Skip To Content
interior sitting area

Education Update

December 2020 Edition

Dec 22, 2020

Faculty continue their work and sharing their expertise with students, professional organizations and the community through their leadership roles. As you peruse these lists you will see that the faculty’s recent peer-reviewed research and academic contributions to the field focused on engaging learners, creating and studying research-based teaching strategies, student retention, mentoring preservice teachers, supporting doctoral students, and creating and studying models of practice.

FACULTY Accomplishments


LaFrance, D., LaFrance, J., Salb, C., & O’Brien, E. (2020, June). Action research in a professional development school: Preservice teacher’s path to understanding. PDS Partners: Bridging Research to Practice!

LaFrance, J., LaFrance, D., & Melton, T. (2020). Reducing attrition in educational leadership doctoral programs: Chair agency, chair preparation, and academic supports. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 15, 111-133.

LaFrance, J., LaFrance, D., & Melton, T. (2020, February). Candidate chair relationships and socio-emotional supports in doctoral education. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation. 15(1).

Law, M. (2019). APA Style writing instruction in graduate education. Florida Journal of Educational Research, 57(2), 72-80.

Powell, R. L., & Rakes, L. (2020). A developing partnership: Our growth and goals. In E. Garin & R. W. Bur ns (Eds.), Clinically Based Teacher Education in Action: Cases from Professional Development Schools (Research in Professional Development Schools), pp. 122-127, Information Age Publishing.

Hasson, J., Rakes, L., & Livesay, E. (2020). Discrimination in education (school to prison pipeline). In C. Blankenship, L. Carter, and C. Marcum (Eds.) Punishing Gender (chapter 7). Cognella Publishing.

Parker, A. K., Rakes, L. (2020). I almost changed my major: Teacher candidates' perceptions of grade level organization and its influence on their professional development. Current Issues in Education.

Recent FACULTY presentations

Fowler, M. (2021, April). Social media and first-year students’ adjustment to college: A mixed methods study. Roundtable discussion to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Fowler, M., Shibilski, K., Goodmon, L., & Esparza, J. (2021, April). Engaged learning: An APA Style writing workshop for undergraduate students. Poster session to be presented at the 67th annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA), Orlando, Florida.

Hornick, J. N., Giordano, V. A., MacDonald, R. M., Galbraith, N., Morgan, M., Wade, S. (2020, October). The graduate research marathon: Leading the way forward for doctoral candidates in an academic library. Poster session presented at the annual (virtual) meeting of the Florida Library Association (FLA).

Holley, H. (2020). Building number sense through number-talk, manipulatives, and games. Paper presented at the National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) 2020, Regional Conference & Exposition, Tampa, FL (virtual).

Holley, H. (2021). Analysis of student achievement to create a predictive model for appropriate accountability. Paper to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association (AERA), Division H – Section 4, virtual.

Powell, R. L., & Persohn, L. (2020, Nov. 30 – Dec. 5). Social Justice, The Art of Illustration, and Children’s Literature: Simple Ways to Start Complex Conversations. Alternative session: We are in a book! In defense of books, children, and reading. Presented at 70th Annual Conference of the Literacy Research Association, virtual.

Anderson, A., & Powell, R. L. (2019, Nov. 15). Constructing identity, power, and relationships: Verbal and visual humor in the Flat Stanley books. Presented at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference, Atlanta, Georgia.

Pennington, S.E., & Powell, R. L. (2020, Nov. 30 – Dec. 5). Scaffolding preservice teachers’ knowledge and implementation of think-alouds for modeling strategic reading. Presented at 70th Annual Conference of the Literacy Research Association., virtual.

Powell, R. L., & Rakes, L. & Anderson, S. (2020, Apr 17 - 21) The power of collaboration: Strengthening teaching through video analysis of mentor coaching [Paper Session]. AERA Annual Meeting San Francisco, CA

Powell, R. L. & Rakes, L., (February, 2020) Making space for coaching with cooperating teachers. Presented at the Annual meeting of the National Association of Professional Development Schools. Atlantic City, NJ.

Recent FACULTY Facilitated Workshops

Banks, S., Brandon, C., & Law, M. (2019, October). Mind the gap: Bridging siloed learning communities through supplementary interdisciplinary interactions [Workshop]. Workshop facilitated at the annual meeting for the Atlantic Center for Learning Communities, West Hartford, Connecticut.

