Western Kentucky University's Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research prepares aspiring leaders for high-impact careers in K12, higher education, and other organizational settings.
Ashley Gorman (principal, ’17) was named principal of Hancock County High School.
Ginger Estes (principal, ’17) was named assistant principal of Hancock County High School.
Leah Kate Pniewski (principal, Option 6) was named assistant principal at North Jackson Elementary School (Barren County Schools).
David Morgan (principal, ’16) was named assistant principal at Grayson County Middle School.
Chris Crain (principal, ’16) was named assistant principal of Franklin-Simpson Middle School.
Daniel Corley (principal, ’16) was named assistant principal of Central Hardin High School (Hardin County Schools).
If readers are aware of other recent appointments of EALR alumni, please email the information to Dr. Houchens at email@example.com and we will update the post accordingly. Congratulations to all of these distinguished WKU alumni!
EALR faculty members presented their work at several research and professional conferences, including the following:
Dr. Janet Hurt presented at the Oxford (United Kingdom) Educational Research Symposium on work conducted in collaboration with Dr. Stacy Leggett and Dr. Marguerita DeSander, “How principals use the evaluation system to improve the instructional capacity of teachers and an examination of the factors that influence the evaluation.”
Dr. Tom Stewart presented a paper at the International Thomas Merton Society annual meeting at St. Bonaventure University (NY), “Compassionate leadership: Models of mercy in Merton and O’Conner.”
Dr. Kimberlee Everson presented two papers at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting in San Antonio, TX. These included “Validity issues in assessing disposition: The confirmatory factor analysis of a teacher disposition form,” research conducted with WKU EdD alumna Dr. Chunling Niu (now with the University of Kentucky) and Dr. Cassie Zippay and Dr. Sylvia Dietrich (WKU); and “Value-added modeling alternatives that reflect classroom composition,” research conducted with Dr. Erika Feinaur (Brigham Young University).
EALR faculty also celebrated several publications in books and peer-reviewed research journals, including the following:
Dr. Kristin Wilson, in collaboration with WKU EdD alumnus Dr. Wouter Van Alebeek (director of WKU’s English as a Second Language International program), published a book chapter in the forth-coming International Handbook of Comparative Studies in Community Colleges and Global Counterparts, “An analysis of social media narratives in South Africa’s #FeesMustFall movement.”
Dr. Wilson also collaborated with several international colleagues on the book chapter, “Sustainability of higher education credit systems and transfer structures: Experiences from South Africa, the United States, and Australia” in Sustainable Transformation and Higher Education.
In addition to the list above, EALR faculty celebrated other publications, invited presentations, and creative activities and look forward to another productive year in 2017-2018.
“We are thrilled for Donna to join the team,” said EALR department chair Dr. Marguerita DeSander. “She brings a wealth of experience as a practicing educator and her organizational and communication skills will be a great asset to our students and faculty.”
After serving as a classroom teacher in various Kentucky school districts, Ms. Link has been a consultant with the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative for a number of years, including as director of the GRREC-OVEC Race to the Top grant since 2015. She will continue to serve in that capacity until June, but has already assumed some of her advising duties for EALR.
“It is an honor to join the EALR team who has an undeniable passion for growing, leading, and inspiring students to become active education leaders,” she said. “I’m truly humbled to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”
Ms. Link can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 270-745-4890.
According to EALR professor Dr. Kimberlee Everson, who coordinates the program, “The MER coursework can focus entirely on quantitative methods or focus jointly on quantitative and qualitative approaches.” Program requirements “intentionally overlap with the Education Doctoral program at WKU so that it can serve either as a beginning point for future EDD students, or a s means of adding qualifications for current of former students.”
While not appropriate for students in the hard sciences, the MER certificate may be of interest to graduate students in the social sciences, business, organizational leadership, or similar fields.
Dr. Zabaneh is the former president of Galen University in Belize. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from Clemson University and is currently a doctoral candidate in WKU’s Doctor of Educational Leadership program. Louis is teaching research courses such as EDFN 500 (Research Methods in Education) and EDFN 501 (Education Statistics).
“Western Kentucky University is a very special place,” said Dr. Zabaneh of his appointment:
The people here are its greatest treasure. They practice genuine openness and kindness, and are focused on making others better through their academic and community work. I have been completely impressed by everyone I have had the privilege to meet and work with, including my fellow colleagues in the Educational Leadership doctoral program, the students in the classes I have facilitated, the EALR faculty, and those in the wider WKU community. I have visited many universities in the United States, and WKU stands out as one of the best! My family and I are blessed to be here.
