Congratulations to Our 2019-2020 College of Education Leaders

by Office of Communications  /   May 14, 2020

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The College of Education at Illinois is pleased to announce the faculty, staff, and student recipients of our 2019-2020 Faculty and Staff Awards. Honorees were recognized on May 7 during the College’s Spring Faculty Meeting, held via Zoom.

In addition to these awards, several other faculty, staff, and students of the College of Education received campus honors during the academic year. Thank you to those who served on the 2019-2020 Faculty & Staff Awards Committee. Congratulations to all our well-deserved awardees!

College of Education Faculty and Staff Awards

Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award – Stephanie Sanders-Smith, Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction
Dr. Stephanie Sanders-SmithDr. Sanders-Smith has been teaching undergraduate-level early childhood education courses at the College since 2014. As noted in her nomination letter, her former students shared very strong support for her as an outstanding and dedicated educator who has had long-term positive impacts on their careers and lives. She also consistently earned high recognition on CITL’s list of Teachers Ranked as Excellent, and even earned the “Outstanding” distinction for five out of eight semesters. Smith has made significant contributions to create the new Early Childhood Education Program and put forth ongoing efforts to ensure the quality of the program, which was recognized by the Council for Learning Outcome Assessment (C-LOA) as among the top 10 percent of programs for their assessment efforts. Her former students wrote, “Dr. Smith has been a crucial piece in my journey to becoming an educator, and I know the same can be said for my peers.” “By helping aspiring teachers be the best they can be, a lot of children have benefited from Stephanie.”

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award – Liv Thorstensson Davila, Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership
Dr. Liv Thorstensson DavilaThe committee chose Davila because of her significant teaching contributions in on-campus and online graduate courses. Among the courses she teaches, EPOL 550: Methods for Educational Inquiry for doctoral students across all program areas at the College provides the first opportunity for students to understand the foundation of educational research and its expectation in doctoral programs. She has also developed a new course, EPS 500 Global Perspectives in Migrating and Education, that is offered to a college-wide and potentially campus-wide audience. Her nominator wrote, “Dr. Davila is exemplary in connecting students’ first-hand experience with theoretical perspectives and applications for educational inquiries. She consistently demonstrates her in-depth knowledge on educational theories corresponding to the scope and learning outcomes of her courses for on-campus and online students. Dr. Davila always invites students’ input and feedback during her teaching process, which shows her commitment in creating learner-centered learning experiences for students… all these efforts have created an inviting and meaningful learning environment for students to engage with, which have consequently yielded her consistently excellent teaching evaluations.”

David Zola Distinguished Career Teaching Award – Kiel Christianson, Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology
Dr. Kiel ChristiansonDr. Christianson was selected based on his 15 years of teaching graduate and undergraduate courses within the College. He has been recognized on CITL’s List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent numerous times. Christianson has also made key contributions to building the Applied Learning Sciences concentration of the Learning and Education Studies major. In addition, he has made seminal contributions to and is the director of the interdisciplinary Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education program. Christianson’s impact through mentoring a large group of undergraduate and graduate students in research, and successful advising of PhD candidates was also well noted. His letter writer wrote, “Professor Kiel Christianson is a wonderful example of a productive scholar who is deeply committed to sharing his knowledge and wisdom with students as both an engaging teacher and a caring mentor.”

Excellence in Online Teaching Award – Mary Allison Witt, Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership
Dr. Allison WittDr. Witt was selected based on her significant contribution to the Global Studies in Education (GSE) program. She has taught online courses on research methods in global education, special topics and internationalization of higher education issues and currently advises nearly 50 online and on-campus graduate students. As a core faculty member of the GSE program and the director of International Programs, she has provided dedicated and personalized teaching with rich content and inclusive elements. Witt constantly strives to ensure that all the benefits of the U of I are present in online degree programs and helps students to feel connected with each other. Her nominator concluded, “One can expect her teaching in all courses to be inclusive, adaptive, innovative, and rigorous… EPOL and the College truly appreciates the contributions of Dr. Allison Witt and for her to be recognized in online teaching would be immense.”

Outstanding Faculty Award for Public Engagement – Michaelene Ostrosky, Professor in the Department of Special Education
Dr. Michaelene OstroskyDr. Ostrosky is an internationally renowned scholar who made a sustained public engagement effort to extend knowledge through her research, scholarship, and teaching. Her nomination packet showcased the significant contributions she has achieved by making her research on early childhood special education understandable and usable in professional and applied settings. Ostrosky’s collaborative and leadership participation with local and state agencies, schools, and community groups regarding critical issues in early childhood special education is remarkable. Her nominator wrote in describing her role with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development and its State Leadership Team: “Dr. Ostrosky’s enduring engagement with these efforts assures that high-quality information is made accessible through community-based trainings and mentoring of educators, families, and community members for early intervention professionals throughout Illinois.”

