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College Roundup A selection of faculty, staff, student and alumni happenings

September 2021

Norma Olvera, a professor in the Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences, was elected chair of the Nutrition Education Beyond Weight Division of the Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior. She will serve a one-year term, which began Aug. 28, 2021.

Elizabeth Guzmán, a doctoral student in the professional leadership — K-12 program, has been appointed the 504/dyslexia coordinator for Clear Creek ISD to support students with disabilities. She previously was an assistant principal in Pearland ISD.

Several faculty members were selected for the 2021-22 UH Cougar Chairs Leadership Academy, a professional development opportunity to develop leadership skills to promote student success: Conra Gist and Susie Gronseth from the Department of Curriculum & Instruction; Bradley Davis and Kristen Hassett from the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies; and Toya Conston and Virmarie Correa-Fernández from the Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences.

Kristi Santi, an associate professor in the special population program, has received The President’s Volunteer Service award from AmeriCorps. This award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities across the nation. Santi received the award for her work leading conferences, research and teams whose focus is on bettering the educational outcomes of students with disabilities.

August 2021

Jessica Tovar-Hilbert, who earned an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction – reading and language arts in 2010 and an Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction – reading and language arts in 2017, was recently promoted to program coordinator for professional learning at Klein ISD. Tovar-Hilbert previously taught second grade at Krahn Elementary School in the district.

Tiffany Galloway, a doctoral student in the higher education program, has joined the UH Women and Gender Resource Center as the gender equity program manager. Galloway is currently researching support systems for Black women and trans and nonbinary students within higher education.

Taewon Kim, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, received the 2021 Graduate Student Research Award from the American Psychological Association’s Society of Vocational Psychology. She earned the award based on her development of a measurement tool to reflect underemployed Korean workers’ experiences influenced by cultural contexts and insecure job markets. Her article about her research was published in the Journal of Career Assessment in 2020.

Neha Anand, a doctoral student in the curriculum and instruction — science education program, recently published an article in School Science and Mathematics about elementary students and their parents’ perceptions of informal STEM learning environments.

Keith Butcher, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, has been appointed to the UH Office of Faculty Engagement and Development’s Faculty Advisory Board. The board is an advocate for enhancing student success and serves a constituency concerned with teaching and learning, research, service, and maintaining a culture of faculty excellence. Sara McNeil, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, and April Peters-Hawkins, an associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, also serve on the advisory board.

July 2021

Katrina Cushenberry, who earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership — mathematics education in 2020, is the new mathematics director for secondary curriculum and development at Houston ISD. She previously worked as a secondary mathematics curriculum specialist in the district.

Mycah Ayala and Mariana Vázquez, doctoral students in the school psychology program, have been awarded blue ribbons for their research posters by the American Psychological Association’s Committee on School Psychology. Ayala’s poster (“Primary Care Providers’ Special Education Discussions with Families of Children with Autism”) and Vázquez’s poster (“Teachers’ Characteristics as Predictors of Parent Perceptions of Invitations for Involvement”) fell within the top third of ratings across relevancy to the field, contribution to the research literature, research design and overall quality of the submission.

June 2021

Margarita Tovar, a doctoral student in the professional leadership – K-12 program, has been named school improvement and family engagement liaison at Corsicana ISD. She will begin her new position in July. Tovar is currently the principal of Dogan Elementary in Houston ISD.

Taewon Kim, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, received the 2021 Award for Student Leadership from the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Socioeconomic Status. Her research aims to empower people who experience classism to choose careers despite societal constraints.

Jamina Scippio-McFadden, a doctoral student in the higher education program, has been appointed campus director of Our Lady of the Lake University in Houston. She most recently served as director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center at Springfield.

Priscilla Rivas, who earned Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction — learning, design and technology in 2021 and a B.S. in teaching in 2005, has been named principal of the renowned Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston ISD. She previously served as principal at Crockett Elementary, which also has a performing and visual arts focus.

Seven faculty members earned promotions, effective September 2021:

  • Virmarie Correa-Fernández to associate professor with tenure (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)
  • Associate Professor Bradley Davis granted tenure (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Kelli Drenner to clinical associate professor (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)
  • Leslie Frankel to associate professor with tenure (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)
  • Elsa Gonzalez to associate professor with tenure (Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Erica Jordan to clinical associate professor (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)
  • Kayce Solari Williams to clinical associate professor (Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences)

May 2021

Laura Lopez, who earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership — mathematics education in 2020, has been appointed head of the Lower School at Regis School of the Sacred Heart. Her responsibilities include articulation, development and implementation of the school’s curriculum in grades K-4. Lopez previously served as the school’s K-8 math specialist.

Laveria Hutchison, an associate professor of literacy education, received the 2021 UH Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Service. This award recognizes outstanding service by a new senator who has had two to six years of service in the senate.

James Golden, who earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership in 2013, has been named principal of Spring High School in Spring ISD. He currently serves as a principal resident for the district and will begin his new position at the end of the school year.

April 2021

At least six alumni have won Principal/Administrator of the Year awards for 2020-21.

  • Five alumni won First-Year Principal of the Year awards for their region in Houston ISD:
    • Samantha Brooks, North Houston Early College High School
    • Edgar Contreras, Fondren Elementary School
    • Erica Gil, Pugh Elementary School
    • Jerri Nixon, Westbury High School (in her first year leading Westbury)
    • Kylene Vasquez, Ashford Elementary School
  • David Graham, who earned a bachelor’s in health – kinesiology in 2009 and a master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2014, won Administrator of the Year at Texas City High School in Texas City ISD.

Adalia Espinosa, who earned a master’s in higher education in 2019, was elected vice president of communications for the Executive State Board of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education. She has previously served on the board in several areas. Adalia is a career counselor, instructor and pre-law advisor at University of Houston Career Services, supporting students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Cecilia Crear, who earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership in 2013, has been appointed new area superintendent at Alief ISD, where she began her career as a math teacher at Elsik High School. Crear previously served as executive director of secondary schools in Fort Bend ISD.

Geordie Daniel, who earned a bachelor’s in teaching in 2015, won Teacher of the Year for 2019-20 at Fort Bend ISD’s Macario Garcia Middle School. The district recently held a drive-thru celebration for all the winners to acknowledge this achievement from last year.

Detra Johnson, an assistant professor in the professional leadership – K-12 program, has been elected to serve as the 2021 chair-elect of the Research on Women and Education Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).