M E S S A G E  
F R O M  T H E  D E A N
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February 2019

bruce johnson

Turns out, quite a bit! 

Our own Assistant Professor Jameson D. Lopez received a special invitation to the Super Bowl LIII, thanks to Arizona Cardinals football great Larry Fitzgerald

Lopez, a Tillman Scholar, had previously met Fitzgerald on a tour of the Arizona Cardinals' football stadium with other Tillman Scholars. Lopez must have made an impression on Fitzgerald.

Lopez and his father, Jim Lopez, received paid round-trip plane tickets, hotel accommodations, and tickets to the Super Bowl, in addition to an invite to the USAA Salute to Service Military Appreciation Lounge, where Jameson D. Lopez was honored for his service in the military. Lopez led a tank platoon deployed for Operation New Dawn, where he coordinated more than 300 combat missions with the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces. Lopez received a Bronze Star for his actions in combat.

Jim Lopez, Jameson D. Lopez,
and Larry Fitzgerald (left to right)
When he returned from deployment, he earned a master's degree in curriculum and instruction and a doctorate in educational policy and evaluation from ASU. The UA College of Education hired him just last year.

Lopez, from the Quechan tribe in California, says, "Most of my research focuses on Indigenous college access as well as persistence."

In his tribe, there was just one Quechan teacher and no administrators from the tribe.  "Who is teaching our kids?" Lopez wondered.

Now he dedicates his life to helping Indigenous people get into college and succeed.  "It's a natural bridge to help out community members enter into college, and then get those degrees, and go back into the community and teach our children," Lopez said.

Take a look at some of the coverage Lopez received for this honor.


Smart Talk with Robin and Al

on air sign with microphone

This month, we launched the talk radio show Smart Talk with Robin and Al
on Tucson's 1030 KVOI AM, The Voice. Airing live on Saturdays at 8 a.m., the program dives into topics related to today's educational, political, and social issues. The show, a co-production of the College of Education and the  College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, is a way for ideas that are created within the university to be shared with the greater Tucson community.

Co-hosts are Robin Hiller and Albert Bergesen. Hiller is the founder and former executive director of Voices for Education and previously hosted the "State of Education" radio program on KVOI. Bergesen is a professor and former director of the School of Sociology. He previously hosted the public-access television show "Center Stage," sponsored by the Udall Center.

Listen  live.

Or  download a previous show.

More about Smart Talk. 

Announcing Our New Master's Degree

Interested in learning about the history and process of education policymaking? 

The Master of Arts in Education Policy offers graduate students the skills needed to analyze the development, impact, and implementation of education policies.  The 30-credit hour program prepares students to critically evaluate:
  • The utility and limitations of education research findings in informing policy
  • The basic legal, political, and practical linkages between federal, state, and local enactment of education policy
  • Current scholarship, policy debates, and implementation efforts around market-based approaches to educational reform
Career opportunities for graduates range from research and evaluation analysts in school districts to directors of research in settings like policy centers in the state, K-12 schools, and universities.


Winning Instagram Video Opens Big Doors


Thanks to an Instagram video, doctoral student Bryant Valencia now gets to meet President  Barack ObamaJohn Legend, and  Stephen Curry next week!

The Educational Policy Studies & Practice doctoral student created the Instagram video for a competition for the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance conference, known as MBK Rising! He and 21 other video-contest winners received free tickets, travel, and accommodations to attend the MBK Rising! event in Oakland, Calif., next week.

When making selections for the winners, the Obama Foundation was looking for young men of color or adults who are doing exceptional work for young men of color. Valencia has spent the last five years building Masculinity Initiatives, an initiative out of the  UA Early Academic Outreach Office to engage young men from marginalized backgrounds and increase their pathways to college.

The February 18-20 event will feature special guests, such as those mentioned above, to celebrate the work and progress made in improving the lives of boys and young men of color, while lifting up the young voices in the room.

View Valencia's winning video.

Don't Space Out: Tucson Festival of Books, March 2-3


Take one giant leap into literature with Worlds of Words at the Tucson Festival of Books. WOW and the UA College of Education invites festival-goers of all ages to space-related literature and hands-on activities in Booth 330. 

sharing the skies book cover
Visitors will enjoy read-alouds from books such as One Giant Leap, The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon, and Sharing The Skies: Navajo Astronomy.

Volunteers also will share information about free teacher resources such as WOW's Language and Culture Kits. Kits on display feature notorious space-race countries, Russia and China.

Booth 330 is just south of the College of Education building. The Tucson Festival of Books is Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

For more information, contact wow@email.arizona.edu.

Father of Earth Education

van matre in outdoors workshop

Steven Van Matre, founder and chair of the I nstitute for Earth Education, visited Tucson last month to give guest lectures in the college and present a two-day workshop for local educators and staff at the Cooper Center for Environmental Learning.

