NIU Visual Disabilities Program awarded $1.25 million federal grant

(This story originally appeared on NIU Today)Stacy Kelly and students

Want a challenging and rewarding career with guaranteed employment and free tuition?

Thanks to a five-year $1.25 million grant recently awarded to NIU by the U.S. Department of Education, the Visual Disabilities Program of the College of Education’s Department of Special and Early Education (SEED) will enable the launch of a new master’s degree.

Beginning this fall – and in another format next summer – the program provides specialized training in assistive technology used by people with visual impairments.

Most of the federal dollars go directly to recruiting students to NIU for this high-need area of specialization: Graduates will receive the Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist designation from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals.

Two options are provided:

  • Project VITALL (Visually Impaired and Assistive Technology for All), taught two years during fall and spring semesters to people with bachelor’s degrees in any field; and
  • Camp VITALL, taught over two summers for currently licensed professionals in vision. This includes teachers of students with visual impairments (TVI), certified orientation and mobility specialists and certified vision rehabilitation therapists.

“NIU is the first university offering a course of study toward this,” said Stacy Kelly, associate professor in SEED and alumna of the program. “Individuals who choose this career path experience a sense of fulfillment not commonly found in other careers. These teachers play a significant role in the lives of children who are visually impaired and their families.”

And they are desperately needed.

“We have a critical, national shortage. It’s crazy how many blind students there are who don’t have teachers,” added Sean Tikkun, who is a SEED graduate staff and also an alum. “It’s a crisis. It always has been and it always will be. We will never catch up.”

Project VITALL encourages students in its cohorts to complete both licensure for teaching children who are visually impaired, which takes 16 months, and to also obtain dual certification in CATIS.

Classes are taught face-to-face on the NIU campus in DeKalb.

The deadline to apply is June 15; each cohort begins in the fall. The financial aid – all tuition and fees as well as health insurance and a stipend of $5,520 per calendar year – is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified applicants.

Camp VITALL, which provides the CATIS credential without interrupting the August-through-June employment of teachers includes full tuition, fees and a $920-per-summer stipend for two consecutive summer sessions.

On-campus courses take place over eight weeks in the summer of 2017; the 12-week internship is completed in the summer of 2018.

For more information on either program, contact Kelly at (815) 753-4301 or skelly@niu.edu.



SHAPE America honors KNPE’s Paul Wright

Paul Wright

Paul Wright

(This story originally appeared in NIU Today.)

SHAPE America (Society of Health and Physical Educators) presented its Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award to NIU’s Paul M. Wright, who holds the Lane/Zimmerman Endowed Professorship in Kinesiology and Physical Education.

Wright was recognized April 7 during SHAPE America’s 131st National Convention & Expo in Minneapolis.

SHAPE America presents the Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award annually in recognition of one higher education faculty member for his or her efforts to mentor undergraduate and/or graduate students pursuing a degree in physical education, sport, kinesiology or exercise science.



Donor Tea Reception

Over 150 donors, students, faculty and staff gathered last Sunday afternoon at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center for our annual Donor Tea event.  The event is held to thank our donors and friends for their support of the College of Education over the years.  Donors have the opportunity to meet their scholarship recipients and mingle with campus colleagues, faculty and staff while enjoying light refreshments and tea.  During a short program, Dean Elish-Piper welcomed everyone to the event and introduced a thank you video which featured several of our scholarship recipients sharing the impact scholarships and other opportunities have had on their lives.  John Sentovich, Chief Advancement Officer at the NIU Foundation, addressed the group and discussed the importance of planned giving and how much donor gifts can impact students, as evident from the recipients in the audience.  He encouraged all students to pay it forward in the future when they are in the position to give back and assist others.  Students David Carson (graduate student LEPF) and Jael Monteagudo (undergraduate student LEED) shared their personal stories of the impact that scholarships have had on their lives.  Carson explained what a positive mental boost it was to him to know that others believed in him.  Monteagudo shared how driven she was to help students succeed and how the scholarships were helping her lessen her financial burden.



Pluim named acting chair of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations

Carolyn Pluim

Carolyn Pluim (formerly Vander Schee)

Carolyn Pluim has been named acting chair of the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF) in the College of Education effective July 1, 2016.

Pluim brings years of expertise and experience to the position. Her research interests are focused around the intersections of sociology of education, curriculum studies and educational policy, specifically as these relate to school health policies, practices and pedagogies. She explores the ways in which contemporary school health policies are negotiated and experienced by students and school personnel. A central theme running throughout her research is the relationship between discourse and social dynamics as this bears on sociological understandings of health, illness and the body and influences the responsibilities and obligations of public schools.

