SOE News Briefs: Spring 2019

May 4, 2019
Talbert and Magill

Talbert and Magill Take Over Editorship of Popular McGraw-Hill Series

For 35 years, the popular McGraw-Hill historical text series Taking Sides: Clashing Views in U.S. History has been edited and authored by former history professors. Now the baton has been passed to Baylor School of Education professors Dr. Tony L. Talbert and Dr. Kevin R. Magill. The duo's background in social studies and pedagogy brands their writing of the 18th edition with a unique edge of cultural and social consideration while consciously reaching for the reader's attention.

Talbert and Magill said they are eager to explore a sweeping global outlook of the United States that gives students a chance to create and question what they know as fact. Through their social studies foundation, they want to humanize history by finding diverse voices to include in their research.

The pre-Civil War edition has already been published, and the post-Civil War edition is in the works.

Professional Development for Recent Grads

Baylor Beginning Teacher Institute

Are you a recent Elementary Education or Special Education graduate? Come back to Baylor June 21-22, 2019, for the inaugural Baylor Beginning Teacher Institute. This free professional development seminar is for current elementary teachers who graduated from general education, special education, or gifted and talented programs in 2016, 2017 or 2018. The free one-and-a-half day program will include an afternoon EdCamp, breakout sessions with Baylor faculty, and Dr Pepper Hour! Learn more and register at Baylor SOE offers numerous professional development opportunities for classroom teachers. To see current offerings, visit

Second Autism Grant Awarded

Dr. Stephanie Gerow

After receiving a grant of $278,000 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) last year to bring services to rural families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the School of Education has received another grant from THECB. The second grant of $212,400 will allow the SOE's trained therapists to work with additional parents and families through tele-health technology through 2020.

The travel time for rural families to receive services from specialists is often prohibitive, said Dr. Stephanie Gerow, assistant professor in the SOE's Department of Educational Psychology and principal investigator for the grant. Through these grants, she said, SOE researchers and graduate students will bring much-needed services to parents, helping them implement behavioral strategies for their children at home.*

*This work was supported in whole or in part by a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). The opinions and conclusions expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policy of the THECB.

Student Honored with TASA Scholarship

Courtney Jerkins

Courtney Jerkins, a student in the EdD in K-12 Educational Leadership program in the Department of Educational Leadership, was one of two educational leaders statewide to receive a special TASA scholarship.

Jerkins, coordinator of elementary science/social studies and English learners for Midway ISD near Waco, received the 2019 Johnny L. Veselka Scholarship from the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) at the group’s Midwinter Conference Jan. 27-30 in Austin. TASA awards the scholarship annually to two outstanding doctoral students pursuing careers in educational leadership, with particular emphasis on the superintendency.

Jerkins said, "I am pursuing the superintendency because it is a culmination of all of the things that have shaped my life thus far -- a desire to serve others, a passion for education, a desire to support students and teachers, and now a desire to work with entire communities to promote student success."

TASA is the professional association for Texas school superintendents and other administrators.

Early Math Camp Receives Funding

Baylors Mathematics For Early Learners Academy Mela

Baylor’s Mathematics for Early Learners Academy (MELA), hosted at the Mayborn Museum each summer, received $74,000 from the Cooper Foundation for the summer of 2019, allowing the program for children in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten to expand. The Baylor School of Education previously funded the program, but now MELA is growing to serve 100 more students.

The four-week experience, led by Dr. Sandi Cooper, professor of mathematics education, aims to build on children's developing understanding of early number concepts with children from five Waco ISD elementary schools: South Waco, Crestview, Brook Avenue, JH Hines and Alta Vista. The grant will allow MELA to expand to LaVega ISD also. Students with low district assessment scores are eligible to attend, and Cooper's research has shown that math abilities of the participants progressed to bring them up to grade level.

Cooper said her goal is to help the students who need it the most get a strong start in mathematics education. She said the Cooper Foundation's generous grant allows the program to do just that as it extends its reach to even more children.

New Center Name

The Center For Gifted Education and Talent Development

The School of Education center that hosts Baylor’s popular University for Young People program has a new name -- The Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. It was previously known as the Center for Community Learning & Engagement.

Dr. Jennifer Robins, who joined the faculty of the Department of Educational Psychology in fall 2018, is new director of the center.

"We rebranded the center to better reflect our initiatives," Robins said. "We focus on serving gifted and advanced students and developing talent, and the new name specifically reflects our purpose."

Robins said that the center also will add more programming and resources -- for parents and teachers, as well as gifted students -- in the next few years.

Outstanding Graduates

Two graduates recently won national accolades for teaching and research.

Dr. Neil Shanks

Dr. Neil Shanks, BSEd '09, MSEd '14, who will join the School of Education faculty full time in fall 2019, received the 2018 Larry Metcalf Exemplary Dissertation Award from the National Council for the Social Studies. The award recognizes outstanding research completed in pursuit of a doctoral degree.

Shanks completed his doctorate in social studies education at the University of Texas. He previously taught at Waco High School, and his dissertation focused on teaching high school economics in a way that is relevant to students but also meets TEKS requirements.

Dr. Yuko Prefume, BA '04, MSEd '06, EdD '15, a senior lecturer of Japanese in Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences, received the 2018 Teacher Award from the American Association of Teachers of Japanese.

Dr. Yuko Prefume

Prefume was honored for the rigorous quality of her teaching and guidance of students’ independent projects, as well as for her inspirational contributions to the academy and dedication as a teacher. The award also recognizes leadership in the promotion of the study of Japanese.

Baylor School of Education lists honors won by graduates on the "Alumni Awards" page of the website. Graduates who have won awards may send information to Visit for information on award-winning alumni.