Counseling and Higher Education Update Fall 2017

Educational Leadership Conference aims to deliver leadership insights

By Raquel Talamantes

The annual UNT Educational Leadership Conference, designed for leadership professionals in the education world, will this year focus on “Transforming Culture Through Leadership Coaching” and will feature a keynote speech by former Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Moses. The conference is set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 8, 2017, in the Gateway Center on the UNT campus.

“Anyone in a leadership position would benefit from this all-day session — district leaders, school leaders, teacher leaders as well as university faculty and staff who hold leadership positions,” said Miriam Ezzani, UNT College of Education assistant professor in district and school reform.

The conference aims to address timely topics about which educators should be aware, Ezzani said.

“For instance, last year's conference was on cultural proficiency,” she said. “We seek the advice of our superintendent advisory council, made up of superintendents in the DFW Metroplex, who suggest topics that are geared toward addressing problems of practice in K-12 public educators.”

Keynote speaker Moses has had over 30 years of experience in the education/administration field. UNT is also home to the Mike Moses Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership, currently held by Elizabeth Murakami.

“From 1999 through 2001, he served as the deputy chancellor for Systems Operations at the Texas Tech University System,” Ezzani said.  “Dr. Moses was the commissioner of education for the state of Texas from 1995 through 1999. Prior to that service, he was the superintendent of schools in three Texas school districts: Lubbock, LaMarque and Tatum. He also served as a teacher and principal in the Duncanville and Garland ISDs.”

Also at the conference, Kathryn M. Kee, a national trainer for Cognitive Coaching, and Lloyd Sain, a former director of Leadership and Teacher Development for an urban district, will host a coaching workshop. They will lead group activities designed to transform culture through leadership coaching.

To find out more about the Educational Leadership Conference, visit

Minhong Kim

Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation
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COE celebrates teachers at Homecoming Nov. 11

UNT College of Education alumni and friends gathered at the college’s tailgating tent at the 2017 UNT Homecoming Saturday, Nov. 11, at Apogee Stadium. Guests enjoyed a catered lunch, giveaways and fun activities for children.

As in previous years, the college recognized alumni who have been named Teachers of the Year in Education Service Centers Regions 10 and 11 during the Homecoming festivities.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Jose Cortez-Corralejo of Keller ISD
  • Susan Dillon of Kemp ISD
  • Jason Huber of Denton ISD
  • Sarah Moulden of Godley ISD
  • Chelsea Myers of Little Elm ISD
  • Lynette Varrassi of Garland ISD

Also as part of Homecoming, the UNT Alumni Association honored the Waddell family — which includes three generations of COE graduates: Freddy J. Waddell (’72 Ed.D.); his son Stephen “Steve” F. Waddell (’75, ’96 Ed.D.); and Steve’s daughter Sarah Waddell (’05) — with the Generations of Excellence Award. The ceremony was Nov. 9 in the Apogee Stadium HUB Club.

Additional UNT Homecoming activities included the bonfire and parade around the Denton Square. 

COE professor training next generation of tech-savvy teachers

Teachers and parents can sometimes be skeptical about using portable technology like iPads as an educational tool. Are children really learning, or just playing? Will it encourage kids to play video games non-stop? 

Lauren Eutsler is working to change that negative perception.

Eutsler, an assistant professor in the UNT College of Education and a former elementary teacher, wants to prepare pre-service teachers to use technology in a way that improves school performance and builds on what today’s tech-savvy kids already use at home.

“When I was teaching, my mantra was always, ‘If you want to be a better reader, be a reader.’ Students won’t improve unless they’re engaged and involved,” Eutsler said. “Technology is a fantastic way to motivate them to read, but teachers have to think about it and plan – it has to align with standards, and you have to be knowledgeable about which apps are most appropriate for each lesson.”

Research as a Student

In her research, Eutsler doesn’t just observe the use of technology in the classroom – she looks at the cognitive side of why we adapt technology, when does it make sense to use it, and why is it useful. This focus took shape during her doctoral education at the University of Florida, when she worked with two Florida elementary schools to understand parents’ intentions to adopt portable technology to help their children learn to read at home. While collecting this dissertation research, a first-grade teacher reached out to her department for help integrating 1:1 iPads into her classroom.

Over the course of two years, Eutsler and the teacher developed a collaborative relationship that allowed them to observe what didn’t work – and what did.

“At first the teacher wanted to control how the kids used the technology, and that just didn’t work well,” Eutsler said. “Once she let go, the students thrived, and the things they were able to create were amazing. We had first-graders learning how to code, developing their literacy skills through coding.

“I learned a lot about how teachers are challenged in using technology, but also how it can be a productive and beneficial tool to elevate kids’ learning.”

In the UNT Classroom

Since joining the UNT faculty last year, Eutsler has embarked on a project with her Reading and Writing Birth-Grade 6 (EDRE 4450) class to get her students prepared for careers as tech-savvy educators. Eutsler acquired 10 iPads through Willis Library and — using experience gleaned from parent surveys revealing technology adoption intentions and children’s use, practices of current teachers, and her own experience in the classroom — is training her students to explore how specific apps can be authentic tools to develop children’s literacy skills.

