School of Education NewsLink, Fall 2018

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Message from the Dean

Dean Kevin Zook with StudentsI am a fly fisherman. I enjoy tying my own artificial flies and stalking trout in cold mountain streams. You will not be surprised to know, therefore, that one of my all-time favorite movies is A River Runs Through It, the story of two fly-fishing brothers set in Missoula, Montana. If you haven’t seen it, you should—even if you’re not into fishing—because the movie is about much, much more than fishing. In fact, you may be surprised to know that my favorite scene in the movie does not involve fishing at all.

After several years at far-away Dartmouth College, Norman, the elder brother, returns home to Missoula, having earned a degree in English literature. His father, an old-school Scottish Presbyterian minister, invites Norman into his study and after expressing his pride and congratulations, quickly cuts to the chase with a piercing question: “To what use shall you put this achievement?” Norman, caught off guard, fumbles a bit as he searches for an answer to satisfy his father and himself.

If you want to know what Norman’s answer is, you’ll have to watch the movie for yourself! But Norman’s specific answer doesn’t really matter. It’s the question that matters—for all of us. If you are a student joining us for your first semester this fall, may I ask you that question: To what use shall you put your achievement? If you are a current student already moving toward graduation, the question is for you too. Are you one of our valued alumni? If so, to what use are you putting your achievement? Should the question be asked of me and everyone who labors at Holy Family University to achieve our shared mission? Absolutely.

Because you have chosen to become a college-educated citizen of the world, in what ways will your world be a better place because you possess a college degree? And will it matter that you earned that degree at Holy Family University? In addition to possessing knowledge and skills related to your field of study, will you be kinder? More tolerant of others? Better able to engage in civil conversation with those with whom you disagree? Will people come away from their personal and professional interactions with you feeling valued and affirmed as persons and respected fellow members of our human family? Will the woman down the street hiding silently behind the wall of opioid addiction find a path toward survival and recovery because you are her neighbor? Will the struggling stranger you pass on the sidewalk get back on his feet because you paused to smile, say hello, and offer a hand of help? Will the people of a war-torn nation in sub-Saharan Africa be able to repair their country more quickly, creatively, and peacefully because you are their global neighbor?

Education that does not change, equip, and motivate us for acts of service and civility toward our neighbors, both near and far, is an empty exercise. Our world desperately needs you and your Holy Family education. To what use shall you put your achievement? At the dawn of this new academic year, let me challenge all of us to ask that question of ourselves and then use our answers and education to make a difference—however large or small—in our world:

Challenge yourself.
Change your world.

Thank you for checking out the latest edition of SOE – NewsLink. In this issue, we highlight opportunities to expand our SOE PK-4 teacher certification programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We celebrate the publication of a new book by one of our faculty members, and applaud the achievements of our alumni and other SOE faculty members. For these stories and more, read on!

As always, we'd like to include news of your adventures and achievements, so please send them our way at Let's stay connected!

Kevin Zook

Kevin Zook, PhD
Dean, School of Education

Table of Contents

SOE Obtains Grant from William Penn Foundation | SOE Launches Revamped Master's Degree Program in Early Childhood Teacher Certification | SOE Offers Youth Mental Health First Aid Program for Student Teachers | SOE Professor Publishes New Book on Catholic Traditions | SOE Faculty Spotlight | Alpha House Obtains Grant and Donations | SOE Alumni Accolades | SOE Faculty Achievements in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service

SOE Obtains Grant from William Penn Foundation

Photo of Dr Patricia JoergensenDr Patricia Joergensen,
SOE Grant Coordinator

Holy Family’s School of Education has been invited by the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) to work collaboratively with Eastern University and Arcadia University to create and strengthen degree and certification pathways for students transferring from Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) to 4-year teacher certification programs. The project is funded by a grant from the William Penn Foundation. The portion of the grant awarded to Holy Family ($97,000) will support efforts to create new program delivery options (e.g., online, blended, evening) for students who currently work in the early childhood field and for whom traditional daytime classes are difficult to schedule. Additionally, the grant will support SOE efforts to attract cohorts of students from CCP, provide personal advising for them, and maximize their potential for success in obtaining Pennsylvania teacher certification. Dr. Patricia Joergensen played a key role in developing the SOE’s grant proposal and will serve as the school's grant coordinator for the two-year project.

