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Annual Eastern Excellence Expo Set for April 15

Written by Dwight Bachman


Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University's School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division will hold its 14th Annual Excellence Expo on April 15, 2014, from 1-3p.m. in the Student Center.  The public is invited. Admission is free.

More than 110 students, supported by 10 faculty mentors, will present research projects and posters showcasing the five departments in the School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division: Business Administration, Communication, Economics, Education, and Health and Physical Education.
Presentations include business marketing plans and communication advertising campaigns;  research presentations from business and education students; and a gallery photography exhibit of framed prints and color slides, just to name a few.  Poster research includes topics on communication law and ethics; health communication issues; and systems analysis.

For more information on the Excellence Expo, contact Pat Kucharski at (860) 465-5264 or email her at kucharski@easternct.edu.

Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Two high-level Connecticut court officials will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 26 for Eastern's University Hour series. At 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn will speak with the Eastern community about justice and the judicial system in today's world. 

Born and raised in Angola, Africa, Kahn was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2006 and currently is assigned to hear criminal matters in the Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. She moved to the United States at 10 years of age, is fluent in three languages and serves on a number state and national Bars. 

Rogers, a Connecticut native, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2007--the second woman ever to reach this designation in Connecticut. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the State Justice Institute's Board of Directors. In addition to serving on a number of prestigious Bars and committees, Rogers is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

"The event is open to the public and will be organized in a question-and-answer format," said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Women's Center. "Arrive early at the Student Center Theatre to ensure a good seat."

"Eastern in 4," Eastern's Revamped Academic Plan

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - As part of Eastern Connecticut State University's 2013-18 Strategic Plan, "Eastern in 4" is now a requirement for current students and incoming freshmen. The goal of "Eastern in 4" is to lay out a tight and comprehensive plan--including academic and career goals--that will lead students to their bachelor's degrees in four years.

"Eastern in 4" has existed as an informal objective for several years now, but recent data supporting the need for college-career planning has caused the University to revamp and mandate the program. "There are so many options and requirements in a college setting," said Alison Garewski, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students unknowingly taking courses they don't need--costing them more money and prolonging their time in college--is an issue nationwide."

With nearly 1,000 freshman at Eastern this year, approximately 650 have completed their academic plans. Though the plans are designed in group sessions of five to 20 students, each four-year plan is individualized according to a student's degree requirements and preferences--taking into consideration which liberal arts courses to take, internships and study abroad opportunities.

"Every semester when registering for classes I use my four-year plan to aid in my selection," said Christina Harmon, a sophomore majoring in psychology. "'Eastern in 4' was a great way for me to learn what classes I need to take and how to stay on track in order to graduate on time."

While "Eastern in 4" is available to all students and majors, it is especially useful to transfer students, continuing education students and those switching majors. "This program is ideal at Eastern because we're a liberal arts school," said Chris Drewry, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students are required and encouraged to take courses outside of their major, so having this direction is really helpful."

"Before making my 'Eastern in 4' plan, I had no idea if I could fit a double major's worth of classes into my schedule," said Thomas Hacker, a freshman with a double major. "Now I have a roadmap to double major in music and communication in four years."

EES Defeats Political Science in College Bowl Competition

Written by Dwight Bachman


On March 12, the Eastern College Bowl completed its 37th consecutive season.  Held in the Student Center Theatre, the College Bowl is a competition for undergraduates representing various majors.

The championship match saw the lead exchanged several times, a match that was not decided until the final question. The team representing the Environmental Earth Science (EES) Department defeated the team from the Political Science Department. EES had won matches against Economics and Mathematics to reach the finals, while Political Science had won its previous matches over Biochemistry and Biology. The winning EES team included students Dustin Munson, Cody Lorentson, Daniel Grondin, and Mackensie Fannon. 

College Bowl questions asked come from many different academic and non-academic areas, often involving audio or visual clues. Questions in this year's championship match included ones involving Dante's "Inferno," Julius Caesar and his crossing the Rubicon, phobias, songs from Disney movies and one titled, "The Doors of Eastern," in which contestants were asked to identify buildings on campus after seeing photographs of their front doors.  The question that decided the winner of the 2014 College Bowl  involved the naming of Transuranium elements. 

The College Bowl is organized and run by Tim Swanson, associate professor of physical science, who originated the competition in 1978.  This year, he was assisted by Biology Professor Gloria Colurso and Marty Levin, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Education Department to Host Three Young Adult Authors

Writtten by Akaya Mcelveen

 
Education Department to Host Reading by Three Young Adult Authors
Willimantic, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University Education Department will host an event featuring three young adult authors in the Student Center Theatre from 5:30-7 p.m. on Jan. 21. Authors Chris Lynch, Brenden Kiely and Jason Reynolds will discuss their new books.

