November 2023 Newsletter

PhD Student Antoinette Banks Wins $1 Million Prize for App that Optimizes Students’ IEPs 

A photo of Antoinette Banks standing with three other people holding a large check for $1 million. School of Education PhD student Antoinette Banks, BS ’22, has won the Pharrell Williams Black Ambition grand prize of $1 million for Expert IEP, her parent-facing app that uses predictive AI to optimize existing individualized education plans for children diagnosed with disabilities. Black Ambition is a nonprofit initiative dedicated to closing the opportunity and wealth gap by empowering Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs.

Banks was named a semifinalist out of a group of over 2,000 applicants and went through a three-month mentorship program to become a finalist and then a top finalist selected to make the pitch that won the grand prize at Black Ambition Demo Day in New York on November 9th.

“For so long Black and Brown kids with learning differences have been underestimated and forgotten,” said Banks. “Earning this $1 million prize puts our kids back in the forefront—it gets people thinking deeply about solving the problems in special education. As Founder and CEO, I am deeply grateful to Black Ambition for believing in me, holding space for me, and breaking down barriers.” Read the full story about Antoinette Banks

School of Education is Well-represented at the National Academy of Education

Five people pose in front of a poster for the National Academy of Education Annual Meeting & Fellows Retreat.UC Davis education scholars attended the 2023 National Academy of Education Annual Meeting & Fellows Retreat in November to connect with members, learn about the work of NAEd/Spencer fellows, and receive updates on current and new initiatives. Education Professor Maisha T. Winn, center, was inducted as a National Academy member at the meeting, joining Education Professor Michal Kurlaender, second from right, who was inducted in 2020. Attendees also included three of our UC Davis NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellows: Education Professor Jennifer Higgs (2022), Education Professor Cassandra Hart (2020), and newly awarded Chicano Studies and Graduate Group in Education Professor Michael Singh (2023). 

New Teaching Credential Scholarship Established

A headshot of JennieRae Paker in a purple t-shirt. JennieRae Paker, BA ’97 has created the JR Paker Teaching Award in support of School of Education teaching credential candidates with the greatest financial need. Paker has been a teacher for 23 years, and chose to create a scholarship for future teachers because she wanted to make a big impact.  “Each scholarship that’s awarded will affect one person’s life,” she said, “but when that person is a teacher, they will go on to change other people’s lives, maybe many hundreds of lives per year, and those people will go on to change other peoples’ lives. It’s something that will make the world a better place—especially because this is a scholarship that’s in perpetuity, so ideally it will continue to pay forward for many future generations.” Read about JennieRae Paker

Jennifer Martinez Takes New Role at College of Ag

A headshot of Jennifer Martinez wearing a red shirt. Jennifer Martinez, who has served as the School’s senior director of development and philanthropy since June 2020, has accepted the role of managing senior director of development at the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Martinez made numerous contributions to the School of Education that will continue to have a positive impact for many years to come. She recruited six new members to the Dean’s Board of Advisors, and secured funding support to establish 13 scholarships for teacher education students, one PhD scholarship, three funds to support fee reductions for program applications and related costs, and two funds to support teacher education curriculum redesign. She had a gift for connecting people so they could meet their mutual goals for the future of education, and brought a tireless dedication to making a difference for our students. We are grateful for her service and wish her well in her new role.  

Center News

Susanna Cooper Named McClatchy Foundation Chair

A headshot of Susanna Cooper wearing a pink shirt and a black blazer against a blue background.Susanna Cooper, executive director of Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research, has been elected chair of the board of the James B. McClatchy Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to stand with the people of the California Central Valley by investing in education and active civic participation in our democracy. Cooper has previously served as the senior education policy advisor to Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg, and is the past president of the board of directors of the nonprofit EdSource. Read more about Susanna Cooper.

Alumni News

A headshot of Mary Vixie Sandy wearing a hot pink collared shirt and a black blazer against a textured grey background.Mary Vixie Sandy, MA ’05, has been appointed Supervisor for District 3 of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors by Governor Gavin Newsom. She is the first woman supervisor for Yolo County in 12 years. Sandy is the executive director of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and among other roles, has previously served as executive director of the School of Education’s Cooperative Research and Extension Services for Schools Center, later known as the REEd Center, and associate director of teacher education and public school partnerships in the California State University Chancellor’s Office. Read about Mary Vixie Sandy’s appointment to Supervisor.

