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Student & Alumni Accomplishments

Dr. Qi Shi, GR '09, has been appointed as Director of Loyola University Maryland's new Center for Equity Leadership and Social Justice in Education. Dr. Qi Shi graduated from Drake's counseling program.

Sarah Hamilton, JO, '02, GR '07, '15, was presented with the 2021 High School Teacher of Excellence Award from the Iowa Council of Teachers of English. Hamilton teaches English and serves as the journalism advisor at Hoover High School in the metro of Des Moines. 

School of Education student Sydnei Washington received the Presidents’ Student Leadership Award from the Iowa Campus Compact. This award "recognizes an individual student or a student organization that models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership, evidenced by initiative, innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing public issues, effective community building, and integration of civic engagement into the college experience."

Hallie Edgerly, GR '19, as part of her dissertation work, co-published an article with Drake faculty member Jerrid Kruse, Associate Professor of Science Education and Jesse Wilcox. The article, Quantitatively Investigating Inservice Elementary Teachers' Nature of Science Views was published in Research in Science Education

Current doctoral students, Joleen Henning and Neal Patel, ED '15, GR '18, along with Colin Seebach, ED '15, and Katherine Carmen, ED '15, GR '18, published an article with faculty member Jerrid Kruse, Associate Professor of Science Education. The article, Investigating the Correlation Between Preservice Elementary Teachers' Self-Efficacy and Science Teaching Practices can be found in the Journal of Science Teacher Education,

Dau Jok, GR '21, earned national recognition for SEL Leadership for his work at Des Moines Public Schools. SEL stands for social and emotional learning and Jok was recently named to the first group of members to the SEL Fellows Academy by CASEL, the national non-profit organization which founded the field of SEL. 

In May, Flor Soto Contreras, Clinical Mental Health Counseling student and Drake Head Start employee, received the Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association Foundation scholarship. Flor plans to provide bilingual (Spanish and English) counseling services. In particular, she hopes to provide advocacy and education to break stigmas about mental health concerns, especially for Spanish speaking communities. Flor is planning to work with Spanish-speaking and other immigrant communities to normalize help-seeking for mental illness. This is an area in need of attention and advocacy from professional counselors. 

Noreen Colbeck-Busck, GR '05, was recently honored with the National Female Superintendent Award. AASA, the School Superintendents Association indicated that the awards pays "tribute to the talent, creativity and vision of outstanding women educational administrators in the nation’s public schools." Noreen is the superintendent of the Cedar Rapids Community School District.  

Molly Shepard, GR '19 and Chad Cardani-Trollinger, GR '20, along with colleagues Tara Widner, Iowa State University, and Matthew Yates, University of Connecticut, presented at the 22nd Annual ILA Global Conference: Leadership at the Edge. Their presentation, "Getting there and back: Designing leadership-based cultural development experiences," discussed the various pieces that come together to develop effective leadership based short-term international programming.

Congratulations to Amanda Clark, GR '05, '19, who is a co-author of the recently-published book by Routledge entitled: Implementing Project-Based Learning in Early Childhood: Overcoming Misconceptons and Reaching Success.

Russ Adams, GR '93, was named the 2020-21 Iowa Superintendent of the Year. Adams is the Superintendent of the MOC-Floyd Valley Community School District. The nomination came from his peers and a committee of Iowa superintendents selected the award recipient.  

At the annual meeting of the North Central region of the Association for Science Teacher Education held in October, Sarah Voss, GR '20, was awarded the Davis-Foster Graduate Student Paper Award for the paper titled, " Comparing Student Responses to Convergent, Divergent, and Evaluative Nature of Science Questions.” Sarah’s award includes funding to attend the national Association for Science Teacher Education meeting in January, 2021.

Anthony Ferguson, GR '17, '20, was recently appointed as Executive director of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity for West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS).  WDMCS has committed to actionable steps to create equity in their schools and ensure that all voices are heard.  Dr. Ferguson takes his mindset of equity to this role and will build a collaborative culture through data driven solutions to support the real-life challenges facing communities of color.  

