School of Education

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.

✉️ Deliver to:

Dr. Laura Bower-Phipps
Professor & Coordinator of Elementary/Bilingual Undergraduate Programs
Department of Curriculum and Learning


Dear Professor,

You are a model of impactful teaching and mentoring at SCSU. You are not only committed and reliable, but you are a positive and effective educator and researcher for your students, colleagues and community partners. I have interacted with you considerably in your capacity as my master’s thesis advisor, mentor, co-researcher, and most recently, dissertation committee member. During this time, I have come to know you very well and therefore can comment on many aspects of your advising and mentoring. It has been a true blessing working with you, and I genuinely appreciate your guidance, encouragement, and commitment to providing the most positive and productive experiences possible. You are reliably accessible and provide constructive and frequent feedback. An important aspect of your interactions with students is your ability to provide structure while allowing students autonomy and opportunities for growth and creativity.

Thank you,
Lauren Chicoski, Ed.D., ’19 🦉


About Laura Bower-Phipps

Favorite Teaching Moment:

My students created sidewalk chalk art to show what they had learned from a book we read for class. I tweeted their masterpieces, and the book author re-tweeted their work.

Teaching Philosophy:

I believe that students are most successful in the classroom when they are engaged in the types of work they will do after they leave SCSU. I work to embed this type of meaningful learning in my courses. For some of my grad students, that has meant presenting research with me at national conferences. For my undergrads, it has meant partnering with schools and community organizations to promote elementary students’ learning.

Favorite Course to Teach:

It’s hard to choose a favorite course because I enjoy them all. I love teaching the student teaching seminar because I get to watch my students transition from being students to being teachers over the course of the semester. I also love how much I learn about my students in the Family Partnerships course, and how much I learn about schools from my students in the Responsive Curriculum & Assessment Course.

Recent Courses Taught:

  • Family, School, and Community Partnerships
  • Student Teaching Seminar
  • Responsive Curriculum & Assessment

Celebration of Excellence: Outstanding Faculty Advising Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Gayle Bogel, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the School Library Media Program

About the award

The Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Award recognizes the integral links between excellent academic advising and student retention and success, and rewards faculty who provide exceptional academic advising and mentoring to undergraduate or graduate students.

About the recipient

For the last three years, the advising load of Dr. Gayle Bogel has averaged 50-plus students each semester, yet the recommendations of her students are unanimous: Dr. Bogel made each one feel that their time and circumstance were of the utmost importance. One student noted, “Outside of my family, she has had the most influence over my successful completion of this program.”

“A true mentor,” “outstanding,” “compassionate,” and “exceptional” are just a few of the descriptors used to convey Dr. Bogel’s professional and personal ethics. According to a colleague, The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has embedded dispositions in all of their new national Standards, and Dr. Bogel models the following: “she works successfully with others, she promotes collaborative planning with others, and she models and shares ethical and legal principles of education and librarianship.”

Former students speak highly of Dr. Bogel as an educator and adviser, some noting that her mentorship continued even after they graduate and that “Dr. Bogel was the mentor I needed in my most difficult times in the program… she was always willing to talk, and she had both the knowledge and the compassion to help me solve my problems and soothe my anxieties.”

In addition to her teaching and advising, Dr. Bogel has written numerous academic articles, presented at national and international conferences, and received several honors and awards, including the John and Hilda Jay Award for Significant Contribution to the Library Media Field.

Dr. Bogel received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Information Science from the University of North Texas; an M.L.S. from Southern; and an M.A. in Education from Sacred Heart University.