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Alumni Society Honors 2007 Award Recipients

A news article about the 2007 alumni honorees from the Penn State College of Education Alumni Society.

The College of Education Alumni Society is extremely proud to announce its 2007 award winners.alum_soc_winners07.png

Fall 2006
Juliana Jones, ‘06 B.S.
Dina Leslie, ‘06 B.S.
Spring 2007
Jill Ingram, ‘07 B.S.
Matt Landis, ‘07 B.S.

Nominate an alumnus/alumna for recognition in 2008.

Dr. Ruth Kaminski is the 2007 Excellence in Education recipient.  Ruth began her path in education at Penn State where she graduated with her bachelor of science in speech pathology and audiology in 1975.  She then continued her education at the University of Oregon by earning her master’s degree in early childhood special education in 1984 and her doctorate degree in school psychology in 1992.

Currently, Ruth serves as the president of the Dynamic Measurement Group located in Eugene, Oregon.  In this group, scholars continue the research and development of Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills – known as DIBELS (pronounced Die΄-bulls).  Through 2005, all proceeds from the sales of DIBELS have been placed in a University of Oregon foundation account and invested in further research and development in DIBELS.

Throughout her career, Ruth has published many articles on topics including reading and literacy outcomes, measuring growth and development, and the enhancement of parenting skills, and has received over $3 million in grant money.   Her research areas include language and literacy and substance abuse prevention.

Her accomplishments have also been acknowledged with several different awards and honors.  Ruth’s work with Project STAR, the Early Childhood Research Institute, and the development and implementation of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Learning Literacy Skills has had a national impact on the understanding and teaching of millions of children throughout the United States.

Dr. Kaminski is a faculty member in School Psychology at the University of Oregon.  Her specialties are in early childhood assessment and intervention.  Kaminski teaches courses in School Psychology related to assessment and intervention with preschool children and their families. Her teaching interests include assessment and intervention with preschool children and families.


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Sally Lima is the recipient of the College of Education Alumni Society’s Outstanding Teaching Award. Sally received her bachelor of arts in chemistry from Rosement College in 1962. She continued on to Penn State University for her master’s degree in arts in educational theory and policy. Finally, she received her doctorate of philosophy degree in educational theory and policy from Penn State in 1990.

For the majority of her teaching years, Sally has worked at Lock Haven University teaching upper level mathematics courses.  She is also a board member of the North Central Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  One of Sally’s many accomplishments has been winning the Linda Emmanuel Teaching and Learning Center Award for Excellence.

Sally played a significant role in her department’s earning the National Science Foundation Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation in Pennsylvania grant.  Sally brought the members of the mathematics department together twice a month for three years to examine and revise the department syllabi as well as their teaching techniques.  In this process, she had the department members study the state and national standards for mathematics, observe and critique teaching that demonstrated good pedagogy, and model good pedagogy.

Sally also has a strong commitment to working with local K-12 teachers and is currently working with Bald Eagle Area K-8 teachers as well as Dickey Elementary teachers.  She has also been involved in Math Camps and Math Fairs in her local schools over the last ten years.

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Dr. Clifford Bennett is the 2007 recipient of the College of Education Alumni Society’s Leadership and Service Award. Clifford completed his doctorate degree in curriculum and instruction at Penn State in 1976.  He earned his masters degree in history and education from John Carroll University in 1969, and his bachelor of arts in political science from Lincoln University in Pa. in 1968.

After graduating from Penn State, Cliff was a tenured faculty member at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Cliff currently serves as a professor and chairman for the Department of Teacher Education at Cleveland State University.  This is the largest academic department at the university and Cliff has guided it expertly for the last seven years.  He is also deeply involved with community service at Cleveland State and has served as a member of the Charlottesville City School Board, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center, as well as the executive committee of the College and University Faculty Assembly of the National Council for Social Studies.

James A. McLoughlin, Dean for the College of Education of Cleveland State, said that Clifford possesses, “strong values and commitment to urban education and to providing a high-quality diverse teacher force, and has shown humor and humility in addressing areas of improvement and new work to be done.”  Among his achievements in the teacher education department, he recruited and hired eight African American and Hispanic faculty when none were previously hired.  His department also attracted the largest number of grant dollars at the university -- including the six-year, $36 million Ohio Reading First Center, $3 million LEAPS in early childhood literacy, and multiple federal and state awards for the Center of Excellence in Mathematics and Science education.

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Robin Tridico, now in her third year of teaching mathematics, is the 2007 recipient of the Outstanding New Graduate Award.  This award is intended to recognize the accomplishments of new graduates who have shown excellence in their field. Robin is a 2005 graduate of the College of Education.  She earned a bachelor of science degree in secondary education with a concentration in mathematics and also completed a minor in psychology. Currently she is a 7th grade mathematics teacher at Great Valley Middle School in Malvern, Pa.