Spitze-Mather Faculty Award for Excellence – Catherine Corr, Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education
Dr. Catherine CorrThe committee selected Dr. Corr for her impactful scholarship as a leading researcher in the area of child abuse and neglect, child development, and community and family partnerships. Her nominator wrote, “Dr. Corr’s interdisciplinary work focusing on children with disabilities is both critical and timely. Her deep understanding of trauma-informed practices, typical and atypical child development, and ECSE are enabling her to make unique and valuable contributions to our field and to College of Education students.” Another letter writer wrote in support, “Her unique interests, knowledge, and skills make her someone who can make a lasting impact in the lives of the most vulnerable population in our society. Dr. Corr has started a trajectory, built on her passion and advocacy for young vulnerable children and their families, fueled by her increasing skills as a rigorous researcher, and sustained by her disposition to learn and commitment to advance the knowledge on this important topic area.”

Outstanding Teaching Award for Teaching Assistants – Mary Lyons, Curriculum & Instruction
Mary Lyons, Curriculum & Instruction doctoral studentLyons is a doctoral student in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and has a range of teaching experiences. As an instructor, she has taught CI 406 and CI 407, two of the theory and practice courses for Elementary Education preservice teachers. She has also taught at University Primary School, served as a teaching assistant in Early Childhood courses, supervised preservice teacher candidates during their field experiences and actively participated in the redesigning of courses in the Department. Her letter writer commented, “Mary Lyons represents the excellence that both the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and College of Education strive for, evidenced by her active engagement as a teacher, mentor, researcher, and colleague.”

Academic Professional Excellence Award – Alissa Jones, Early Intervention Training Program (EITP) in the Department of Special Education
Alissa JonesAlissa Jones is the Instructional Design and Technology Coordinator for the Early Intervention Training Program (EITP) in the Department of Special Education. She coordinates a variety of learning opportunities and research activities for EITP, brings a wide breadth of knowledge and expertise, and demonstrates excellent leadership as the point person for communication at the Children’s Research Center (CRC), as social media workgroup leader, as a partner on the EITP website development workgroup, the Service Coordination and Parent Liaison workgroup, and the Early Childhood Collective (ECC). She has been nominated twice for this award category in prior years. Her nominator wrote, “Alissa’s extraordinary commitment to the program, the families and early interventionists that we serve, and to the larger university are remarkable—as is her collaborative spirit and professionalism in all aspects of the work.”

Distinguished Staff Award – Mitzi Koeberlein, Graduate Student Services Office
Mitzi KoeberleinAs the Office Support Specialist within the Graduate Student Services Office (GSSO), Mitzi Koeberlein plays an instrumental role in providing optimal support to faculty, students, and staff. Currently, she handles admission and records for the Departments of Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Psychology. Previously, she was responsible for campus course scheduling and registration and maintained course syllabi records and processed faculty ICES forms for the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership. Her nominator wrote, “Mitzi exhibits initiative and creativity, resulting in improved operating efficiency of the entire College. She promotes positive morale by displaying a congenial, supportive attitude when providing service to others. That Mitzi demonstrates excellence in overall work performance is an understatement.”

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Recognition

Johnell Bentz, Teaching Professor of Special Education – Campus Award for Outstanding Faculty: Diversity & Social Justice Education

Ana Olguin, PhD Student in Curriculum & Instruction – Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Bureau of Educational Research Faculty Awards

Jessica Hardy, Assistant Professor of Special Education – 2019-2020 Hardie Faculty Fellow

Stina Krist, Assistant Professor of Curriculum & Instruction – 2019-2020 Hardie Faculty Fellow

Meghan Burke, Associate Professor of Special Education – Distinguished Scholar

Eboni Zamani-Gallaher, Professor of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership – Distinguished Senior Scholar

Bureau of Educational Research Hardie Dissertation Awards

Hyejin Tina Yeo, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership

Seohyun Wong, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership

Karie Brown-Tess, Curriculum & Instruction

Renato Azevedo, Educational Psychology

Karla McAdam, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership

Outstanding Student Medal Awardees from the College of Education

Andrei Popa – Bachelor’s Recipient (Curriculum & Instruction)

Mia Chudzik – Master’s Recipient (Special Education)

Kristina Rios – Doctoral Recipient (Special Education)