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April 28, 2008

Alumna Andria Daniel, Lead Educator for Learning Dreams

Andria Daniel (M.Ed. '07) is the lead educator for the Learning Dreams site at Hall Elementary School in North Minneapolis, where she works with families of children who are experiencing problems with school.

"The focus is on the parent," says Andria, who often connects with families in the Learning Dreams program by meeting with a child’s parents in their home. She invites parents to reflect on how they would like to learn new skills and information. Then she helps parents identify their own learning dream or goal. The next step is to help the parent connect with community resources to help them achieve their learning goal. Andria shared examples of helping a parent get her driver’s license by covering the cost of behind-the-wheel driver’s training, and connecting a parent who wants to own her own business with Women Venture, an organization that trains women to become successful business owners. Once parents are making progress on their own learning, they are helped to support their children's education and learning at home and at school. "This is a great opportunity for me to work with parents and apply my knowledge of adult learning skills," said Andria.

Andria Daniel graduated in May 2007 with a Master of Education Professional Studies degree in Family Education. Her goal is to continue to help families achieve their own learning goals and dreams by working with them in their homes and communities.

April 25, 2008

Soohong Kim, CI Student Research Poster Presenter


FYC doctoral student Soo-Hong Kim was one of 20 students who presented research to faculty and students during Curriculum and Instruction's Student Research Day, held April 11, 2008, from 1-5 P.M in Peik Hall. Kim presented posters on two research studies, "International graduate student mothers' stressful lives," by Soo-Hong Kim, and "Living on the Outskirts of U. S. Life: Asian Graduate Student Mothers," by Soo-Hong Kim, Kyong-Ah Kwon, Mei-Ju Ko, Larisa Frias, Judy Myers-Walls.

The well-attended event included snacks and beverages, prizes, and a drawing for a $10 gift card to a local restaurant. Additional photos of the event are available online.

Catherine Johnson, 2007-08 Fellowship Recipient

Catherine Johnson

Catherine Johnson is the recipient of the 2007-08 Ruth and Paul Thomas Family Education Graduate Fellowship. The award has made it possible for her to be a full time FYC doctoral student and immerse herself in what the University has to offer. Catherine appreciates the generosity of the Thomas family, saying, "I hope that I can merit the confidence shown in me by contributing with in the field of Family, Youth and Community." Dr. Ruth Thomas, who is also Catherine’s adviser, “has been an excellent guide in the process of getting started at the University and in the field of Family Education," according to Catherine.

Catherine has worked as a physical therapist in Fairmont, MN, at Mayo Health Systems during the last 17 years. Her experience includes work in outpatient clinics, long-term care, home health, and school districts. All of these situations included the need for teaching clients, which led to Catherine’s interest in what makes an effective therapist-educator. Catherine completed a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program that included projects related to patient education, particularly low literacy patient education. Her experiences in home visiting through the school districts and home health agencies continued to demonstrate the need for educational methods and materials that were relevant and accessible to families with low educations or low literacy.

Dr. Jerry McClelland (now retired) first encouraged Catherin to further her interest in educating families with low levels of education, socio-economic status and limited technology while working on her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in Family, Youth, and Community. Johnson is finishing her second semester of classes in May 2008 and says she has "found all of the professors to be excellent teachers, guides and leaders."

Brice Dixon awarded CEHD Alumni Scholarship

Brice Dixon

FYC Masters of Arts student Brice Dixon was one of three recipients of the College of Education and Human Development Alumni Society's Advanced Study Student Scholarships awarded on Friday, April 18, 2008 awards celebration held at McNamara Alumni Center.

Brice is originally from a small, rural town in South Carolina. He attended Morris College, a small historically Black college in a neighboring city and graduated number one in his class. During his final semester he served as a research assistant to a psychology professor who encouraged him to apply to top graduate schools. Brice sought out the top education programs in the country. “The University of Minnesota ranked number five at the time on U.S. News and World Report. I missed the deadlines for the first four schools, applied to the U, and was offered a spot in the FYC program and offered a nice scholarship," said Brice. Read Brice's personal profile below:

My educational pursuits after high school helped me learn and grow, cementing my commitment to education and rural youth. While I attended college full-time and took a full-load every semester, I have always devoted time to volunteer work in the surrounding communities. While at Morris College (undergrad), I served as a peer tutor, classroom aide, and student counseling assistant at the elementary, secondary, and collegiate level. In these positions, I learned much about the everyday experiences of rural youth at many stages of their development and ways in which to serve this population of students better. Later at the University of Minnesota, I served as a mentor for the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence for a year working with students from urban areas, an experience that gave me deeper insight into some of the unique issues rural youth face.

In the spring of 2004, I searched for a summer internship housed outside of South Carolina that would give me a broader perspective on education. I was accepted at a dynamite program, the Miami Summerbridge/Breakthrough Collaborative program, where I chose to teach three sections of 6th grade math and one section of Spanish. To prepare myself for the task, I visited three South Carolina middle school teachers in hopes of getting a sense of a “typical" 6th grade math curriculum. Each teacher I visited offered me a plethora of resource materials. Little did I know at that time how irrelevant these materials would be for the gifted students who enrolled in my classes.

I used the materials that I had received at the start of the program, but I noticed that my students were completing the work effortlessly. I realized that I had already met my students where they were and that it was time to move to their zone of proximal development. I introduced a fairly abstract idea from my college algebra textbook and told them that I believed they could do it. Surprisingly enough, they did. As a result of this experience, I witnessed firsthand the dynamics of Rosenthal’s research on teacher expectations and developed a greater appreciation for research.

When I returned to Morris College, I searched eagerly for a professor with research interests that would advance my thinking. I identified Dr. Adeleri Onisegun, a researcher on “Adult Perceptions of Youth Suicide." As her assistant, I received valuable academic training, knowledge of quantitative methods, and designed a study that complemented her research. My study explored the relationship between the amount of hours rural African American high school students read per week and their participation in youth health-risk behaviors. The data showed a negative correlation existed between hours of reading per week and participation in youth health risk behaviors. Another surprising theme seemed to emerge – the African American males surveyed reported participating in youth health risk behaviors with the highest frequency and engaging with text the least. My interest in pursuing graduate study piqued as a result of this study, and I scoured the web to find a program that would best prepare me to learn more about the implications of these findings and other methods of research. I applied to the FYC program here at the U and was accepted.

While quantitative methods were emphasized at my undergraduate institution, my classes and graduate assistantship at the University of Minnesota have provided me with opportunities to engage in and understand the importance of qualitative studies in the field of education. My current research builds on the study at my undergraduate institution linking reading to a reduction in health-risk behaviors. Currently, literature exists on reading in relation to gender issues, ethnic/racial issues, and locality (rural v. urban); however, there is limited literature that explores how these three issues intersect to speak to rural African American males’ experience of reading. I am interested in researching the experience of reading for rural African American males with hope that my study may fill this gap that currently resides within the research literature.