Tutoring Program Provides Opportunities

KUTZTOWN, Pa –The Alaska Distance Intervention Online Program is helping education majors gain clinical experience through tutoring students in the Lake and Peninsula School District.

The tutoring program is coordinated by elementary education professor Kristen Bazley. The purpose of the program is to give education majors more field training opportunities and to provide more teaching resources for the students in the Alaskan school district. This is the second year of the program’s three year commitment.

Students interested in tutoring must submit an application which includes their class schedule. “Because Alaska is four hours behind us, we need to choose students who have time in their schedule between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week,” said Bazley. Students should have also taken either taken a class titled Teaching Diverse Learners at the Middle Level or the Children’s Literature for Pre-K to Four class before applying. These classes, according to Bazley, help prepare students to teach children who practice a different culture. The selected tutors are then assigned a student from Alaska who fits within their major area of study.

Education majors studying Pre-K to fourth grade would be pared with students on one of these grade levels. Since the Alaska school district allows students to learn at their own pace, grade levels exist, but are not as important as Pennsylvania’s grade level system. As a result, some tutors may have students who are 20 years old.

There are two grade divisions in the program currently. Bazley supervises tutors who are going for their certification in Pre-K to fourth grade. Christopher Weiler, a professor is collaborating with Bazley, supervises students certifying in fourth to eighth grades.          

Tutoring sessions happen twice a week in assigned rooms in Beekey. According to Weiler, students must use Mac laptops and headphones that were paid for by the Alaskan school district. In total, there are nine Mac laptops and two IPads with six more laptops on the way. Tutors also use an online program called Blackboard Collaborate. “The program is a hybrid of Skype and Instant Messaging,” said Weiler. Tutors can upload PowerPoint presentations to Blackboard and are able to write on them in real time for their students to see. The online program also allows tutors to see and talk to their students.

“We try to keep a maximum number of four tutors in a room at once, but we have had up to six or seven students in one room,” said Weiler. Tutors are allowed to go into another room when six or seven are tutoring at the same time.

The program started when Bazley received a call from a Kutztown alumnus she had had in her classes. The alumnus was teaching in the Alaskan school district and needed help providing resources for her students. “She realized that her students could never complete reading assignments because they had no books of their own at home,” said Bazley.

Bazley then used her children’s literature class and created a pen pal email exchange with her students and the Alaskan students. Bazley assigned her students to find three books and create a game that would help teach their pen pals. The books and games were then sent to Alaska.After the success of Bazley’s class assignment, the superintendent of the College of Education decided to apply for a grant to kick start the tutoring program. The superintendent then asked Bazley if she would coordinate the program.

The first time the program was used, it ran for four weeks in the fall of 2012. In spring of 2013, the tutor program went all semester. This year, students had to give a full year commitment to the program. Although recruitment was slow during the four-week trial, the amount of tutor has almost doubled from around 15 to 27 tutors.

“Being able to tutor my student for a full year means I will be able to help him improve more in his subjects. That is truly rewarding,” said Kaitlyn Fleischut, a junior education major who has been a part of the tutoring program since the spring semester of 2013.

Library Science Department Hosts Fall Book Review

Graduate Assistant Lindsay Bowman at the Fall  2014Book Review

Graduate Assistant Lindsay Bowman at the Fall 2014 Book Review

KUTZTOWN, Pa.— The library science department hosted the fall book review on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 in the Multipurpose room of the McFarland Student Union Building.

The review brought together professors, university students, and librarians and teachers from the Lehigh Valley area. The review also introduced the department’s new library graduate assistant, Lindsay Bowman who helped plan the event and provide information to all participants.

The review, held twice in the fall and spring semesters, allowed participants to present books they read and reviewed to the rest of the group. After each person presented their books, Bowman asked a trivia question about books or libraries. Presenter and trivia question winners were allowed first pick for the new books provided by publishers.

Crystal Hunsicker, a junior library science major, was grateful for the trivia questions. “I’m just glad I got all the books I wanted this time. I could never stand up in front of people and talk so the questions are a great plus,” said Hunsicker.

The new books were free to all participants as long as they write reviews for the books they take. According to Bowman, each participant was allowed to take up to four books.

All reviews must be submitted by March 2014 for the spring book review. They will then be sent to the director of the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database. This database, used by educators worldwide, includes reviews from well-known publishers and reviewers such as Scholastic Corp. and Kirkus Review.

“I was nervous about writing reviews in the past because I didn’t trust myself as a writer, but the department and the people at the review are very welcoming and helpful,” said junior library science major Sarah Fiorenza.

According to Bowman, several publishing companies gave approximately 310 books to the department to be reviewed. There were two tables each for middle and high school level books and four tables for children’s books. The children’s section ranged from infant to elementary school reading levels.

“There was a lot of planning that went into the reviews, but there was also a lot of excitement. People wait for this review and it’s rewarding to know I helped organize it this year,” said Bowman.

Beekey Education Center Renovated

Beekey Education Center was renovated this past summer providing new lighting, fire system, and heating/air conditioning systems.

