College of Education > News and Publications > News: Oct. - Dec. 2011 > Alumni Society Honors 2011 Award Recipients

Alumni Society Honors 2011 Award Recipients

Congratulations to eight outstanding alumni of the College, winners of 2011 Alumni Society Awards.

by Hannah Chakan (October 2011)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The College of Education Alumni Society proudly announces its 2011 award winners. All recipients are alumni of Penn State’s College of Education and have distinguished themselves in their careers, as well as in the field of education.

2011 alumni award winners

Excellence in Education Award
M. Christopher Brown II ’97 Ph.D.

Leadership & Service Award
Roland E. Walters, Jr. ’71 Sec Ed, ’72 M.Ed.

Outstanding Teaching Award
Marion Wheland ’73 E K Ed

Outstanding New Graduate Award
Jaclyn Gruber ’08 Sec Ed

Outstanding Student Teaching Awards
Fall 2010
Lauren Reese ’10 Sec Ed
Amy Stafford ’10 E K Ed

Spring 2011
Maggie Baker ’11 K Ed
Brittany Bonnell ’11 Math Ed



M. Christopher Brown II is the 2011 recipient of the Excellence in Education Award. He received his doctorate degree in higher education from Penn State in 1997, as well as a master’s degree in educational policy and evaluation from the University of Kentucky in 1994 and a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from South Carolina State University in 1993.

Chris has held many positions within the field of education, which include executive vice president and provost at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.; dean of the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; vice president for programs and administration for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; and executive director & chief research scientist for the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund. He is the current president of Alcorn State University in Alcorn State, Miss.

Chris has served as a professor, researcher, and faculty member at over ten different schools and universities across the country. He has worked on over 15 funded grant projects and given over 200 academic lectures, addresses, and presentations at assorted schools, colleges, and assemblies. He has held positions for both the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education.
Chris has contributed his writing to over 200 scholarly publications including books, refereed journals, and encyclopedias. He has authored or co-authored over ten books, including The Quest to Define Collegiate Desegregation: Black Colleges, Title VI Compliance, and Post-Adams Litigation; Ebony Towers in Higher Education: The Evolution, Mission, and Presidency of Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and The Case for Affirmative Action on Campus: Concepts of Equity, Considerations for Practice.

Issam Khoury, a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State, reached out to Dr. Brown during his own higher education studies. He said of his mentor, and now collaborator, “Dr. Brown has used the strong foundation he earned in Penn State’s program and gone on to produce scholarship that has earned him a place at the table of distinguished scholars of education. He is acutely aware of the multiple issues facing the educational enterprise and works to address those issues and to provide practices and methods for correcting flaws in the system. He is a true educational leader.”

Roland E. Walters, Jr. is the 2011 recipient of the Leadership & Service Award. Roland received a bachelor of science degree in secondary education with an English teaching option in 1971 and a master’s of education degree in counseling and student personnel in 1972, both from Penn State.

Roland currently holds the position of director of the Career Services Office at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va. Here he provides leadership for an inclusive career services office that focuses on career planning and the employment search process for approximately 1,500 students. He also plans and conducts a career week program for students, which includes faculty, staff, and community involvement. In addition, he teaches two or more classes annually.

Roland previously worked in many positions, which include director of the Career Services Center at Radford University in Radford, Va., for 18 years; a consultant for AT&T; and a career counselor at Wytheville Community College in Wytheville, Va. He served in the military for five years during the Vietnam era and advanced to Top Secret security clearance in the U.S. Navy.

He is a member of many organizations and has also received many honors and awards. A highlight of his career was being one of nine career services directors from across the U.S. selected to participate in the Fulbright Scholarship to Germany in 2007. While abroad, he learned about the German higher education system and was able to share goals and outcomes with international colleagues.

James McBride, Jr., a friend and colleague for over 20 years, said of Roland, “He worked diligently and with limited resources for many years to develop an outstanding career services operation at Radford University. He has dedicated hundreds of hours of his time to the further development of our profession through his work in state and regional associations. Rol has trained numerous graduate students who have successfully secured employment throughout the country. I think his impact on the field is already being felt and will continue to be for many years to come.”

Marion Wheland is the 2011 recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award. She graduated from Penn State in 1973 with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education and has taken more than 75 hours of graduate-level courses.

Marion has taught at a variety of schools and grade levels and currently works as an instructional support teacher at Park Forest Elementary School in State College, Pa. She has worked with the State College Area School District for over 35 years.

Throughout her career, Marion has served on countless boards and committees for the school district. She has presented at education conferences on the state and national level and is a member of the National Education Association. She has even taught courses at Penn State in the past.

Bernard Badiali, who has worked with her in her contributions to Professional Development Schools, said, “Marion Wheland is a local treasure. Her passion for teaching and her enthusiasm for preparing new teachers are remarkable. She is one of those rare individuals who can span the border between schools and the university. Without dedicated partners like Marion, teacher education would suffer.”

