Randy Bomer named dean of UNT’s College of Education

Randy Bomer, chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin, has been named the new dean of the College of Education at the University of North Texas.

“Randy Bomer provides the knowledge and leadership to continue the momentum and excellence in the College of Education, which was recently ranked No. 16 in the nation for its online graduate education program by U.S. News and World Report,” said Finley Graves, provost and vice president for academic affairs at UNT.

Bomer begins his position Aug. 1. He will replace Bertina Combes, associate dean for academic affairs and research, who has served as interim dean since last August.

Since 2001, Bomer has been at The University of Texas at Austin, most recently serving as the Charles Spence Sr. Centennial Professor of Education, professor of curriculum and instruction and chair for the Department of Educational Administration. While in these roles, Bomer has helped facilitate new graduate programs, cultivated academic outreach, developed external research opportunities and enhanced graduate student funding opportunities. Before his current role, Bomer served as chair for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin.

“I am thrilled to be joining a university that is really on the move,” said Bomer. “The College of Education at UNT will rise even further in prominence when more people know about the outstanding research and teaching going on there. It’s a force for positive change in the region, state and the nation.”

Bomer’s career accomplishments also include a variety of other academic positions, including positions at Indiana University, Queens College, City University of New York, University of Alaska Southeast, Northeastern University and Columbia University. 

Bomer has 28 peer-reviewed articles, three books, 16 book chapters and has been a guest at numerous invited presentations. He received his Master of Arts and doctoral degrees in English education from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in drama from Trinity University in San Antonio. 

Smita and Ajay Mehta Autism Intervention Scholarship

Purpose: A fund in honor of Smita and Ajay Mehta to support UNT students pursuing a PhD or master's degree in in Special Education (Autism). It can assist to defray expenses toward tuition and/or dissertation research.

Requirements:
  1. Meet the minimum entrance and continuing academic performance standards of the university and the college with a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Preference will be given to graduate students who are individuals with ASD or parent of a child with ASD as long as the eligibility criteria are met; if no one meets the criteria, then any Special Education PhD student is eligible;
  3. Maintain full-time enrollment as established by the University, unless the student in nearing completion of his or her degree program and does not need full-time enrollment;
  4. Students with completed 12 hours or more of dissertation are not eligible to apply.

Frank Halstead Educational Leadership Scholarship

Purpose: A fund made possible by the generosity of the family of Frank Halstead to provide scholarships for College of Education students. 

Requirements:

  1. Meet the minimum entrance and continuing academic performance standards of the College of Education in effect at the time of any award;
  2. Enroll as a full-time doctoral student seeking a degree in Educational Leadership at the university;
  3. Have a minimum 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale;
  4. Be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

Melinda Works Dark Memorial Scholarship

Purpose: A fund in honor of Melinda Works Dark to provide scholarships for students majoring in Interdisciplinary studies with a Bilingual or ESL Certification in the College of Education. 

Requirements:

  1. Meet the minimum entrance and continuing academic performance standards of the College of Education in effect at the time of any award.
  2. Enroll as a full-time student in the College of Education at the University majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Bilingual or ESL Certification.

Freddy J. Waddell and Stephen F. Waddell Scholarship for Innovative Leaders

Purpose: A fund in honor of Dr. Freddy J. Waddell and Dr. Stephen F. Waddell.

Requirements:

  1. Meet the minimum entrance and continuing academic performance standards of the College of Education (or its successor) in effect at the time of any award;
  2. Maintain at least half-time enrollment as established by the University, unless the student is nearing completion of their degree program and does not need at least half-time enrollment;
  3. Enroll as at least a half-time doctoral student in Educational Leadership and be seeking the Superintendent Certification (or their successors) at the University; in the event no applicant meets this criteria, then doctoral students enrolling at least half-time in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration (or its successor) at the University will be eligible for consideration; and
  4. Submit a statement on his or her beliefs regarding the characteristics and values of innovative leadership and his or her intent to become a superintendent (if not already currently).

