What’s Next in Nevada Education?: Recapping the Fourth Annual Summit on Nevada Education

On December 4, the College of Education welcomed educators, policymakers and community leaders to the Fourth Annual Summit on Nevada Education to discuss the successes and challenges in education in our state. More importantly, attendees, speakers and panelists unpacked where we all need to come together in order to better focus our efforts to usher in the next era of education in Nevada.

Watch a video recap of the day below.

Morning Keynote Address by Clark County School District Superintendent, Jesús Jara

Joining Southern Nevada as CCSD’s leader in June 2018, Dr. Jara discussed his findings from the listening tour he conducted during his first months as Superintendent, spoke about Clark County’s unique local landscape, and emphasized the District’s mission to effectively educating ALL students.

Keynote Address by Andrew J. Rotherham, Co-Founder & Partner, Bellwether Education Partners, and “Fireside Chat” with College of Education Dean Kim K. Metcalf

Having worked in varying roles as an education expert and consultant, Andrew Rotherham unpacks the national landscape of education and the biggest threats facing our nation. Then, he and Dean Metcalf sit down for a Q&A to discuss the role of research in bettering education, the responsibility of colleges of education, and the opportunity for state legislatures to make big impacts in a time of stagnant federal reforms.

Innovation in the New Era: Project CULTURED

UNLV College of Education Doctoral Candidates Sarah V. McCarthy, Katelyn Zirkus,  Doctoral Graduate Kathy Ewoldt, and Project CULTURED C0-Investigator and Moderator Joseph Morgan are researchers aiming to translate cutting-edge research into practice in ways that are beneficial and meaningful to educators and students in the classroom. Hear from them about their experience as Project CULTURED scholars and how they worked with local educators and schools to make contributions that help students and teachers in real classrooms.

Policy Issues in Education

With the 2019 Nevada Legislative Session quickly approaching, College of Education faculty and staff preview some of the most pressing issues facing the state, including: the teacher workforce, teacher leadership, Autism in early childhood education, supporting high-quality early childhood education, identifying children with disabilities, school safety, and more.

Matt Borek, Ph.D., Director of Educator Preparation, Recruitment & Field Placement
Danica G. Hays, Ph.D., Executive Associate Dean & Professor
Cori More, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Lois Paretti, Ed.M., Field Experience Coordinator
Jenna Weglarz-Ward, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Sam Song, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Moderator: Todd Mason, Director of Government Affairs, Wynn Resorts Limited

A Conversation with Legislative Education Committee Representatives, Assemblywoman Brittney Miller (D-5) and State Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D-5)

Highlighting what is sure to be a productive year, Panel Moderator & College of Education Assistant Professor Brad Marianno discusses Nevada Education Committee Members priorities and focus for the upcoming legislative session.

Nevada Partners Panel: Leading into the New Era

Community stakeholders discuss where our state is headed we should set our sights to build a strong Nevada for generations to come.

Jeremy Aguero, Principal Analyst, Applied Analysis
Jan Jones Blackhurst, Executive Vice President of Public Policy & Corporate Responsibility, Caesars Entertainment
Jesús Jara, Ed.D., Superintendent, Clark County School District
Richard Knoeppel, 2019 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Lisa Morris-Hibbler, Director, Department of Youth Development and Social Innovation, City of Las Vegas
Sean Parker, Executive Director, Teach For America Las Vegas Valley
Moderator: Terri Janison, President and Chief Executive Officer, Grant A Gift Autism Foundation

UNLV College of Education Awarded $1 Million to Establish Highly-Selective Program to Recruit Promising Future Educators

Governor Sandoval’s “Top Gun” Initiative—the Nevada Institute on Teaching and Educator Preparation (NITEP)—seeks to prepare the “best and brightest” teachers to serve in Nevada schools; names its first cohort of Fellows

Spurring a program designed specifically to train high-potential candidates to become future teachers, the Nevada Department of Education awarded the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas a $1 million grant to initiate the Nevada Institute on Teaching and Educator Preparation (NITEP/Institute) at its board meeting on August 30.

NITEP, originally created during the 2017 Nevada Legislative Session via Senate Bill 548, will 1) Establish a highly selective program within the UNLV College of Education for the education and training of teachers; 2) Conduct innovative and extensive research to identify promising methods used to train educators and teach pupils; and 3) Continually evaluate, develop and disseminate the best identified approaches to teaching that address the varied settings in which students in Nevada are educated.

Noting a charge of the Institute is to add personnel to the teacher pipeline to fill necessary vacancies, Nevada State Senator (District 5) Joyce Woodhouse said, “we wanted to use this opportunity to develop an elite, rigorous program that recruits the best and brightest to Nevada. We intend for the students who participate in this program to be the example of the highly qualified teachers we want in our classrooms in front of our students.”

The State Board of Education selected the UNLV College of Education as the home institution for NITEP at its November 2017 meeting, allowing the College to spend the last nine months building the infrastructure, systems and programming for the Institute. As of September 26, the College has awarded the first cohort of 10 NITEP Fellows to begin their work at the start of the fall 2018 semester. Five fellows—Sara Del Mastro (Early Childhood Education), Jessica Gonzalez (Special Education), Ilyssa McBride (Elementary), Olaya Perez (Secondary Math) and Makenzi Solis (Special Education)—were selected as incoming freshmen, and an additional five—Zuleima Aguilar-Ramirez (Elementary), Jesus Basulto (Secondary  Social Studies), April Beardsley (Elementary), Caroline Farah (Secondary English) and Brooke Lantz (Elementary)—were identified as high-achieving full-majors already enrolled in teacher education programs within the COE.

