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West Haven High's Liam Leapley is an incredibly inspiring teacher, says recent college grad Alice Obas -- which is why she successfully nominated him for a highly prestigious teaching award.

West Haven High School teacher Liam Leapley, '00, was nominated for the award by Alice Obas. "Mr. Leapley has not only upheld the values of equity and inclusion during his teaching career but has also instilled those values in his hundreds of students, and in me," says Obas, who recently graduated from Williams College.

With graduation fast approaching, Alice Obas, then a senior at Williams College, was considering an important question in addition to planning her next phase of life: who, among her former teachers at West Haven High School, had the most influence on her education?

Such contemplation is a rite of passage for seniors at Williams, who, each year, are invited to nominate their former teachers for the George Olmsted Jr. Class of 1924 Prize for Excellence in Secondary Education.

For Obas, the choice was obvious: Southern alumnus Liam Leapley, ’00, a special education teacher at West Haven High who also leads the Program for Accelerated Credit Recovery in Education (PACE) at the school. Leapley designed and implemented PACE and, years ago, worked closely with Obas when she was a talented high school student serving as a teaching assistant with the program.

“While the Olmsted Prize is for nominating former teachers, and I was not a part of the PACE program, I feel that I learned and was taught more from Mr. Leapley than my AP [advanced placement] and Honors classes taught me out of a book,” says Obas. The judging committee was inspired as well, selecting Leapley as one of only four recipients of the Olmsted Award. In recognition, he received $3,000, and an additional $5,000 was presented to West Haven High. The award is particularly prestigious in light of the college’s standing: it’s been cited repeatedly as the top liberal arts college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes, including this year.

PACE — an intervention program for at-risk youth in grades 8 through 12 — incorporates outside the box approaches to education, including a community-based work experience component, to reignite students’ interest in learning, “Every child can move forward, but you must be willing to work with them no matter where they begin and at which pace they move,” says Leapley, who’s been a special education teacher since 2000 and led the PACE program since 2009.

Award recipient Liam Leapley, ’00, receives an award for exceptional teaching at the high school level at Williams College’s Ivy Exercises.

His influence, notes Obas, has been profound and far-reaching. “Mr. Leapley has not only upheld the values of equity and inclusion during his teaching career but has also instilled those values in his hundreds of students, and in me,” she says.

Southern has historically been a leader in the field of education, with graduates of the School of Education earning many top awards at the state level and beyond. Among the honorees is Jahana Hayes,’05, who was named the National Teacher of the Year in 2016 and went on to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Morocco

During the spring semester, 13 Southern students spent a week in Marrakech, Morocco, learning about sustainable development and how they could apply the concept in their home communities and Greater New Haven.

The program was hosted by World Merit Morocco, part of a worldwide, apolitical organization that seeks to empower young adults to create a better future  “by building confidence, raising aspiration and connecting diverse people of merit.”

World Merit, founded in 2012 by Liverpool, England-based entrepreneur Chris Arnold, has engaged 120,000+ youth worldwide in more than 1,000 projects advancing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The U.N. goals address global challenges including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice, with a view to resolving them by 2030.

The 13 Southern participants, led by Erin Heidkamp and Michael Schindel from SCSU’s Office of International Education, were nominated and selected by department chairs from the various schools and included five from the School of Business, six from Arts and Sciences, and two from Health and Human Services.  Airfare, airport transportation, and required student/staff international insurance policy were paid for using funds from the SCSU Alumni Foundation LJMU/Better Futures Network initiative along with a contribution from the SCSU School of Business Alumni Foundation account. In-country expenses (accommodation and meals) were provided by World Merit Morocco. Students were responsible for paying in country transportation, excursion costs, and individual meals/snacks.

The itinerary prepared by World Merit Morocco was designed to provide the students with an overview of the World Merit organization and a cultural introduction to Marrakech.

Morocco

Following an unfortunate flight cancellation, the group departed a day late and arrived in Marrakech on March 25. The students were met at Marrakech Menara Airport and transferred to the lodging at Cadi Ayyad University Club before being invited to the Marrakech Medina for a traditional Moroccan mint tea on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Medina.

The following day, attended sessions that provided an introduction to the mission of World Merit and an overview of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Morocco

Discussion focused on how  World Merit Morocco has focused on shaping its mission and ethos around SDGs that are particularly important within the context and culture of Morocco, and the group was shown videos of projects engaged in by student participants from all over the world during the 2018 World Merit Council Summit. In the afternoon, small focus groups were formed to develop  models for projects and programs that could help participants’ own communities achieve SDGs on a local scale. The students then presented these models to their peers, sparking conversations about how World Merit could contribute to the Greater New Haven area.

