Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois (DFI) Fellowship during an April 24 reception.

Outstanding Graduate Student Awards

  • Michael Belbis – Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Elbia Del Llano – Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
  • Emmanuel C. Esperanza Jr. – Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
  • Kendra Nenia – Special and Early Education
  • Addison Pond – Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Brittany Torres – Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
  • Suzy Wise – Counseling, Adult and Higher Education

Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois (DFI) Fellowship

  • Brigitte Bingham – Educational Technology, Research and Assessment
  • Shatoya Black – Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
  • Naina Richards – Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
  • Stephen Samuels – Counseling, Adult and Higher Education
  • Konya Sledge – Counseling, Adult and Higher Education

* * *

Jason Dietz, Sherri Lamerand and Kim Haas

Jason Dietz, Sherri Lamerand and Kim Haas

Jason Dietz, principal of Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine, was named the 2018 Illinois PTA Outstanding Principal of the Year.

Dietz, pictured at left with Sherri Lamerand (Illinois PTA Volunteer of the Year) and Kim Haas (Illinois PTA Teacher of the Year), is a doctoral student in the Hoffman Estates cohort of the Ed.S./Superintendent Preparation Program.

The three all represent Community Consolidated School District 15, which serves all or part of seven northwest suburban communities.

Winners of Illinois PTA awards exhibit excellence in their ability to connect with students, families and their school communities. The awards were presented earlier this month at the 116th Illinois PTA convention, held at NIU-Naperville.

* * *

Scott Wickman

Scott Wickman (right) celebrates his award with Martina Moore, president of the Association of Humanistic Counseling.

Several faculty and students from the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education traveled to the American Counseling Association conference in Atlanta.

Professor Scott Wickman was awarded the Humanistic Educator/Supervisor of the Year award. Chair Suzanne Degges-White received the AADA Presidential Service Award.

Counseling faculty and students delivered many presentations:

Adam Carter and Ashley S. Roberts (M.S. student in Counseling)

  • Using Grounded Theory to Understand Grief Experiences of Preschool Aged Children

Melissa Fickling

  • Work, Meaning and Purpose in Relapse Prevention: A Theoretical Integration
  • Leading the Way in Internationalization: Contributions of Professional Counseling Organizations
  • Telling Our Story: Integrating Humanism, Career and Social Justice

Kimberly Hart

  • Color Conscious Multicultural Mindfulness: A Meaningful Training Experience
  • Persons of African Descent Interpersonal Relationship and Community Violence

Dana Isawi

  • Culture and Discipline: Helping Parents Learn to Set Limits

Suzanne Degges-White

  • Publishing in Refereed Journals: Suggestions from the ACA Council of Editors
  • What do Women Want Today? Helping Women Clients Reach their Goals

* * *


The upcoming retirement of Barb Andree was acknowleged during the Celebration of Excellence.

The upcoming retirement of Barb Andree,
office manager for the associate dean,
also was acknowledged by the deans
during the May 4 Celebration of Excellence.

Winners of the College of Education Awards were recognized May 4 during the Celebration of Excellence.

  • Excellence in Teaching Award by Faculty/Clinical Faculty: Stacy Kelly
  • Excellence in Research and Artistry Award by Faculty: Zach Wahl-Alexander
  • Excellence in Service Award by Faculty: Jesse “Woody” Johnson
  • Exceptional Contributions by Instructor: Carolyn Riley
  • Exceptional Contributions by Civil Service Staff: Pat Wielert
  • Exceptional Contributions by Supportive Professional Staff: Margee Myles
  • Outreach / Community Service Award: Jenn Jacobs
  • Exceptional Contributions in Diversity / Social Justice Award: Joseph Flynn (not pictured)