Kelly Chandler-Olcott, professor and chair of the Department of Reading and Language Arts in the School of Education, will be named as a 2015-16 Laura and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence at a ceremony on Monday, April 13, at 4:30 p.m. in Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center.
In addition, seven non-tenured faculty members will be given Meredith Teaching Recognition Awards, including Diane Canino-Rispoli.
A substantial bequest from the estate of L. Douglas Meredith, a 1926 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, allowed for the creation of the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorships in 1995 to recognize and reward outstanding teaching at the University. The awards recognize and reward excellence in teaching, encourage faculty members to look upon the many dimensions of teaching as manifold opportunities for constant improvement, emphasize the great importance the University places upon teaching, and improve the teaching and learning processes on campus. The Meredith Professors receive a supplementary salary award and additional funding for professional development for each year of their appointment.
Professor and chair of the Department of Reading and Language Arts in the School of Education
Kelly Chandler-Olcott teaches reading and language arts; but more than that, she teaches about teaching; and even more than that, she teaches about reaching your potential, and building a better world. That’s what she hopes, at least, and her students believe she succeeds.
“Of course I want those I teach and mentor to acquire new information and develop new skill sets,” Chandler-Olcott says, “but I also want them to envision themselves as people with the power and authority to build a more just and equitable educational system that will, in turn, contribute to a more just and equitable world.”
To achieve those objectives, Chandler-Olcott “routinely co-teaches with her doctoral students and has conducted research for four years into the co-teaching and co-planning processes associated with her direction of the Nottingham Summer Writing Institute, a three-week program offering enrichment for youth and professional development for secondary teachers,” says School of Education Dean Joanna Masingila, who nominated her for the Meredith Award.
During 2012, Chandler-Olcott spent a sabbatical co-teaching a ninth-grade English class in a local high school “as part of her commitment to ensuring that our teacher education programs and her own research are well-informed by the complex realities of today’s K-12 schools,” says Masingila.
One of Chandler-Olcott’s signature courses is on assessment, SED 415/615, and because of that she feels that she must model model the assessment process in the best way possible. “Not only do I need to assess my own students’ learning sensitively and thoroughly, drawing on multiple data sources, but I also need to ensure that they can do the same for the adolescents they teach,” she says.
Multiple students point out that Chandler-Olcott teaches by example, using the same methods that she wants to pass along. Doctoral student Sarah Fleming says, “When teaching pedagogy, Kelly models good teaching for her students by employing the same instructional methods she recommends to pre-service teachers. She is passionate about her subject matter, and her enthusiasm for teaching, English language arts and working with adolescents is infectious.”
Chandler-Olcott’s methods are also grounded in “theory, research-based rationales and data from her own teaching practice and that of others,” points out Helen Doerr, professor of mathematics and mathematics education, and a former Meredith Professor herself. “Excellent teaching is not simply a matter of ‘style’ or ‘technique.’”
Chandler-Olcott herself says, “Over my career, I have pursued multiple inquiries into my own classroom practice to improve my effectiveness and contribute to the knowledge base on teacher education, literacy and learning.”
Chandler-Olcott has taught at the School of Education since 1998, where she has been active on various committees and has served as chair of the reading and language arts department since 2008. On the larger campus, she is a member of the Fast Forward Operational Excellence team and Associate University Marshal since 2012. She is the author of five books and more than 65 chapters and articles.
For her Meredith project, Chandler-Olcott will design a new course that will serve two purposes. It will be an introduction to the field for undergraduates entering the School of Education’s teacher education programs, as well as an elective for students from across campus with an interest in education theory, practice and policy. The course will be team-taught by faculty from multiple disciplines, and will use various media and guest speakers to bring in multiple viewpoints on current educational issues.
Clinical professor of practice, teaching and leadership, School of Education
Canino-Rispoli has taught for more than 20 years in the certificate of advanced study program in educational leadership. She currently serves as the program’s coordinator, and advisor to nearly all of its students, which currently number more than 80. Most of them are pursuing the CAS part time while teaching full time, so she schedules sessions with them in the early mornings, late afternoons and evenings and on weekends. She restructured and strengthened the School of Education’s administrative internship program, helping it to thrive in an era when many other such programs have struggled. She and a colleague have been key in developing a series of simulations to help leadership candidates gain experience in dealing with difficult situations. She is now helping to extend those simulations to other groups of students.