Fred Waddell began his school leadership career in a small California school district where he was principal and superintendent. He was passionate about all students, but had a particular heart for those who were underprivileged. His innovative approach brought benefits to the district that were unprecedented at the time, including the founding of a library that featured cutting edge media and technology resources. While there, he saw the future that computing and technology could play in public schools. He was also proud that he established an orchestra at his middle school in which most students participated, and that was unheard of in Central California.

Dr. Waddell served as Dean of a small private college in Idaho and then spent the remainder of his career at Region V Education Service Center in Beaumont, TX. At Region V he worked with districts to implement standards based curriculum and curriculum management, and he led the implementation of technology as both a management and instructional tool in Southeast Texas. His efforts were pioneering in these areas.

Fred Waddell always placed children first and did so by building staff capacity and utilizing innovative approaches to enrich learning and bring effective tools to support teachers. He facilitated strong leadership development with regional leaders through high quality professional learning using collaborative, team-building approaches. He built strong relationships with district leaders and was respected regionally and throughout the state.

Dr. Waddell was the. first in his family to obtain a college degree and a doctorate, which he proudly earned al North Texas State University.

Known as a leader in public education in Texas and across the nation, Dr. Stephen Waddell is recognized for his leadership in transforming classrooms by increasing student engagement, spearheading teacher innovation in instructional best practices, fostering community involvement, as well as redesigning learning spaces. Throughout his twenty years as superintendent, Dr. Waddell served various sized districts, the last being the Lewisville Independent School District Superintendent of Schools, the nation's 97th largest school district. He retired from that position in 2015.

Dr. Waddell was noted for leading innovation in technology integration. building design, engaging teaching practices, and strategic design focused on broad community participation. He was recognized as Texas Computer Education Association's Superintendent of the Year, Texas Association of School Board's Finalist for Superintendent of the Year. He was among 100 superintendents invited to the White House for a summit on technology in schools.

Dr. Waddell was a founding member of the Texas Visioning Institute and served as a member of its Design Team leadership group. The publication of "Creating a New Vision For Public Education in Texas," was a landmark event spearheading massive change in legislation and transformative classroom practice. He participated in passing legislation that created the Texas High Performing Schools Consortium, which the legislature and State Board continues to look to for new state standards and accountability models.

His career spanned 36 years as a public educator. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and his Ed.D. from the University of North Texas.

Steve and his father both dedicated their lives to innovative practice as educational leaders. They often discussed school leadership, and how today's schools need a different kind of leader. Today, the UNT College of Education can cultivate that different kind of leader - someone who is interested in innovative thinking and is able to affect positive change at the district level. Steve and the family of Dr. Fred J. Waddell are thrilled to help future educational leaders achieve their doctoral degrees through this UNT College of Education scholarship, which is proudly named for Steve and his father.

COE online grad programs ranked among best in nation by U.S. News and World Report

U.S News and World Report has named the University of North Texas College of Education online graduate education program one of the best in the nation. UNT was ranked No.16 out of 275 schools listed. The program rose from a No. 124 ranking last year.

“This is exciting news! Our faculty has always been committed to providing quality programs that meet the needs of students across the nation, state and North Texas area,” said Bertina Combes, interim dean of the College of Education. “Our program allows people to attain advanced degrees while still living and working in their communities.”

The UNT College of Education offers seven online master’s-level programs in addition to online certificate programs in educational psychology and teacher education and administration. Some are accelerated programs that allow students to graduate with both a bachelor’s and a master’s in five years. The online educational psychology master’s degrees offer concentrations in autism intervention, educational diagnostician, gifted and talented, and research and evaluation. In teacher education and administration, concentrations include curriculum and instruction, educational leadership and teaching.

For this year’s list, UNT was ranked in five general categories—student engagement, student services and technology, admissions selectivity, faculty credentials, and training and peer reputation.

