Wednesday, January 7, 2015

TLI Department Report for COE Faculty Meeting - January 7, 2015

Good morning and thank you for being here today. For those who may not know me, I’m Rey Ramirez, Chair for the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation.

New Faculty
No new faculty joined TLI this semester. Dr. Janice Butler retired and won’t be returning this spring.

Current Faculty
The Department of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation boasts 20 highly educated and skilled faculty who have participated in the success of the College of Education and the organization of UTRGV. From their involvement in meeting NCATE accreditation to serving on leadership committees on local, state, and national boards, and working with schools and business partners, they have been heard loud and clear.

Kappa Delta Pi
Supporting students to become professional educators is the purpose of organizations like Kappa Delta Pi. Drs. Irma Jones, Jacqueline Koonce, Zelma Mata, and Hsuying Ward are the current KDP sponsors. KDP has 59 members and holds annual initiations. Dr. Jones notes that during the KDP initiation members hear from previous KDP members and experts who talk about their first­hand insight and experience about the school system.

National Conference of Curriculum and Pedagogy
Dr. Laura Jewett, Dr. Miryam Espinosa­Dulanto and other TLI faculty have been active in national and international professional organizations. As an example, Drs. Jewett and Dulanto were both involved as leaders in the 15th Annual National Conference of Curriculum and Pedagogy where they may have helped to (1) design the conference call, (2) design and manage the proposal submission and review process, (3) design and manage the acceptance and rejection process, and/or (4) design and distribute the conference program.

Local Events
Locally TLI faculty served to organize the Congreso Internacional de Educacion or what we call the Binational Conference. Ms. Sonja Varbelow, Dr. Janet Martinez, Dr. Carmen
Garcia­Caceres, and Dr. Miryam Espinosa­Dulanto were involved in the conference planning with their international counterparts.

Dr. Dulanto was the Panel Convener for “Women in Academe: Activism and Scholarship.” She brought together six scholars from UT­B and other U.S. institutions to discuss their research, roles, and activism in different areas and parts of the world.

Dr. Georgianna Duarte, who is currently in Nepal, organized several sustainability activities on campus. I also would like to recognize the work done by Dr. Bobbette Morgan who represents us as the president of the faculty senate. Its a hard job and Dr. Morgan does it well.

Read3 Literacy Program
Locally, Dr. Carmen Garcia­Caceres has organized a wonderful team of COE faculty to implement the UT Brownsville version of HEB’s Read 3 program. The Read 3 Literacy program was implemented three years ago at the urging of Dr. Garcia and Dr. Brogdon. Nationwide Read 3 has donated nearly three million books to children in need and Carmen has supported the book drive in area schools and local HEB stores. Dr. Caceres has promoted a strong partnership with the Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) and local non­profit organizations. After it first piloted a six­week program in the Brownsville community on eight BISD campuses in 2011, HEB has recognized the quality of work done by UT­Brownsville thanks to the leadership of Dr. Caceres and her team. In that time Read3 has served 627 students and their parents in 22 schools. Since I can’t list all involved, could those involved in Read 3, please stand up? Thank you.

Now Carmen has also teamed up with Dr. Irma Guadarrama from LLIS to study the impact of the program on area children. Their IRB has been approved and they are currently in the data collection phase. We wish them well.

Seeking funds is an important faculty activity. Dr. Laura Jewett worked on three grants. She was invited by former Mexico president, Vicente Fox to attend CITEK ( Culture, innovation, Technology, Energy, Knowledge), a think tank in Leone Mexico. Who knows what will result from this partnership. Dr. Sam Pan and Dr. Pierre Lu collaborate with other UTB colleagues in their area of expertise. 

Dr. James Telese and I have received grant awards for the Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Mathematics and Science that provides professional development for STEM teachers in area schools extending from Port Isabel to La Joya. The grant also provides tuition for elementary and secondary teachers to attend graduate school and focus their degree in mathematics and science education. For several years we have been fortunate to also obtain funding through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Teacher Quality Grant Program. Two recent grants have focused on exploring relationships in water quality and retooling science education through the use of technology. The retooling grant is awaiting coordinating board approval to continue it’s funding in to 2016.

Student Success
Finally, let me boast of our success in preparing highly skilled products who enter the professional education workforce. TLI can’t take the credit for them, its an honor that belongs to the College of Education. We should be proud of the long line of bachelor, master, and doctoral completers at commencement. This fall Dr. Gawenda informs me that two doctoral degrees were earned. And, it seems that many more are on the way.

We should also be proud of our many mathematics and science education teachers who walked the stage. Although, they walked with the College of Mathematics Science and Technology, we know that we played a significant role with our involvement in the UTeach program. As a note, Dr. Sonja Varbelow will be defending her dissertation on February 12th and we wish her success.

Conclusion and Educational Quote
The TLI department always prides itself as a leader in innovation. From its faculty’s non­stop involvement in promoting best practice to clinical teaching research, we hope to continue our commitment to higher education quality. If I left something or someone out, I’m sorry will catch you on the flip flop.

Dr. Mata wanted for me to leave you with an inspirational quote so here’s my stab at one written by John Ruskin. He was a renaissance man and one that in particular loved ornithology or to the layman “Birding” or “Birdwatching”.

“ painful, continual and difficult work to be done in kindness, by watching, by warning,... by praise, but above all ­­ by example.” 

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