All professors with offices in the building had to move to Old Main for the summer from May 20 to Aug. 19, 2013.

According to the dean of the College of Education, Darrel Garber, the renovation was scheduled to take place two years ago. The plans were delayed, however, until other academic buildings could be renovated. “It’s been about forty years since the last renovation here,” said Garber.

Director of Facilities Project Services Terry Brown said through email that the total cost of the renovation was almost $1.3 million.  According to Garber, the university also used state contracts with union labor workers for all aspects of the renovations including plumbing and lighting.

“Every day, people would be on the roof fixing the heating or air conditioning,” said Garber. “It’s nice to know no one has to go on the roof as much anymore.”

According to Garber, the energy saving lights create less eyestrain for students and staff.

The new fire alarm system alleviates stress for Garber as well. Before the system was installed, the dean would have to make a verbal announcement that there was a fire in the building. The current system allows students and staff to leave more quickly and efficiently.

The foyer in the front entrance of Beekey, which used to house offices from the College of Business, was widened and made into a lounge area for students. New chairs and couches were delivered on Sept. 18 and students have been taking advantage of the new foyer. “The chairs are perfect for a five minute nap between classes,” said junior education major Holly Allen.

Future renovation plans include changing all the windows in Beekey. The two-paneled windows installed currently do not create enough insulation during the winter. Student lavatories are also due to be renovated.

KU library science department creates minor

Kutztown’s library science department is in the process of developing a minor.

According to Roseanne Perkins, a library science professor at Kutztown, the department is hoping the minor will attract more students who want to major in a different field but also have an interest in library studies. The original plans were drawn up during the spring semester of 2012. Perkins and library science professor Eloise Long met with the history department to create the minor. “We have many students who are interested in history and archives so we knew we wanted to involve professors in that department as well,” said Perkins.

Perkins also explained that the minor will not just attract more students to the department, but will also fulfill the career goals students are looking for in their education. “Students continue to show an interest in libraries while still pursuing a different major,” Perkins said.

The minor will be eighteen credits and open to all students. The program contains two mandatory classes. One class titled Libraries in the Information Age will teach students the importance of organizing all types of libraries such as public and law. Field work is also required in the minor after the students complete their classes.

Library science professors will act as advisers for students in the minor in order to help tailor the type of library classes the students should take. Students majoring in history can tailor their minor and take classes on how to archive different collections. Likewise, education majors or students interested in public libraries can take classes about children’s literature. Overall, there will be five class options for the students.

According to Perkins, the minor program was submitted for curriculum approval on Nov. 5, 2013 and will go through the department, university, and state levels for approval.

The department is also in the process of conducting three surveys in order to show the approval board the interest in a library science minor. One survey will be sent to libraries and historical societies to determine their interest in prospective students graduating with the minor. Another survey will go to the College of Education to see if students would be interested in a dual certification that could be completed with the minor. The last survey will be sent to the other departments on campus to determine if students see a minor in library science as valuable to their education.

Once the minor is approved, the library science department hopes that more students will enroll in its classes. “Our classes are small right now, but there is plenty of room for more students in each classroom,” said Perkins. Students both minoring and majoring in the program will be included in the same classes.

The library science and history departments are also looking at future plans to create a program for students interested in a career as archivists or working in museums. “The minor is the first step in this process. If it works well, then we can continue reaching out and merging with other departments,” said. Perkins.

Teen Library Day Invites Deborah Heiligman

On Wednesday, Oct. 30, Kutztown’s library science department hosted Teen Library Day in the Student Union Building room 218 and invited guest author Deborah Heiligman to speak to the students.

According to library science professor Eloise Long, all incoming freshman had to read Heiligman’s nonfiction book called “Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith.” This helped education and library science students prepare questions to ask Heiligman on Wednesday.

Heiligman spoke for an hour to middle school and high school students and teachers as well as Kutztown college students. During her presentation, Heiligman told her personal stories of success and failure.

“It’s great for young students to listen to an accomplished writer who has worked hard to get the success she has received,” said library science professor Roseanne Perkins.

The first story Heiligman told dealt with how she handled rejection from her publishing editors while writing her children’s book “Fun Dog, Sun Dog.” Her story highlighted how different editors had their own opinions about fixing the book. Using a numbered list of rejections on her PowerPoint presentation, Heiligman went through each numbered rejection. In the conclusion of her story, Heiligman pointed out that the original editor she gave the story to who had told her to add rhyme, later, the same editor told Heiligman that the book would be published if she took the rhyme out of the story.

Heiligman then talked about how she developed her way of writing nonfiction in a narrative style. She said that most people she has met have called her “Charles and Emma” story a fiction novel. However, the research Heiligman put into her story mostly comes from primary sources. After meeting her husband who loved science and storytelling, Heiligman realized his way of teaching science could also work for writing books.

She then found information on the marriage between Charles Darwin and his religious wife, Emma Darwin. Heiligman was attracted to their marriage because the couple had such conflicting beliefs but still loved each other. Heiligman used Emma’s journals as just one primary source that told the story of the Darwins’ marriage.