For more information about the Educational Psychology program, contact, Karen Goss at 940-369-8048 or Karen.goss@unt.edu. For more information about the Teacher Education and Administration program, contact Marilyn Deuble at Marilyn.kocurek@unt.edu or 940-565-2942.

Other USNWR rankings for UNT this year include:

  • No. 33 – Master’s degree in Criminal Justice (graduate)
  • No.  55 – Master of Business Administration degree
  • No.  68 – Bachelor’s online programs

Students, faculty gain insight at bilingual education conference

By Raquel Talamantes

A group of UNT students interested in bilingual learning got a chance to expand their education beyond the classroom by attending the Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) conference in Galveston in October. UNT College of Education and other faculty members also attended.

“TABE is a gathering of dedicated education professionals and is important because it provides a broader perspective of serving bilingual and ESL students in all content areas,” said Cindy Watson, a UNT Teach North Texas master teacher who attended the conference sponsored by Project NEXUS: A Title III National Professional Development Project. “Being present at the TABE conference provides a window into the world of being bilingual and its inherent opportunities and obstacles.”

In addition to Watson, UNT attendees included Dayton Ryden and Esmeralda Sheran, students in the Teach North Texas program; Dina Castro, the Velma Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education; Rossana Boyd, director of the Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher Education programs; Keylee Slough, a post-baccalaureate student seeking certification in EC-6 ESL education; and Laura Cardenas, president of the Bilingual/ESL Student Organization (BESO).

The TABE conference presented sessions directed toward teaching others ways to best serve bilingual students. According to Cardenas, topics ranged from the importance of dual language education and how to advocate for bilingual education to how to grow as a BESO organization.

“We had the opportunity to explore the Gifted and Talented gap in identifying English Language Learner (ELL) students, how to differentiate for different English proficiency levels with a vast number of effective instructional strategies, how to incorporate more literacy into all content areas that included math and science,” Watson said. “We even had an opportunity to see how current research is conducted in the bilingual community, where it is published, and how articles are selected to be published.”

Attendees also heard testimonials from people who have had to overcome obstacles in life pertaining to being bilingual, Cardenas said.

“My biggest take away was knowing that I’m not alone in this journey,” she said. “We are the voices of those kids who don’t have one and we need to use it. I hope others want to share what they learned - that being there has shown them how important their voice is and how incredible bilingual education is and the importance of it.”

KHPR, CMHT researchers team up with ice hockey gurus to grow the game globally

Soccer and American football are consistently ranked among the top sports in the world, with an estimated 4 billion soccer enthusiasts globally and a projected revenue of more than $13 billion for the NFL in 2016. In contrast, ice hockey – the most popular winter sport in the world – generates less than a third of the NFL’s revenue with $4.1 billion annually for the National Hockey League. Researchers at the University of North Texas are teaming up with some of the biggest names in hockey to change that. 

“The big question for the global growth of the sport is how do we expand, get and keep more hockey fans,” said John Nauright, professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation in the UNT College of Education.

Nauright will be joined by Young Hoon Kim, an associate professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, at the World Hockey Forum Dec. 15–17 in Moscow. The goal is to highlight openings that can give hockey a shot at becoming an international powerhouse sport.

Nauright and Kim will be the only presenters from Texas. Their panel will showcase the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a model for success, and they will share recruitment, retention and event-planning strategies that can help hockey expand into nontraditional areas like Texas. The National Hockey League first came to Texas in 1993, when the Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars, and hockey was first introduced to state high schools in 1997, when four schools in the North Texas region began offering programs, according to ESPN.

“From tourism and customer loyalty aspects, sports enthusiasts in Texas grew up with football and baseball everywhere, with big support from their schools and families. Ice hockey is different,” said Kim.

The conference will bring together some of the biggest players, executives and academics in the field – including Hockey Hall of Fame legends Phil Esposito, Jari Kurri, Vladislav Tretiak and Teemu Selänne; René Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation; and Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. Attendees will discuss the growth of grassroots games; women’s hockey; sledge or sled hockey, which is designed for those with physical disabilities; and social and cultural events and tourism activities related to the sport.