Fowler, M. (2020, November). APA Style formatting for graduate student researchers [Workshop]. Virtual Forum, Florida Educational Research Association.

FACULTY recognition

Dr. Rebecca Powell was recognized for her outstanding work with the Literacy Research Association Best Paper Award at the 70th Annual Conference of the Literacy Research Association (Nov. 30 – Dec. 5, 2020). Dr. Powell’s paper, with colleague Dr. Lindsay Persohn, Social Justice, The Art of Illustration, and Children’s Literature: Simple Ways to Start Complex Conversations, addressed issues of social justice through children’s literature. The paper explored children’s literature as a tool to help teachers and students understand their roles in societal constructs of economics, family dynamics, and friendship. As part of an alternative session “We are in a book! In defense of books, children, and reading, she and other scholars shared a series of independent investigations that explored the use of children’s and young adult literature as foundations for literacy teaching and learning across various contexts—preschool, elementary, university, and community. Using multiple methods and theoretical perspectives, they framed their individual studies, artifacts, and documents to illustrate how children’s and young adult literature is experienced, (mis)used, measured, and leveraged across societies and educational systems in the US and Ireland.

FACULTY appointments in professional organizations

  • Dr. Melanie Fowler was appointed as the Florida Educational Research Association (FERA) Membership Committee Chair in September 2020.
  • Dr. Victoria Giordano was elected as a member of the Board of Directors for the Florida Educational Research Association in November 2020.
  • Drs. Diane LaFrance and Lori Rakes serve as the Conference Co-Chairs for the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS). NAPDS is a national organization that advances the education profession by providing leadership, advocacy and support to sustain professional development schools as learning communities that improve student learning, prepare educators through clinical practice, provide reciprocal professional development, and conduct shared inquiry.
  • Dr. Rebecca Powell continues to serve as the Co-Editor of the Florida Literacy Journal, a peer reviewed publication of the Florida Literacy Association, 2019 – present. Dr. Powell also serves the local community in her role as the President of the Polk County Reading Council.


Dissertation Defenses

The following individuals in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership program successfully defended their dissertation studies in the fall 2020 semester:

  • Dr. Pamela Chapman defended her study, A Leak in the Pipeline: Retaining African American Male Teachers in K-12 Education on November 6, 2020. Dr. Bernardo Blanco served as Dr. Chapman’s dissertation chair.
  • Dr. Suzanna J. DeMyer defended her study A Case Study Identifying Distinctive Leadership Behaviors Headmasters of Private Christian Schools Possess to Address Spiritual and Moral Development of Students on October 1, 2020. Dr. Natalie Todt served as Dr. DeMyer’s dissertation chair.
  • Dr. Howard Hepburn defended the study Measuring the Impact of Reducing Principal Supervisors’ Leadership Portfolios in Large School Districts on October 8, 2020. Dr. Jason LaFrance served as Dr. Hepburn’s dissertation chair.
  • Dr. Kysha Herald defended the study, LGBTQ Inclusion Practices and the Influence and Response of School Leadership: A Qualitative Examination on October 22, 2020. Dr. Jenifer Neale served as Dr. Herald’s dissertation chair.

Graduate Student Events

The Doctor of Education program, in conjunction with the Roux Library, has organized a research marathon during the fall and spring semesters for the previous two years. The inability to come together face-to-face as a group did not deter Dr. Melanie Fowler from taking the lead in converting this favorite event to a virtual format. This one-day virtual event included visits from Drs. Brad Hollingshead and Tracey Tedder, six student-focused workshops, support from five expert librarians, eight faculty members, and, most importantly, more than 20 students at various stages in the Doctor of Education program. A huge thank you to Dr. Lynda Wolverton, Coordinator of the Doctor of Education program and Drs. Silviana Falcon, Victoria Giordano, Elisa Giordano, Hope Holley, Rebecca Powell, Lori Rakes, Craig Story, and for supporting our students by holding virtual One-on-One sessions.


Mrs. Judy Senzamici, School of Education Internship Director, in collaboration with six outstanding FSC Intern Supervising Faculty and 12 Polk County Schools Cooperating Teachers, mentored 12 student teachers through their final semester in the program. FSC School of Education student teachers work collaboratively with their assigned public school Cooperating Teacher mentors and FSC Supervisor throughout the full semester. As interns, they assume all instructional planning, teaching, assessment, and management responsibilities in the clinical setting, preparing them for their first full-time teaching position.