Pluim joined the NIU faculty in 2007. She is currently the Assistant Chair and an Associate Professor in LEPF. She currently serves as a member of Faculty Senate, University Council and is Chair of the General Education Committee.

“LEPF is a great department that consists of incredibly talented faculty and staff who are committed to students and their learning,” Pluim said. “I am happy to represent the department in this role.”

She is the co-author of the book “Schools and Public Health: Past, Present, Future” and has published more than 15 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters. She serves on the editorial board of Policy Futures in Education and presents regularly at regional, national and international conferences in the area of health education and policy.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing Science from the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada; a master’s degree in Environmental Policy from Michigan Technological University Houghton, Michigan; and a doctorate in Educational Policy Studies, Social Foundations of Education from Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.



Concussion and Youth Sport Panel

Community Learning Series Spring 2016According to a 2013 report released by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, the reported number of individuals aged 19 and under treated in U.S. emergency departments for concussions and other non-fatal, sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries increased from 150,000 in 2001 to 250,000 in 2009.

The report also revealed sports associated with the highest rates of reported concussions in U.S. athletes at the high school and college levels—linking football, ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, and soccer to male athletes and soccer, lacrosse, and basketball to female athletes. Women’s ice hockey at the collegiate level has the highest rate of reported concussions.

Publicity surrounding brain damage among retired professional football players and research into the long-term effects of head injuries among young athletes have left parents wondering about their child’s safety on the field and prompted lawmakers nationwide to pass new laws regarding concussion in youth sports.

On March 22, the NIU College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE) addressed these issues in a Community Learning Series event panel titled “Concussion and Youth Sport.”

The panel included medical doctors, policy makers, researchers and others associated with youth sports provided information about the effects that concussions have on young and developing brains, as well as details of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act which goes into effect at schools across Illinois this fall.

“The panel was a great example of the momentum and network we are developing around this topic. We have been conducting research on the topic and consulting with the Sycamore Consortium for Youth Sport and other organizations to help them interpret the new concussion policy and address the educational requirements for coaches,” NIU Professor Paul M. Wright, the moderator of the panel, said.

Wright said the group is developing workshops to help school districts and other organizations meet the requirements of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act with the most current information including the state-specific policy requirements.

“While we hope to provide such workshops to local districts, these are state-wide issues and requirements. Therefore, after developing and piloting the educational program, we may develop online modules that could help coaches and educators anywhere in the state to access this same information,” Wright explained.

“Awareness about youth sport concussion is only going to increase and the need for credible concussion education is sharply increasing. We hope to leverage our expertise and capacity to help address this need locally and across the state,” Wright said.

Professor Chad D. McEvoy, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE), said the College of Education’s Community Learning Series event on concussions in youth sports provided a terrific opportunity for NIU students, faculty, and community members to engage with a diverse panel of experts on this important topic. “As new legislation impacts this area, our panel provided robust dialogue on the medical, legal, and educational issues involved,” he said.

Dean Laurie Elish-Piper, distinguished teaching professor and presidential engagement professor, applauded the KNPE department’s collaborative efforts to identify and work with such a timely research topic of interest for the event and the field.

“I commend the department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE) for identifying such a timely and important topic for this Community Learning Series. They are truly committed to continuing this conversation and working collaboratively to educate and affect policy and practice regarding concussion and youth sport,” she said.

“This is a fabulous example of what we do best in the College of Education – applying research and theory to make a difference in the field,” Dean Elish-Piper added.

Participating Panelists:

Cynthia LaBella, M.D.
Medical Director
Institute for Sports Medicine
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Jeff Mjannes, M.D.
Director
Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic
Rush University Medical Center

Matt Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders
Northern Illinois University

Adam Potteiger, MS, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
Division of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Thomas Kim
Principal, coach and former high school athletic director
Huntley Middle School

Sharon Moskowitz
Athlete, NIU graduate student

Moderator:
Paul. M. Wright, Ph.D.
Lane/Zimmerman Endowed Professor in Kinesiology and Physical Education
Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Northern Illinois University



NIU Literacy Event at NIU-Naperville Campus

Woman reading in libraryNorthern Illinois University’s Department of Literacy and Elementary Education (LEED) is sponsoring a Literacy Event: “Reading & Writing in the Digital Age” on Wednesday, March 23, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m at the NIU-Naperville campus, 1120 E Diehl Rd, Naperville, Ill. This event provides an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with current students, alumni and faculty. Alumni are encouraged to bring colleagues and introduce them to the NIU literacy community.   In addition, teachers interested in earning the M.S. Ed. in Literacy Education with a Focus on Reading (reading specialist endorsement) are invited to attend to learn more about joining the summer 2016 cohort in Naperville.

