CHE grad student researching play therapy effectiveness for Latino children

Gustavo Barcenas, a doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of North Texas, knows that sometimes in order to help others you have to play.

Barcenas spent the spring researching the effectiveness of play therapy for Spanish-speaking children.

Through a partnership with the Denton Independent School District, Barcenas has been conducting his thesis research at Gonzalez School for Young Children. He is trying to establish whether offering play therapy to Spanish-speaking children in their primary language is more beneficial than receiving the same therapy in English. The ongoing partnership with DISD serves about 30 to 40 kids each year at multiple schools.

Barcenas said adapting services to the needs of the Spanish-speaking population is important.

“There is a gap there for this community and we are trying to alleviate that by providing services in their school and in their language,” said Barcenas.

Since a lack of Spanish-speaking therapists is another roadblock, Barcenas enlisted the help of other bilingual therapists from UNT.

“We want to bridge the gap between academics and community,” he said.

Play therapy is generally used with young children and gives them an outlet to express their experiences and feelings through a natural, self-guided process.

“Children are such a vulnerable group already and then when you add race, gender and economic struggles, they are even more at risk,” said Barcenas.

Felicia Sprayberry, principal at Gonzalez School for Young Children, said she is grateful to have the play therapy program at the school.

“It has allowed our students to receive additional support in emotional and behavioral development, through age appropriate play situations,” said Gonzalez. “The play therapists are also very good at working with families and teachers to provide techniques or resources that can support the child in other environments. I credit the success of the program to Gustavo and the other therapists and the support they receive from UNT.”

Barcenas said that during his work at the school, he has witnessed how important safe spaces are to children.

 “I feel more passionate each time I work with the kids,” he said. “They are in challenging situations, and I see my role as being present. They need a place where they can express what they are thinking and feeling and what worries them.”

Barcenas said that after earning his doctorate degree he plans to continue working with children and families and with play therapy research in some capacity.

 

Pictured, UNT graduate student Gustavo Barcenas works with a local Denton Independent School District student while researching the effectiveness of play therapy for Latino children. 

UNT’s Applied Physiology lab set to be North America’s first Collaborating Center for the International Federation of Sports Medicine

The UNT Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation (KHPR) is in the final approval stage to house the first Collaborating Center of Sports Medicine in the United States or Canada, part of the International Federation of Sports Medicine’s (FIMS) global network. Once FIMS representatives complete a site visit July 11-12 and UNT’s application is approved, KHPR’s Applied Physiology Laboratory will display the Olympic Rings as part of the collaboration with FIMS. FIMS is the only sports science organization allowed to use the Olympic Rings imagery.

“UNT’s KHPR department is a global leader in sports science and sports business research and practice, buoyed by the university’s collaboration with the Dallas Cowboys, our partnership with the Dallas Griffins of Major League Rugby, and now with the holy grail of the Olympic Movement through this partnership with FIMS,” said John Nauright, chair of UNT’s KHPR department. “This will further position UNT as a global leader in sports performance and fitness research in the areas of medicine, science, management and marketing.”

The site visit will bring to campus Professor Yannis Pitsiladis, a member of the International Olympic Committee Medical and Scientific Committee and chair of the FIMS Scientific Commission. Pitsiladis will be working with fellow FIMS approvers Professor Angela Smith, former president of the American College of Sports Medicine, and Professor Fabio Pigozzi, president of FIMS and president of the Italian Sports University in Rome. The team will be looking specifically at the UNT KHPR’s lab capacity, equipment, faculty and student research, current projects, and goals.  

Nauright hopes KHPR’s designation as a FIMS collaborating center will lead to research opportunities working with other such centers around the world, including in South Africa, Australia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Mexico and Brazil. The centers provide an ideal way to conduct multi-site studies, allowing researchers to test different strategies with different populations in a small timeframe, he said.

