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College of Education > News and Publications > News: 2009 > 2009 Outstanding Faculty, Staff, and Students Honored

2009 Outstanding Faculty, Staff, and Students Honored

The College of Education will honor nine awardees for their dedication and service to the College and community.


by Pamela Batson

The College of Education will honor the achievements of its faculty, staff, and students on May 7. The 2009 Faculty, Staff, and Student Awards will be hosted by Dean David Monk at the Nittany Lion Inn. The following award winners were selected based on nomination letters and their own dedication and service to the college and community:

Climate Enhancement Award –  Paul Datti and Keith Wilson
Graduate Student Recognition Award – Hyun-Myoung Lee and Alexander Yin
Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award – Sean Meloy
Outstanding Staff Award – Terri Watson
Outstanding Teaching Award – Kai Schafft
Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award – Jonna Kulikowich and Rayne Sperling

Climate Enhancement Award

This year, the College of Education honored two Climate Enhancement Award winners from the Counselor Education, Counseling Psychology, and Rehabilitation Services department: Paul Datti and Keith Wilson. They share this year’s recognition for their pursuit of the College’s diversity agenda.

Datti, a doctoral student in counselor education, serves as a leadership team member on the College’s Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC). In this role, he helps to plan diversity and climate related events and serves as the liaison between the College and others within the University. He is requested presenter by groups in the Penn State community to address diversity related issues.

"Paul’s commitment to integrating diversity issues into all aspects of his professional life and his willingness to dedicate the majority of his time to fostering a safe and inclusive environment underscores just how deserving he is of being honored,” said Liza Conyers, associate professor of rehabilitation services.

Wilson, professor of education, is a past member of the DCEC and currently serves on the department’s Diversity Enhancement Committee. He teaches graduate courses in multicultural counseling and is the former director of the Africana Research Center at Penn State. He is known among colleagues and students as a person with a deep appreciation of diversity issues who is able to promote significant self-examination of biases and views on highly controversial issues.

“His work to enhance the diversity and climate of the College through direct, yet collegial and understanding ways has made him a major and consistent factor in the improvement of diversity issues,” said Richard Hazler, professor in charge of counselor education.

Graduate Student Recognition Award

Hyun-Myoung Lee and Alexander Yin were both selected as 2009 Graduate Student Recognition Award winners. This award honors a graduate student for outstanding scholarship, research, dedication to education and the promise of professional excellence.

Lee is a doctoral student from Korea in the Curriculum and Instruction department. He teaches an introductory course in teaching methods for English language arts teachers. As a person who speaks English as a second language, he is able to demonstrate to his students how issues of language use and learning are global and go far beyond a standard English classroom. This also fits into his research which focuses on intercultural aspects of English language learning in first or second language contexts.

Jamie Myers, associate professor of language and literacy, said, “A common thread that runs throughout his academic and service achievements is his goal to bring his life experiences as an international teacher and student to others to build a community that is open to different cultures, histories, politics, and social relations.”

Yin is a doctoral candidate in the Higher Education program who is also pursuing a master’s in applied statistics and a certificate in Institutional Research. As a research assistant on two National Science Foundation (NSF) projects, he had made numerous, extensive, and substantively important contributions to the research design, instrument development, and data collection and analyses.

Lisa Lattuca, co-director of the NSF projects, said, “Alex has become such an integral part of the team that we cannot afford to lose him. After he graduates in August, we will retain him on the project as a post-doctoral researcher.”

Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award

Sean Meloy is the 2009 winner of the Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award. This award recognizes undergraduate student leaders who enhance the purpose of the College, promote leadership and service, and foster personal and professional development of peers.

Meloy is completing his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with a Social Studies option in conjunction with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in history. Through his dedication to student government and leadership, he has served on the executive board of the University Park Undergraduate Association, the Penn State United Nations, and as president of the Penn State College Democrats. Meloy has also worked as intern with Congressman Mike Doyle. His career goal is to be in a position to advocate for education reform.

“Mr. Meloy is an exceptional and ambitious student who has consistently shown leadership to the university and the community,” said Jackie Edmondson, associate dean for teacher education and undergraduate programs.  

Outstanding Staff Award

Terri Watson is the 2009 Outstanding Staff Award winner. This award honors staff members who contribute in significant ways to the quality of life within the College. Nominees must have at least 5 years of full-time employment with the College of Education.

Watson is the staff assistant for the Curriculum & Instruction Field Experiences Office. She joined the C&I department in February 2004 and works with between 25-30 field experience instructors and approximately 17 on and off-campus student teaching supervisors. Her duties include keeping all student information updated, room scheduling for meetings, and helping to keep the program running as smoothly as possible.

 “Terri has learned to work with the students kindly, gently, and yet firmly,” said Jim Nolan, Hermanowicz Professor of Education. “Her ability to help students relax and be composed makes the job of the two coordinators much, much easier.”

Outstanding Teaching Award

Kai Schafft is the 2009 Outstanding Teaching Award winner. This award recognizes a faculty mentor who demonstrates teaching excellence, shows respect to all students as individuals, and creates an environment conducive to learning.

Schafft, assistant professor in education policy studies, has an outstanding reputation among doctoral students as a non-traditional teacher who consistently receives high SRTEs. He is a sought after mentor and leader in the department for promoting core courses.

 “Dr. Schafft employs meaningful and multiple instructional techniques that are centered on the needs and interests of his students; he demonstrates a genuine willingness to work with students outside of the classroom to pursue their academic interests,” said Erin McHenry-Sober, doctoral student.

Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award

Jonna Kulikowich and Rayne Sperling were selected as recipients of this year’s Cotterill Leadership Enhancement Award. This award recognizes senior faculty or staff by providing monies to reward exemplary performance and leadership efforts.

Kulikowich and Sperling were selected based on their invaluable leadership and work on the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Assessment project; a systematic study of Pennsylvania school districts' local graduation assessments. Funded by a $275,000 grant from PDE, they have concluded that, based on the information submitted and practices reported by school districts, approximately 5% of the participating districts use assessments that both align to state standards and represent practices that could be considered valid measures of proficiency.

“This project is an outstanding example of the kind of partnership that needs to exist between a land grant research university and the public sector,” said Dean David Monk.

Kulikowich is professor and Sperling is an associate professor in the Educational Psychology program.