Dr. Zabaneh brings a professional background in economics, business, and higher education. He is currently writing his EdD dissertation on the topic of sustainable human development.
With its partners, WKU will develop a competency-based principal training program that will track the development of aspiring school leaders from their initial interest in administration, through their university training, and into their early years of service on the job. The goal is to make principal professional learning more responsive to the needs of schools in the region and to deliver more customized and on-time supports for administrators new to the field. WKU will receive more than $1.7 million in the first year along with guidance and support from the Wallace Foundation and technical assistance partners.
EALR Department Chair Dr. Marguerita DeSander co-presented with a colleague from George Washington University on their preliminary work on teaching effectiveness and leadership development in Puerto Rico.
Dr. Gary Houchens and Dr. Steve Miller shared their research on developing a new teacher perception survey called the School Improvement Scholastic Review (SISR). Dr. Everson and WKU EdD program director Dr. Tony Norman are also participating in this research.
Dr. Houchens moderated a panel discussion featuring superintendents and other district leaders from GRREC/OVEC Race to the Top district grant schools that have made strides with personalized learning.
Dr. Tom Stewart and Dr. Houchens presented their research on using executive coaching to help school principals develop as instructional leaders.
Dr. Stacy Leggett presented her research on North Carolina’s teacher evaluation system.
WKU doctoral student Josh Howard shared research on personalized learning self-evaluations and site visits conducted as a part of the Race to the Top grant. His collaborators included doctoral students Komako Suzuki and Trudy-Ann Crossbourne and was supervised by Dr. Norman and former EALR professor Dr. Jie Zhang.
Dr. Houchens presented additional results from Race to the Top schools’ personalized learning self-assessment on behalf of Dr. Norman and the Rock Solid Race to the Top evaluation team.
Dr. DeSander and Dr. Janet Hurt shared research on how principals and teachers co-construct theories of practice.
On behalf of doctoral student Trudy-Ann Crossbourne, Dr. Houchens shared additional research on how schools in the Race to Top grant developed their personalized learning plans.
Dr. Stewart co-presented with EALR aspiring principal student Linda Caudle and her principal Vicki Gough from the Ballard County Schools, sharing their work on professional learning communities.
Additionally, several WKU doctoral students delivered poster presentations, including the following:
EALR alumna and EdD student Savannah Denning shared her proposed dissertation research, a case study of leadership in one of Kentucky’s Districts of Innovation.
Robert King presented his proposed dissertation research on behavior modification programs for at-risk students.
Candida Murphy presented her proposed program evaluation dissertation assessing implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports on her school.
Christy Spurlock and Jia Pei shared their research on doctoral student persistence at WKU.
Derick Strode presented his dissertation research on study abroad at WKU’s Gatton Academy. Derick received the CREATE Emerging Researcher Award for his presentation.
Next year’s CREATE Conference will be held in Virginia Beach, Virginia where EALR professors and students expect to again share their on-going research interests and accomplishments.
Dr. Kristin Wilson, associate professor in WKU’s Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in South Africa during the next three years. Dr. Wilson uses qualitative methods to study post-secondary education. Through her Fulbright she will explore college persistence patterns among South African students, primarily at the University of Limpopo.
During the Summer of 2015, Dr. Wilson participated in the Sophia Zuheir Endowed International Fellowship program, which sponsored a group of WKU faculty members to visit South Africa over a three-week period. She made contacts with various universities there and leveraged the experience into a successful Fulbright application.
Traditionally Fulbright fellowships are for a six-month stay in a host country, but Dr. Wilson received one of the first “flexible” Fulbrights, which will allow her to visit for two months each year over a three year period. The extended engagement will allow her to follow students she is studying over the majority of their university experience.
“I’m tremendously honored by this opportunity,” Dr. Houchens said. “I’ve devoted my career to improving leadership and student outcomes for Kentucky’s schools and will do my best to bring those experiences and perspectives to the work of the Board.” Dr. Houchens said he anticipates the board will be actively engaged in work to overhaul the state’s school accountability system and revisions to the teacher and school principal evaluation programs.
Dr. Houchens is a former teacher, assistant principal, principal, and school district administrator. He joined the faculty of WKU in 2010. He primarily teaches courses in the principal certification program but also advises doctoral students and is engaged in several on-going research initiatives. Dr. Houchens received the 2016 College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Faculty Excellence Award for Student Advising.