“We will be connected to the primary global brand in sports, the Olympic Movement, of which FIMS is a part as the official sports medicine organization. This, combined with our partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, connects UNT with leading global brands,” Nauright said. “Scientifically, this partnership allows us to collaborate with leading sports performance research labs around the world in addressing key problems in performance, health and fitness, nutrition and more, which will mark us out further as a global leader in the science and medicine of sport, health and fitness.”

 

Pictured: Professor Yannis Pitsiladis. Photo courtesy of the University of Brighton.

UNT and Jalisco partners present at NABE conference


UNT College of Education faculty members continue their partnership with educators and administrators from the state of Jalisco, Mexico. In spring 2017, scholars from both countries collaborated to present papers about critical issues facing students and their teachers at the annual conference of the National Association for Bilingual Education in Dallas.

The Jalisco delegation comprised eight members representing the Secretariat of Education Jalisco and different universities in Jalisco that focus on educational research and the preparation of teachers. They were there representing the Mexico Association for Bilingual Education (MEXABE), a new international affiliate of the National Association for Bilingual Education. They presented during NABE’s ESL and Bilingual Education Special Interest Group Institute co-chaired by UNT Teacher Education and Administration faculty members Ricardo González and Rossana Boyd.  The emphasis of the presentations was on institutional efforts to promote bilingualism; bilingual teachers’ preparation for the early childhood and elementary grades; and redefinitions of curriculum and practices in order to embrace culturally, linguistically and socially diverse learners’ historical and sociopolitical stances.

The collaboration between UNT and the Secretariat of Education Jalisco was sponsored by NABE, UNT’s Meadows Chair for Excellence in Education, the Velma Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education, UNT’s College of Education and the Department of Teacher Education and Administration.

Nancy Nelson, Meadows Chair for Excellence in Education at UNT, provided a global perspective on matters of language and culture, including bilingualism and plurilingualism. She pointed to the importance of language in connections between Mexico and the United States. Following this further, Jalisco educators Ruth Perales and Lya Sañudo Guerra provided the Mexican point of view in terms of overall pedagogical approach to the teaching of English as a second language and the actual status of bilingualism in Mexico and their future goals.

Dina Castro, UNT’s Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education, addressed the preparation of early childhood teachers in bilingual and intercultural contexts in the United States. She took the group for a visit to a dual-language preschool in Grand Prairie ISD.

Martha Vergara, professor from the University of Guadalajara described the preparation of teachers in indigenous contexts in Mexico and the characteristics of the courses in the teacher education programs helping educators teach Spanish to indigenous populations. Lastly, Luz Celina Ramírez, director of the Teachers College of Arandas, described the influence of migratory trends to and from the United States and the south of Mexico and how those are taken into consideration to educate teachers.

The knowledge shared during these presentations allowed both UNT and the Jalisco delegation to engage in a constructive discussion about different methods of teaching and professional development for teachers. Boyd described the trajectory of the collaboration: “Future collaboration will allow both parties to be a part of common research projects that can be implemented both in the United States and Mexico”

The collaboration between the Jalisco delegation and UNT was the continuation of a 10-year relationship dedicated to research, student and teacher professional development, and building professional bonds.

 

Top photo, members of the Jalisco delegation with Rossana Boyd, far right, principal lecturer in UNT's Department of Teacher Education and Administration.

Bottom photo, Jalisco representatives make plans with Nancy Nelson, left, Meadows Chair for Excellence in Education at UNT.

2nd Annual Gifted Education Summer Conference

Date: 
Thursday, July 13, 2017 (All day)

Dr. Todd Kettler, Dr. Anne Rinn, and Dr. Laila Sanguras, among others, on topics related to gifted programming, psychosocial skill development, and the social and emotional needs of gifted learners.

2017 Educational Leadership Conference

Date: 
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 8:00am to 4:00pm

Transforming Culture Through Leadership Coaching

A conference for educators in positions of leadership at the K-12 and university levels (superintendents, district and school leaders, teacher leaders, university leadership, deans, chairs, program coordinators)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 8am - 4pm
Gateway Center
University of North Texas
Denton, TX

Detailed conference information and registration is available on the conference website.