SOE Launches Revamped Master's Degree Program in Early Childhood Teacher Certification

Photo of Dr. Elizabeth JonesDr. Elizabeth Jones
Division Chair,
Graduate Initial Teacher Certification Programs

The School’s master’s degree program in Early Childhood Education, leading to PK-4 Pennsylvania teacher certification, has a new look! The popular program has been modified to make it easier for working students to take classes. Consistent with other SOE master’s degree programs, classes are now offered for cohorts of students in 8-week sessions (two sessions per semester and summer) in a blended format (i.e., a combination of on-ground and online learning experiences). Seventeen new students from a wide variety of professional backgrounds entered the program in fall 2018 as the School’s first cohort. The School of Education is grateful for the work and leadership of Dr. Beth Jones in developing and implementing the program.

SOE Offers Youth Mental Health First Aid Program for Student Teachers

YMHFA photo of studentsBeginning in the fall 2017 semester, the School of Education has provided the opportunity for its student teachers to participate in the Youth Mental Health First Aid – Institutions of Higher Education (YMHA-IHE) Project. The program is offered through the McDowell Institute of Bloomsburg University and coordinated on campus by SOE faculty member, Dr. Trish Joergensen. Dr. Joergensen became aware of the YMHFA project through the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) and sought to make the program available to Holy Family teacher certification candidates. Through her efforts, Holy Family University is now one of 15 of the 90 teacher preparation institutions in Pennsylvania to build the YMHFA program into its teacher preparation program.

YMHFA Student Project During the 2017 – 2018 academic year, Ms. Pat Cambri from the McDowell Institute provided the program for SOE student teachers. These newly minted “First Aiders” were issued a three-year YMHFA certificate from the National Council for Behavioral Health. In June 2018, Dr. Joergensen attended a week-long program to become a certified YMHFA program provider. The eight-hour program is built into a professional development day for student teachers during the semester. The program develops our teacher candidates’ knowledge base regarding mental health and related issues and equips participants with an action plan if they encounter a youth in crisis. The School of Education is very pleased to be able to offer this significant preparation and support for our student teachers so that they are able to meet the needs of the children and families they will serve in their teaching careers.

SOE Professor Publishes New Book on Catholic Traditions

Dr Helen Hoffner and her book 'Catholic Traditions & Treasures'School of Education Professor, Dr. Helen Hoffner, is the author of a new book, Catholic Treasures and Traditions, which is scheduled for release in September 2018 by Sophia Institute Press. Here is a description of the book in the author’s own words . . .

If you can write your name in Palmer Method and recite catechism questions, you probably attended a Catholic school. As a proud graduate and teacher in Catholic schools, I have fond memories of instruction that incorporated faith throughout the school day. Those memories, as well as perplexing questions about the history of school and church practices, led me to write Catholic Traditions and Treasures.

Catholic Traditions and Treasures explains the origins of classic school materials such as the Baltimore Catechism and textbooks published by the Benziger Brothers. Additional school practices and church customs are addressed. For example, today many people bury a statue of St. Joseph when they want to sell a house. This might seem like a superstition started by real estate agents, but it was St. Theresa of Aila and St. Andre' Bessette who first buried St. Joseph medals in land that they wished to obtain for the church. St. Joseph has become the patron saint of home buyers and sellers because he always found shelter for his family.

Additional customs such as praying to St. Anthony to find something lost and putting a statue of Mary in the window to stop the rain, and keeping a medal of St. Christopher in your car are explained in Catholic Traditions and Treasures. The book shows that these customs are based in history and faith.

Congratulations, Helen, on your book. We look forward to reading and learning from your research and writing! To discover more about Dr. Hoffner's fascinating background and interests, we invite you to read on. Helen Hoffner is the focus of this issue's SOE Faculty Spotlight.

SOE Faculty Spotlight: Helen Hoffner

Dr. Helen Hoffner joined the faculty of Holy Family University in 1999. She took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to share a bit of info about herself with SOE – NewsLink.

NL: Tell us about your academic preparation. What degrees and certifications have you earned and where did you earn them?

I received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from West Chester University, a master’s degree in the psychology of reading from Temple University, and a doctoral degree in reading and language arts from Widener University. I hold teaching certification in Pennsylvania and Delaware as a Reading Specialist and Reading Supervisor as well as in special education and early childhood education.

NL: What was your teaching experience before you began teaching at the university level?

From the day I entered kindergarten, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I belonged to the Future Teachers of America Club in high school and began teaching PREP (Parish Religious Education Program) classes as well as Title 1 remedial reading classes while I was in college. When I graduated, I became a second-grade teacher at St. Joseph School in Collingdale, Pennsylvania. Few professional experiences have been as exciting as the September morning that I began teaching my own class.

After a few years, I became a reading specialist and the director of a private school that served students from ages 3 to 21 with special needs. Our students ranged from a five-year-old child who could easily read college level textbooks to young adults who struggled with literacy. The diversity of the program gave me a variety of teaching experiences.

