Dr. Brittnie Watkins: A Passion for Court Education

UNLV alumnae, Dr. Brittnie Watkins is inspiring tomorrow’s leaders.


Brittnie T. Watkins, Ph.D., Esq. ’14, a dual degree graduate from UNLV’s College of Education, having earned her doctorate in Educational Psychology in 2014 and her Juris doctorate in Law in 2014, is inspiring many of tomorrow’s educational leaders in Nevada law and education. As a graduate of UNLV, Brittnie was active within the university and held offices in many student organizations. She was a member of the Nevada Law Journal, Vice President of the Public Interest Law Association, Marketing Coordinator for the Child Advocacy Law Association, and President of the Black Law Students Association. On top of that, she was awarded the “Outstanding Dissertation Award” for her dissertation titled, “Reducing Court-Related Stress through Court Education: Examining Child Witnesses, Attorneys and Parents.” Brittnie credits her extensive research training within the College of Education and her direct advising for her dissertation success. She acknowledges Dr. Rebecca Nathanson as her Advisor and Mentor and recalls Dr. CarolAnn Kardash as instructing her in cognitive research.

Currently, Brittnie is completing a clerkship with Justice Michael L. Douglas of the Supreme Court of Nevada where she conducts legal research, drafts bench memorandums, and attends oral arguments as a Judicial Law Clerk. Upon completion of her clerkship in August 2016 Brittnie hopes to “Take the next step and get some experience at a law firm and then open up her own firm,” she said.

For additional information about UNLV COE Dual Degree, visit http://education.unlv.edu/ephe/programs/dual-degree/

COE Spotlight: Sukhjit Kaur Narwal

Narwal, a Secondary Education major, views the teaching profession as her way to give back as a mentor and advocate.


Narwal, a College of Education undergraduate Secondary Education major, views the teaching profession as her way to give back as a mentor and advocate to students in Las Vegas, a community where she was born and raised by immigrant parents. She aspires to become a high school English teacher for Clark County School District, where she found great mentorship and acceptance from her English teacher through the magnet program at Clark High School.

Narwal is currently en route to obtain her Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education. She is vice-president of her dance club, a member of Ewalu club, and plans to get involved in the Office of Student Engagement and Diversity. Her favorite class thus far has been in Women’s Studies and sees what she has learned in the course to be very applicable to teaching. Narwal admits, “I’ve never been comfortable talking about gender or class, but taking this course has broadened my knowledge base and I feel more comfortable speaking about these issues.” She adds that she is passionate about fighting the injustices women suffer across the world, including in education.

Narwal currently works for the UNLV/CSUN Preschool as a teacher’s assistant. She enjoys working with children and reports she has learned so much on the job. In her spare time, Narwal volunteers at Jack Daily Elementary School and the Animal Foundation. She stays connected with excellent mentors and advises peers to remain close to their mentors. Narwal looks forward to student teaching and taking courses offered through the College of Education.

For more information on degree programs in secondary education, please go to http://education.unlv.edu/teach/

Dr. Jori Beck and Colleagues Receive Funding

Dr. Jori Beck, Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, secured $218,323 in funding from the State of Nevada to help reform how the State evaluates educator effectiveness.


Co-Principal Investigators include Drs. Michael McCreery and David Vallett, Assistant Professors in the same department. By securing this grant, Beck and her team hope to improve teaching and learning for teachers and students in Nevada, and yield findings that can help address teacher accountability at the national level.

Of the $2 million appropriated by the State of Nevada for SB 474- referred to as the Great Teaching and Leading Fund (SB 474), $1 million was dedicated specifically to the Next Generation Performance Framework (NEPF). The Great Teaching and Leading Fund was created to incentivize professional development and improvements to the educator pipeline; the NEPF, as one initiative supported by SB 474, is a statewide evaluation system that uses student achievement data to inform teacher and building level administrator effectiveness. The Nevada Department of Education website outlines goals of the NEPF as follows:

  • Foster student learning and growth;
  • Improve educator’s instructional practice;
  • Inform human capital decisions based on a professional growth system; and
  • Engage stakeholders in the continuous improvement and monitoring of a professional growth system.

The grant, entitled “Creation of the Nevada Educator Performance Framework (NEPF) Online Training System,” involves the research team creating a system to facilitate NEPF implementation. This process will include initial training of approximately 260 teachers, administrators, and other education professionals- along with concurrent validation procedures for an evaluation instrument. Beck would like to help ensure that the NEPF is used reliably to help teachers and students make accurate high-stakes decisions. She adds, “all teachers should be constantly reflecting [on their teaching] to ensure that they are improving their practice; that’s good teaching.”

Learn more about about Dr. Jori Beck, Dr. Michael McCreery, or Dr. David Vallett