Erin Lain, GR '16, and Stephanie Oppel, GR '19, are members of the prestigious Forty under 40 metro area recognition for people who are young movers and shakers. These 40 local business leaders, who were chosen by past award winners, are under the age of 40 and have demonstrated impressive career achievements and unparalleled community involvement.

Michael Couvillon, Professor of Special Education, and Jen Wells, GR, '11 (Current Drake Special Education Adjunct Instructor) were both quoted in an article in the Des Moines Register on March 2 with the headline, "Iowa Senate bill on school violence sidesteps the causes and instead would sideline kids with problems."

The first cohort of DMPS BLUE students completed their Master of Science in Education with principal licensure.  Their accomplishment was celebrated in the Fall 2019 Commencement. 


Kaitlyn Aberson, ED '17, an English Language Arts teacher for Garner-Hayfield-Ventura, was named Teacher of the Year by the Garner, IA VFW POST 5515.  Kate partnered with the VFW last spring to bring veterans into her classes to talk about their combat experience.  She chose the book, "Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien for her unit on war literature.  Not having enough copies for her classroom, the VFW provided Kate with 75 copies of the book.  

Molly Shepard, GR '19, Stephanie Oppel, GR '19, current doctoral student, Joleen Henning, and Jennifer Julich, GR '18, were presented with Best Poster Awards at the Iowa Campus Aid/IEREA conference held in November, 2019. 

Counseling Education student, Renu Suddapali, presented her work at the 2019 Race Challenge Conference at Boston College.  The theme of the 2019 conference was, "Race, Culture, & White Heterosexual Male Privilege:  Survival, Resistance, and Healing in the Current Social Climate."  Suddapali presented, "The Exploitation of Disenfranchised Communities:  Paving the Way for Nationalism."   

Two alumnae of the Master of Science in Leadership Development program were featured in a webinar series hosted by the program.  Charlynne Roach-Green, GR’17 and Kenna Marple, GR’16 provided their knowledge and experience to the webinar, The Hidden Problem in Plain Sight:  Leadership Development.  The webinar included a compelling discussion for HR and learning professionals about commonly misdiagnosed leadership issues, honing in on the root cause, and considering easy and low-cost ways to solve the problem.

Associate Superintendent of the Urbandale Community School District, Mark Lane, GR '03, was named the 2019 SAI (School Administrators of Iowa) Central Office Administrator of the year.  Mark graduated from Drake with his Master’s degree in counseling and currently enrolled in Drake’s Doctoral program.

Trenton Williams, GR '17, an Educational Leadership graduate, was appointed principal of Howe Elementary School in the Fall of 2019. Previously, Trenton spent eleven years teaching abroad in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Southeast Asia, and Norway. Most recently, Trenton acted as an interventionist at McKinley Elementary for four years.

Payton Ball, ED '17, a first grade teacher in Glidden-Ralston School District, was awarded "New Teacher of the Year" by her local radio station KCIM 1380 in Carroll, Iowa.   

Accolades 2018

Chris Mathews was one of six educators in the state of Iowa named as a finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.  Chris was a math finalist and she teaches 4th grade at East Elementary in Ankeny and is a current graduate student in the Teacher Effectiveness and Professional Development program.  In response to the question about how to get more students interested in math, Chris stated, "math instruction in many classrooms, schools and districts is transforming from worksheets and the repetitious practice of teacher-taught strategies into environments that value discovery, multiple methods to solve a problem and communication among peers in order to understand the way numbers work and why."  

MSLD graduate, Kaela Phillips, GR '17, recently co-authored and published an article with Associate Professor Cristine Wildermuth exploring students' thought process in a peer evaluation process.  The article was published in the Journal of Academic Ethics.  

Rachelle Karstens was appointed the 11th president of Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa.  Rachelle is a doctoral candidate at Drake University.  