This networking event will include a brief program by faculty and alumni. Information will also be provided to prospective students regarding the new reading cohort that will begin at NIU-Naperville in the summer of 2016.

Light refreshments will be served and door prizes given away.   For reservations, please contact Gail Schumacher at gschumacher@niu.edu or 815-753-7948. Visit the department website at http://www.cedu.niu.edu/leed/index.shtml.



College of Education’s spring 2016 Community Learning Series panel to discuss concussion in youth sports

Sharon Moskowitz

Sharon Moskowitz

Sharon Moskowitz, a NIU graduate student and life-long athlete, suffered her first concussion at 15, the result of a particularly aggressive foul during a high school basketball game. Moskowitz’s opponent hit her so hard that it broke her nose and knocked her out for a few moments. Her coached benched Moskowitz for a month – not because of the concussion but because of the broken nose. At the time, athletes were expected to shake it off after having their bell rung.

Since then Moskowitz has suffered as many as eight concussions, most recently from a ski-boarding accident that left her stuttering for a month afterward.

“Awareness of traumatic brain injury was almost non-existent while I was growing up and in college,” she said.

But that awareness is growing.

Publicity surrounding brain damage among retired professional football players and research into the long-term effects of head injuries among young athletes have left parents wondering about their child’s safety on the field and prompted lawmakers nationwide to pass new laws regarding concussion in youth sports.

The NIU College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education will address these issues in a panel discussion titled “Concussion and Youth Sport” on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.

Paul Wright, Moderator

Paul Wright, Moderator

The panel will include medical doctors, policy makers, researchers and others associated with youth sports who will provide information about the effects that concussions have on young and developing brains, as well as details of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act which goes into effect at schools across Illinois this fall. Moskowitz will also be on hand to share her own experiences with concussion. (See below for a complete list of panelists.)

NIU Professor Paul M. Wright will moderate the panel. He oversees a multi-disciplinary group known as the Physical Activity Group and Life Skills Group. That group combines expertise from NIU’s programs in kinesiology, psychology, speech and language pathologists and public health. Together they work with organizations like the YMCA and youth sport leagues to promote positive youth development through sports, and to ensure that the wellbeing of athletes is always at the forefront.

“I think the most important thing the science has shown us is that concussions, even sub-concussive events like heading the ball in soccer, have more serious consequences for young athletes than we thought just 10 years ago,” he said. “That the practice for decades has been to tell the injured participant to shake it off and get back in the game has only compounded the problem.”

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson

According to a 2013 report released by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council the report examined concussions in a variety of youth sports with athletes aged 5 to 21. Among the findings:

  • The reported number of individuals aged 19 and under treated in U.S. emergency departments for concussions and other non-fatal, sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries increased from 150,000 in 2001 to 250,000 in 2009.
  • Football, ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, and soccer are associated with the highest rates of reported concussions for U.S. male athletes at the high school and college levels.
  • Soccer, lacrosse, and basketball are associated with the highest rates of reported concussions for U.S. female athletes at the high school and college levels.  Women’s ice hockey at the collegiate level has the highest rate of reported concussions.
  • Youths with a history of prior concussion have higher rates of reported sports-related concussions.

“NIU is hosting the panel to bring together an array of experts in the field of youth sports and concussion to answer questions that parents, school administrators, nurses, coaches and others involved with youth sports have about concussions and the new law,” said Wright.

Event information

Concussion and Youth Sports Panel Discussion

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center
231 N. Annie Glidden Rd.
Reception: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Panel discussion: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Light hors d’oeuvres will be served

Free and open to the public

For more information, please contact Dr. Paul M. Wright at (815) 753-9219 or pwright@niu.edu

 

Panelists:

Cynthia LaBella, M.D.
Medical Director
Institute for Sports Medicine
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Jeff Mjannes, M.D.
Director
Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic
Rush University Medical Center

Matt Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Division of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders
Northern Illinois University

Adam Potteiger, MS, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
Division of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Thomas Kim
Principal, coach and former high school athletic director
Huntley Middle School

Sharon Moskowitz
Athlete, NIU graduate student

Moderator:
Paul. M. Wright, Ph.D.
Lane/Zimmerman Endowed Professor in Kinesiology and Physical Education
Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Northern Illinois University

 



Alumni Profile: Anwer Al-Zahrani

DeKalb winters can be difficult for anyone to get used to, but for Anwer Al-Zahrani, it was especially tough. In his home country, Saudi Arabia, temperatures rarely dip below freezing, even on the coldest of days.