Despite the district currently having a hiring freeze, three of our fall interns were hired by Polk County Schools before graduation:

  • Jessica Lawrence took a position as a Kindergarten teacher at Griffin Elementary
  • Carolyn Sauveur assumed a First Grade teacher role at the Jewett School of the Arts
  • Kacey Williams accepted a First Grade teacher position at Sikes Elementary

Field Study

This academic year, educators across the world found themselves in a different type of learning environment due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The same was true for FSC’s School of Education preservice teachers during the fall 2020 semester. Despite the restrictions precluding preservice teachers from physically working with K-12 children in their classrooms as they typically do for their field study courses, FSC and the School of Education, in collaboration with our K-12 partner schools, still provided high quality field experiences for the preservice teachers. Mrs. Brooke Veal, School of Education Field Study Director, arranged for FSC preservice teachers to work with K-12 learners remotely, ensuring the safest environment for all involved. FSC preservice teachers used a variety of technologies and employed various teaching strategies and techniques as they worked side-by-side with their assigned K-12 teacher to support children’s learning in large and small groups.

A special thank you to our K-12 partners at the Polk County Public Schools, McKeel Schools, and Roberts Academy for ensuring the preservice teachers worked directly with cooperating teachers and K-12 students in order to provide a wonderful and meaningful field study experience. Mrs. Heidi Kindle, a cooperating teacher at McKeel Academy Central stated, “I just wanted to let you know I am very impressed with your interns. I am looking forward to watching them grow this semester and watching them with the kids. You can tell they are excited.”

Chapters, Clubs, and Organizations

Kappa Delta Pi

Florida Southern College’s Kappa Delta Pi Epsilon Gamma chapter, co-sponsored by faculty Dr. Rebecca Powell and Mrs. Judy Senzamici, is part of an international honor society in education that promotes excellence, and advances scholarship, leadership, and service. Their philanthropy efforts include improving reading education for those with learning differences through their work with The Roberts Academy, and supporting local high school students through various efforts. During the fall, 2020 semester, senior FSC education major Stephanie Hansen shared with members about her work in a dual language immersion program. Members also recently engaged in professional development through a workshop promoting mental health in the classroom in collaboration with the local school district.

Mocs and Mentors

Mocs and Mentors is a School of Education student mentoring organization for first-year education majors. One of the organization's goals is to foster student relationships between first-year education students (Mocs) and upper-level education majors (Mentors). In the fall 2020 term the admin team, which is comprised of elementary and secondary Mentors, hosted several virtual events including the Mocs and Mentors Virtual Meet and Greet, Fall Fun, and a Netflix End of Semester Party. Drs. Jason LaFrance and Diane LaFrance serve as the faculty advisors to the organization. Mocs and Mentors love to have fun!

Learning Communities

Faculty got creative and collaborative this fall as they planned and executed engaging activities and events for students in their first-year learning communities. The School of Education has two learning communities – one for Elementary Education majors and the other for Secondary Education majors. Students in each learning community take a “pair” of courses together that link at least one assignment and that provide for extra-curricular engagement related to the discipline.

The Elementary Education Learning Community, led by Drs. Rebecca Powell and Lori Rakes, participated with learning communities from departments across campus (biology, psychology, communication, and religion) to engage in an interdisciplinary study of Temple Grandin, the movie. The film served as a focal point for small group discussion that highlighted interdisciplinary perspectives on contemporary and classic issues. Dr. Melanie Fowler joined Dr. Susan Banks from the biology department as an organizer of the event. Drs. Fowler and Powell also served as a discussion facilitators.

Dr. Hope Holley and Ms. Suzanne Skinner, Secondary Education Learning Community faculty, arranged for a trip to the Florida Southern College Polk Museum of Art in the fall semester. There, Dr. Alex Rich gave the students a tour of the What’s the Story exhibit. Secondary education learning community students looked for connections with various points-of-view and the role art plays in supporting mental health. Through the Secondary Education Learning Community, students experience what it means to be part of a community of learners, building supportive-professional relationships, and establishing the importance professional learning communities — important tools for educators’ continued growth to enhance their teaching and their students’ learning.