Jaclyn Gruber is the 2011 recipient of the Outstanding New Graduate Award. She graduated in 2008 and received a bachelor of science degree in secondary education with an English and communication teaching option as well as an English minor. She graduated with honors from the Schreyer’s Honors College after writing a thesis on “Comparative Classroom Practices within Varying Cultural Contexts.”

Jaclyn completed her student teaching at Altoona Area High School, where she taught Honors English and served as advisor to the yearbook staff. She currently teaches English at Great Valley High School in Phoenixville Pike, Pa., and is pursuing a master of arts degree in English literature at West Chester University.

In her current job, Jaclyn has taught a variety of courses that include Standard and Honors Form of Fiction, Twentieth Century Fiction, and Basic Reading and Writing Strategies. She developed a curriculum for twelfth-grade courses and taught senior English.

Heidi Capetola, secondary supervisor of teaching and learning for the Great Valley School District, wrote on Jaclyn’s behalf, “Ms. Gruber’s classroom is a wonderful place where learning comes alive in a context of high expectations and respect for all. Without exception, every time I am in her classroom I observe a solid plan for instruction, engaged students, and a challenging environment for all learners. She is a wonderful role model for her students and I can confidently say that she is a Penn State educator to be proud of.”

Lauren Reese is a recipient of the Fall 2010 Outstanding Student Teaching Award. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree in secondary education, with an English and communication teaching option. She also received a bachelor of arts degree in comparative literature and minored in both English and Spanish.

Lauren completed her student teaching at Elizabeth Forward High School in Elizabeth, Pa., where she taught 11th-grade English, honors English, and advanced placement English. She incorporated technology into the classroom in her honors English class by asking students to create, design, and maintain a Facebook page for a character from a novel they were reading. When her mentor teacher had to miss seven days of school for an emergency surgery, Lauren took over teaching all of her classes as well as the Advanced Placement class, which she had never taught before.
Lauren also assisted with the school’s Mock Trial club and chaperoned a dance at the middle school.

Randal Sydeski, the high school’s principal, said of Lauren, “Her general lesson presentation is student-centered with challenging learning activities for all students. I observed her acting out scenes, in costume, from The Scarlet Letter with other teachers. Students were not only attentive, but were engaged in discussions that were thought provoking and required higher-order thinking. Lauren has exceeded all expectations while completing her student teaching experience.”

Amy Stafford is a recipient of the Fall 2010 Outstanding Student Teaching Award. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree in elementary and kindergarten education with an elementary education teaching option and a minor in special education.

Amy completed her student teaching at Jamison Elementary School in the Central Bucks School District, where she taught in a fourth-grade classroom. She used PowerPoint and real-world examples to help students in her class understand the use of decimals. Amy maintained excellent relationships with staff, administrators, and parents alike. Joseph MacClay, a parent of a student in Amy’s class, commended her on her efforts that reached outside of the classroom after finding encouraging statements of praise on his son’s homework and assignments.

Frank Cerauli, her mentor teacher, said of Amy, “She has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages, especially children. Her ability to connect with students and her talents as a teacher were demonstrated from day one. Amy intrinsically knows how to motivate students by building their confidence and encouraging them to strive to reach their potential. She even seeks out information and is an individual who looks for suggestions to help better herself in her efforts to become the best teacher she can be.”

Maggie Baker is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Outstanding Student Teaching Award. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree in elementary and kindergarten education with an elementary education teaching option.

Maggie completed her student teaching at Tilden Elementary in Hamburg, Pa., where she taught in a fourth-grade classroom. She taught a unit on animal adaptations and habitats, in which she organized a school-wide presentation by the Philadelphia Zoo on Wheels program. She was responsible for the entire program including funding, arranging the schedule, and the final presentation. She successfully executed all aspects of the program for the entertainment and education of her students. She also actively incorporated technology into the classroom to engage her students daily.

Sherry Fuhrmann, her mentor teacher, said of Maggie, “You want to ask her how long she has been teaching because it is so effortless. Her growth is sure to continue as she evolves as a teacher. Miss Baker’s willingness to be an ongoing learner and critical thinker are essential characteristics every teacher needs to possess. She possesses these skills and will be a great addition to any school family.”

Brittany Bonnell is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Outstanding Student Teaching Award. She graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics with a teaching option.

Brittany completed her student teaching in the middle school and the high school of the Bald Eagle Area School District. She taught four different levels of math throughout five periods every day. She assumed most of the primary teaching duties in the classroom throughout her entire term because of her mentor teacher’s health. Brittany faced many challenges in the classroom, including students with learning disabilities and having to tailor the same algebra lesson to suit her applied and academic classes. In addition to her teaching duties, she led anti-bullying seminars for her students weekly, held tutoring sessions during lunchtime, and even chaperoned a school dance.

Ronnie Voigt, her student teaching supervisor, said of Brittany, “During her student teaching, she impressed the team leader, substitute teachers, and other faculty with her abilities. She was always prepared for everything and always taught with a smile and energy that was contagious. Her enthusiasm for teaching mathematics is apparent and her abilities well suited to the responsibilities of a secondary math teacher. She is ready to assume those responsibilities in her own classroom.”