Fortunately, Al-Zahrani arrived at NIU in 2010 by way of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he completed a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). His time in the Keystone State helped him acclimate to what he would experience at Northern.

Despite the weather, Al-Zahrani’s decision to pursue his doctorate in instructional technology at NIU was, in the end, an easy one to make.

“It took me about nine months to research doctoral programs both in the United States and in other countries. I was accepted into a number of programs, but the reputation of Northern and especially of the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment [ETRA] was a strong factor for convincing me to come to DeKalb,” he said.

In addition to a master’s degree in TESOL, Al-Zahrani had previously earned a bachelor’s degree in English linguistics, literature and translation. By coming to NIU, he hoped to merge his knowledge of language learning with technology, ultimately to help his employer, the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, Jubail Colleges and Institutes Sector (RCJY JCIS), integrate technology into its teaching, learning and training programs.

Anwer is now an assistant professor at RCJY JCIS, which includes five institutions of higher learning – three in Jubail Industrial City, located on the Arabian Gulf, and two in Yanbu Industrial City, located on the Red Sea. He is also a member of JCIS’s E-Learning Project Committee, which seeks to expand the country’s online teaching capabilities.

During his years at NIU – he graduated in summer 2015 with a doctorate in instructional technology – Anwer earned a reputation for hard work and participation in department initiatives such as ETRA’s annual Learn-IT Conference. Along the way he received a number of honors, including the University’s Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award and its Outstanding Student Contribution to International Education Award. He also found time to co-found NIU’s Saudi Student Association and was a member of both the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars and the Golden Key International Honor Society.

“Anwer is one those rare leaders who is a model of reasoned discourse, compassion and purposeful action that improves the working relationship of his community,” said ETRA’s Wei-Chen Hung, who in addition to being department chair also sat on Al-Zahrani’s dissertation committee.

“He became fascinated with the problem of how technology may be used to support intercultural team learning and developed an impressive and deep understanding of the theory and necessary methodology to explore cross-cultural work. He is a nurturing facilitator among his fellow students, as well as a source of intelligent insights into the complications of cross-cultural team work.”

About 35 percent of ETRA’s students are international.

As a graduate teaching assistant, Al-Zahrani taught online courses for five years, an experience that he says helped crystalize his thoughts about how to share with his Saudi colleagues the knowledge and experiences he was gaining at NIU.

“Ever since joining the instructional technology program, I had envisioned future partnerships [between the CoE and JCIS] that would help foster learning and training processes in Saudi Arabia.”

During a visit last fall, in fact, Al-Zahrani and Hung discussed collaborative initiatives and identified several research and development opportunities that would be worth exploring. One immediate opportunity would be to have COE and RCJY CIS faculty collaborate on curriculum development for the RCJY CIS industry-training program. The goal is to promote technology-integrated yet cultural-relevant teaching pedagogies that can support students in acquiring occupational skills in a meaningful way.



CAHE encourages undergrads to go to grad school at NIU

A-Place-For-You-Final[1]The Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education (CAHE) has just launched a new program – “There’s a Place for You at NIU” – designed to encourage students from underrepresented groups to return to graduate school at NIU after earning their undergraduate degrees here.

Spearheaded by CAHE Chair Suzanne Degges-White, Professor LaVerne Gyant, and the department’s academic counselor, Danae Miesbauer, the program offers a $200 scholarship to eligible students who participate in seven workshops that will be held throughout the semester.

Twenty-six students attended the first “There’s a Place for You at NIU” event on Jan. 26, which included a Q&A session with a panel of graduate students, information about NIU graduate application deadlines, and test preparation options.

Future workshops will focus on topics such as mentoring, networking, applying to scholarships and tips on how to land graduate assistantships, according to Miesbauer.

Danae_Simonsen-WD-01_611x918

Danae Miesbauer

Miesbauer emphasized that although CAHE faculty and advisors developed the initiative, its primary goal is to increase the number of undergraduate students who are accepted into any NIU graduate program, not just those within the College of Education. “It is a university-wide effort,” she said.

CAHE is well positioned to lead the effort, having long been committed to serving a highly diverse student population. Currently one-third of master’s students in counseling and nearly half of doctoral students are from underrepresented groups, according to Miesbauer. Additionally, 47 percent of adult and higher education master’s students and 53 percent of doctoral students are from underrepresented populations.

Backing for the project came from the NIU Foundation, which last fall  invited the Colleges of Education, Health and Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences and certain administrative groups to submit proposals for competitive grants to support recruitment and retention efforts. “There’s a Place for You at NIU” was one of the five proposals to receive funding. “We deeply appreciate the support the Foundation has given our project,” Miesbauer said.