Van Matre's earth education instructional strategy informs the work of the Cooper Center and is a primary research focus of Dean Johnson.

Van Matre developed the founding tenets of earth education in response to his perception that environmental learning in the 1960s had been reduced to collecting and identifying specimens. In contrast, earth education seeks to enlighten young learners about the systems of nature, including their place in and impact on those systems, and ultimately to inspire a desire to live in a more environmentally friendly way.

Van Matre co-authored two books with Johnson: Earthkeepers: Four Keys for Helping Young People Live in Harmony with the Earth and SUNSHIP III: Perception and Choice for the Journey Ahead

Both programs have been core to the educational offerings at the Cooper Center, where students learn ecological concepts through immersive, hands-on activities in the Sonoran Desert. Van Matre served as Johnson's advisor for a master's degree in environmental education at George Williams College, now Aurora University.

"It is clear now that we are living on an ecologically dying planet," Van Matre says. "The only hope for us and the millions of other creatures that share this oasis in space with us is mass education about the basic processes of life and how the human species is interfering with them."

van matre guest lecture
The workshop was funded by a 2018 Culture of Learning grant from the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. The Cooper Center was one of 18 Southern Arizona nonprofits awarded one of the grants, which provide top-performing organizations with resources to stay current and relevant in  their work.

Why Are Assistant Professor Desiree Vega
and President Robbins on the Jumbotron?

vega on jumbotron

Congratulations go out to Disability & Psychoeducational Assistant Professor Desiree Vega who was selected to be recognized as an Arizona Champion by Dean Johnson. A professor from every college will be honored during the Pac-12 Conference UA Men's Basketball games.

Vega was honored during the Washington State vs. UA Men's Basketball game on February 9. President Robbins gave her and a guest tickets to attend the game. She also was invited to a pre-game Wildcat Club VIP Reception.

Dean Johnson selected Vega because "she represents our college so well. She is one of very few school psychology scholars to focus on the challenges that students from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds face in their education, a critical issue in our country. She is able to work with faculty across our college in ways that are somewhat unusual for school psychologist professors. Her work is making an impact on her field, on our programs, and in our communities -- that is exactly what we expect of faculty in a college of education at a Hispanic-serving, land-grant, research university."

Skip the Straw

skip the straw poster

Cooper Center's Campus Outreach Team, funded by the UA Green Fund and coordinated by environmental learning graduate student Deanna Kulbeth, has been working with the Arizona Student Unions  to cut straw use in half through the Skip the Straw campaign. The project was featured in the latest edition of Lo Que Pasa .

As a result, the next time you order a drink on campus, a group of UA students hopes you'll consider forgoing a plastic straw.  Working in partnership with the Student Union , Cooper's team hopes to cut the UA's use of plastic straws in half by the end of the school year.

Arizona Student Unions purchase 670,000 straws a year. That's enough to blanket the UA Mall at least twice, said Kulbeth. She and her team want to get that number down to 335,000.

Complicating School Success A mong 
Black and Latino Boys of Color

gil conchas

You're invited to attend a research talk with Gilberto Conchas, a University of California, Irvine, professor of educational policy and social context. His research focuses on how the successful organization of educational systems -- in partnership with communities -- shapes the engagement and achievement of diverse student populations.

Following his research talk, Conchas will host a session with students to discuss his book,  The Color of Success: Race and High-Achieving Urban Youth.

Wednesday, February 27
10-11 a.m.
College of Education, Room 453
For more information and to RSVP, email  myrheas@email.arizona.edu.

American Indian Language  Development Institute
Celebrates 40 years

aildi logo

The American Indian Language Development Institute -- dedicated to strengthening efforts to promote the use of Indigenous languages across generations -- is celebrating its founding 40 years ago.

The institute will mark the occasion by hosting the Language is Life conference on April 12 and 13 on the UA campus. The conference, which is open to the public, will celebrate and showcase language work from tribal communities throughout the Southwest.

The institute hosts workshops and an annual four-week summer program that include training in a variety of areas, including linguistics, teaching, language acquisition, and curriculum design. The hope is that, after attending a workshop or summer program, participants return to their communities feeling inspired and more equipped to advocate for language revitalization.

unesco logo
The celebration coincides with the UNESCO designation of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages -- a designation intended to demonstrate the urgent need to "preserve, revitalize, and promote Indigenous languages around the world."

"The Language is Life conference is also expected to be a fun reunion for all AILDI graduates from the past 40 years," said Alyce Sadongei, the institute's project coordinator.

Registration for the conference is now open online, with early bird rates of $60 before March 15. Rates will then increase to $80.

