National Board Support Site at UCA

Amy Thompson, MAT Program Coordinator and Clinical Instructor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, was recently awarded an $18,000 grant to host a National Board support site. Held on the UCA campus, the National Board support site is for initial candidates, advanced candidates, and renewal candidates. Meeting on Saturdays, teachers from all over the state come together to work towards this prestigious certification.  This year, UCA has the pleasure of hosting 25 initial candidates, 13 advanced candidates, and 12 renewal candidates. Mrs. Marilyn Friga and Mrs. Mara Cawein, Clinical Instructor II’s in the Department of Teaching and Learning, assist with the site.

National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education. It provides numerous benefits to teachers, students, and schools ( More than 100,000 teachers have chosen to pursue National Board Certification.


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Cotabish & Dailey’s New Science Book Makes the National Science Teacher Association’s Recommended Readings List

Drs. Alicia Cotabish and Debbie Dailey’s newly released book, A Teacher’s Guide to Using the Next Generation Science Standards With Gifted and Advanced Learners, has been published on the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Recommends website. The organization provides unsolicited endorsements and candid reviews of newly released science books. The NSTA review enthusiastically describes the book as “…a terrific resource to help science teachers create vigorous and worthwhile learning experiences for their gifted and advanced students.” The full review can be viewed here.

Co-authored with Dr. Cheryll Adams (Professor Emerita at Ball State University) and written as a service publication for the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), the book was released at the national NAGC conference in Baltimore last November. The book is a sequel to the 2014 book, Using the Next Generation Science Standards with Gifted and Advanced Learners, another NAGC service publication penned by Cotabish and colleagues.

Dr. Cotabish is the program coordinator of the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program in the College of Education – Department of Teaching and Learning where she teaches gifted and talented education courses, research methods and science methods to graduate students. Dr. Dailey is program faculty in the GATE program, teaches research methods to graduate students, and directs STEMulate Engineering Academy, a new engineering-focused summer program for elementary students.


Kappa Delta Pi Awards 2014 Fall Recipients

The Pi Beta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the Education Honor Society at the University of Central Arkansas, selected two individuals to receive their 2014 fall semester awards.  The Kappa Delta Pi Awards Committee selected Ms. Breanna Hutchinson to receive the Student Teacher of the Semester Award.  Nominated by her UCA Supervisor, Ms. Debbie Barnes, Breanna completed her student teaching in the first grade at Jim Stone Elementary School in the Conway Public School District.  Breanna’s classroom mentors included Ms. Heather Tollett and Ms. Sarah Moore, both of whom wrote letters of recommendation supporting Breanna’s nomination.  In their letters, Breanna was nominated for her “high expectations for learning” and her ability to “challenge each student through questioning and prompting.”DSC08135

The Kappa Delta Pi Awards Committee selected Ms. Tanya Fitzgerald, fifth-grade math teacher at Bob Courtway Middle School in the Conway Public School District, to receive the Mentor Teacher of the Semester Award.  Nominated by her student teacher, Ms. Cheyenne Wood, Ms. Tanya Fitzgerald was selected for her inspiration and guidance.  Ms. Wood wrote, “Tanya helped transform me into a better educator.”


The Kappa Delta Pi 2014 fall semester awards were given to the recipients at their schools by co-counselors Ms. Mara Cawein and Dr. Nancy P. Gallavan, from the Department of Teaching and Learning (TL).  Dr. Kathleen Atkins, Ms. Debbie Barnes, and Ms. Sue Farris, from the Department of Elementary Education, Literacy, and Special Education (ELSE), also attended the award ceremony for Ms. Hutchinson at Jim Stone Elementary School.  For more information about the Pi Beta Chapter at Kappa Delta Pi, please contact Ms. Mara Cawein at

Beacon Bite Days Held in the College of Education

photo 1College of Education Lighthouse Beacons held their 2014 fall semester Beacon Bite Days during the first week of December.  For two days, Lighthouse Beacons greeted students in the halls with plates of cookies and candy canes as well as copies of the finals week schedule.  Brief conversations also were held to ensure that students had registered for their spring courses.

photoLighthouse Beacons are volunteer College of Education (COE) and Professional Education Unit (PEU) faculty and staff dedicated to providing student support services for all undergraduate and graduate students/candidates enrolled in their COE courses to enhance their academic progress and professional development.  Initiated in 2010, Lighthouse Beacon goals include (1) collaborating with student support services at UCA and in Arkansas communities; (2) enhancing academic understanding, course completion, and program graduate rates of all COE and PEU students; (3) expanding the number and professionalism of educators produce by UCA so the educator population is more inclusive of all people; and (4) building stronger bridges with educators in all capacities across the state of Arkansas.  Lighthouse Beacons have metal welcome signs with a lighthouse illuminating the horizon hanging next to their doors.  For more information about the Lighthouse Beacons, please contact Dr. Nancy P. Gallavan at 501.450.5497 or

NCTE Presentation – Augmented Reality

NCTE logoUCA Associate Professor, Donna Wake, and second year Benton School District teacher, Amy Dibble, presented recently at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference in Washington, D.C. The conference drew over 5000 attendees and hosted over 600 sessions from 2000 submitted proposals.

IMG_2658Wake and Dibble presented a project entitled Using Augmented Reality to Write the Story of Science Fiction. The project was enacted in Benton Middle School in May 2014. The middle school students in the project co-authored and co-illustrated a group narrative based on their study of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. They then used their narrative and visuals to shoot a paper-slide video which they linked to a new technology tool called Aurasma. The Aurasma app recognizes a trigger image (the cover page of the project illustration sequence) and then directs the mobile device to related, interactive content. In this case, the content was the paper slide video authored and narrated by the students.

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.”