WE CARE Projects Continue Advancing College of Education and Health Professions Strategic Plan



WE CARE Projects Continue Advancing College of Education and Health Professions Strategic Plan

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Teacher candidates and faculty members at a luncheon during their trip to the Arkansas Association for Middle Level Education conference in Little Rock.

The College of Education and Health Professions’ WE CARE strategic plan is packed with practical goals and strategies to produce impactful research that improves people’s lives, increase transformative learning opportunities for students and engage in meaningful partnerships across the state. 

Faculty, staff and students continue to develop proposals and apply for funding to implement projects that include innovative research, programming and outreach efforts. Since the dean’s WE CARE launch in August of 2022, 86 projects have been funded through the wellness and education initiative. From collaborative research projects to conferences that help with networking and industry knowledge, experiences and projects gained through the strategic plan’s funding are improving career readiness for students while bettering the lives of all Arkansans.

“It is so exciting to see such a high level of engagement in our WE CARE funded projects. It is our students, staff and faculty who are bringing our vision to fruition by designing collaborative research projects, engaging in innovative partnerships and demonstrating care for each other,” said Dean Kate Mamiseishvili. “I am so proud of the work that has already made a meaningful impact in the communities across Arkansas and empowered our students.”

TEAM UP FOR EDUCATION AND HEALTH

Vaping in Schools and Social Media, a research project conducted by associate professors Page Dobbs and Kara Lasater, is an ongoing endeavor funded through WE CARE that examines vaping in schools from the perspective of students, administrators and teachers. The project engages middle and high school students to analyze marketing and sales strategies for selling vapes and vaping materials. Through interviews with teachers and school administrators, Dobbs and Lasater are studying school approaches to e-cigarette and vaping policies to determine effective outcomes for reducing their use. In March, student researchers will present findings from their projects at the annual EAST conference in Hot Springs. EAST, which stands for Education Accelerated by Service and Technology, brings together over 3,500 students, teachers, parents and community leaders to showcase projects that make a difference in their communities and to network with peers and industry professionals.

Another project funded under the Team Up for Education and Health Funds category is Teaming Up to Support Kids (TUSK). This professional development series for teachers and caregivers provides resources and opportunities for collaboration to address social, emotional and behavioral health disparities in Arkansas schools. 

An interdisciplinary team of faculty, Renee Speight, Suzanne Kucharczyk and Rachel Glade, hosted several events throughout 2023. In the spring, the team held a symposium at Mount Sequoyah, focusing on building knowledge around foundational preventative and responsive practices to enhance readiness to meet the needs of students. Throughout the summer, TUSK provided an online summer learning series for early career professionals that covered a wide range of topics, from understanding student behavior to engaging and supporting students’ families. In December, the team followed the summer series with TUSK 2.0, a symposium in Little Rock highlighting activities for professionals to explore evidence-based practices and methods to apply them across diverse contexts.

STUDENT FIELD EXPERIENCES

Student Field Experience Funds support students’ experiential learning anywhere in the state of Arkansas, providing them with opportunities to develop an understanding of education and health issues and consider careers across the state.

With the use of these funds, 25 teacher candidates traveled to Little Rock to participate in the annual Arkansas Association for Middle Level Education conference. Candidates from the Special Education and Childhood Education programs interested in middle-level grades had the opportunity to learn from leaders and experts in mid-level education, connect with Arkansas school leaders and build relationships with teachers and university faculty from other institutions across the state.

Four Spanish education graduate and undergraduate students attended the Arkansas Foreign Language Teachers Association annual conference thanks to WE CARE funding. Students had the unique opportunity to meet with other professionals in the field of language teaching and attend sessions taught by practicing educators. Pre-service teachers, like these students, receive a one-year membership in the organization for attending the conference.

This spring semester, faculty members Marcia B. Imbeau and Christine Ralston will accompany seven childhood education and graduate teaching interns to the Arkansans for Gifted and Talented Education annual conference in Hot Springs. In addition to the opportunity to learn from and network with educators around the state, the students will have the chance to present information they have gained on meeting the needs of advanced learners. The interns will also serve as ambassadors and share experiences from the College of Education and Health Professions’ teacher preparation programs. 

About the College of Education and Health Professions: The College of Education and Health Professions’ six departments prepare students for a range of careers in education and health. In addition to its longstanding role of preparing educators and educational leaders, the college trains nurses, speech-language pathologists, public health specialists, recreation and sports professionals, counselors, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, and exercise scientists.