In her short career Robin has instructed both middle school and high school students with great success.  Her colleagues believe that Robin is an outstanding teacher who has already made a significant contribution to this school and community.  Robin is actively involved in curriculum development at the district level and her colleagues believe that this is an outstanding accomplishment and responsibility for a second year teacher.  In addition to her extensive work in the math curriculum, Robin worked as the choreographer for the school musicals, including Grease, High School Musical, and Coming Home.


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Juliana Jones is a recipient of the Fall 2006 Outstanding Student Teacher award. She graduated from Penn State in December 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary and Kindergarten Education with an Elementary Education Teaching option. Juliana then immediately pursued teaching certification through the Masters in Curriculum and Instruction Program in the College of Education.

She completed her student teaching program at Burchfield Elementary School in the Shaler Area School District, where she taught Reading, English, Spelling, Math, Social Studies, and Science.  Through this experience, she demonstrated her teaching enthusiasm as well as her dynamic personality to create a student-focused and energetic classroom environment.  Juliana presented information to a diverse group of students with a wide range of academic and emotional abilities using a variety of teaching methods and engaging students in guided practice to ensure comprehension.

Juliana has elected to accept a full-time position at Shaler Area Middle School teaching 6th grade mathematics and English.

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Dina Leslie is also a recipient for the Fall 2006 Outstanding Student Teacher Award. Dina graduated from Penn State in December 2006 with a degree in Science Education.

Dina had the opportunity to student teach at Ben Franklin School in the Harrisburg School District.  She taught 7th grade science in a challenging atmosphere that included an ambiguous school curriculum, lack of resources, and an urban school culture that is economically disadvantaged.  In the midst of these challenges, Dina developed and maintained a strong focus on science in her lessons.  She was also consistent in her availability to help students before and after school.

Dina was responsible for the organization, promotion, and management of the first ever field trip to local wetlands for the entire seventh grade at Ben Franklin.  Her academic unit supported the trip and was greatly enhanced by the information the students brought back to their school from this experience.  Dina also taught students about biomes and each student created models of a ‘Biome of the World.’ In a school where direct instruction and classroom discipline are the norm, through her determination and creation of active learning experiences, she was able to successfully motivate her students to want to learn.

Dina had worked slowly, methodologically, and patiently to build relationships and trust with the students.  She worked tirelessly to establish classroom norms focused on mutual respect for all members of her classrooms.  Dina constantly tried new ideas, learned from failures, and found ways to engage the students in the important science ideas of her class.

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Jill Ingram is a recipient of the Spring 2007 Outstanding Student Teaching Award.  Jill graduated from the College of Education in May 2007 with a degree in elementary and kindergarten education with an elementary education option.

Jill completed her student teaching program with a class of fourth grade students at the Strodes Mills Elementary School.  Throughout her experience, Jill displayed enthusiasm and confidently directed an active, student-centered classroom.  She designed an interesting unit on plants using the Understanding By Design approach.  Jill brought in a plastic swimming pool and created an indoor garden to use for experiments.  Her students were very involved in the learning experience -- planting and dissecting seeds, writing poetry about plants, conducting research by using the computer lab, and going outdoors to study the classification of different trees.

Another challenge that Jill faced was her work with a young boy with many social needs.  Earlier in the year, his father died, and he was placed in a foster home.  With so many hardships at home, he had frequent behavior problems in class.  Through an intervention plan that Jill designed, this young boy gained some social skills and decreased his negative behavior.  Uplifted by her genuine concern for him, this boy was able to improve his grades, his outlook on school, and he has made many friends within his class.

Jill has accepted a full time teaching position with the Mifflin County School District.

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Matt Landis is also a recipient of the Spring 2007 Outstanding Student Teaching Award.  Matt graduated from the College of Education in May 2007 with a degree in secondary education with a social studies teaching option.

Matt had the opportunity to teach at Tamanend Middle School in the Central Bucks School District.  Throughout his 16-week experience, he taught Ancient Western History classes to five 7th grade classrooms. Those who have worked with him said that Matt brings great energy, enthusiasm and humor to every class. He used the Understanding by Design Model to plan instruction, which enabled the students to be aware of each day’s Enduring Understanding and the Specific Learning Outcomes they are expected to achieve.  Matthew consistently develops animated Power Point presentations and crafts ‘demonstrations’ to facilitate learning.

Matt also developed and implemented a twelve-day unit of study on the Roman Empire.  He created many graphic organizers that illustrated connections and made comparisons, including a Unit Organizer and Map that visually outlined the sequence, major concepts, expectations for students, and assessment strategies.  He also performed a play on the life and death of Julius Caesar to teach the students about the contributions and cultures of the Ancient World.

In addition to his teaching, Matt supervised homeroom and resource periods, and attended faculty and department meetings.  He assisted with the Track Team, chaperoned a ski trip, and volunteered his time for the Kelly Anne Dolan Shootout, a community service project that raised money for terminally ill children and their families.

Matt has accepted a full-time position teaching 7th grade social studies at Tamaned Middle School in Warrington, PA in the Central Bucks School District.

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