Teachers discuss lessons learned in UNT bilingual/ESL science institute

Denton ISD middle school science teachers Jonathan Hernandez and Sabrina Estrada presented at the National Association of Bilingual Education Conference in Dallas this spring about their experience at last year’s science teacher summer institute on the UNT campus. The institute was sponsored by the UNT Department of Teacher Education and Administration's Bilingual/ESL Education Office, the Department of Biological Sciences and the College of Engineering and funded by the National Science Foundation.

Hernandez and Estrada, both Latino science teachers working with English Language Learners, discussed what they learned from senior scientists at UNT regarding the advances in the research of biosynthesis and engineering of c-lignin and relating it to instruction for English Language Learners in secondary grades. Their presentation focused specifically on the biochemistry of cell walls, cell wall anatomy, gene expression and the engineering of carbon fibers.

The UNT summer institute allowed bilingual/ESL teachers to attend classes with research scientists, conduct experiments and develop instructional objectives to create lesson plans that will help pass on their new knowledge to English Language Learners. The goal is to engage more Hispanic students in scientific fields, said Rossana Boyd, principal lecturer in UNT’s Department of Teacher Education and Administration, part of the College of Education.

During the NABE presentation, Hernandez and Estrada shared with fellow teachers, student teachers and administrators some of the lesson plans and in-class activities they developed — in English and Spanish — during the summer institute and that they implemented with their students earlier this year. Replicating the experiments observed in the laboratories of UNT scientists, the lesson plans were designed to engage bilingual students through the visualization of concepts and processes with hands-on activities while including state content standards and English Language Proficiency standards.

Read more about the summer institute here

 

Above, Jonathan Hernandez and Sabrina Estrada point out a picture of a laboratory experiment provided by Aaron Harkleroad, graduate assistant and doctoral student in UNT's Department of Biological Sciences, during their presentation on laboratory experiments performed with UNT scientists.

UNT partners with Dallas Griffins as pro rugby comes to DFW

The University of North Texas has partnered with Dallas Griffins Rugby to develop world-class professional rugby in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. The partnership creates the opportunity for UNT to deliver state-of-the-art support to the Griffins’ athletes and its management and marketing team.

“The partnership with UNT will allow the Griffins to significantly raise the standard of rugby player we're producing and make sure that player welfare is catered for to the same extent as player performance," said Griffins Managing Director Phil Camm. "Embarking on a new partnership with a leading university in the fields of sport performance and sport management and accessing the latest techniques in sports management, marketing, physiology and performance at both the team and league level enables us to close the gap on the current Tier 1 rugby nations overseas.” 

UNT partnership leader Professor John Nauright, a leading and award-winning expert on the global rugby industry and chair of UNT’s Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation Department, said “the partnership with the Griffins is providing internships for students and research opportunities in sport marketing, operations, sponsorship and sales, as well in the science of rugby performance.”

Beginning in 2018, Major League Rugby (MLR) will launch as a new professional rugby competition in the United States. By drawing on the best domestic talent, MLR will create an intense, fast-paced competition and a top-tier media product. MLR will introduce rugby to the American sports mainstream, provide a focal point for millions of existing fans and bring even more new supporters to the game, Nauright said.

MLR will initially include the Dallas Griffins and member teams across the United States including: Glendale, Colo.; Kansas City, Mo.; Houston; Austin; New Orleans; Seattle; Minneapolis; and Salt Lake City. Beyond 2018, MLR will expand to more cities with an emphasis on finding the right partners, markets and venues. MLR plans to create local destinations where rugby fans and families can come together to celebrate the highest levels of the American game. MLR stadia will be gathering places for rugby fans and local communities centered on “Heaven’s Game,” as rugby is widely known, Nauright said.

