SOE Dean's Digest
Spring Edition 2021

Message from the Interim Dean

As we make our way through the spring semester, I am pleased to provide updates on the activities of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Their work informs how education and mental health and wellness are understood nationally and internationally, while also having local impact through close collaboration with schools and communities in Kansas City and throughout the metro area.
While we have continued strong through the challenges of the pandemic, we are also thinking ahead to meeting the challenges of the post-COVID world. To that end, the School of Education is excited for the rollout of UMKC Forward, presented by Chancellor Agrawal and Provost Lundgren in March. UMKC Forward recognizes the role of the university in public service and workforce readiness, and we are pleased that education has been selected as one of the first fields for the development of Professional Mobility Escalators (TM). In addition, we are excited to join with our colleagues in the Department of Psychology and the School of Social Work to create a new academic unit, the School of Education and Applied Behavioral Sciences, which will launch in Fall 2022. We look forward to this new chapter in our work of supporting educators and helping professionals, in Kansas City and beyond.
Carolyn Barber, Ph.D.
Interim Dean and Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation/Missouri Endowed Chair

Research Roundup

Recent Publications from School of Education Faculty
  • Carolyn Barber, Ph.D. and Ph.D. candidate Jessica Ross used data from two cohorts of youth in sixteen countries to explore how civic attitudes changed over the course of a decade, finding patterns that varied by region and were related to their experiences in schools and classrooms.

  • Chris Brown, Ph.D. and colleagues, including SOE alum Christine Serpe (Ph.D. '20), found that domestic violence shelter workers report that they have a positive influence on shelter residents; however, compassion fatigue, lack of shelter funding and housing, and mental health and communal living issues of residents create challenges in their provision of services.

  • Michelle Maher, Ph.D. and colleagues asked: What factors do doctoral students enrolled in biological science programs nationwide consider when selecting a doctoral advisor?  They found that students actively conceptualize trade-offs among various factors, including mentoring style, research agenda, and professional stability.

  • Jake Marszalek, Ph.D. and colleagues, including SOE alum Patricia Hager (Ph.D. '15), found that different aspects of the motivation to perform well (i.e., flow) are associated with different aspects of the motivation to preserve freedom and control (i.e., reactance), which has implications for how various approaches to therapy can affect client engagement.

  • Nancy Murdock, Ph.D.'s latest textbook, Couple and Family Therapy. A Case Approach, for graduate students in counseling and counseling psychology provides an in-depth treatment of theoretical approaches to work with couples and families, using a different client case in each chapter, summarizing diversity/social justice concerns, and reporting on up-to-date research.  

  • Uzziel Pecina, Ed.D. and SOE alum and instructor Dea Marx (Ed.D., '18) described Latinx leaders' perspectives on graduation perseverance and provided advice to institutions of higher learning related to Latinx graduate success. 

  • Tiffani Riggers-Piehl, Ph.D. and colleagues found that students’ self-authored worldview commitment varies by STEM subfield, as does curricular and informal religious involvement, leading them to hypothesize that students may find certain STEM majors more welcoming to different religious identities and commitment than others. 

  • Ekaterina Strekalova-Hughes, Ph.D., and Nora Peterman, Ph.D. discussed how teachers can select picture books to fully recognize the lives and identities of learners from refugee backgrounds, counter harmful myths, and address forced displacement in their classrooms.
Learn More About the SOE Faculty and Staff
KC-PLUS Program 
TNTP’s Kansas City Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools (KC-PLUS) is a two-year principal certification and master’s degree program that prepares the next generation of visionary principals and aspiring leaders to bring their school’s mission to life. In partnership with the University of Missouri – Kansas City, the Kauffman Foundation, and many district and charter schools in Kansas City, TNTP will strengthen the work of current school-level leaders and prepare a deep bench of future leaders. In addition to an intensive summer institute and job-embedded coaching, PLUS leaders attend monthly professional development sessions and benefit from a network of diverse leaders. Throughout the year, we carefully assess and support leaders' growth, considering a variety of evidence to help stay on track.
Learn More about KC-PLUS

New Executive Superintendency Program

We are excited to announce a new Executive Superintendency Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) program. This 30 hour, fully online degree program is an exciting collaborative between three University of Missouri campuses (University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and University of Missouri-Saint Louis). The first cohort of this program is scheduled to begin in the summer 2021 semester. This cohort would then graduate four semesters later in summer 2022. Space in this cohort is limited (8 seats per campus), so early application is encouraged. Students will enroll at one of the three campuses but will receive instruction and advisement from professors at each of the three universities. This is a first-of-its-kind collaborative program in the state of Missouri.
Contact Dr. Uzziel Pecina for More Details

In Case You Missed It...

  • Khalil Jones, a senior in the Institute for Urban Education majoring in secondary education, has been selected as a KCUR Education Fellow, reporting on the impact of COVID-19 in area schools.

  • The School of Education Class of 2020 Alumni Achievement Award winner, Mary Delac (M.A. '98), was honored at a virtual celebration on April 16th. Delac is the principal at Our Lady of Hope in Kansas City, MO.

  • Two SOE alumni, Marquis Hall (B.A. '16, M.A. '19) and Deborah Siebern-Dennis (B.A. '05), were featured in Perspectives magazine for their experiences in adapting their classrooms to address the challenges of the pandemic.

  • SOE graduates from 2020 and from spring 2021 will be celebrated at in-person commencement ceremonies, to be held at Kauffman Stadium.
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