In 1988, I was asked to serve on a Middle States Accreditation Team. I soon began to chair visiting accreditation teams in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. I also reviewed reports on schools in Europe, Africa, and Asia. While I no longer can visit schools as frequently, I have continued to remain active and occasionally chair visiting teams. In 2016, I was appointed to the Domestic Advisory Board of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

NL: What inspired or motivated you to become a teacher of teachers?

Growing up, I attended traditional schools and thought that an effective classroom had rows of students’ desks and a teacher’s desk at the front. As I traveled for the Middle States Association, I saw schools with non-traditional structures yet teachers and students remained focused on their goals. I felt a need to share the message that there are many ways to teach and that we must address individual strengths and needs. I began serving as an adjunct instructor at Widener University and West Chester University.

NL: When did you start teaching at Holy Family University? What attracted you to Holy Family?

In 1999, I completed my dissertation and applied for full-time positions in higher education. One day an interviewer at another university asked me why I had applied to both their special education department and their literacy department. He said, “That doesn’t make sense. What does literacy have to do with special education?” I knew at that moment that I had to find a program that didn’t isolate aspects of education in distinct categories. Holy Family University has an integrated program which enables students to seek certification in more than one area. Graduates of the Holy Family University School of Education enter the teaching profession with a focus on students’ strengths rather than their labels.

NL: During the time you have been teaching at Holy Family, what are some of the major changes you have seen in the University and its students?

Holy Family University has embraced technology and developed systems to improve communication and learning. When I came to Holy Family in 1999, there were some students who had never used email and were afraid to submit assignments in this new way. Now when Holy Family students embark on field experiences, they help teachers and students in local schools use technology in innovative ways.

NL: Have you been able to engage in professional opportunities outside of Holy Family?

Since 2003, I have been writing instructor’s manuals and website content for Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall Publishing. When students visit websites for their courses, they might see references to Holy Family or names of professors that they know. I have written literacy textbooks published by Corwin Press, Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall, Kappa Delta Pi, and Teacher Created Materials. My research on Catholic education topics led me to write two reference books, Catholic Traditions and Treasures and The Rosary Collector’s Guide.

My doctoral dissertation was on the use of closed-captioned programming to improve reading ability. After I published articles on that topic, I received a phone call from representatives of 20th Century Fox/ MGM Film Corporation. They asked if I would be the educational consultant for their line of DVDs with colorful captioning to teach reading. It has been a fascinating partnership and my name now appears on special editions of DVDs such as Garfield: The Movie, The Sandlot, Robots, Anastasia, and Ice Age. This work has led to opportunities to work on captioning and visual description projects with PBS.

NL: We know you are extremely busy with teaching and committee work, and serving as the Reading Specialist Program Coordinator. But when you do have some free time, how do you enjoy spending it?

When I’m not on campus, you will probably find me at estate sales, museums, churches, and shrines searching for and investigating the origins of antique or unusual religious articles such as rosaries, medals, and holy cards. I maintain a blog and write on this subject. I have always enjoyed many forms of needlework and currently knit winter hats, scarves, and afghans to donate to the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and other charities.

NL: Thank you, Helen, for all your skills and gifts that you share so readily and generously with our School and University community. Any many thanks for sharing a bit about yourself in SOE – NewsLink!

Alpha House Obtains Grant and Donations

Mary Becker, Director of Alpha HouseMary Becker, Director of Alpha House

Alpha House, the School of Education’s on-campus early learning professional development school, was the recipient of the Greiner Family Foundation Grant. The $2,000 grant was allocated for the purchase of Chromebooks for Alpha House at its recently expanded Aquinas location. According to Mary Becker, Director of Alpha House, “We are so grateful to Mrs. Amy Sulpazo, one of our former parents, who suggested we apply. As of the 2017-2018 school year, we have received over $12,000 over the course of 4 years from the Greiner Family Foundation.” Alpha House also received a donation of $5,000 from the Higgins - Tomasetti Family to be used for the purchase of Chromebooks for each classroom, as well as any other needs the school identifies. In addition, the Pigott Family graciously donated $550 to have the doors at Aquinas treated so that the children and teachers can see what is outside but people who are outside cannot see in—a very important safety feature.

Photo of Aquinas Hall at Holy Family UniversityAquinas Hall

Alpha House is extremely grateful for all the generous support received from the grant and donations. As an exciting new school year begins, the teachers and staff at Alpha House and continue to believe that the early childhood years, Nursery, Pre-K, and Kindergarten, are the most important in a child’s development, and they look forward to welcoming 107 new and returning children this fall.