 Reynolds will be discussing his debut novel, "When I was the Greatest," which is described on the book jacket as "a gritty, triumphant debut. This stunning story captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY, where a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head--even if you're totally clean." Reynolds earned a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland, College Park, before moving to Brooklyn, NY. For more information on Reynolds, visit iamjasonreynolds.com.

 Lynch will discuss his book "Little Blue Lies," which is described as a gripping novel where two teens discover the true danger of love. Lynch is the Printz Honor Award-winning author of several highly acclaimed young adult novels, including "Pieces," "Kill Switch," "Angry Young Man" and "Inexcusable," which was a National Book Award finalist and the recipient of six starred reviews. He is also the author of "Freewill," "Gold Dust," "Iceman," "Gypsy Davy," "Shadow Boxer," "Extreme Elvin Whitechurch" and "All the Old Haunts." Lynch holds an M.A. from the writing program at Emerson College. He teaches in the Creative Writing MFA program at Lesley University. He lives in Boston and in Scotland.

 Kiely will discuss his debut novel "Gospel of Winter," which is about the restorative power of truth and love after the trauma of abuse. Kiely received an MFA in creative writing from the City College of New York. His writing has appeared in "Fiction," "Guernica," "Big Bridge" and the "Mikrokosmos Literary Journal," among other publications. Originally from the Boston area, he now teaches at an independent high school and lives with his wife in Greenwich Village.
 The event is open to both the campus and community members. Community members may park in the Parking garages or student center lots.

Ready to Climb

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) recently introduced two climbing walls for its preschool children; the wall are documented in the short film, "Ready to Climb: Bringing the Climbing Walls to the CFDRC."

"Ready to Climb" was produced by Eastern communication students Sarah Pierce, James Nixon, Dylan King and Attah Agyemang in their Documentary Production class taught by Denise Mathews, professor of communication. Students gained hands-on experience in directing, field shooting, conducting interviews, editing and other production skills. The video will be used to highlight to prospective families and students some of the experiences available to children at the CFDRC.

The indoor and outdoor climbing walls serve to support children's cognitive, social-emotional, creative and physical development, and provide critical experiential learning opportunities for Eastern students who hope to work with young children in their careers. Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC and Darren Robert, professor of Health and Physical Education, detail the benefits of the addition of the climbing walls, citing risk-taking and peer motivation as a few. For instance, children in the center use the climbing walls to improve their hand-eye coordination, said Rezai.

Health and Physical Education students Teresa Rozycki, Mattie Brett and Josh Tamosaitis appear in the video as they work to support the children. Claudia Ahearn, CFDRC lead teacher, also appears in the video.  
The climbing walls were made possible through the support of the ECSU Foundation.

Written by Akaya McElveen

 

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The Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC), which serves children ages 18 months to 5 years, recently unveiled two climbing walls; one indoors and one outdoors.  The climbing walls will be used to carry out the CFDRC's mission to foster children's cognitive, social-emotional, creative, and physical development.  The climbing walls are expected to help preschoolers build confidence and gain a sense of accomplishment, socially and emotionally by having them work collaboratively and cooperatively.

Physically, the children will be able to develop upper body strength; increase eye-hand coordination; and develop a better sense of how to move their bodies in a space. Cognitively, the wall is expected to develop spatial awareness; allow for literacy/numeracy development through the use of magnetic letters and shapes; and expand children's oral language. Finally, the climbing wall will help children move their bodies in expressive ways fostering pretend and imaginative play.

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The CFDRC is also using this opportunity to provide experiential opportunities for Eastern students.  Under the guidance of Health and Physical Education Professor Darren Roberts, students in physical education will develop and implement lesson plans surrounding the climbing walls, affording valuable experiences in teaching, as well as individualizing based on children's needs. In addition, Communication Professor Denise Matthews is supervising students in the production of a documentary video featuring the climbing walls from their inception to their use with children and staff.

ACCESS Agency Honors ProfessorGruenberg

Written by Danielle Couture

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Education Professor and outgoing Access Community Action Agency Board member Ann Gruenberg was presented with a Volunteer Service Award at the Access Annual Meeting and Dinner on Oct. 24 at Wright's Mill Farm. Nancy Tinker, director of facilities management and planning, will take Gruenberg's place on the board.

Bernard Lafayette Says "Use Your Rights, or Lose Them!"

