Making the Connection: Service-Learning in Kitale, Kenya

photo 3The Kitale Connections Project (KCP) emerged as the flagship service-learning project for the Mashburn Center for Learning–Institute on Research for Social-Emotional and Service-Learning. KCP grew from the partnership between the Chicks for Children Foundation with support from the College of Education and the Department of Elementary, Literacy and Special Education. The Kitale Connections Project was designed with the overall purpose: to gain a deeper understanding of the various factors, especially extreme poverty, that impacts education around the world.

In May, 2014, a group of professors and teacher candidates, along with a medical team from Tennessee, traveled to Kitale, Kenya. For the professors and candidates the trip was guided by three objectives. One, teacher candidates, with their professors, would provide professional development and training on Making Minutes Matter to teachers at the Seeds Academy. Making Minutes Matter is an instructional technique to integrate social and emotional lessons into the daily routines. Two, teacher candidates and professors would cultivated relationships with orphans, students, teachers, community organizers and clergy in Kitale with the goal of sustaining those relationships. Three, gain a more global perspectives of education, engage in self-discovery and reflection, and embrace the idea of global citizenry and education. The trip was more than anyone expected and provided everyone with unique and life-changing experiences. In many ways, the teachers became the students and they learned invaluable lessons from the many individuals they encountered throughout Kitale.

As part of the over arcing goal of KCP, students and faculty have shared their experiences through various presentation and articles. Most recently, a representative group presented to the College of Education for its Tea Time Talk–a monthly activity where faculty share their work with other colleagues and others. There was also an exhibit organized in the lobby of the College of Education. The exhibit provided teacher candidates an opportunity to share what they learned with other students and empower those students to find ways to make a difference in their local and global communities. The group has also submitted a proposal to the Gulf South Summit on Service-Learning & Civic Engagement through Higher Education with the hopes of being accepted for presentation this March in Little 4

UCA Student Council for Exceptional Children Continue Involvement

The UCA student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children continues an active role in community service and professional development as evidenced in the activities such as the following.

  • For 13 years the organization has sponsored an Angel Tree for families in need with a child(ren) who has a disability. They provide the list of items for the members of the COE to purchase and the UCA SCEC students deliver the gifts to the parents/guardians so they can provide a Christmas celebration for their children.
  • For the last 2 years, the UCA Student Council for Exceptional Children has provided 3 fun nights for a group of children and families involved in a group called Friday Night Friends. This group gets together once a month to provide a place and activities for teens with developmental disabilities.
  • Students in the organization currently in the special education block attended a technology and assistive technology workshop provided by Bryan Ayers of Easter Seals Arkansas-Outreach. The students participated in hands-on learning to help them integrate technology in their future classrooms. The PD lasted for 6 hours and was held at Easter Seals.


Teacher Education Candidates Attend Senate Education Committee Meeting

Seven students currently in the Special Education Block in the Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education attended a senate education committee meeting in September. The 4 ½ hour session provided the candidates the opportunity to observe discussion regarding a variety of educational related topics and to see how decisions are arrived at the committee level.  Following the meeting, Senator Joyce Elliott visited with the group of students to their address questions and comments.


Future Teachers Provide Tutoring Services

Students from the Department of Elementary, Literacy & Special Education pursuing dual certification in P-4 Early Childhood Education and Special Education are engaged in providing literacy tutoring to children in Bigelow, AR.  The students tutor on Mondays and Wednesdays, providing one on one instruction complete with lesson plans and activities to enhance literacy. They have provided over 80 hours of tutoring over 2 semesters and have increased literacy scores as assessed by the UCA students and the Bigelow faculty.


C of Ed Special Education Students attend State CEC Conference

IMG_2508UCA was well represented at the 2014 Annual Arkansas Federation of the Council for Exceptional Children Conference when 33 students from the Department of Elementary, Literacy and Special Education attended the conference in Hot Springs in mid-November.  The conference includes approximately 400 attendees, and has been a tradition with special education majors for 15 years.

Thirty-three students from the Department of Elementary, Literacy and Special Education presented poster presentations and facilitated sessions at the Annual CEC Conference in Hot Springs. The students attended both days of the conference and learned many new innovative strategies for teaching children with diverse learning needs. They were also included in networking activities and were able to meet leaders in the field of special education. The student raised over $1,400 to attend the conference with t-shirt sales, a soup luncheon and silent auction. They were also awarded $450 from UCA SGA.

Student Tiffanee Miller attended the conference and had this to share, “The state CEC conference was by far the most informative professional conference I have attended. I met leaders in the field of special education and learned new ideas to help me in my future classroom. I especially enjoyed the time spent with my fellow classmates and the UCA faculty. It made me proud to be a part of such a magnificent teacher training program.”


Tommie Sue Anthony Endows Fellowship for the Education of the Gifted at UCA


New fellowship established through the UCA Foundation for graduate students

CONWAY, October 24, 2014–Mrs. Tommie Sue Anthony, UCA alumna and noted Arkansas educator, recently endowed a fellowship for gifted education candidates at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) through the UCA Foundation. The fellowship will be used to support tuition, travel to national conferences, books, and/or other relevant student support to students pursuing graduate studies leading to gifted education certification, Master’s degree (M.Ed.), Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree, or Ph.D. in Leadership Studies with a cognate in gifted education. “This fellowship provides an opportunity for more individuals to pursue the field of gifted education” said Ms. Anthony.

Ms. Anthony was honored as the 2014 UCA Distinguished Alumni this past spring. She is a two-time graduate (BSE-1963, MSE-1973) of UCA. She is the Immediate Past-President of the Arkansas Advanced Initiative in Mathematics and Science, Inc. (AAIMS). Before becoming the President of AAIMS in 2007, Ms. Anthony was the Director of Talented and Gifted Programs for the Pulaski County Special School District from 1983-1998. Applications for the fellowship will be accepted in the spring for the 2015 fall term.