SOE Alumni Accolades

Kathryn Liese ('06)

Kathryn Liese was named one of 10 finalists for the Bucks County Teacher of the Year award. Kate has served as a teacher in the Bensalem Township School District for fifteen years and has taught seventh and eight graders for the last seven years at Cecelia Snyder Middle School. She teaches classes related to pre-engineering and STEM. In addition to teaching, Kate serves as the school’s Athletics and Activity Director, Yearbook Advisor, Cheerleading Coach, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Mentor, and Safety Coordinator. She was recently promoted to the position of Regional Director of Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science. Kate graduated from Holy Family University in 2006 with a master’s degree in education.

Jayda Pugliese ('09, '14)

For her work at Andrew Jackson Elementary School in Philadelphia, Jayda Pugliese is the 2018 recipient of the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary Teachers. Jayda also has been identified as one of twelve finalists for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year 2019. Jayda was recently appointed Principal of Saint Mary Interparochial School, a kindergarten through eighth-grade Catholic school located in Center City Philadelphia, founded in 1782 as the first elementary Catholic school in the United States. Jayda graduated from the School of Education in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education and in 2014 with a master’s degree in TESOL and Literacy. She is currently a student in the School’s Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership.

Ashley Wakelee ('10, '14)

Photo of Ashley Wakelee with Logan Township Middle School studentsAshley Wakelee with her Logan Twp. Middle School students.

Ashley Wakelee's class of sixteen students at Logan Township Middle School, New Jersey, placed first in the “Small Schools” category of the Great Reading Games, a national reading competition sponsored by Learning Ally, an ed-tech nonprofit company. Her students competed against 22,000 students from 1,210 U.S. school and districts, reading 30,636 pages for 16,794 minutes during the eight-week competition. The competition is designed to help foster motivation for reading. Ashley earned her elementary and special education certifications at Holy Family University (2010) and a master’s degree in reading (2014).


Jan Cook, Ed.D. ('17)

Photo of Dr. Jan Cook with Dr. Roger GeeDr. Jan Cook and Dr. Roger Gee,
Dissertation Advisor,
at the 2017 Commencement

Dr. Jan Cook, 2017 graduate of the School's Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, published a literature review, “The Military – Civilian Bridge,” in the Marine Corps University Press Journal, Spring Issue 2018. The article describes an open-source educational model to address problems in the healthcare field.  Jan is the enrollment support specialist at Bucks County Community College and serves to coordinate its Veterans’ Initiatives and Supports. Her dissertation, “The Female Veterans’ Voice: Their Challenges when Faced by Stop Out Enrollment,” focused on transitioning veterans. “The Military-Civilian Bridge” continues her work as a researcher of important issues impacting U.S. military veterans.


Calling All SOE Alumni!

Send your accolades for future editions of SOE - NewsLink to

SOE Faculty Achievements in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service

Maria Agnew achieved promotion to the rank of Full Professor, effective with the 2018-19 academic year. Dr. Agnew has served as a full-time faculty member in the School of Education since 2004. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Holy Family in 1990 (special education with a minor in psychology), master’s degree from LaSalle University in Human Services Psychology, and Ph.D. from Temple University in Educational Psychology. Among many contributions to the University and School of Education, Maria currently serves as chair of the Alpha House and SOE Partnership Committee and oversees the School’s Autism Endorsement program.

Roger W. Gee, Graduate Division Chair and ESL Program Coordinator, was invited to participate in the 26th Peru TESOL Association Annual Convention held July 31 to August 2 at the Universidad Científica del Perú in Iquitos, Perú. Dr. Gee presented a plenary address, I have some – do you have any? and a workshop, >Adverbs of degree: They are quite interesting. Peru TESOL, an affiliate of TESOL International Association, is a non-profit organization of teachers of English in Peru. Its purposes are to stimulate professional development and to strengthen instruction and research.

In June, Drs. Dianna Sand and Elizabeth Jones presented at the Faculty of the Future conference held at Bucks County Community College.  The presentation, Developing Online Discussion Forums to Promote Higher-Order Thinking, focused on how to increase student engagement in online courses that promote critical thinking skills rather than focusing on memorizing and recalling information.

In May, Drs. Elizabeth Jones and Stephen Young gave a presentation at the National Student Teaching and Supervision conference held at West Chester University. The presentation, Videotaping as a Means to Enhance Student Teacher Reflection on Instructional Practice, was based on a pilot study seeking to understand the benefits and impact of videotaping on student learning.

Kevin Zook, Dean of the School of Education, delivered the presentation, Scholarship Re – reconsidered: Redefining Scholarship Criteria for Professors of Education, at the annual conference of the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Co-presenters included Gwen Price (Clarion University), Juliet Curci (Temple University), and Amy Rogers (Lycoming College).