After the success of “Charles and Emma” Heiligman decided to take on another nonfiction story about Mary Sullivan, the first female homicide detective. Although she could find some sources about Sullivan, there were not enough primary sources. “After doing all this research, I found that the information I really needed was covered in pigeon poop in an attic above a New York jail,” said Heiligman.

While researching for her stories, Heiligman continued to write children’s books based off her two dogs. The first draft of “Cool Dog, School Dog,” Heiligman wrote in her waterproof notebook kept in the shower. She also wrote “Snow Dog, Go Dog,” during a nap on her couch she took as a break from researching.

Heiligman briefly discussed her new nonfiction book she is currently researching with students. The book will tell the story of Vincent van Gogh. In order to give a painter’s perspective, Heiligman painted for a summer before researching. Although she admits her paintings are not as good as Vincent van Gogh, her experiences that summer helped give her direction in her research.

Heiligman ended her presentation by showing the students how she motivates herself. Showing a bulletin board on her PowerPoint, Heiligman explained the little notes she had pinned there including “you have gone native,” “Keep blurting,” and “not a biography.”

After the presentation, Heiligman held a book signing. As students and teachers waited in line to have their book signed, they talked about her presentation. “I enjoyed listening to Heiligman because you can tell her writing means something to her and she wants to share with us her journey,” said Zakk Stringer, a ninth grade high school student from Salisbury school district.

Junior library science major Nicole Maney agreed with Stringer. “Heiligman used her personal stories of success and failure to inspire us,” said Maney.

About Phi Delta Kappa

According to PDK’s organization website, PDK International is composed of three organizations. The Future Educators Association works with high school students interested in education careers. When the FEA was first founded by Jan Towslee in the early 1990s, it was named Future Educators of America. PDK gave FEA permanent headquarters and renamed it to its current name to incorporate international high school students.

Phi Lambda Theta is the second level that is dedicated to working with professional students at the college or university level. Originally, PLT was PDK’s female equivalent since only men could join PDK in its early years. In the 1970s, PLT allowed men into their club two months after PDK announced that they would allow women into their organization. Finally, PLT joined PDK and FEA in 2010.

The last level is Phi Delta Kappa whose members include professional educators working in their careers. PDK allows future and current educators to share their knowledge with one another and provides scholarships and awards to its members that have done outstanding work in their fields.

PDK publishes the magazine “Phi Delta Kappan” which features research, classroom practices, policies, professional issues, and innovations concerning kindergarten through 12th grade education.

The Emerging Leader award honors educators age 40 and under that have made a difference in education. Members are allowed to submit their applications in the spring of each year. The next class of emerging leaders is then announced each fall. The class consists of 25 individuals across the United States. Leaders are awarded at a two-day professional development conference in Washington D.C. and are given the opportunity to publish with PDK and apply for international scholarships.

Professor George Sirrakos Named PDK Emerging Leader

KUTZTOWN, Pa. – Secondary Science Education Professor George Sirrakos has won the Phi Delta Kappa Emerging Leader honor.

Sirrakos is one of 25 individuals across the United States chosen for the honor. The honor goes to people in the education field that have changed or made a difference in teaching students in the classroom. He has been a part of PDK since 2011.

Sirrakos won for his research that changed the way fellow educators think about the success urban students show in their science classrooms versus suburban students in the same classes. Sirrakos’s study started during his time teaching high schools students in New York. His goal was to understand how to help urban students be as successful in their learning of science as suburban students.

Sirrakos used inquiry and cultural perspective in order to reach his students with daily lessons. After observing a high success rate by using this method, Sirrakos then moved his study to Germany where he taught grades eight through twelve in science courses including Biology, Environmental Science, and Physics. Once Sirrakos saw the same high success rate in urban students from another country, he published his findings as part of his thesis for his master’s degree.

While working as an education consultant at Institute for Student Achievement and as a teacher in New York, Sirrakos kept pushing to see how many people he could reach with his research. This push led him to become


Professor Sirrakos is one of twenty-five individuals selected as a PDK Emerging Leader.

a professor at Kutztown University in Aug. 2013. “I realized that if I continued to teach in New York, I was reaching only 100 students from my classes. But if I teach 30 college students who then go and teach their own 100 students, I am spreading change to more people,” Sirrakos said.

Sirrakos also shares a common quality with many college students: changing majors. “The original plan was to get my degree in medicine,” said Sirrakos. After several of Sirrakos’s professors asked if he had considered teaching as a career, Sirrakos decided to try the degree for a semester. “I ended up loving my classes,” Sirrakos said. He then received his teaching certificate from New York’s department of Education in 2005.

According to Sirrakos, there are three educators that influenced his research and encouraged him to become a teacher. His high school English teacher illustrated what makes a good teacher for Sirrakos. His teacher was young and attuned to the culture his students enjoyed and therefore would use what his students liked in his lessons. Sirrakos’s first year mentor during college helped him see the significance of inquiry in the classroom. During his career in New York, the first principal Sirrakos worked under encouraged him to reflect on the practices he uses as a teacher.