Educational Leadership graduate, Renita Lord, GR '10, was appointed principal of the new Montessori school in the Des Moines Public Schools district.  The new PK-8 Montessori school will serve up to 450 students in the Des Moines metro.  An article in the Des Moines Register quoted Lord as stating, "I am excited to have a leadership opportunity in the launch of this new Montessori school as learning needs grow in the district."  

Kimberly Wayne of Des Moines was appointed to the State Board of Education in Iowa. She is the regional manager of Quality and Continuous Improvement at the Siegwerk Company. Kimberly is a doctoral candidate in educational leadership at Drake University. She earned a master's of business administration degree from Iowa State University and a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University. She has a passion for empowering youth and founded Jewels Academy, an informal STEM enrichment organization for underrepresented young women. 

Clinical Mental Health Counseling student Ramona Wink won a 100+ Women Who Care Award. The award was a  $10,000 gift to the Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA) Foundation for a television program project. The TV show was Ramona's brain-child and has been her passion for advocacy. She reports that when God put the idea on her heart, she approached IMHCA and they were very supportive. Don Gilbert, from IMHCA, and Ramona Wink have been working on this project for about a year.

In May, current Drake doctoral candidate, Jennifer Woodley, GR '07, will take over as State Director for Best Buddies in Iowa.  A statement released from Best Buddies International noted, "Jennifer brings a wealth of professional knowledge and proven relationship-building skills to her new role with Best Buddies. A former State Advisory Board member, Jennifer has a strong combination of educational and professional experience that uniquely qualifies her to enhance fundraising and strengthen community building across the state as State Director."  

In March, Natalie Niemeyer, GR'15, was named Master Journalism Educator by the Journalism Education Association.  Niemeyer teaches journalism at East High School where she works with students to publish the Quill and The Scroll (the school's yearbook and newspaper.  

Shelby Douglas, GR'16 in Educational Leadership, accepted a position as principal of Immaculate Conception St. Joseph School located in Gilbertville, Iowa.  Shelby indicated that she is "beyond thrilled to be able to put into practice all of the things that I learned in the Drake program.  You all were inspirational leaders and truly ignited my passion for leadership."

Educational Leadership graduate, Noreen Colbeck-Bush was promoted to Deputy Superintendent of the Cedar Rapids Communiity School District.  Noreen has been an educator for 24 years.  She received her MSE in Educational Leadership from Drake in 2005.  

Doctoral Graduates Fall, 2017

  • Mickolyn Clapper Ed.D., Advisor: Dr. Robyn Cooper  
  • Sara Coleman Ed.D., Advisor: Dr. Robyn Cooper  
  • Brooke Gevock Ph.D., Advisor: Dr. Sally Beisser  
  • Jeffry Grassmeyer Ph.D., Advisor: Dr. Robyn Cooper
  • Derrick Craig Joel Ed.D., Advisor: Dr. Catherine Gillespie  
  • Graham Jones Ed.D., Advisor: Dr. Sally Beisser  
  • Megan Knight Ph.D., Advisor: Dr. Robyn Cooper 
  • Susie Lubbers Ph.D., Advisor: Dr. Catherine Gillespie  
  • Kristopher Rollins Ph.D., Advisor: Dr. Jill Johnson  
  • Chuck Sengstock Ed.D., Advisor: Dr. Sally Beisser  
  • Joe Spiess Ph.D., Advisor: Dr. Robyn Cooper


Counseling program alum, Benjamin Barry, MS ’09, was recently granted the Middle Level School Counselor of the Year award from the Iowa School Counselor Association. Barry is a Middle School Counselor in the Carlisle Community School District.

In April 2017, School Counseling student, Gina Beals was appointed as a Graduate Student Chair to the Iowa School Counselors Association Board. She will be representing all school counseling students in Iowa.

In April 2017, Megan Wagner, a pre-service STEM educator received a scholarship from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.

In January 2017, Loan Nguyen, ED’15, a Roosevelt High School English teacher, received a call from U.S. Secretary of Education John King. Periscope TV broadcast the call live, and Mr. King thanked Loan for including all students, for being an inspirational role model, and for her contribution to students' learning.

SOE News