The Griffins, currently based in Allen, Texas, will train at sites across DFW as the team reaches out to cities across the region. UNT will provide training support and assist the Griffins in developing marketing and promotion strategies while assessing their effectiveness. For more information about the Dallas Griffins, follow @GriffinsRugby on Twitter.

Counseling doctoral student earns $20,000 fellowship

UNT College of Education doctoral student Ana Guadalupe Reyes has been selected for a $20,000 fellowship from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Reyes is a doctoral student in the college's counseling program, specializing in equine-assisted psychotherapy and LGBTQ+ issues. As a National Board for Certified Counselors fellow, she will receive funding and training to support her education and facilitate her service to underserved minority populations.

“As the daughter of two undocumented immigrants, this fellowship recognizes the sacrifices my parents made to provide me with a better education,” said Reyes. 

This fellowship will help Reyes receive further training in equine-assisted psychotherapy at the Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies in Littleton, Colo., and complete her dissertation in equine-assisted psychotherapy with underrepresented populations.

Reyes said that during her fellowship year she will begin drafting a business plan for a private practice/nonprofit organization dedicated to providing mental health services to LGBTQ+ youth and other underserved populations.

As part of her clinical coursework, Reyes currently serves underrepresented clients and offers bilingual counseling through UNT’s Counseling and Human Development Center.

Reyes, who received her bachelor’s degree from Tiffin University in Ohio and her master’s from Marymount University in Arlington, Va., was just one of 22 students selected for the fellowship.

Higher Ed alum elected to state Board of Directors position

By Raquel Talamantes

Hope Garcia, director of Student Services at UNT’s New College at Frisco and a 2015 graduate of the UNT College of Education’s Higher Education doctoral program, was recently elected to the Texas Association for College & University Student Personnel Administrators (TACUSPA) Board of Directors.

“I have previously served as TACUSPA’s newsletter editor for two years and director of technology for three years,” Garcia said. “TACUSPA was the first professional organization I was introduced to, and it fits me well because there is a great deal of generalist work within student affairs that is included in my job duties. I enjoy working with my colleagues in TACUSPA, so being able to work closely with them on meaningful work is a pleasure.”

Garcia was nominated for the position against a handful of other TACUSPA members. She will be in charge of managing the member and institutional database and reporting out membership status and increases to organization. She will also recruit new members.

TACUSPA brings together administrators, staff, students and other higher education student affairs professionals across the state.

“Historically, TACUSPA’s membership has been composed heavily from public, four-year institutions,” Garcia said. “I would like to work toward increasing the number of represented organizations and members from the varying levels of higher education — four-year, two-year, private, for-profit, professional and residential.”

“Along with my colleagues, I also hope to work toward ensuring that the space TACUSPA provides is one that encourages the across-the-table talk and knowledge-sharing that would provide equal benefit to these various institutional types and in turn, a holistic benefit to higher education and the students and communities each of us touch.”

With this new position, Garcia said she will strive to help institutions support students, goals and institutional livelihood. 

Garcia will be officially sworn in at the TACUSPA Fall Conference in Dallas this October.

EPSY's Mun earns national dissertation award

Rachel U. Mun, a University of North Texas professor, has been awarded the 2017 National Association for Gifted Children Dissertation Award.

Mun, an assistant professor and program steward for the master’s concentration in gifted and talented education in the College of Education's Educational Psychology department, won with a shortened version of her dissertation, titled, “Parental expectations for Asian Americans who entered college early: Influences on their academic and career decision-making.”

She will give a special session on her work at the National Association for Gifted Children conference in November.

“It is a great honor and privilege to receive this dissertation award,” said Mun. “I am humbled to have placed first knowing there were many qualified applicants.”

Mun describes her research as an intersection between gifted education, mental health and immigrant issues. For the last five years, her research has focused on social and emotional development, immigrants and culturally responsible practices, parental influences, career decision-making and educational access for special populations of gifted learners using primarily mixed and qualitative methods. Most recently, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Research on Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut, conducting research on identifying and serving traditionally underrepresented gifted learners.

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