A headshot of Nancy B. Gutiérrez wearing a black top against a white background.Nancy B. Gutiérrez, Cred. ’02, has co-authored the book Stay and Prevail: Students of Color Don’t Need to Leave Their Communities to Succeed, in which she and co-author Roberto Padilla examine how school and district leaders can nurture and support students to find success in their home communities, and build an asset-based, uplifting approach that honors the backgrounds, cultures, and strengths of Black and Brown communities. Gutiérrez is the lead executive officer and president of The Leadership Academy, which builds the capacity of educational leaders at every level of the system to disrupt systemic inequities and create the conditions necessary for all students to thrive.

A headshot of Anne Iaccopucci wearing a grey blazer. Anne Iaccopucci, EdD ’20, an assistant professor of teaching in the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology, has been named a 2023-2024 CAMPOS Faculty Scholar. The Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science (CAMPOS) provides support such as mentorship, leadership skills development and networking opportunities for UC Davis scholars who bring gender and multicultural perspectives to STEM science. Iaccopucci’s work is grounded in developmental theory with interdisciplinary collaborations in the fields of education and public health. Her award-winning mindfulness curriculum is used nationally to support healthy social-emotional development. Read more about Anne Iaccopucci.

A headshot of Sheri Atkinson wearing a light blue collared shirt and a dark blue blazer.Sheri Atkinson, EdD ’14, the UC Davis Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Life, Campus Community, and Retention Services in Student Affairs, has been named the grand marshal for Picnic Day 2024. Bradford Martin, chair of the student-led Picnic Day committee, said Atkinson embodies the event’s Picnic Palooza theme “as she prioritizes building deeper connections with UC Davis students while embracing the fun along the way.” Read about Sheri Atkinson and the upcoming 110th Picnic Day celebration

Student News

A headshot of Morgan Myhre wearing a pink shirt, a colorful purple head scarf, white snake earrings, and tortoiseshell glasses against a background of greenery.Morgan Myhre, a single subject science credential student, has been awarded the California Association of Science Educators Future Teacher Award. This award recognizes college students who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to science education through volunteer, teaching and professional organization activities and who show promise to become outstanding science educators. Read the story about Morgan Myhre.  


Center for Community and Citizen Science Collabinar

Amanda Vilchez poses with a toy, stuffed bat.Peruvian biologist Amanda Vilchez recently presented “Let’s Talk about Bats: Community Science for One Health in Peru” as part of the Center for Community and Citizen Science’s collabinar series. Vilchez’s recent citizen science project involved a cooperative national sampling of bats’ distribution in Peru’s urban and rural areas, including community participation in gathering data about bat species, and an additional goal of increasing positive perceptions of bats and decreasing negative interactions with them. Learn more and watch the “Let’s Talk about Bats” collabinar recording.

Fall Welcome Celebration Photos

People are gathered around tables on the Olson Hall lawn for the Fall Welcome with various food trucks in the background. After a multi-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and severe inclement weather in 2022, School of Education faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and family came together in person to kick off the 2023–24 academic year with food trucks, games and fun. View Fall Welcome photos.

Show Off with School of Education Gear

School of Education branded cap, mugs, and sweatshirt.Looking for a way to show off your School of Education pride? You’ll find shirts of all styles, as well as mugs, hats and more with the School of Education logo at the online UC Davis Store. Proceeds from all store sales benefit UC Davis Athletics.


Prof. Heidi Ballard authored “Community and citizen science in schools: nested inquiries, productive tensions, and the role of communities,” published in Instructional Science.

Prof. Kevin Gee and PhD student Vigdis Asmundson were among the co-authors of “Educational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States: Inequities by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status,” published in Current Opinion in Psychology.

Prof. Faheemah N. Mustafaa authored “Black Educators’ Racial Identity Attitudes and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: A Psychological Framework and Survey of Within-Race Diversity,” published in American Educational Research Journal.

Profs. Alexis Patterson Williams and Danny C. Martinez co-authored the chapter “Centering Minoritized Voices in Disciplinary Literary Instruction,” published in the book Disciplinary Literacies: Unpacking Research, Theory, and Practice, published by The Guilford Press. 

Matthew C. Zajic, PhD ’18, Nancy S. McIntyre, PhD ’15, and Prof. Peter Mundy were among the co-authors of “Writing Self-Concept, Text Engagement, and Writing Practices Across Contexts: Comparisons Between School-Age Children on the Autism Spectrum and Their Non-Autistic Peers,” published in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Log in