The next day,  students were invited to take in the rich and variegated history and culture of Marrakech. Students participated in a tour of the Jardin Marjorelle, the El Basi Palace, the Medina, and the historic Souks. This unforgettable day was capped off with a field trip to a local female-owned Argan oil collective, where students had the opportunity to watch how Argan oil and other Argan products are processed, and to learn how collectives such as this are critically important economic pillars, particularly in the country’s rural regions.

On the second-to-last day, the group visited Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. There they were treated to a campus tour, led by Monia Fdail, Research Officer in the Office of the President General Manager for OCP Group. With its headquarters in Morocco, OCP group is one of the leading exporters of phosphate in the region and provides substantial funding for the university and its innovation lab.  This Leed-Certified campus is part of a national initiative, championed by the King of Morocco, to create a fully sustainable community.

Throughout the university’s expansive campus, solar panels provide all electricity and the water for irrigation is recycled and reused. The campus is 100 percent paperless and its labs are industry standard.

The university’s innovation lab is part of a collaborative partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create new cluster degree programs preparing students for a modern workforce that requires hard and soft transdisciplinary skill sets.

On the final day of the World Merit Morocco program, March 29, the students attended English class at the Centre Mohammed VI des Handicapés. The Centre, staffed entirely by volunteers (many of whom belong to the Marrakech World Merit council), offers English training to children with intellectual disabilities. Southern students had the opportunity to work with these youngsters one-on-one, as well as dance and play. In the late afternoon, as a final treat, they traveled to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains where they sampled traditional Berber cuisine and went on a ropes course and zip line.

On March 31, the group said its goodbyes and returned to the U.S. The students returned with a clear desire to bring the message of World Merit and the U.N. SDGs to SCSU, hoping to start a chapter or a World Merit council on campus.

World Languages and Literatures Professor Pina Palma and Associate Professor of Photography Jeremy Chandler recently returned from the rich cultural region of Tuscany in Italy with a group of students who were studying literature and photography as part of a Southern summer study-abroad program. The professors held classes in the picturesque village of Montepulciano and led students on excursions to Rome, Florence, Siena, Arezzo, and Cortona. To document their student’s work and the experiences of the group, Palma and Chandler created a Tumblr site : scsutuscanystudyabroad.tumblr.com/

Students were taking ART 369 – The Photographic Travel Journal or LIT 488 – Seminar in World Literature. Some were also enrolled in Italian language courses at the group’s host institution, Il Sasso Italian Language School. Each course considered the other with regard to thematic content, as the professors’ goal was to fuel creative output, whether through writing or visual art. The Tumblr blog was created to document the group’s travels and highlight student work. In addition to viewing iconic and historically important artworks in Rome, Siena, Florence and Arezzo, the group visited an international photography festival in Cortona.

ART 369 – The Photographic Travel Journal is a studio art course, which utilizes digital photography, written text and photographic collage, toward the creation of an illustrated travel journal. Students learn the technical fundamentals of digital photography, as well as creative strategies for incorporating their photographs into a journal format. They then document the places and people they encounter in order to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences.

LIT 488 – Seminar in World Literature focuses on Italian cities and culture as depicted in works by European and Italian authors. For this course students explore, analyze, and compare the authors’ perspectives while also juxtaposing and examining those perspectives with regard to their own as they journey through the cities — Rome, Florence, Siena, Arezzo/Perugia — that are included in the Montepulciano program.

The American Council on Education (ACE) has selected Stephen Hegedus, dean of the School of Education at Southern Connecticut State University, as one of 45 emerging college and university leaders for the 2018-19 class of the ACE Fellows Program, the longest-running leadership development program in the United States.

Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education by identifying and preparing faculty and staff for senior administration positions through an intensive nominator-driven, cohort-based mentorship model.

Stephen Hegedus

“Southern was proud to nominate Dean Hegedus for this prestigious fellowship,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino. “During nearly four years leading our School of Education, Stephen has demonstrated leadership and vision and a true commitment to providing expanded educational opportunities to historically disadvantaged populations.”

Among recent initiatives, Hegedus has led a scholarship-based collaborative effort with the region’s school districts to increase the number of minority teachers in elementary and secondary education. He has also been one of the prime movers in the construction of the new Strong Communications Magnet and K-4 Lab School on Southern’s campus – a signature academic partnership with the city of New Haven and its school system.

More than 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program over the past five decades, with more than 80 percent of Fellows having gone on to serve as senior leaders of colleges and universities.

“For more than a half-century, the ACE Fellows Program has been a powerful engine fueling the expansion of a talented and diverse higher education leadership pipeline,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “We are excited to welcome this new class of Fellows and look forward to each enjoying a transformative experience that will help advance individual leadership readiness while also enriching the capacity of institutions to innovate and thrive.”

Celebrating its centennial in 2018, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, representing nearly 1,800 college and university presidents and related associations. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy.

