Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Stein Brunvand leads GIEU group to South Africa

Stein Brunvand, SOE associate professor, led a group of University of Michigan students to South Africa as part of the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) program. This study group, “Teaching Across Borders: Establishing a Virtual Tutoring Program in Johannesburg, South Africa,” laid the foundation for implementing a virtual tutoring program to provide academic support to students in Alexandra Township.

The GIEU South Africa group spent a week and a half in Johannesburg assisting with several different programs for children who have lost parents to Aids and other circumstances, such as the Rose Act Saturday school, which is designed to help students in grade 5-12 get additional tutoring across a wide range of subjects. The university students helped run classes in several different computer labs where sessions on keyboarding, Microsoft Office applications and other computer basics where being taught. While in Johannesburg the group also assisted in an after-school homework program also run by the Rose Act organization. Both the Saturday school and the after-school program are offered specifically to children living in Alexander Township, which is a squatter settlement that borders Johannesburg. Alex, as it is known locally, is an incredibly poor area and the schools there are overcrowded, understaffed and without adequate resources.

In addition to their work in Johannesburg, the GIEU group also spent time living and working at the Village of Joy, which is located about 30 kilometers northwest of the city. Milly Jarvis runs the village and she has adopted 21 children ranging in age from 3-21, most of whom were orphaned or abandoned, and many of whom had been abused or neglected. The GIEU group assisted Ms. Jarvis by working with the children after school on their homework and participating in a range of activities at the village. While at the village the group also worked in the classrooms of a local primary school called Riversands. Students who attend Riversands live in Diepsloot, which is another squatter settlement similar to Alex.

The GIEU visiting group has learned much about life in another country, especially for those whose basic needs are inadequately met, and they have infused some much-needed human resources in the form of energy, knowledge, and enthusiasm. Please join me in welcoming them home from their journey!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Martha Adler leads GIEU group to Mexico

Martha Adler, SOE associate professor, and Monica Porter, Director of the Office of International Affairs at UM-Dearborn, recently arrived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with a group of University of Michigan students as part of the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) program. A video of the arrival of Adler and the GIEU group taken during their first week is available on youtube.

This study group, “Summer Literacy Program: Children of the Dump,” is a three-week summer literacy program serving high-poverty youth. The program both addresses the needs of children living in dire poverty in Mexico and provides university students with a culturally immersive educative experience. The literacy program is sponsored by The Children of the Dump, a community organization that was founded in 1998. Through private donations, the organization feeds more than 2,300 children daily, operates nine day care centers and an after-school program for grades 3 through 6. The goal of the Children of the Dump is to ensure education through grade nine and to educate the children of Puerto Vallarta in the skills necessary to rise above poverty.

Please join me is wishing them viaje seguro!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

SOE Alumna Wins Teacher of the Year Award

As reported in a recent Detroit Free Press article, Jennifer Bargardi has been selected as Teacher of the Year for 2012-2013 by the Educational Achievement Authority.

Ms. Bargardi is a double alumna of the UM-Dearborn School of Education. She was initially certified as a science teacher after completing our Post-Baccalaureate Secondary Teaching Program, and she is a recent graduate of our Master of Science in Science Education program. Currently on the staff at Mumford High School in Detroit, Jennifer teaches Biology and Anatomy, and she also serves as chair of the science department and senior class advisor.

This is not Jennifer's first recognition for excellence. In 2012 she was a regional winner and a national finalist in the Shell Science Lab Challenge, a competition among science teachers sponsored by the Shell Oil Company and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to encourage and recognize innovation in to deliver high quality lab experiences with limited school and laboratory resources.

Please join me in congratulating Jennifer Bargardi on this splendid recognition of her outstanding educational efforts on behalf of her students!

Farewell to Professor Belinda Lazarus

On June 20, 2013 a celebration was held to honor the career of Professor Belinda Lazarus on the occasion of her retirement from the University of Michigan-Dearborn after 22 years of service. Numerous friends and family members, professional colleagues from inside and outside the university, and former students joined in recounting Belinda’s many contributions and accomplishments.

Belinda Davis Lazarus graduated from The Ohio State University in 1973 with a B.S. in Education. She later earned a Master’s degree in Special Education Administration from Bowling Green State University in 1981, and a doctorate in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis from The Ohio State University in 1986.

Professor Lazarus taught special education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn for 22 years, serving as coordinator of the program for much of that time. During her time at UM-Dearborn she developed strong programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. As the students who spoke at the retirement event attested Professor Lazarus has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding teacher and mentor.

Dr. Lazarus was also an accomplished researcher, with numerous refereed publications on many aspects of special education. Topics covered in her research included effective instructional practices, technology for persons with disabilities, virtual K-12 schools, and attitudes towards reading expressed by students with learning disabilities.

In addition to her teaching and research activities, Belinda played an important role on numerous campus committees and initiatives, generously sharing her time and expertise. She also contributed locally, regionally and nationally to professional organizations in the field of special education. With a sincere passion for special education, she  delivered numerous presentations at professional conferences at the international, national, regional and state levels. Dr. Lazarus was the recipient of the 2006 Foundation for Creative Dispute Resolutions Award.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn School of Education is pleased to recognize Professor Belinda Davis Lazarus for 22 years of outstanding service as a member of the faculty; for her innovative contributions to the preparation and continuing education of special education teachers; and for her leadership and colleagueship in the school and university. We wish her bon voyage!