College of Education News Fall/Winter 2017

Roosevelt Receives Math & Science Teaching Grant

Sheena Ali portrait in classroom

College of Education alumna Sheena Ali

Roosevelt University has received a significant National Science Foundation grant that provides scholarships this fall for students interested in teaching math and science in high-need schools.

The $1.4 million grant, including $800,000 in scholarships, makes it possible for Roosevelt, in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, Oakton Community College and The Field Museum, to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for classrooms in schools where teacher turnover is high.

“There is a great need locally and nationally for high-quality math and science teachers who are committed to working with students who frequently come from low-income and minority households,” said Tom Philion, dean of the College of Education at Roosevelt.

“With this initiative, we are collaborating with Roosevelt’s College of Arts and Sciences and a number of venerable Chicago-area institutions to better prepare teachers, and by proxy their students, for college and careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) sector,” he said.

The Noyce Teacher Scholarship program provides $10,000 annually for up to two years for juniors and seniors who major in math, chemistry or biology and minor in secondary education; and $18,000 over two years to graduate students enrolled in Roosevelt’s Master of Arts in Secondary Education program. The project is led by Byoung Kim, associate professor of education.

In exchange for scholarships, students agree when they graduate from Roosevelt to teach for up to four years in public schools where math and science teachers are in demand.

“We have a number of schools where turnover of math and science teachers is common,” said Christine Murphy Judson, manager of talent acquisition for CPS, which she estimates annually fills approximately 100 math and science teaching vacancies.

“It’s a challenge to prepare our students for college and technology sector jobs without them having a strong foundation in math and science,” Judson said. “The Roosevelt program will help address teacher shortages, and will give students the foundation they need to get ahead in STEM.”

Roosevelt’s Noyce Teacher Scholarship students do field observation and student teaching in CPS schools, and are eligible for job opportunities at CPS, or if they choose, at other high-need schools throughout the region.

“This is an enormous opportunity for all of us to work together for the betterment of math and science education for the entire Chicago metropolitan region.”

Heidi Rouleau, School Learning Experiences Manager for The Field Museum

“This is an enormous opportunity for all of us to work together for the betterment of math and science education for the entire Chicago metropolitan region,” said Heidi Rouleau, school learning experiences manager for The Field Museum, which hosts courses, internships and other learning experiences for scholarship recipients and those interested in applying to the program. “It’s not just about how to take good field trips,” Rouleau said. “Roosevelt students will learn how to apply strategies that we use at The Field Museum to spark interest and curiosity in the sciences when they get into the classroom to teach.”

The Roosevelt program will prepare 42 secondary math and science teachers over the next five years. Some of the program’s candidates will come from Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois, where the most popular field of study for students intending to go on to a four-year institution is STEM. Other candidates are career changers with strong backgrounds in STEM content areas and professions.

Teaching Preparation Program Enhancements on the Way

Roosevelt University’s College of Education began a conversation over the summer with faculty, students and alumni on enhancing the college’s teacher preparation programs.

More than 40 education professionals from Roosevelt and surrounding Chicago-area schools attended the New Deal Teacher Leadership Summit, where College of Education Dean Tom Philion shared news about recent curriculum changes, and asked for advice on further enhancing Roosevelt’s teaching preparation programs for the future.

“Requests for more attention to things like classroom management come up over and over again,” Philion said. “This is why we have begun to redesign our curricula, and are inviting … our alumni, who have experience in the field, to help us chart our future.”

Over the past four years, the college has made changes to its elementary education program that will lead to additional classroom training in the socio-economic needs of learners and strategies for working with diverse learners.

“Enhancing the structure of programs and curricula is important,” said Michael Toney, (EdD, ’95). “We all know that Roosevelt’s programs are excellent, and bringing together alumni from different backgrounds in teaching will help to make the University’s programs and its teaching candidates more effective.”

The redesign of Roosevelt’s elementary education program includes a new requirement for a two-week field experience each semester. Teaching candidates complete their field experiences at partner schools, including Irma C. Ruiz Elementary School in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and the Hoover Math and Science Academy in Schaumburg School District 54.