UCA Foundation
Ms. Shelley Mehl, President and Vice-President for Advancement, UCA
(501) 450-3197

This article also appeared in the Log Cabin Democrat under the title Alumna endows education fellowship through UCA Foundation.

There’s a Cardinal in the House

Congratulations to J. D. Gray, a graduate student in the College Student Personnel & Administration (CSPA) program in the College of Education!  Coming from an applicant pool of 650 individuals, J. D. emerged as one of five whom the St. Louis Cardinals hired recently.  J. D. will be working in ticket development, where he will utilize his course content (e.g., human development, counseling skills, budget/finance, leadership and decision-making) and his experience of working in the UCA Athletic Department.  J. D. hails from Greenbrier, AR, and will graduate in the spring with his M.S. in College Student Personnel & Administration.

Congratulations, J. D.!!

Mills Awarded 2014 College Teacher of the Year

Mills ACTELA AwardDr. Michael Mills was recently named 2014 College Teacher of the Year by the Arkansas Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (ACTELA). Dr. Mills received this award at the annual Arkansas Curriculum Conference held November 6-7, 2014 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nominees for the award must show evidence of outstanding teaching, professionalism, and service in English/Language Arts (emphasis on recent achievements), must currently be employed as a full-time teacher, must have at least five years of service teaching in Arkansas schools, and must be available to accept the award at the Fall luncheon. Nominees are judged on their teaching (innovations, successes, honors), professionalism (research study, publication, membership and participation in professional organizations, honors), and service (school, community, state, nation). Award winners received a plaque and gift.

Dr. Mills currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning (College of Education). He holds a BA in English Language and Literature/Letters, a MEd in English/Language Arts Teacher Education, and an EdD in Educational Leadership and Administration. Dr. Mills has been at UCA since 2011 and has had numerous publications and accolades related to his expertise in instructional technology, curriculum and assessment, and classroom management.

MAT Program Receives 2nd Program Award

MAT SRATE AwardThe Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) was recently awarded the Innovation in Teacher Education Award at the annual Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators (SRATE) Conference held in Charleston, South Carolina. The Innovation in Teacher Education Award recognizes/honors outstanding teacher education programs that have developed innovative approaches to teacher preparation. Programs that want to be considered for this award must complete an application along with a description of the program and its ability to have a positive impact on teacher education. A program from each participating state is then selected by the SRATE Awards Committee to receive the honor.

Established in 2006 with 77 teacher candidates, the MAT program has grown to approximately 450 teacher candidates and is currently one of the largest graduate program on the UCA campus. Currently, 424 teacher candidates have graduated from the MAT program. This program gives students with a baccalaureate degree the opportunity to become certified Arkansas classroom teachers. The MAT is a 36 to 39 hour graduate degree program that offers two tracks for licensure: Middle Level (grades 4-8) and Secondary (grades 7-12). Students accepted into the program are also given the opportunity to secure a Provisional License which would allow them to teach in their own classrooms while completing the program. For more information about the MAT program please check out our website at

Dr. Terry James, SRATE Interim Executive Secretary and Chair of the Leadership Studies Department at UCA, presented the distinguished award to a group of MAT faculty who presented on the innovative program at the SRATE conference in Charleston, South Carolina.   Those faculty members included Dr. Nancy Gallavan, professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning; Dr. Tammy Benson, Chairperson of the Department of Teaching and Learning, Ms. Chris Hogan, Clinical Instructor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, and Ms. Amy Thompson, MAT Program Coordinator in the Department of Teaching and Learning.  The award was brought back to UCA College of Education to share with the many faculty and staff that work collaboratively and effectively to keep this program successful.

UCA Students and Faculty Present at International Leadership Conference

ILACONWAY, November 4, 2014 –Students and faculty of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Leadership Studies program (LEAD) at the University of Central Arkansas have recently traveled to San Diego, California, to present research at this year’s annual conference of the International Leadership Association. The International Leadership Association promotes a deeper understanding of leadership knowledge and practices for the greater good of individuals and communities worldwide.  ILA’s conference theme this year was Conscious Leading for Global Change: Emergence of our Collective Realities.

The LEAD program director, Rhonda McClellan is pleased that 18 students and two faculty presented original research at this year’s conference. “ILA is an international organization that publishes top-tier journals in leadership and hosts a variety of conferences and meetings for scholars in the field to share their research. Our presentations and attendance at this conference highlights the quality of UCA’s PhD program. Out of all proposals sent to ILA, we learned that only 30% were accepted, ours being among that percentage.” Further, LEAD students and faculty had an opportunity to meet scholars whose work they encounter in the classroom and use in their own research. Many of the papers presented at this year’s conference resulted from the various community field-based projects for which the program is becoming well-known and from students’ dissertations. Presentations included a study of economics of educating women in Arkansas, literacy action in higher education, leadership development and community engagement, and several other topics that focus on improving quality of life markers in Arkansas.

LEAD student, Emily Lane, was excited for the opportunity to present at an international conference and proud to represent UCA and the LEAD program.  “The work we do in this program is indispensable, and we are always happy to present our work and spread the word about the mission of our program to any listening audience.  This year’s conference was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved and provided us with priceless opportunities to network with other scholars and leaders, and it also gave us more impetus to continue the work of enhancing human and community capabilities.”

The LEAD program is now accepting applications for its incoming 2016 cohort. For more information on the conference and the presentations by LEAD students and faculty and for general information about the program, visit


Rhonda McClellan
Director-LEAD Program