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.


  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 For more information about the Teacher Education and Administration program, contact Marilyn Deuble at 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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Denise Crosswhite

Administrative Specialist IV, Counseling and Higher Education
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COE students win honors at national gifted education conference

Professionals and students from across the country gathered at the National Association for Gifted Children conference in Florida Nov. 5 to discuss new developments in gifted and talented education. And while there, three of the 16 UNT doctoral students attending received awards.

Dianna Mullet won the Doctoral Student Award, Kendal Smith won the Doctoral-Level In-Progress Research Award, and Janessa Bower won a second-place award in the non-doctoral division of the Graduate Student Research Gala.

“UNT students have won the NAGC doctoral-level in-progress research award three out of the last four years, which is a real testament to the excellent program Dr. Rinn and Dr. Kettler have developed,” Smith said in reference to Educational Psychology faculty members Anne Rinn and Todd Kettler, who work with doctoral students.

The NAGC conference is the largest conference devoted to gifted education research and teaching in the nation.

“I saw parents who were looking for answers for their children who are gifted, teachers seeking guidance for the classroom, and researchers who were eager to learn from each other in a collaborative community,” Bower said.

According to Smith, scholars were able to present their research directly to practitioners at the conference. The practitioners gave feedback about what is best to implement in classrooms and highlighted areas in the research that could be improved.  

“Participants at the NAGC conference discussed enhancing the growth and development of gifted and talented K-12 students through advocacy, community building and research,” Mullet said.

According to the NAGC website, each state has its own definitions of gifted and talented and therefore have different programs for students on a state and even district level. The NAGC conference is a time for professionals to gather and share their techniques and ideas for finding the best ways to educate gifted and talented children nationwide.

“NAGC is the major professional organization of the gifted and talented education community. Over 3,000 gifted education researchers and specialists attended this year's conference,” Mullet said. “I hope everyone gained a sense of community and cohesiveness, both among our UNT attendees and in the larger community. I also hope that everyone learned about the many new and innovative research approaches that are emerging in our field.”

Visit for more information and a full list of award winners.

Faculty encouraged to enter student pieces in writing competition

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2017 University Writing Awards, sponsored by the UNT Faculty Senate. Faculty members may nominate pieces written by students in the 2016 calendar year in a variety of categories. The deadline is Feb. 17.

The categories are: 

  • Graduate Creative Writing: Fiction
  • Graduate Creative Writing: Nonfiction
  • Graduate Creative Writing: Poetry
  • Graduate Scholarly Writing: Argumentative or Expository
  • Undergraduate Creative Writing: Fiction
  • Undergraduate Creative Writing: Nonfiction
  • Undergraduate Creative Writing: Poetry
  • Undergraduate Scholarly Writing: Argumentative or Expository

Winners will be recognized at Honors Day on April 21 and will receive cash prizes ranging from $325 to $500.

Submissions must be 20 pages or less, typed (double-spaced), using 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins and page numbers in the upper right-hand corner. The student’s name and the title of each work must be submitted on a separate “Name and Title” page. Submissions will be accepted via email at

For full competition rules and additional information, visit

Karen Goss

Administrative Specialist III, Department of Educational Psychology
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