Holmes Scholars: Representing the Underrepresented Well

Sherry Tuliwa McKnight, doctoral student in the Department of Teaching and Learning, has quite a diverse educational background. And being designated as one of three Holmes Scholars at UNLV continues to distinguish her as she completes her doctoral studies.

McKnight transferred to UNLV in 2004 after receiving her associate’s degree in Liberal Arts. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in African American History and in 2008, she cites her son as her inspiration to further her education: “My son encouraged me to join him in graduate school. When I graduated with my master’s in December 2012, my son received his Ph.D. at the same graduation ceremony. Of course, he also wanted his mother to change the family tradition and complete a Ph.D. as well.”

In 2013 McKnight began the Ph.D. in Career and Technical Education and Post-Secondary Education (CTPE) degree program; her dissertation work centers on the potential role of stereotype threat in African American females’ pursuit of graduate education. While helping other adults that were returning to the University for a graduate degree in the CTPE program, she was nominated as a Holmes Scholar.

The Holmes Scholar program, which began in 1991, was designed for historically underrepresented individuals at various colleges and universities in the United States. The program is sponsored by the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE). Research indicates a tremendous need for retention, progression, and completion of graduate degrees for underrepresented students in the higher education system. McKnight is honored to be a UNLV student who is part of breaking the historical cycle that often holds back underrepresented students in higher education.

Holmes Scholars serve a three-year term, participate in the AACTE Annual Meeting each year, and attend at least two other conferences and/or symposiums offered by the Holmes Scholar Organization. After completing her work as a Holmes Scholar, McKnight plans on continuing making contributions in the local community and beyond.

Additional information regarding the Holmes Scholars program may be found at the AACTE website.

COE Spotlight: Elementary School Principal John Haynal

National Organization Honors John Haynal, a 1996 College of Education Alumni and Elementary School Principal, as a “Shining Example of the School Principal.”


Read on the CCSD Newsroom page.

John Haynal, who serves as principal of Dr. C. Owen Roundy Elementary School, Vegas Verdes Elementary School and Elaine Wynn Elementary School in the Clark County School District (CCSD), has been selected as Nevada’s National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Haynal was nominated and selected by his fellow principals through a statewide search process. The NAESP program recognizes and celebrates elementary and middle-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and climate for the students, families and employees in their learning communities.

Haynal’s role as principal of three schools is part of CCSD’s Franchise School program, which started in 2015. The program assigns a successful principal who has demonstrated academic growth and achievement to supervise one or more additional Franchise Schools using the same or similar practices that have led to their success. At Haynal’s schools, all employees are held responsible for maintaining a high level of quality in the educational environment. Under his leadership, Roundy Elementary School went from a 2-Star school to a 4-Star school in two years. Haynal also has kept the number of teacher vacancies at his schools extremely low, largely through effective recruiting efforts and referrals from existing staff members.

“At the helm of every successful school is a successful principal,” said NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly. “Our National Distinguished Principals program provides us with an opportunity to recognize the outstanding leadership of these principals and their commitment to creating successful learning communities. Because of them, students thrive academically, teachers grow professionally and communities are strengthened.”

CCSD Chief Student Achievement Officer Dr. Mike Barton said, “Mr. Haynal clearly meets and exceeds the criteria established by the NAESP to receive this prestigious honor. He is committed to excellence, he has programs that meet the academic and social needs of all his students, and he has firm ties to parents and the community. CCSD is extremely proud of Mr. Haynal and all that he does for our students.”

In October, Haynal will travel to Washington, D.C., for two days of activities planned to honor and bring recognition to the elementary and middle-level educators chosen by the states, the District of Columbia, plus private and overseas schools.

Lending a Helping Hand through NvLEND

Doctoral student Stephanie Devine becomes a trainee of the Nevada Leadership Education in Neuro-developmental and Related Disabilities (NvLEND).


Over the next 10 months, Stephanie Devine, doctoral student in the Department of Educational and Clinical Studies, will train with 13 other individuals from across the State of Nevada on issues related to special education and disability issues. Devine was selected after a competitive application process, and she is excited to work with what she cites as the best training in the State of Nevada on these issues.

Devine received a bachelor’s degree in English from California Lutheran University in 1998 and a master’s degree in Special Education from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in 2009. She worked for the Clark County School District as a special education teacher, specializing in Intellectual Disabilities and Autism for seven years. Currently, Devine is working on a doctoral degree in Special Education at UNLV as well as serving as a Visiting Lecturer in the College of Education.

Moving Science Education Forward

Dr. David Vallett, Assistant Professor in Teaching & Learning, has received a $315,000 award to increase awareness and knowledge of the Nevada Academic Content Standards for Sciences.


Dr. David Vallett, Assistant Professor in Teaching & Learning, has received a $315,000 award from the Nevada Department of Education Math Science Partnership 2016-2017 grant program entitled: “Moving All Nevada Teachers through Awareness of the NVACSS (MANTA).”

Vallett serves as the Principal Invenstigator, and Dr. Hasan Deniz, Associate Professor in the same department, is an evaluator for the project. Vallett has partnered with eight other leadership team members at the University of Nevada-Reno (UNR), within Clark County School District (CCSD), and with Southern Nevada’s Regional Professional Development Program (RPDP).

Led by UNLV, and partnered with UNR, CCSD, and the RPDPs statewide, Moving All Nevada Teachers through Awareness of the Nevada Academic Content Standards for Science (NVACSS) (MANTA) is a multi-institutional project in science education with the primary goal of raising awareness and familiarity with the NVACSS statewide through the development of a cadre of teacher leaders, who will then develop and present workshops to teachers in their districts and regions. The 96 person teacher leader cadre will complete a 50-hour institute on the NVACSS and peer leadership delivered by higher education faculty and teacher educators from across the state. Through a partnership with PCG and Dr. Richard Vineyard, all science teachers statewide will participate in Pepper, an online module outlining the NVACSS. Additionally, NV science teachers will have the opportunity to take part in up to 20 hours of teacher leader delivered workshops along either an awareness or implementation track, depending on their level of experience with the NVACSS.