The UNT students attend hands-on iPad workshops throughout the semester, where they focus on specific reading skills and find apps that help them create lesson plans and develop assignments. Most are surprised to find that using technology in the classroom is easier than they expected, Eutsler said.

“Of my students, 67 percent have an iPad, 87 percent have an iPhone, but none of them had used them as an educational technology tool. And that’s why I’m doing this,” she said. “You get into the classroom, and you have teachers who have access to these things but they don’t know how to use them as educational tools.

“We need to be teaching our teachers how technology can bolster their teaching, specifically how to make the device work to their advantage. We’re selling them short if we don’t give them those hands-on tech experiences.”

What’s Next?

In the future, Eutsler wants to explore using Twitter to help pre-service and practicing teachers, parents and kids stay connected, but she also wants to work on getting more researchers like herself into classrooms to work one on one with teachers.

“That can be difficult,” Eutsler said, “because school districts don’t always have a clear pathway to collaborating with outside organizations. But partnerships between teachers and researchers could yield results benefiting the teachers and their students.

“A lot of teachers say they don’t have time. Time is the biggest constraint. That’s where higher education researchers can help,” she said. “We can work alongside teachers and see what their challenges are and how we can use technology to leverage deeper learning.”

Right now, Eutsler plans to continue training pre-service teachers who are knowledgeable, competent and ready to promote tech in the classroom.

“Sometimes parents get scared because they think kids are just playing games. They’re not — they’re learning,” she said. “Print books are not going away. This is just another method to delve more deeply into the text and motivate students to develop their literacy skills.”

COE honors its own during UNT Faculty Excellence Week

By Raquel Talamantes

award recipients with plaques

From left, Barrett Taylor, Dean Randy Bomer, Smita Mehta and Uyen Tran-Parsons. Not pictured, Miriam Boesch and Kelley King.

The UNT College of Education honored six faculty members at the annual Faculty Salute event Oct. 19. The COE Faculty Excellence Awards are given each year to faculty members who show outstanding work in their fields. This year’s winners are:

Junior Faculty Research Award
Barrett Taylor, Counseling and Higher Education
Taylor teaches graduate-level courses focusing on administration and finance. His research emphasizes the ways in which colleges and universities interact with their environments.

Research Award
Smita Mehta, Educational Psychology
Mehta’s research focuses on functional behavioral assessment and positive behavior support for individuals with developmental disabilities, analysis of the effect of teacher behavior on student performance, classroom management and instructional strategies, and inclusive education and support.

Lecturer Award
Uyen Tran-Parsons, Counseling and Higher Education
Tran-Parsons, a senior lecturer, teaches topics such as Student Demographics, Cultural Pluralism, History and Philosophy of Higher Education, Finance and Budgeting in Higher Education, Student Affairs Programing Administration, Assessment in Student Affairs, Foundations of Student Development Administration, Organization and Administration, and Risk Management in Higher Education.

Teaching Award
Miriam Boesch, Educational Psychology
Boesch focuses on teaching and learning how technology can increase communication skills in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.

Service Award
Kelley King, Teacher Education and Administration
King focuses her service on understanding teaching and learning as culturally situated activities. Her work explores the ways that class, gender, culture and politics have shaped and still influence education in the United States.

The college’s event was part of the university’s Salute to Faculty Excellence Week. Two COE faculty members were honored at the universitywide celebration Oct. 20.

UNT Foundation Outstanding Lecturer Award:
Rossana Boyd, Teacher Education and Administration
Boyd, a native of Honduras and principal lecturer, focuses her teaching, research and work in bilingual and ESL education. She has worked as a state ESL/bilingual education director and as a professional developer, coordinator, instructor, director and grant manager of programs related to teacher preparation in ESL, bilingual education and alternative certification.

President’s Council Teaching Award:

Carol Wickstrom, Teacher Education and Administration
Wickstrom teaches literacy courses at the graduate and undergraduate level in the Language, Literacy, Bilingual and ESL Program. As director of the North Star of Texas Writing Project, she studies Culturally Mediated Writing Instruction in grades 6-12 English/Language Arts classrooms and supports teachers in these classrooms in their own teacher research.

Information taken from Faculty Profile pages provided by UNT.

$2.7 million grant opens opportunities for TEA students

The University of North Texas’ College of Education will use a $2.7 million grant to enhance instruction for English language learners in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District. 

The Title III National Professional Development Project SUCCESS is a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education awarded to Rossana Boyd, director of the Bilingual/ESL Teacher Education Program, as principal investigator and Ricardo Gonzalez-Carriedo, assistant professor, as co-principal investigator. Both work in UNT’s Department of Teacher Education and Administration.

“We want to make content comprehensible to English learners,” said Gonzalez-Carriedo.

He said he will recruit 15 UNT students pursing teaching certification in bilingual instruction and English as a second language to participate in professional development on how to develop culturally responsive lessons and alternate assessments and how to use the state’s English language proficiency standards.