The conference is co-hosted by the UA Symposium for American Indian Languages, or SAIL, coincidentally celebrating its 20-year anniversary of the Native American Graduate Program in the  UA Department of Linguistics.

Message from Alumni Council

jewish history museum
Jewish History Museum and Holocaust History Center

Your Alumni Council has begun another semester of supporting the goals of our College of Education. We continue to have office hours four days a week in the college's Student Services Center to lend a hand to students who need an ear, a smile, or a snack!

We have an exclusive College of Education alumni event at the Jewish History Museum and Holocaust History Center on Thursday, March 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Learn about the modern-day outlook for refugees and immigrants. Find more information and RSVP here!

Save the date! Homecoming 2019 is October 31-November 2. The Cats will play the Oregon State Beavers. Continue to check our Homecoming 2019 page for updates. 

Please contact us if you are interested in joining the Alumni Council. Reach out and help our organization continue to grow and be a resource to the College of Education!

dave overstreet

David Overstreet '80 '86
Alumni Council President

Cats in the Corner


Cats in the Corner Office features successful Wildcats who share inspirational tips for professionals. Our very own Rufus Glasper '95 was the featured guest earlier this month.

Glasper is the president and CEO of the L eague for Innovation in the Community College, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student and organizational learning. He earned a doctorate in higher education finance from the College of Education. 

You can still watch the video here. Learn about Glasper's career trajectory and success, and hear what he has to say about leadership, careers, and the future of education. 


president robbins with students
UA President Robbins
surrounded by Wildcats

All alumni are invited to participate in ENGAGE 2019!

This is your opportunity to spend a day sharing your insights with university leadership and other distinguished alumni and community members.

During the day, you'll hear from UA President Robert C. Robbins about what's next for the UA, contribute to strategy groups (called CATforces), and enjoy a panel discussion of board members, alumni, and students. Throughout the day we will be tackling key topics related to priorities emerging from the university's new strategic plan.

In your UA Alumni Association CATforce strategy group, you'll work with other UA stakeholders to contribute your expertise, ideas, and candid perspectives on a specific problem or opportunity, such as membership, recent alumni engagement, volunteer engagement, and Maricopa County alumni engagement.

Friday, March 1
8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Hilton El Conquistador Resort
10000 N. Oracle Road, Tucson
Meals and snacks will be provided. Reception to follow.

Register for ENGAGE 2019


Dean's Office
bruce johnson
Dean Johnson was interviewed about the need for special  education teachers in the state's ongoing teacher shortage. Listen to the two stories below.

Educational Policy Studies & Practice

Diverse: Issues In Higher Education named Associate Professor Nolan Cabrera an Emerging Scholar, minority scholars who are making their mark in the academy through teaching, research, and service. According to Diverse, "These outstanding scholars represent the future of the academy and serve as an inspiration to both students and colleagues. They represent the very best of the U.S. academy and have distinguished themselves in their various academic disciplines, actively working to make our society more equitable and just."

Assistant Professor Kevin Lawrence Henry Jr. wrote an opinion piece in response to the Trump administration's efforts to worsen school discipline disparities.

Congratulations to doctoral student Norma Gonzalez, who was awarded a 2019 Louise Foucar Marshall Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. A prestigious award, the fellowship is granted to only six  University of Arizona graduate students annually.

Assistant Professor DeMarcus Jenkins, who joined us just six months ago, was quoted in this story about two TUSD schools possibly losing magnet status.

jenny j lee
Professor Jenny Lee was quoted in an Inside Higher Ed story on discrimination against international students. Her work on the relationship between university finances, neo-racism, and the increased activism of students is an example of the intersection among policies and practices in universities today.

Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies

Valerie Shirley

Assistant Professors Jeremy Garcia and Valerie Shirley believe the obstacles Native American students face have to do with the values, experiences, and languages they are exposed to in the classroom, which is the focus of these two news stories:

Donita Montgomery '00, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Mission Manor Elementary School in Sunnyside Unified School District, was honored with the December Teacher Excellence Award from Tucson Values Teachers. More.

Miriam Romero '07 received the Arizona English Language Teacher of the Year Award from the Arizona Department of Education's Office of English Language Acquisition Services. Romero is a teacher at Carrillo K-5 Magnet School in TUSD. Romero says one of the enduring lessons she learned from her maternal grandparents, Edna and Ben Feldman, comes from the Talmud: "The end result of wisdom is ... good deeds." This inspires her to engage her students and their families in her classroom, encouraging student-led inquiry and learning.

Jennifer Warner-Leja '10 is the new middle school and high school principal for Vestaburg Community Schools in Michigan.

Until next time,
johnson signature
Bruce Johnson

We want to hear from you! Send your news to anat@u.arizona.edu .