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2023 Celebration of Education

Bridges Magazine words

2023 Celebration of Education

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Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education faculty and staff gathered to celebrate their accomplishments over the past year at the 2023 Celebration of Education, held April 28 at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


It was another year full of achievements in the college. Over the past 12 months, faculty have produced 123 articles, six books, 19 book chapters and logged more than 25 other publications. Research expenditures were a record high again this year for the college, at $13.67 million. More than $500,000 in scholarships were distributed to undergraduate and graduate students.


The Happy Teacher Project was recognized with the Award for Excellence in Transdisciplinary, Convergent Research from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships. This award recognizes leadership in the creation of collaborative initiatives of teams of tenured or tenure-track OU faculty on projects that both demonstrate a deep integration of disciplines toward new configurations of knowledge production and strive toward creating a positive and meaningful societal impact.


The Happy Teacher Project is a transdisciplinary, convergent research team that focuses on improving the well-being of Head Start teachers in Oklahoma. The team, composed of faculty, staff and students from across multiple disciplines on all three of OU’s campuses, launched a four-year project aimed at improving the physical, psychological and professional well-being and workplace conditions of early childhood educators. The project has led to $2.1 million in funding to design and implement a holistic and interdisciplinary intervention to promote Head Start staff well-being, competence and retention.


The Happy Teacher Project is composed of faculty members from the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, including Principal Investigator Kyong-ah Kwon, Ph.D., and co-PIs Tim Ford, Ph.D., Sherri Castle, Ph.D., Diane Horm, Ph.D., Wonkyung Jang, Ph.D., and Corey Peltier, Ph.D. From the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences, team members include Seulki “Rachel” Jang, Ph.D., Brenda Lloyd-Jones, Ph.D., Yong Ju Jung, Ph.D., Le Wang, Ph.D., and Julie Miller-Cribbs, Ph.D. Other team members are Mia Kile, Ph.D., from the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture; Ken Randall, Ph.D., Jessica Tsotsoros, Ph.D., Susan Sisson, Ph.D., and Carolyn Cheema, Ph.D., from the College of Allied Health; and Michael Baxter, D.O., from the School of Community Medicine at OU-Tulsa.


Also recognized was the OU Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant. Kwon, Horm, Brittany Hott, Ph.D., Erin Casey, Ph.D., Courtney Dewhirst, Ph.D., and Rebecca Waggoner are leading this $2.99 million, four-year grant to provide low-income students with affordable childcare through the OU Institute of Child Development. The grant provides recipients with a childcare subsidy and academic, student and family services through OU and community partnerships.


CCAMPIS grants are provided to institutions of higher education by the federal government to support or establish campus-based childcare services that primarily serve the needs of low-income students. CCAMPIS grants were first funded in fiscal year 1999 after enactment of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998.


Hott was also recognized for two multi-million dollar grants she is leading, the Project SPIDERS doctoral preparation program and Project Rural Innovation for Mental health Enhancement (PRIME). The purpose of the Project SPIDERS is to prepare and equip rural special education leaders with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to lead rural districts forward in special education. Leadership competencies include: (a) scholars have a deep knowledge of applied research methods that are instrumental to evaluating effective interventions and services for all students with disabilities, (b) scholars are well-versed in special education policy, advocacy and partnerships, and (c) scholars translate their knowledge of research into practices that promote high expectations through quality professional development and research translation practices in high-need, rural settings.


PRIME is a collaboration between high-need rural schools, OU, the Oklahoma Association for Behavior Analysts, the Oklahoma City chapter of the National Association for Social Workers, the American Council on Rural Special Education, Oklahoma Parent Resource Center and a network of more than 30 nonprofit organizations. The project is funded by a $5.6 million grant from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, to be distributed over five years.

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Junior Faculty Award
Kate Raymond

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JRCoE Early Career Graduate Student Mentoring Award
Emily Kuntz

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Teaching and Advising Award
Natalie Youngbull

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JRCoE Senior Career Graduate Student Mentoring Award
Michael Crowson

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Research and Scholarship Award
Kendra Williams-Diehm

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Staff Service Award
Melanie Schneider

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Leadership/Citizenship Award
Courtney Dewhirst 

The college also recognized campus leaders who were instrumental in the Institute of Child Development's move back to campus. In December 2016, the ICD was moved off-campus to accommodate the building of new student housing and for six years the center staff and students waited to get to where they are today – a new location, back on campus. More than three years ago, work began in earnest to make this relocation to campus possible. The university funded an almost half-million dollar remodel of the new location and countless people worked behind the scenes planning, on contracts, moving details, fundraising and more.

Those who were instrumental in the move included Kacey Clark (Campus Space Manager – Architectural and Engineering​), Brandon Cox (Director – Landscape Services)​ and Sarah Little, Ph.D. (Associate Professor– Landscape Architecture​).

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(L to R) Kasey Clark, Dean Stacy Reeder, Sarah Little, Ph.D.

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