What's New in the College of Education?
Two APSU colleges work to prepare science teachers, enrich community
(Posted Nov. 9, 2018)
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Dr. Philip Short has the heart of a field biologist. He loves wading through creeks or hiking trails, conducting field research. As an assistant professor at Austin Peay State University, you might expect his office to be in the Sundquist Science Complex, but it’s not. Short works in the Claxton Building, as a member of the Eriksson College of Education.
“Since I was 5 years old, I never wanted to be anything but a biologist,” he said. “But you get to your junior year of college and you’re not sure what you want to do, or if you want to do another four or eight years of graduate school.”
Short decided he wanted to be an educator rather than a working scientist. Today, he’s fortunate enough to do both as director of the College of Education’s STEM Center, but a few years ago he started wondering about similar individuals who don’t know where their interest in science should take them.
“There are a lot of students who enroll at Austin Peay, wanting to be doctors or engineers or chemical researchers, but maybe after a few years they aren’t,” he said. “We get these people who are interested in science, they’re good at it, they just don’t quite know what they want to do.”
Last summer, Short and his department chair, Dr. Benita Bruster, discussed this issue with Dr. Lisa Sullivan, chair of the Department of Chemistry, and Dr. Karen Meisch, interim dean of the College of STEM. Together, the four colleagues wrote and received a $50,000 state grant for their two colleges to train science majors to be educators while also providing educational outreach opportunities to local school children.
Thanks to the state grant, the two APSU colleges awarded 15 stipends to biology and chemistry majors to work as teaching assistants (TAs) last year. The TAs led freshmen labs on campus, but they also were required to work with younger students in grades K-12. During the spring semester, the colleges hosted local school groups at Austin Peay for STEM outreach events informally known as “Science Fridays.”
“We had 125 fifth-graders come over one Friday and learn about genetics,” Short said. “We went to the farm and looked at renewable energy, and one Friday we took students to the planetarium and looked at what makes earth a place in the universe where life exists.”
The grant-funded program allowed Austin Peay science majors to see what it’s like being a teacher, with the hope that some of them might pursue careers in this high-need field. According the U.S. Department of Education, 43 states reported a shortage in science teachers for the 2017-2018 year.
“The idea, which is appealing to both colleges, was that we identify ways to make science majors aware of the teaching degree and kind of capture some of those students before they fall through the cracks,” Short said.
The state grant ended last year, but Austin Peay’s College of Education and College of STEM are continuing to collaborate by offering professional development workshops for science teachers in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.
“It just makes sense for us to work together,” Short said. “We have some expertise in pedagogy and teaching strategies, and they have a lot of expertise in content areas, new innovations, new applications of scientific findings. Putting those two things together allows us to have a richer experience that we can offer teachers for professional development and also offer students in our regional schools.”
Army vet trades Special Forces to study special education at APSU
(Posted Nov. 9, 2018)
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – If you ask Albert Wiley to list all the places he’s visited, you should probably take a seat because it’ll take a few minutes.
“I went to Panama, Ecuador, Belize, Honduras, Korea, Holland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Japan, England, Canada…let’s just say numerous countries,” he said.
Wiley spent 25 years in the U.S. Army, serving with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and later with the 5th Special Forces Group. After completing six combat tours in Iraq and four combat tours in Afghanistan, he decided to retire and add a new location to his extensive travelogue – the Austin Peay State University campus.
“I knew I needed another career, so I decided to come to Austin Peay and study special education,” he said. “Austin Peay has been real welcoming. I’ve never had any issues here. Every time, if I had a problem and spoke to a professor, right on the spot they’d help me out.”
Austin Peay is the state’s leader in providing higher education to military-connected students, with services on campus like the Department of Veterans Affair’s VetSuccess Office, a Veterans Upward Bound program and a Military Student Center. Wiley spends most of his time working at that center, helping fellow veterans transition from the military to college life.
“There’s a good veteran community with the students here,” he said.
And within Austin Peay’s Eriksson College of Education, he uses the knowledge he gained during 25 years of service to help some of Austin Peay’s younger students understand the importance of what they’re studying.
“A lot of the students over there, they do listen to some of my experiences when I try to explain why math is important,” he said. “In the military, I had to use measurements on trees to see how tall a tree was so when people jump out of a plane, they don’t land on that tree.”
For information on APSU’s different military services, visit www.apsu.edu/military.
Mr. Martell Williams is working with 5th grade students from Burt Elementary. Martell is a senior at Austin Peay in the College of Education in the K – 5 Program. Martell and other Austin Peay students have the opportunity to work with students in STEM with funding from a Tennessee Innovation Grant.
Carrie Uffelman Brake, APSU College of Education Alumna and 3rd grade teacher at Vanleer Elementary School, was featured in a New York Times article on the GOP tax plan and deductions teachers take for buying school supplies.
Valerie Flippin, a recent graduate of Austin Peay’s Reading Specialist Master’s program, invited Dr. Lauren Wells to read to her fourth-grade class at Moore Magnet Elementary School. Dr. Wells read One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II. Students identified “showing kindness” as the theme. They then traced their own foot and listed steps they can take to show kindness to others.
Pre-residency and residency 1 students staffed booths at the Burt Elementary Math
and Literacy Family Night. Children and their families played games related to books
with a snow theme. There was also a book fair wherein Clifford the Dog, Katee Byrd,
greeted visitors (and lost a couple of pounds in this portable sweatsuit).
Did you know students in the College of Education can study abroad? Here are some of our students on a study abroad trip to England over the winter break where they completed their Children's Literature class (RDG 4050) with Dr. Tara Alvey. Dr. Alvey will be taking another group of students to England in December of 2019.
Undergraduate Scholarship in the College of Education
Ronnie Roberts, who goes by “Devin”, is a senior in the Eriksson College of Education, studying elementary education for grades K-5. During his undergraduate studies, Roberts has participated in several undergraduate research conferences and presented his research titled, “The Effect of Proficient Reader Strategies on Reading Comprehension in College Age Students”.
Roberts attended the MISA (Mid-Southern Interdisciplinary Sciences Association) conference in October 2017 and took first place for the presentation of his research. Previously Roberts presented his research at the APSU Research Symposium in April of 2017 and won best overall poster presentation. Roberts also attended the NCUR (National Counsel of Undergraduate Research) conference in Memphis placing in the top 10 percent of all abstracts submitted, with approximately 4,000 submissions. Additionally Roberts attended the Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators (SRATE) in Arkansas, and Poster on the Hill event at the Capitol building in Nashville.
Roberts experience with research has been a positive one. “When you hear the word “research” you think it is complicated and daunting, but after experiencing the research and presentation process, it is something I have become passionate about. The support from the faculty in the College of Education, and the Office of undergraduate research, changed the trajectory of my educational path. I now want to continue my education by obtaining advanced degrees. Research can be life changing, and I want to encourage others to take advantage of the opportunity”, said Roberts.
Dr. Lauren Wells and Dr. John McConnell, in the College of Education, were instrumental in guiding Roberts with his research, and Dr. Erin Lynch, Office of Undergraduate Research assisted Roberts in locating conferences where his research could be presented. Roberts additionally said, “I wouldn’t have had this experience if it weren’t for the incredible measures my faculty mentor, Dr. Lauren Wells, accomplished on my behalf. Dr. Wells is there every step of the way with me”.