PhD in Leadership Studies program boasts three UCA Service-Learning Award winners

At UCA’s inaugural service-learning awards ceremony in April, three of six awards were given to students in the Interdisciplinary PhD Leadership Studies program in the College of Education to recognize their exemplary commitment to and excellence in service-learning and civic engagement. The “Service-Learning Champion” award was given for development of the program.

BallaMariama Laouali Balla, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary PhD Leadership Studies program, was awarded the “Spirit of Humanity” award for her work with the field-based service-learning Women’s Foundation of Arkansas project, her work in cultural diversity on college and elementary school levels, and the research report of the economics of educating Arkansas women. The project is investigating the benefits of an education and how educational attainment can positively influence the economic landscape of Arkansas. Mariama’s long-term goal is to help address existing and emerging inequalities and concerns among family and community around the world through research and scholarship. Leadership associate professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan said of Balla, “Mariama epitomizes the spirit of humanity.”

BullingtonTimothy Bullington, a second-year student in the Interdisciplinary PhD Leadership Studies program, received the    “Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning” award for his work with the with the Stuttgart and Conway Chambers of Commerce on projects to address quality of life and leadership issues in communities. He helped produce Conway’s new master plan and assisted with an investigation of how community development decisions affect the draw and retention of college graduates by providing community leaders a social network analysis – a statistical mapping of how people interact and how these interactions relate to the strength of democratic participation. Tim along with faculty and students presented this study at the International Leadership Association research conference in Montreal, Canada, where it received praise from international scholars. Associate Professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan states, “Tim is a public servant.  His scholarly passions and skills serve the common good and are dedicated to making Arkansas a better place for all Arkansans.”

GoodmanDr. Hunter Phillips Goodman, first graduate of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Leadership Studies program at UCA, received the “Champion of Service-Learning” award for her work with faculty, staff, and administration to build the comprehensive service-learning program and faculty fellows’ development model. Through her doctoral research Hunter explores the role of university leadership in civic engagement within private liberal arts institutions. Nationally, she serves as chairperson of the IMPACT National Student Conference on Service, Action, and Advocacy board of directors.  “The PhD Leadership program at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) has helped me explore and connect my practical experience as a leader in the nonprofit and higher education arenas with theory and research,” said Goodman.  “It has deepened my theoretical understanding and in turn practical application of leadership.


“I am proud of the service work that these PhD students have done under the leadership of Dr. Rhonda McClellan, PhD Leadership Program Director.  Given the mission of the program, these awards verify that the PhD program is effective in attracting and developing ‘servant-leaders’ for public sector and not-for-profit organizations.”  Dean Pounder

Award winners pose with their professor. (L-R) Dr. Hunter Phillips Goodman, Timothy Bullington, associate professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan, and Mariama Laouali Balla.

Award winners pose with their professor. (L-R) Dr. Hunter Phillips Goodman, Timothy Bullington, associate professor Dr. Rhonda McClellan, and Mariama Laouali Balla.


Education Professors Awarded ADHE Grant for STEM Professional Development


Dr. Umadevi Garimella

Dr. Umadevi Garimella, director of the UCA STEM Institute, and Dr. Haihong (Helen) Hu, assistant professor of instructional technology in the College of Education Department of Leadership Studies, co-authored a $68,772 grant awarded to the UCA STEM Institute by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE).  The grant entitled “Beginner Robotics for STEM teaching: Grades 6-8” will support professional development training in basic robotic engineering for grade 6-8 STEM teachers.


Dr. Haihong (Helen) Hu

UCA STEM Institute is collaborating with University of Pine Bluff STEM Center to offer training to grades 6-8 STEM teachers in North Little Rock and Conway School Districts. The goals of the professional development program is to use basic robotics to strengthen teachers’ content knowledge in STEM areas, improve teachers’ ability to develop and implement STEM integrated 5E lessons with robotic engineering activities, model “best practices” pedagogy, and provide participants with classroom materials and training for hands-on math/science/engineering activities. Each teacher participating will receive more than 60 hours of training, a maximum stipend of $1,500, $200 worth of teaching materials and long term support from UCA faculty.  The project will begin this summer.


Cataloging Class Shows Student Commitment

Dr. Jud Copeland, Associate Professor of Library Media in the College of Education Leadership Studies Department is proud of the diligence shown by his students in pursuing their degree.  The LIBM 6332 Cataloging and Classification class met in Torreyson Library throughout Spring Break to work on their respective group presentations for an upcoming Blackboard session.  “I meet with my students in the library and this is a really rewarding experience,” Copeland said.  “I think this reflects the dedication and commitment that our students have for our programs.”

Cataloguing Class

LIBM Graduate Cataloging & Classification Class working on an investigation assignment in Torreyson Library during Spring Break March 25, 2014. The group includes (Arc L-R) Vicky Booth, Torrey McNully, Britney Jumper, and Jana McCollum with associate professor Dr. Jud Copeland seated center.

May 2014 LIBM Graduates

The College of Education congratulates all of its graduates.  Associate Professor, Dr. Jud Copeland, shared this photo after portfolio presentations on a late April Saturday, stating “We are very proud of them.”