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - Bernard Lafayette Jr., a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement, spoke on "Reaching Beyond Your Grasp" on Oct. 9 in the Student Center Theatre at Eastern Connecticut State University. His presentation was part of Eastern's University Hour Series.

More than 200 Eastern students, faculty and staff  heard Lafayette say he was "glad" and "shocked" that he is still alive today, in response to a question asked by a student. Lafayette's life has been threatened on many occasions, including a night when white men came to his house to kill him.

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       More than 200 Eastern students, faculty and staff heard Lafayette describe how resolute the Freedom Riders were while facing terrifying mobs.

Being the target of many death threats, Lafayette had expected his life to have ended already. In fact, he said he that he and his peers, realizing the dangerous journey they were about to begin, created a will before taking part in the Freedom Riders, who were African American and white college students. "No one can take your life if you've already given it," said Lafayette.  He said the Freedom Rides of the 1960s provided the momentum for the Civil Rights Movement, and provided an in-depth, personal look at what life was like for the Freedom Riders.

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Left to right, Stacey Close, Eastern's associate vice president for equity and diversity; Prudence Allen, former administrative assistant to the late Coretta Scott King; Lafayette, Sociology Professors Dennis Canterbury and James Russell pose for a photograph.

Lafayette played a riveting clip from a documentary on the Freedom Rides, which showed scenes of white mobs as they burned and bombed the Freedom Riders' buses and beat them with crow bars, baseball bats and any other weapon they could pick up. Law enforcement and city officials had made a deal; the mob of people was given 15 minutes to do whatever it wanted to the Freedom Riders and they would not get punished for it. Once the 15 minutes were up, Lafayette said the officers announced, "Alright, you've had your fun," and told the mob, "Not one soul will ever be arrested." 

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        Lafayette shakes hands with Akaya McElveen'14, an English major from Waterbury.

There was a moment in the film when a black woman went to a police officer to explain that her husband was being attacked, only to be knocked to the ground by that same officer.

Lafayette said media exposure of the mob violence and city officials' sanction of it played a leading role raising public awareness. News of the mob and police brutality was heard around the world, with America's European allies making it clear to President Kennedy that they were embarrassed by the violence. 

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       Lafayette, left, with former vice president for equity and diversity at  Eastern,and administrative assistants Carmen Diaz and Kathy Escobar.

The speaker also said there is a misconception that the Freedom Rides were about integrating the buses: "The demonstrations were really about bus stations and the right to be treated equally in them." Lafayette also talked about the importance of community engagement, saying that all colleges and universities should be involved in the community. "You've got to bring young people together and organize them. If you don't use your rights, you will lose your rights." As an example, he said students could initiate a voter registration drive by hosting a public birthday party for eighteen-year-olds, where the cost of admission would be showing their voter registration cards.

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          Lafayette with Hope Fitz, professor of philosophy and a scholar on nonviolence.

Lafayette said that he is genuinely interested in what the next generation will contribute to the Civil Rights Movement. "Maybe the movement never really stopped; it's continuous." He said young people should never surrender to violence and injustice. "If you do, the psychological wounds will run deep and may never end."  He encouraged the audience to keep the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream alive, quoting the late Civil Rights leader, "We must live together as sisters and brothers or die separately as fools."

Lafayette ended his presentation by entertaining the audience with a country song about the struggle of poor white Americans.

CFDRC Unveils New Rock Walls

Written by Jordan Sakal

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Willimantic, Conn. - The Child and Family Development Resource Center at Eastern Connecticut State University unveiled two new climbing walls for use by the center's preschoolers. One wall is located inside the facility and the other is in the main playground area.

According to Darren Robert, professor of health and physical education, "Over the past decade of professional physical education, I have noticed a low degree of upper body strength among preschool children."

The goal of the rock walls, according to Robert, is to increase the amount of outdoor playtime for the children so that they will have access to exercise activities that improve their upper body strength and overall physical conditioning. Rules and policies regarding the correct and safe use of the rock walls have been taught to all of the professionals on staff at the early childhood center and the children have been told the rules regarding the walls to keep both themselves and the faculty out of harm's way.

Students in Eastern's Education and Health and Physical Education programs work with the children of the center in order to provide educational experiences for both the children and themselves. Professional educators who teach preschool at the CFDRC and serve its 68 students will also make use of the new rock walls. Using the walls' magnetic surface, the teachers will be able to display numbers and letters as a fun way to interact with the students and use the new materials at their disposal.

The overall impact of the rock walls' on children's learning has yet to be measured but a bright future awaits the students of the CFDRC, as they have fun, develop cognitive skills and, strengthen their physical conditioning all at the same time.

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