“Requests for more attention to things like classroom management come up over and over again. This is why we have begun to redesign our curricula, and are inviting…our alumni, who have experience in the field, to help us chart our future.”

Tom Philion, Dean, College of Education

“Interacting with students goes beyond just some management skills,” said Dana Butler (MA, ’98).

Butler, principal at the Irma C. Ruiz Elementary School, has been working closely with the College of Education to implement changes that enhance hands-on teaching experiences for Roosevelt students learning to teach at Ruiz.

“The college’s new field experiences and changes to the program’s curriculum will enhance the skills of your student teachers and help them find approaches that meet the individual needs of every child in the classroom,” Butler said.

The college’s secondary education program is still in the early stages of redesign. Roosevelt faculty members are looking closely at ideas for enhancing leadership skills and time teaching in middle school and high school classrooms before student teaching begins.

During the summit, Roosevelt alumni with teaching experience shared ideas for engaged teaching and learning.

Dana Butler (MA, ’98) and Associate Professor of Education and Reading Elizabeth Meadows; Professor Emerita of Education Antonia Potenza and Gloria Needleman (BA, ’52).

“I have taught for many years, and when I talk with my students about issues that are not easy to decide, I let them vote,” said Gloria Needleman, an award-winning teacher and author who graduated from Roosevelt in 1952. “I always say to my students, ‘The classroom is not mine. It is our classroom.’”

“Teaching is the noblest of professions and I always encourage my students to become teachers. That is why I am glad to see that Roosevelt takes into account the long-term teaching experiences of its alumni,” said Ned McCray, a teacher and 1953 Roosevelt graduate. “Having this kind of conversation will raise the University’s teacher preparation programs to a higher level.”

The next New Deal Teacher Leadership Summit will be held in the summer of 2018. If you would like to attend or become involved in enhancing College of Education teaching programs, contact Sabrina Elms at

Summer Reading Clinic Celebrates 30th Anniversary

2017 Summer Reading Clinic students.

Roosevelt University celebrated the 30th anniversary of its summer reading clinic in July, an event highlighted by the academic success of two early students.

Kristen Iverson and her twin sister, Dana, learned to love reading at the clinic while in first through fourth grade. This fall, the two are freshmen at the University of Chicago and Princeton University, respectively.

“These two women are great examples of the positive influence the clinic has had on the lives of its students,” said founder and director Margaret Policastro, a Roosevelt professor of elementary education and reading.

Started in the summer of 1987 at Roosevelt’s former suburban campus at Forest View High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois, the clinic — today located at Roosevelt’s Schaumburg Campus — has given hundreds of Roosevelt graduate students training as reading specialists an opportunity to teach.

At the same time, it has paved the way for hundreds of young people largely from Chicago’s northwest suburbs, but who also come from as far away as Wisconsin and Michigan, to expand horizons as lifelong readers.

“This is where we learned to love reading and value literacy,” Kristen Iverson told the Daily Herald during the newspaper’s recent visit to the clinic.

“These two women are great examples of the positive influence the clinic has had on the lives of its students.”

Margaret Policastro, Roosevelt Professor of Elementary Education

Its 35 students read aloud and participated in guided reading led by graduate students.

Over the years, Roosevelt’s summer reading clinic has become a model for balanced literacy school programs that Policastro established with the help of a multi-year $3 million federal grant.

Designed to improve teacher quality, the programs Policastro started at elementary schools in Chicago and its suburbs stress the importance and availability of books at school libraries and include emphasis on literacy coaching, as well as other professional development training in literacy
for teachers.

Margaret Policastro, reading clinic founder and professor of elementary education and reading.

Policastro noted that the movement today includes districts all over the country — from Clark County, Nevada to Broward County, Florida.

“Every year I say the clinic can’t get any better — and every year it does,” said Policastro, who is now planning for the clinic’s 31st summer season.

The secret? Part of its success is due to the quality of Roosevelt’s graduate students teaching at the clinic, according to Policastro. It also offers young people an opportunity to learn in an environment many schools can’t replicate.

“From the start, I wanted to make reading fun,” Policastro said. “That’s ultimately what the summer reading clinic is all about.”

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