LIBM May Graduates

University of Central Arkansas LIBM Graduation Class of May 2014
The next generation of Library Media Specialists are ready to meet the challenges of library services in Arkansas!

UCA College of Education 2013-14 Faculty Excellence Awards

The College of Education annually confers faculty awards designed to encourage and reward excellence in teaching, research and scholarship, and service.  The awards provide recognition of the importance the college places on these fundamental areas, publicize the vitality of faculty efforts in these areas and reward faculty who have excelled in their contributions to the university, their disciplines and other communities.  The following faculty members were honored May 2, 2014, in the College of Education.


frigaMrs. Marilyn A.K. Friga, Clinical Instructor II in the Department of Teaching and Learning, received the COE Teaching Excellence Award for consistently demonstrating exceptional performance in teaching.  Mrs. Friga is a National Board Certified Teacher in History for Young Adolescents and Young Adults and has been employed by the college for seven years.  Recipients of this award strive to enhance student learning as they continually seek ways to improve their teaching and the impact that has on student learning.  Mrs. Friga is a previous Service Award winner of the College and was a nominee for Teaching Excellence at the University level in 2014.  Dr. Tammy Benson, Chair of the Department of Teaching and Learning, states, “Mrs. Friga seems to go beyond what is required to help her students be successful, both in her courses and her supervision of interns.”


moslick-210x278Dr. Mary Ellen Oslick, Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education, received the COE Research and Scholarship Award, which recognizes individuals whose research and scholarship have expanded human knowledge and contributed to advancing their discipline.  Since joining the department in 2011, Dr. Oslick has been consistently active in scholarly activities as evidenced by her publication rate, grant submissions, and presentations at the state, regional, national, and international levels.  Her research in areas such as social justice, literacy, and multiculturalism is widely distributed and recognized by others in her field.  Dr. Oslick’s article, Children’s Voices: Reactions to a Criminal Justice Issue Picture Book, was selected as the recipient of the 2014 Virginia Hamilton Essay Award.  Dr. Kathleen Atkins, Chair of the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education, remarked, “Given her productivity and quality of scholarship, Dr. Oslick is most deserving of this award.”


deedeecMrs. DeeDee Cain, Clinical Instructor in the Department of Early Childhood and Special Education, received a COE Service Award for her many contributions ranging from university to statewide service.  For many years she has given her time and energy as faculty advisor to the UCA Student Council for Exceptional Children chapter in an effort to impact the development of COE teacher candidates into dedicated professionals.  More recently her work to promote the education and service of students with dyslexia in the state of Arkansas has rendered profound results as evidenced by a new state law supporting these students.  ECSE department chair Dr. Kathleen Atkins said, “DeeDee Cain is a passionate individual, driven to have a positive impact on future teachers and the students of Arkansas and is therefore most deserving of this award.”


dwakeDr. Donna Wake, Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, received a COE Service Award for three major accomplishments that impacted the college and community in a very positive way this year:  coordination of the MAT program, implementation of the BearsWrite summer writing program for children, and service as president of the Arkansas Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (ACTELA).  Beyond coordinating the MAT program, advising and recruiting students, revising the MAT webpage, and managing program initiatives, Wake led the process to revise key assessments with the inclusion of the new Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) as well as other state initiatives.  The Bearswrite Summer Writing Camp brought 30 middle school students on campus to improve their writing skills and increase their knowledge of technology, and drew praise for the degree of service it provided the community. As ACTELA president, Wake was instrumental in the success of the Arkansas Curriculum Conference, which brought hundreds of teachers to Little Rock for professional development.  Dr. Wake was the creator and co-chair of EdCamp, an innovative professional development concept that positively affected over 80 attending teachers and faculty from UCA.  She is also a consultant for Pre-K Early Literacy in Arkansas which positively impacts preschool teachers across the state.  Department of Teaching and Learning Chair Dr. Tammy Benson remarked, “Dr. Wake does an excellent job with teaching, research, and providing the kind of meaningful service that can improve education in Arkansas. Her passion for teaching and improving the lives of children in our state guide her impressive service record.”

Dr. Mary Pearson - Appointment to CEC's Division on Career Development and Transition

PearsonDr. Mary Pearson, assistant professor in the Early Childhood and Special Education department, was recently elected as the Southwestern Regional Representative to the Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT).  Dr. Pearson will be representing all of the southwestern states, countries, and territories which include Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, California, Mexico, Louisiana, Arizona, and some U.S. territories.  She will be working with DCDT over the next two years to increase membership throughout the southwestern region, and keep members and state level DCDT leadership abreast of all important information from the organization. DCDT focuses on the secondary and post-secondary level of special education, including assisting students with all types of disabilities and exceptionalities to make successful transitions from public school to adult life. The focus is on all areas of life including employment, transition to independent housing, post-secondary education, and building inclusive communities in which all can live, work, and grow.  In accepting the position, Dr. Pearson said, “I'm very excited to be the Southwestern Regional Representative for CEC's DCDT!  When I was elected, many who already serve on the board stated that they were excited that someone from Arkansas is going to be on the board to represent the Southwestern Region, as there has not been someone involved from Arkansas for a while.  So, I'm especially excited to make a difference in Arkansas and all the other states as well!"  The College of Education congratulates Dr. Pearson for this national appointment, which strengthens our mission of service and outreach.