Hegedus’ ACE fellowship will begin in August and he will be on leave from Southern during the fall semester, returning mid-January. During the placement, he will observe and work with the president and other senior officers at his host institution, attend decision-making meetings, and focus on issues of interest.

“When he returns, Dean Hegedus will bring back valuable experiences in innovative programming and institutional advancement that will help further our mission both in the School of Education and campus-wide,” President Bertolino said.

Before joining Southern, Hegedus was a professor of mathematics and mathematics education at the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Dartmouth, where he was the founding director of the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education. Named the UMass Dartmouth Scholar of the Year in 2009, he previously held appointments as a research fellow, educational consultant, and lecturer at the University of Oxford in England.

Southern has been training teachers since its origins in 1893, and it consistently produces the largest numbers of teachers, principals, and school administrators in Connecticut through its School of Education.

Men's Basketball Captain, 2017-18

Now in his third season with the Owls, Isaiah McLeod is more formidable on the basketball court than ever.

Last night, Mcleod broke 1,000 total career points, hitting an important university milestone against crosstown rival UNH.  As a junior, McLeod is a team captain and dedicated student-athlete, but here’s some more things you might not know about him….

Hometown: Cambridge, MA
Degree status: Junior currently majoring in sociology with a focus in criminal justice
Position: Guard

Why did you choose Southern?

I felt really comfortable as soon as I came on campus. I got to sit in and watch a college practice and it really drew my attention. The basketball program was a real family and I wanted to be a part of something like that because it is special. The coach showed that he really cared for me and wanted me to be a part of this program so it was hard for me to turn it down.

You have some very impressive stats. To what do you attribute your success?

I owe my stats to my mother and father constantly pushing me to be the best student-athlete I could be. Then I owe my success to my trainer for spending so much time with me, helping me to get better and really learn the game at a higher level. Also, I really want to just get better and be the best basketball player I can be. I stay humble and hungry so I can perform on the court.

What are your expectations this season?

I want to uphold the legacy our alumni have created. I want this program to keep getting the national attention it was getting. I love winning so I want to win a lot of games. I want my teammates and me to have a fun, successful season.

What are your long-term goals?

My dream is to win an NE-10 championship, a regional championship, and a national championship. These goals are easier said than accomplished. But I truly believe that with the talent we have on our team, if we constantly work hard and stay together, we could possibly make a huge run for those championships. I would also like to possibly play professional basketball overseas and then, later on, go back home to Cambridge. I could become a police officer to really help the kids in the community accomplish their goals.

What have been the major highlights in your career thus far?

Being able to make the NCAA tournament 2 years in a row is a major highlight for me because that is very hard to accomplish. Also, being named a captain of the basketball team is a huge highlight for me. It lets me know that coach believes in me and trusts me to be a leader for this team.

Describe yourself in three words:

  1. Humble
  2. Determined
  3. Shy

What do you enjoy most about the athletics program here at Southern?

It is like a huge family! Every sports team supports and wishes the best for the others and that is amazing. It shows that the athletes all care about each other’s success.

What is one of the best connections you have made here at Southern?

All the connections I’ve made at Southern have been great, from the equipment staff to the professors. I am grateful to have met every single one of them.

If she had to do it all over again, she’d wouldn’t change a thing.

Lushka Vazquez is graduating with her second degree from Southern this May.

As a graduate student in Southern’s exercise science program with a focus in human performance, Lushka is determined and driven by nature and by trade. She loves to challenge herself and has high professional aspirations.

When asked why she chose Southern, Lushka pointed to the location of the university, the cost of attendance, and our well-known exercise science program as key factors. She also appreciates the opportunity to continue growing in her field as a graduate student.

“Based on the professor’s experience and knowledge, I love it here,” says Lushka. She explains that each professor in the Department of Exercise Science holds a doctorate, and they each bring their diverse backgrounds and expertise to the classroom.

“I enjoy Southern’s atmosphere and having the same professors for the graduate program also helped my transition [from undergraduate to graduate] go smoothly,” she explains. In addition, she believes that the opportunity to pursue a graduate internship at Southern stood out from other universities.

Lushka works 35 hours per week as the graduate intern in the SCSU Fitness Center. She is also a personal trainer and helps coordinate events within the facility, which gives her the opportunity to build her resume while earning her degree.

And now Lushka is thinking about pursuing her own doctorate in Physical Therapy.

If you want to know how she does it or learn more first-hand about Southern’s graduate program in Exercise Science, you know where to find her!

