Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Marissa Owens

Marissa Owens, COE alumna, works with NASA and Teledyne Brown Engineering to improve training environments.


Dr. Marissa Owens, a Ph.D. graduate in Learning and Technology, is living the dream of working for Teledyne Brown Engineering and NASA in Huntsville, Alabama, in a distinguished postdoctoral scholar position. Her specific role as a postdoctoral scholar is to update NASA training materials for a digital environment. Owens notes, “It’s becoming more of an online course, which will be taken by new hires of NASA. They have to learn about different aspects of their jobs and all that goes along with being a NASA employee- acronyms and all.” Owens cites the doctoral education she earned in Learning and Technology in the College of Education as instrumental to her job success: “[The agencies] wanted someone that could understand the technology and ground it in learning theory; that’s why it’s important to have someone on the team with an Education background.”

Owens reflects, “This postdoc is so interesting because it’s not traditional – it’s in fact, very unique.” Further, she notes that the support of departmental faculty in the Department of Educational Psychology & Higher Education, particularly from her doctoral advisor (Dr. Michael Nussbaum) and department chair (Dr. LeAnn Putney), opened up many opportunities- including this one.

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.

Dr. Michael Nussbaum Elected President APA Division

Dr. Michael Nussbaum, College of Education Professor, elected President-Elect of Division 15 of the American Psychological Association.


Dr. Nussbaum (Professor, Educational Psychology and Higher Education) has been elected President-Elect of Division 15 (Educational Psychology) of the American Psychological Association, and will serve as president in 2017-18. The mission of the division is to expand and apply psychological knowledge and theory relevant to education and promote joint action with others having similar purposes in educational reform. APA is also active in the policy arena, and Michael plans to draw upon both his policy and psychology background as president.