DeeDee Cain receives NCARC Award

Mrs. DeeDee Cain, clinical instructor for Early Childhood and Special Education, received the 2013-2014 North Central Arkansas Reading Council (NCARC) Community Leader Literacy Award.  The NCARC hosted a reception to honor her and other ambassadors and literacy award winners on Tuesday, April 29 at the Faulkner County Library.NCARC

Craig Seager wins Staff Employee Award

SeagerCraig Seager, Assistant Director for Residence Life and a doctoral student in the College of Education PhD Leadership Program, recently won the 2014 UCA Classified Staff Employee of the Year Award.

2014 Teacher Pinning Ceremony


Keynote Speaker Trinina Pouncy

The UCA College of Education held its eighth annual Teacher Pinning Ceremony on Friday, May 2, 2014, to honor candidates who are becoming teachers.  Graduates from December 2013 and May 2014 were honored along with Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) candidates.  Two hundred sixty-one candidates graduated with teaching degrees in these two semesters.

The Teacher Pinning Ceremony is a time-honored tradition marking the occasion when one is welcomed into the teaching profession.  It is a symbolic ceremony denoting a milestone in an educator’s life.  Candidates are presented a College of Education pin that not only signifies their association with the University, but also represents their affiliation with the honorable profession of teaching.  A slideshow of the candidates teaching during their internship makes the ceremony personal, and many past honorees have said that this event is as deeply meaningful to them as commencement.

Keynote speaker Ms. Trinina Pouncy, a teacher at Ruth Doyle Middle School and Conway School District’s 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year, gave a moving speech that brought the audience of graduates, family, friends, and faculty to its feet.  Her philosophy of teaching is, “Failure is not an option.” Ms. Pouncy emphasized to the teacher candidates what an impact their words and actions will have on students and to never forget the impact they will be having on young people during their teaching careers.  Ms. Pouncy received her bachelor’s degree in Middle Level Education from the University of Central Arkansas.

COE Dean Diana Pounder addresses honorees and their families.

COE Dean Diana Pounder addresses honorees and their families.

A reception was held afterward in the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center on the UCA campus.  Students and their families met and visited with UCA teacher education faculty and staff.  Carlaskio Smith, May 2014 Early Childhood Education graduate and one of the teacher candidates honored, commented, “Wow! What a great end to an outstanding semester.  After Ms. Pouncy’s speech, I left Reynolds Performance Hall ready to be the great teacher that the UCA College of Education has prepared me to be.  The entire pinning ceremony was very moving.”

Dr. Diana Pounder, Dean of the College of Education, expressed her pride in the undergraduate and graduate students completing their initial teacher degree/licensure program.  “We have lots of evidence that UCA teacher education graduates are among the best in the state and we repeatedly get feedback from school districts that our graduates are highly sought after.”



Dr. Diana Pounder pins new teachers.

Gladys Sachse Scholarship Award Winners

In 1996 Miss Gladys Sachse received the Frances P. Neal Award from the Arkansas Library Association. This award is given to recognize a career of notable service in the library field.

In 1996 Miss Gladys Sachse received the Frances P. Neal Award from the Arkansas Library Association. This award is given to recognize a career of notable service in the library field.

The UCA College of Education is pleased to announce that Amanda Threlkeld and Theresa Thompson have been awarded the Gladys Sachse Endowed Scholarship for the 2014-2015 academic year.  The Gladys Sachse Endowment provides $1,000 each to two students accepted into the UCA College of Education Master of Science degree program in Library Media and Information Technology (LMIT) and who plan to become a school librarian.  Their selection out of six applicants was based upon academic achievement with consideration given to financial need.  Candidates for the scholarship must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above in their education major.

Dr. Jud Copeland, associate professor in Leadership Studies, developed the scholarship award in 2007 and was able to meet personally with Gladys Sachse at Salem Rehabilitation Center before she passed away in 2009.  She expressed a great interest in promoting the endowed scholarship to help students in the Library Media program.  Dr. Copeland states, “What I would like to do is to promote Ms. Sachse’s endowed award with membership in both the Arkansas Library Association and the Arkansas Association of Instructional Media.  I think this is a real link to our profession and it would stimulate award winners’ participation in our organizations.” As an extra added incentive this year, Dr. Copeland will pay for the award winners’ first year of ArLA and AAIM membership, saying “I feel that Miss Sachse would approve.”



Theresa Thompson


Amanda Threlkeld

Amanda Threlkeld’s stated goal is to help students improve their research and digital literacy.  In her role as a library media specialist, she plans to share her knowledge, training, and creativity from the LIBM program with other teachers and students.

Theresa Thompson plans to make the library the heart of the school for all teachers, students, and parents & to foster a love of reading through storytelling and conversations about new literature to pique students' interests.


Congratulations and continued success to these accomplished students as they contribute to our mission in the College of Education.