Students identified as NITEP Fellows will receive differentiated instruction and have opportunities to participate in research that seeks to transform teacher preparation, providing increasing autonomy and professional responsibility for educator candidates during their college careers. Fellows will work on special projects and assume unique leadership roles in education; in future years, with the addition of supplementary, larger NITEP cohorts, there will be a steady stream of exceptional educators entering Nevada classrooms with the capacity to lead and expand their expertise. Participating students will also form a specialized improvement network, serving as mentors to future NITEP Fellows and connecting across schools to engage with the most challenging issues in education.

A key component of NITEP is ensuring that research findings are disseminated to both state agencies and national education stakeholders, allowing the most promising approaches to educator preparation to be broadly understood and implemented, resulting in highly effective classroom leaders. The College of Education will build upon its numerous existing partnerships, both inside and outside of Nevada, to explore new methods of engaging with educators and other colleagues in teacher preparation, ensuring the work of NITEP will have ongoing and far reaching impact in schools.

“The College of Education is committed to systematically studying and refining the best practices in educator preparation to ensure that we are preparing high-quality teachers to effectively educate the next generation of Nevadans,” said College of Education Dean Kim Metcalf. “We intend for NITEP to be a model program to challenge the status quo and build leaders poised to make an impact for generations to come. We are grateful for the support of the Nevada Department of Education and the vision of our state’s leadership to create this forward-thinking institution that will not only broaden opportunities for participating fellows, but help develop transferable and scalable processes to benefit all educators.”

Introducing Our 2018-19 Rodman Scholars

The Department of Early Childhood, Multilingual and Special Education (EMS) in the College of Education is proud to introduce its fourth cohort of Rodman Scholars—Lyannet Alvarez, Carrie Fierro, George Carmona, Dyanna Dougherty, Jamie Felipe, Elizabeth Gloeckner, Jeffrey Long, Kristen Morris, Tiosha Moore, Nora Pantaleon, Michele Rideout and Jessica Wood.

Thanks to a generous endowment ($12.9 million) from the late Kitty Rodman, these exceptional future educators will each be enabled to pursuing a career in special education. Read more about what inspired each of these students to answer the call to their chosen profession below.

“I want to be a special educator because I have patience, acceptance and enthusiasm. I am excited to join a group of teachers who go above and beyond for their students.”

—Lyannet Alvarez

“I have always been drawn to people with special needs—even when I was six years old. My first grade teacher told my mother how kind I was to the children with disabilities in my class. I want to be a special educator because I see this as my calling in life—I believe all children have the right to succeed.”

—Carrie Fierro

“My family has played a crucial role in my choice to become a special educator. Both my father and my uncle went through the UNLV Cohort program and are now phenomenal special educators. Growing up, I spend time in my father’s classroom interacting with students with learning disabilities. I got a sense of what these children experience in school and in their lives. My commitment to educate the next generation of individuals with disabilities continues to grow day by day.”

—George Carmona

“I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I taught my younger sister how to read before she started kindergarten. The look on her face when she finally realized that letters were connected with sounds was priceless. It is a truly amazing feeling when you encourage a struggling student to not give up and they experience that ‘I get it moment.’ I want to help every student exceed their goals.”

—Dyanna Dougherty

“I know that special education is the right path for me. I want to focus on the appropriate accommodations, assistive technology, curricula and instruction for students with disabilities. I believe that my experience as a student athlete at UNLV has taught me persistence and team work that will be invaluable as I work with students with disabilities to achieve their goals.”

—Jamie Felipe

“Since my first semester at the College of Southern Nevada, I have volunteered in special education classrooms and an equine therapy center. These experiences turned my interest in special education into a passion. I know that assisting students to achieve their individualized goals their progress in education will be worth it.”

—Elizabeth Gloeckner

“Being a Rodman Scholar provides me with the opportunity to work in special education, accomplish my goals, and have a career in a field about which I am very passionate. I want to be the positive and memorable teacher that my students will never forget—being a Rodman Scholar has set me on my way to being that educator.”

—Jeffery Long

“I believe that being a special educator is one of the most rewarding careers. It has been an aspiration of mine for many years now. Children with disabilities deserve to have as many people as possible cheering for them, and although I cannot help all children, as a special educator I will impact the ones with whom I work. Every student has the capacity to create and accomplish dreams.”

—Kristen Morris

“Teaching has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember.  At an early age, I knew that I wanted to work with children. As an adult, I came to further realize that children with special needs are not being pushed to their full potential because people see the disability first and not the person. I want to give voice and encouragement to children with disabilities.”

—Tiosha Moore

“I have had the passion to work with students with special needs since I was young. For the last 10 years, I have work in CCSD with students with multiple types of disabilities (e.g., ID, autism). I have worked hard to gain knowledge and experience that I believe I can bring to the lives and education of these children. I am excited to further my education and aspirations through the Rodman Scholar Cohort.”

—Nora Pantaleon

“I have always had a passion to teach special education. From my own life, I have a personal understanding of IEPs, successes, and frustrations of students with disabilities. I have the ability and desire to help children and youth with their specific needs. I always approach learning from the students’ perspective. I look forward to my future career in special education.”

—Michele Ridout

“The reality of working as a special educator came to me in my SPED observation class—it dawned on me, that this is what I was meant to be doing with my life. I felt comfortable, was told that I was a ‘natural teacher,’ and discovered where I belonged while working with two children in a classroom. I am excited to embark on my career as a special educator—this is where I belong.”

—Jessica Wood