UNT students also will work with teachers in grades PreK-2 from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD to help plan and implement activities that will guide Latino parents on how to help their children with literacy and biliteracy development.

“Generally, our students do not work with parents and community members until they are in student teaching, so this is a unique opportunity for our students,” Boyd said. “Also, in many cases our students have not been exposed to someone whose native language is not English. This experience will open their minds to new cultures and help them develop an understanding of how to serve and work with a different population.”

The grant also will provide professional development for 245 dual language and content teachers in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. This includes providing bilingual books for libraries in 15 schools during the next five years.

 “We want to enhance instructional services for English language learners in this ISD and anywhere else our teachers end up going,” Boyd said.


Pictured, Rossana Boyd.

COE alumnua, former TE&A faculty member named director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of North Texas has named a new director to shape the future of its lifelong learning efforts.

Stephanie Reinke, formerly with the university’s College of Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration, said she is thrilled to be joining OLLI at UNT at such an exciting time.

“We are currently offering our members more course offerings ─ over 100 this fall ─ more distinguished faculty and more classroom locations than ever before,” said Reinke.

UNT established the Emeritus College, now known as OLLI at UNT, in 2009 to formalize its lifelong learning initiatives. The success of that venture made the university one of 120 programs in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute network. OLLI at UNT offers courses to the 50 and over population on the UNT campus, at Robson Ranch located near Denton and at the UNT New College in Frisco.

OLLI at UNT is currently in the midst of a campaign to hit a membership goal that would make it eligible for a $1 million endowment from the Osher Foundation.

 “I plan to not only hit our membership goal, but find new and exciting ways for our current and prospective members to become and remain engaged,” said Reinke. “Now is the time to get involved with OLLI at UNT.”

The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 1977 by businessman and community leader, Bernard Osher. The foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts.

 For more information about how to join OLLI at UNT, contact Reinke at or 940-565-3487.

Laura McCluney

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Global sport: KHPR student aligns learning with passion for soccer in international internship

When personal passions align with learning opportunities, life-changing experiences are often the result. Just ask Quinny Truong, a graduate student in UNT’s sports management program, part of the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation.

Truong spent this summer interning with FundLife International, a nonprofit organization that brings soccer to impoverished children in Tacloban, The Philippines. The city was largely destroyed in November 2014 by Typhoon Haiyan, and many residents are still working to rebuild. FundLife creates after-school opportunities for Tacloban children to develop their confidence and leadership skills, give them a safe place to play and learn, and keep them engaged in their community.

For Truong, a lifelong athlete who played soccer for Rice University as an undergraduate, the experience meant an opportunity to put the sports management lessons she’d learned at UNT into practice.

“Sports management is like a business degree for the sport world. In my classes, I’m learning how to evaluate processes and management for sports organizations, and that’s what I got to do for FundLife,” she said. “The goal was to get feedback from the kids and find ways we could make the program even better.”

The organization hires college students to work as coaches for the children, who range in age from around 5 to 17, and in order to participate in soccer practices and tournaments, the kids must be enrolled in school and keep up with their schoolwork. At the end of her six-week internship, Truong presented FundLife leadership with her ideas for improvement, which she hopes will help make the already positive FundLife experience even more rewarding for Tacloban kids.

“I could see immediately that the kids loved the experience. This was what they looked forward to most in their lives, the biggest, brightest part of their days,” she said. “They were just so eager to learn, not only about soccer, but about America. They asked me so many questions, always wanting to know more.”

The children were also eager to play. Residents of The Philippines are known for their passion for soccer, and the kids in Tacloban were no exception, even though they lacked many of the basic resources they needed to play, Truong said.

“It was truly an experience to see how these kids in The Philippines played with such passion for the game,” she said. “Most of the kids didn't have the proper equipment and often played barefoot. Not to mention the conditions in which they had to play. Some played on uncut grass with rocks and used sticks for goals; some played on concrete with no lights so they often played in the dark.

“It was just an amazing experience to see how they played soccer in these types of conditions.”  

FundLife currently only operates in the Tacloban region, but the organization brings in soccer coaches, partners and advisors from around the world, including Arsenal in the Community, FIFA Football for Hope and UNT’s KHPR department chair, John Nauright, who helped Truong secure her internship.

“As part of my work supporting FundLife International, one of the two NGO Sport for Development partners of KHPR along with Sacred Sports in St. Lucia, we wanted to provide students opportunities to gain field experience in this important and growing field,” Nauright said. “Quinny was the ideal student to pioneer our engagement due to her sporting experience, her outstanding classroom performance and her infectious personality. We hope to send other students to The Philippines and to St. Lucia in the near future as KHPR promotes sport all around the world.”

Learn more about FundLife here and about UNT’s KHPR department here.


Top photo, Quinny Truong, front row left, with some of the kids she coached in Tacloban, The Philippines, and Zimbabwean soccer player Esther Mano, back rown third from right.