July 2018 Newsletter

School of Education Professors Awarded $2.5 Million Grants from James S. McDonnell Foundation 

When it comes to engaging student dialogue, new teachers face a variety of challenges in the classroom. Now a group of UC Davis School of Education professors are looking to change that. Professor Steven Athanases and six colleagues—UC Davis School of Education Professors Lee Martin, Alexis Patterson, Danny Martinez, Jennifer Higgs and Megan Welsh, alongside a professor at Stanford University—have secured a $2.5 million grant from the McDonnell Foundation to head a project exploring how new teachers can more rapidly learn the skills needed to lead classroom discussions. Additionally, School of Education alumni who are now classroom teachers will also be on the team to help with the development and testing of new tools and processes. 

The McDonnell Foundation has also awarded $2.5 million to a team of researchers at Northwestern University and UC Davis co-led by School of Education Prof. Cynthia Passmore. Passmore’s team will expand our understanding of how teachers learn to do new things in the classroom by studying how teachers working within the Next Generation Science Standards can help guide their students to actively build, test and revise science ideas. Read more about these grant projects here.

Dr. Cati de los Ríos Joins School of Education Faculty

Dr. Cati de los Ríos will join the School of Education as an Assistant Professor on July 1. Currently an Assistant Professor of Education, Culture and Society at UC Riverside, she has expertise in ethnic studies, literacy, youth engagement and social change. Dr. de los Rios was recently recognized with two 2018 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Outstanding Dissertation Awards from the Critical Educators for Social Justice Special Interest Group (SIG) and the Hispanic/Latinx Research SIG. In addition, she holds teaching credentials in Bilingual Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development and Secondary Spanish Language and Literacy and previously taught high school. Welcome, Dr. de los Rios!

Passmore Launches NGSS-Aligned Resource Website for Biology Teachers

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are being described as exciting, engaging and more equitable, but they are also presenting a new set of issues for teachers. Prof. Cynthia Passmore and a group of science educators dedicated to helping teachers navigate NGSS standards have launched a new resource website called MBER-Bio. MBER-Bio provides high school biology teachers with instructional materials and lesson sequences they can use every day throughout the the school year. The resource website also includes forums and a customizable design space.

“NGSS asks teachers to do something very new in their classrooms,” said Passmore. “This resource is written to be started on day one of the school year and continues to the last day in sequence. It even includes instructions on how to set up a classroom for this style of teaching. It’s built around the ideas that NGSS promotes. We think it’s unique—the standards are new, and there are scant resources for teachers.” This platform for sharing instructional materials and teaching supports was designed and tested from the ground up by teachers who used it daily. The site’s features are available for a one-time $23 membership fee. Explore the site at modelbasedbiology.com

UC Davis Team Receives Grant to Help Reduce African American Child Deaths

In Sacramento County, African American children are dying at twice the rate of their peers. Dr. Maisha Winn, UC Davis Chancellor’s Leadership Professor and Co-Director of the School of Education’s Transformative Justice in Education Center (TJE), and Dr. Lawrence Winn, TJE co-director, have received a $125,000 grant to evaluate the Black Child Legacy Campaign (BCLC), an initiative of Sacramento’s Steering Committee on Reduction of African American Child Deaths (RACCD). They will be joined by Dr. Vajra Watson, Director of Research and Policy for Equity at UC Davis. Read more about the BCLC and the new evaluation project on our website

Teacher Ed. Faculty Members Fortes and Pomeroy Retire

Dr. Michele Fortes, lecturer and supervisor in the multiple subject credential program, and Dr. Rick Pomeroy, lecturer and supervisor in the science credential program, recently retired from the School of Education. Michele and Rick have been incredible mentors to hundreds of teaching credential candidates who are now wonderful teachers and in turn, helping thousands of students themselves. Congratulations on this new phase of your lives, Rick and Michele! 

To celebrate her retirement, Michele is giving back to the School of Education through the Fortes Bilingual Award Fund, which will support students who are passionate about bilingual education but need financial support to reach their goal. By making a gift to this scholarship today, you can help Michele directly support future bilingual credential students and the students they will one day teach. Gifts to the School of Education can be made in Rick’s honor to the Young Scholars Program. View photos from their retirement celebration on our website.


Professor Peter Mundy was recently named President Elect of the International Society of Autism Research (INSAR). INSAR provides scientific collaboration, mentorship and education to better the lives of the individuals and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.



Professor Maisha Winn was elected as a Member at Large for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Council and Executive Board. The Council is the legislative and policy body for AERA, a national research society.




Professor Kevin Gee has earned tenure to become an Associate Professor in the School of Education. He is also holds a Faculty Research Affiliate with the Center for Poverty Research. His primary research examines the nexus between health and education. 



Professor Danny Martinez was awarded the Janet Emig Award by the National Council of Teachers of English for his English Education article “Imagining a Language of Solidarity for Black and Latinx Youth in English Language Arts Classrooms.”



Professor Jennifer Higgs was recently awarded a Division K Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for her dissertation A National Study of Talking to Learn Across Digital and Face-to-Face Contexts in K-12 Classrooms.  



Congratulations, Class of 2018!

We are so proud of our recent School of Education graduates! The field of education is lucky to have you, and we have been fortunate to walk alongside you. We are counting on you to go out and make the world a better place! Check out some highlights from the School of Education’s graduation ceremony at the Mondavi Center in the photo album on our website. Miss the ceremony? Watch a video of the celebration here


Beta Lab Van Profiled by KVIE

Professor Lee Martin’s Beta Lab, a mobile lab studying how young students learn and develop through making and tinkering, was recently profiled in a KVIE Public Television video. Take a look inside the Beta Lab van to learn more about how Prof. Martin is bringing equitable STEM learning opportunities to students across the Greater Sacramento region.

Credential/MA Program Showcased in New Video

“Choose UC Davis if you want to be challenged, if you want to be around some of the most inspiring people,” says Sara Luci (Cred. ‘17, MA ‘18) in Become a Teacher: The UC Davis Difference, a new video highlighting our Credential/MA program. See our students and alumni in action and learn more about why School of Education alumni are so sought after by school districts.  

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