 

In the picture, from left to right: Dean Hegedus, Christina Esposito (English), Tai Olasanoye (Special Education), Mirka Dominguez (Curriculum and Learning), Marisol Rivera (Curriculum and Learning), Thomas Mitchell (Educational Leadership), Lori Donovan (Curriculum and Learning), Laura Obringer (English), Olivia Loughlin (Special Education), Malcolm Welfare (Information and Library Science), Meghan Weller (Educational Leadership), Justin Hitchcock (English), Andres Reyes (History), Hannah O’Hazo (Curriculum and Learning), Alex Audet (Math), and Dr. Angela Lopez-Velasquez. Missing from photo: Rebecca Harmon.

The School of Education is proud to have a new Dean’s Student Leadership Group (SLG) cohort this year. Faculty across the university involved in educator preparation nominated a large pool of students for their strong leadership potential in all aspects of PreK-12 education. After an interview process, the current SLG was selected for their outstanding personal and academic qualities, as well as for demonstrating their leadership in school and community contexts. In addition to undergraduate students, the Dean’s SLG includes master’s and doctoral students. Under the guidance of Dr. Stephen Hegedus, Dean of the School of Education and Dr. Angela Lopez-Velasquez, faculty liaison from the Department of Special Education and Reading, the SLG are involved in activities at the School of Education, the university, and the larger community including advocacy efforts with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) both nationally and at the state level, to further develop their leadership skills.

Hello again! Here are the three videos I created from my trip to Italy. I went to Rome, Florence, and Pisa over an eight-day period. It was the biggest trip I went on in Europe but I went with my two Southern flat mates, Shannon and Andrea. We planned the entire trip on our own from the hostels, to trains across the Italian country side, to finding tours or simply exploring the cities ourselves! We got a lot of tips and advice from friends and family who have previously studied abroad or went to these cities.

The videos were all done with my iPhone and a selfie-stick. I held the selfie stick like holding someone’s hand so the entire blogs are meant to look as if YOU, the viewer, was with me the whole trip!

Italy has always been somewhere I wanted to go but it greatly exceeded my expectations. The Italian culture is simply beautiful from the language, to the historic roman architecture, and of course, the food! The people we met were also completely inspiring and enriched this experience. We me an older couple from Florida who raised kids and made a good life for themselves but then decided two years ago that they wanted more out of life. So what did they do? They sold their house and everything they owned, and have been traveling across Europe for the past two years. We were lucky enough to meet them in a café in Roma. We also met a nineteen-year old who was enjoying the views of the Vatican on his last day of his 11-month solo journey around the world.

My eyes of the world significantly got wider from this Italian adventure. It was an experience I will never forget. These videos try to do justice to what I saw and experienced for those eight days. I hope you enjoy them, and if I were you, start planning your trip to Italia!

Ciao!

America in Liverpool

Rome

Florence
Pisa

Greetings from New Castle! One of the reasons why I love my field is that it relates to tourism & travel. This 30 pound trip (about 40 USD) included transportation, a tour of 4 main attractions in New Castle, 1 night in a hotel, breakfast, and dinner. How can you beat that?! But putting the amenities aside, the trip was designed to help with my next assignment in my Conventions course.  I have to write a report as an employee of a company about why either New Castle or Liverpool is the best city to have an annual conference.

During the trip I got to visit the New Castle United Football Stadium, New Castle Keep, the Civic Centre, and (my favorite) The Castle of New Castle. Day 2 we went to The Sage where many events, conferences, and business exhibitions take place. I learned New Castle has 7 bridges and the city is rising to be a stronger competitor in the tourism & conferences industry.

All in all, it was a great two days. I enjoyed the company of the Level 5 students and the lecturers. Everyone made me feel very comfortable & I felt like I belonged J I also really enjoyed the bus ride home because I got to see the North Sea & the English country side which is just so beautiful.

Well, now I have to sign off & get ready for my next trip… ITALY!

Signing off,
America in Liverpool

November fifth is a holiday in the UK, particularly England. It is known as either Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night, and it has been celebrated since 1606. It commemorates the failure of what is known as the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. This was an attempt by several conspirators to blow up the House of Lords, killing everyone inside including King James I. They wanted to reinstate a Catholic ruler to the throne of England and Scotland. The conspiracy was thwarted when authorities found Guy Fawkes in the basement of the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder.

Since then, November fifth has been a major holiday for the country. It was originally celebrated by sermons and ringing bells, but has since evolved into a patriotic holiday much like the fourth of July, marked with firework displays all over the country. In Liverpool, the display was set off from barges on the waterfront, and I joined tens of thousands of others on both sides of the river to watch them. The official display lasted for about a half hour, but unofficial fireworks were going off all over the city for hours. Anywhere I looked I could see fireworks going off in rapid succession. Children carried sparklers and flashing lights through the streets. Overall, the city was in a great mood that day, and several days after. They had come together to celebrate, and it was great to be a part of.

Crowds gathered to see fireworks over the Mersey.
Crowds gathered to see fireworks over the Mersey.