Simmons Celebrates 2018 Luminary Award Honorees

Luminary Award 2018 participants: (left to right) SMU President R. Gerald Turner; Stephanie Knight, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development; Claire Emanuelson, 2018 chair of the Crystal Charity Ball; Pam Perella, 2017 chair of the Crystal Charity Ball; Jennifer Emmett, senior vice president of Kids Media Content at National Geographic; Cece Cox, CEO of Resource Center; Richard Collins, CEO of Istation

Three organizations dedicated to positive change and enlightened education were honored in March with Luminary Awards from SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Organizations include North Texas honoree, the Crystal Charity Ball; regional honoree, the Resource Center, and national honoree, the National Geographic Society and National Geographic Kids.

“The Simmons School is proud to honor the contributions of three organizations working tirelessly to advance education and human development for children and families,” says Stephanie Knight, dean of the Simmons School. “These organizations use the power of learning and leadership to change lives.”

Since 1952 the Crystal Charity Ball has provided $145 million to more than 150 Dallas County nonprofit agencies that serve children. Members raise funds for the beneficiaries selected each year to help underserved children in the areas of health, education, social services and the arts. The organization consists of 100 women volunteers who raise funds, research potential beneficiaries and serve as advocates for children.

Regional Luminary honoree, the Resource Center, has provided support to North Texas lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning communities since 1983. Located in Dallas, the agency provides critical assistance to low-income people living with HIV, including a food pantry, dental, health and social services. In partnership with the Simmons Center for Family Counseling at SMU, the Resource Center also provides affordable, LGBTQ-specialized mental health counseling for youth and adults. Its staff of 59, supported by 1,200 volunteers, serves more than 60,000 people each year.

The National Luminary honoree, the National Geographic Society and National Geographic Kids, brings geography, social studies and science to life through exploration, education and storytelling. Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring and protecting Earth. It funds research and conservation projects around the world as well as educational initiatives. The National Geographic Kids team creates materials for K-12 educators as well as magazines, books, games, films, websites and events that engage children in exploration and discovery.

The Luminary Award was created in 2009 by the Simmons School to honor individuals and organizations that have shown an extraordinary commitment to improving people’s lives through education. The award is given annually to a local, regional and national recipient. Special thanks to IStation and other 2018 sponsors.


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Prestigious Hyer Society Inducts Two Simmons Students

Amanda Woodruff

Amanda Woodruff, an Applied Physiology and Health Management major, and Alexandra Rutherford, a Psychology major with an Educational Studies minor, have been inducted into SMU’s Hyer Society. The society recognizes intellectually gifted undergraduates who distinguish themselves with high achievement.

Woodruff is a senior interning with Assistant Professor Sushmita Purkayastha’s Cerebrovascular Research Lab and plans to attend graduate school to become a physician assistant.

Rutherford also is a senior and the Hyer Society recognized her with the University Achievement Award. She is completing a research project with the SMU Family Research Center and plans to pursue a career in educational psychology.

Simmons congratulates both of them for their distinctions.

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Feuerbacher Offers Insight into Safety at Psychiatric Hospitals

The Dallas Morning News recently published an investigative report on area psychiatric hospitals and their safety records.  Sarah Feuerbacher, director of the Center for Family Counseling at SMU Simmons, was quoted on how patients and families may assess these hospitals.

An earlier Morning News investigation ultimately led to the voluntary closing of Timberlawn Hospital in Dallas.

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New Research Looks at Influence Trustees Have on Their Universities

Education Policy and Leadership’s Assistant Professor Sondra Barringer assesses how trustees may influence different aspects of higher education institutions.

According to Barringer, there are few studies on the roles of trustees. “Despite the importance of trustees for higher education institutions, we still know very little about what they do. In this article we show trustees at elite institutions interacted with their universities in a variety of ways,” she says. “Some of these trustees significantly influence the behaviors, structures, and policies of the institutions they steward.”

She and co-author, Karly Riffe, published the research in Innovative Higher Education.

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Kelyn Rola Receives HOPE Award

For the fourth year, SMU students honor Wellness Instructor Kelyn Rola with a HOPE Award. The HOPE Award–Honoring Our Professors of Excellence– is a student led nomination process, sponsored by SMU’s Department of Residence Life and Student Housing

Rola is one of 35 outstanding professors honored this year. Congratulations to her!

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Examining Challenges and Successes for Black Women in Higher Ed

Assistant Professor Dominque Baker co-published Black Women College Students: A Guide to Student Success in Higher Education, as part of Routledge’s series, Key Issues on Diverse College Students.

She and her fellow authors, Felecia Commodore and Andrew T. Arroyo, look at systemic struggles Black female students face.

” I wrote this book, along with my colleagues,” she says, “to help add to the voices shedding light on the hurdles to collegiate success these students face and potential changes that can lessen some of the obstacles.”

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From Dispute Resolution: How to Apologize the Right Way

As of late, grievances are getting aired publicly, and so are apologies. But what goes into saying, “I’m sorry?” John Potter, clinical associate professor in dispute resolution, spoke with Dan Godwin @Fox4 about  how to construct an apology.



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Ware Appointed to New Holdsworth Professorship

Congratulations to Dr. Paige Ware, who becomes the first Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Endowed Professor in Simmons. The new professorship supports inquiry into understanding how partnerships among higher education and public school districts can contribute to improving teacher preparation practices and policies.

Ware, a scholar who has examined the impact of such collaborations to improve instruction for English learners, has served as interim dean and chair of the Dept. of Teaching and Learning.

“I am particularly grateful for this recognition because the endowment was given in honor of a remarkable woman, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth, whose contributions to public education and library services continue to impact many lives in such positive ways,” she says. “I look forward to the opportunity provided by this professorship to expand the research we are doing at Simmons in ways that foster similarly impactful, lasting collaborations.”


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Gun Violence and Mental Health

Sarah Feuerbacher, clinic director of  the Center for Family Counseling in Simmons, was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor about dwindling mental health services in light of mass shootings–the most recent occurring  in Sutherland Springs, TX.


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Walkington Examines Impact of Readability Factors in Solving Mathematics Word Problems

In the latest American Education Research Journal, Assistant Professor Candace Walkington and two co-authors use 20 years of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study to look at readability factors in mathematics word problems.

Walkington and colleagues analyze length, word difficulty, and pronouns. They also interact with student background characteristics—such as race/ethnicity, mathematics achievement, and socioeconomic status. Textual features that make problems more difficult to process appear to differentially negatively impact struggling students, while features that make language easier to process appear to differentially positively impact struggling students.


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