Nauright agreed that more can be done to help hockey gain ground – both internationally and locally.

“There are huge growth opportunities for the regional economy. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is one of the fastest growing areas for tourism, sports and events management,” said Nauright.

 

Pictured, Young Hoon Kim and John Nauright photographed at the Allen Event Center. Venues such as these, which can be used for multiple purposes including concerts and ice hockey games, offer a path to grow hockey into an international powerhouse sport. Credit: UNT/Michael Clements.

EPSY Professor Smita Mehta offers gift-buying tips for kids with special needs


Toys are always among the hottest-selling items of the holiday season, and this December marks Safe Toys and Gifts Month – a nationwide push to ensure presents match the abilities of the receiving child. Smita Mehta, a professor of special education in the Department of Educational Psychology in the UNT College of Education, offers tips for families to buy toys for children with special needs.

“Play is a tool to promote learning for all children, especially those with special needs,” says Mehta, adding the toys can serve a role in a child’s education. “Play serves very important functions in cognitive, language, social, communication and emotional development.”

Mehta says gift givers should look for toys that can help turn the child’s developmental challenges into strengths:

  • “When selecting toys or educational play materials, think from the perspective of the child,” says Mehta, a former preschool teacher who also used to assess babies ages 12 to 36 months for the presence of a disability.
  • “Individuals with disabilities and emotional behavior disorders often lack strong social interaction and communication skills, which are critical for success in life,” she continues. “Select toys such as talking books, stuffed animals or puppets to incorporate language learning and social interaction.”
  • “For children with visual impairment or weak eyesight, it’s important to incorporate things that activate other sensory elements – such as sounds, movements or textures,” she adds. “Try textures like soft versus hard toys. Something like Play-Doh can teach the child to manipulate texture. Also, let the child play with different shapes, like teddy bears or dolls that have different textured body parts.”
  • “For children lacking fine motor skills, puzzles that come with pegs are easy to use and help improve those skills,” says Mehta.
  • “Board games like ‘Chutes and Ladders’ and ‘Connect Four’ teach so many skills, such as taking turns with partners and eye-hand coordination,” she says.

Mehta says many everyday play items, sometimes with small modifications, can help also work well for kids with special needs:

  • “Balls are fun, but children may have difficulty with eye-hand coordination for catching and throwing,” she continues. “For that, start with a less complex skill. Sit on the floor with the child and roll the ball back and forth on the ground.”
  • “Books are a great way to learn, but some children may lack fine motor skills that makes it difficult to turn pages. However, the adult should not flip all the pages, which sends the communication to the child that the adult is in charge. Instead, use Post-it® flags or tape small strips of paper to create page turners,” Mehta says.

Mehta adds that what is done with gifts afterward can be just as important:

  • “Start by setting an environment that encourages children to explore and play,” she says. “Parents should resist the urge to teach or explain during play. For instance, if you have a toy school bus, try just pushing the bus around or turning the wheels instead of trying to explain the parts of the bus. Otherwise, for the child, all the charm is lost with the play itself. It’s important to ensure that play is play and that the adults follow the child’s lead instead of setting an agenda.”
  • “Work on the child’s weaknesses while he or she is young,” she says, adding that weaknesses can be more challenging to change when the child is older.
  • Mehta says children with special needs should receive similar opportunities as other children to learn different things through play. “Many people think that some kids will not benefit from play because they have a disability, and that’s simply not true,” she says.
  • “Be patient,” says Mehta. “Sometimes parents want the play to be perfect and will get anxious when their child struggles. Don’t worry about that; just focus on having a good time and ensuring the kid is actively engaged. The learning will come.”

David Wolf

Vice President for Advancement
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Contact Info
Office: 
Gateway Center, Tower 3rd floor
Phone: 
940-565-2010
Email: 
David.Wolf@unt.edu

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