Alumna Kat Golden Receives Prestigious National Geographic Fellowship

A Webster University alumna’s passion for teaching and the environment has earned her recognition from one of the most respected magazines in the world. As a result, she is preparing for a journey halfway around the globe.

Katherine “Kat” Golden, a 2015 graduate from the School of Education’s master’s in Education for Global Sustainability program and the current sustainability education manager at the EarthWays Center, the sustainability division of the Missouri Botanical Garden, was recognized as this year’s Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellows in recognition of her commitment to geographic education.

Golden is one of 40 Fellows from the United States and Canada selected for this year’s program. As part of the fellowship, they will embark on global expeditions throughout the year on board the Lindblad Expedition ships National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Endeavour ll and National Geographic Sea Lion for a hands-on experience for professional development. Golden will travel to the Galápagos Islands in November.

“This will be the first time I’m traveling outside the country and I’m thrilled, excited, and terrified,” Golden said. “The advice I have learned and share with others is to be bold, tell your story, and get outside! Don’t be afraid to try new things.”

She said she knows the expedition to the Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but she hopes to use the trip to take back lessons to share with the St. Louis community.

“This type of learning and experience can happen in our own backyards. Our community is rich with learning opportunities and spaces that can transform how we see ourselves in the world, how we interact with the environment around us, and the choices we make every day,” Golden said.

School of Education: Matthew Horn Named a Regional Teacher of the Year

Matthew Horn holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary social studies education from Indiana University and a master’s in reading from Webster University. With a focus on historical literacy and student engagement, he exposes students to real life learning experiences in his classroom. Horn has taught U.S. History and African American Experience courses at University City High School for the past six years, while also serving as assistant varsity football coach for the U. City Lions. He is the co-sponsor of the Gateway2Change race initiative, which brings together University City student leaders with those from St. Charles West High School to discuss and tackle important racial issues in St. Louis. Horn is also involved with the social justice club We Schools, which pushes kids to think outside themselves and come together to solve complex societal issues.

Horn was named a regional teacher of the year by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for the 2017-2018 school year and was selected as a top six state finalist for the Missouri State Teacher of the Year award.

Education Students Meet with 14 School Districts on Teacher Recruitment Day

Nearly 30 aspiring educators from the Webster University School of Education gathered in the East Academic Building for the annual Teacher Recruitment Day on Thursday, March 15.

At the event, students interviewed and networked with representatives from 14 school district partners from the St. Louis metropolitan area, including neighboring school districts Webster Groves and Kirkwood.

Other school districts included Archdiocese of St. Louis, Ferguson Florissant School District, Normandy Schools Collaborative, Orchard Farm School District, Parkway School District, Pattonville School District, Riverview Gardens School District, Rockwood School District, Saint Louis Public Schools, School District of Clayton, Special School District of St. Louis County, and Wentzville School District.

Victoria McMullen, professor and chair, Department of Teacher Education, welcomed representatives and kicked off the event where over 145, 20-minute interviews took place. Representatives from the partnering school districts were impressed.

“One of the better events. Organization and scheduling were excellent,” said Timothy Dilg, assistant superintendent of Human Resources for the School District of Clayton. “Students are strong candidates. … Thank you for hosting such a great event.”

This annual event is co-hosted by the Department of Teacher Education in Webster’s School of Education and the Career Planning & Development Center. Teacher Recruitment Day is an example of a meaningful, cross-campus collaboration that promotes student learning and success.

STEM Leadership and Robotics for STEM Educators Grad Certificates

The Graduate Certificates in STEM Leadership and Robotics for STEM Educators focus on teachers, parents, and military who want to be involved in STEM programs after school, or during the school day, where they can promote robotics.  Modules on involving more female students in STEM fields are included in various courses.

The Robotics for STEM Educators certificate consists of three courses that include not only coding, but also different types of robotics, including sensory robots, robotic arms, and unmanned vehicles, such as, drones and underwater robots. As drones and robotics become more popular, many schools are beginning to use them throughout different grade levels. Each course uses various robots depending on the grade level that the student is teaches. Instruction is differentiated to accommodate for the various grade levels. Some modules in each course will contain ethical considerations for robot usage. Students may apply the credits towards the Master of Educational Technology degree.

The STEM Leadership certificate focuses on planning for STEM as well as developing additional STEM initiatives in schools. Students may apply some of the courses towards the Educational Specialist in Technology Leadership degree. For those students who have earned a master’s degree and would like to work on their 30+ hours, they should consider the Educational Specialist in Technology Leadership degree.

Both certificates are being offered online beginning August 2018.  For a cohort of 10 or more students, face-to-face classes may be offered.

Webster Alumni Receives SSD Teacher of the Year Award


Class of 2012
Leigha Brede BA ’12, SSD teacher at Hazelwood Northwest Middle School in the Hazelwood School District, has been named SSD’s 2018 Teacher of the Year announced on Feb. 1.​

Brede has been a teacher with SSD for six years. Prior to working in the middle school, Brede was a resource teacher for third- through fifth-grade students. She currently co-teaches math in the middle school and mentors other teachers in order to strengthen the teaching profession.

“As a teacher, you have to be willing to take risks,” Said Brede. “I set expectations high with students and plan with intentionality. When you build relationships with students, they will grow and be successful. They take accountability for themselves.”

In addition to success in the classroom, Brede has participated in the SSD Teacher Leadership Academy and is a member of Hazelwood Northwest Middle School’s Building Leadership Team and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports committee.

Brede was selected as one of SSD’s nine Key to the Classroom Award winners last month. The Key to the Classroom Award honors SSD’s top teachers for their creative approaches to student learning, innovative programming and commitment to student success.

Brede will represent SSD next year in the statewide competition for Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year, a program sponsored by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Kaiser on English Language Learners Growth

DJ Kaiser, associate professor and associate dean in Webster’s School of Education, was interviewed for the St. Louis Public Radio story, “Growth of English-language learners overwhelming some suburban school districts.”

The story covers the growth in ELL students in these districts, something the $2.7 million federal grant secured by Webster last year is designed to address.

“People had more of a stereotype that immigrants and refugees live in the city and so this was more of an urban issue and in the suburbs it wasn’t an issue, but that’s not the case now,” Kaiser said.

Read about the story and listen to the full segment at St. Louis Public Radio.

Brenda Fyfe Leaves Behind a Strong Legacy of Community Partnerships and Academic Leadership

Webster University School of Education Dean Brenda Fyfe has been a major influence on education in St. Louis. During her 35 years at Webster – the past 15 as dean – she helped attract millions of dollars in grants for community-based educational partnerships that have started programs both at the University and numerous local school districts. During her tenure as dean, she oversaw and supported the re-design of MAT programs, the development of several new master’s degree programs, and a doctoral program to meet emerging needs. She led the school in becoming one of the top educational institutions for preparing educators in teaching English as a second language for children and adults.

But her largest influence has been on how several school districts and private schools in St. Louis approach early childhood education. Fyfe has tirelessly advocated for Reggio Emilia Education, a European-style of pre-school education that encourages children to explore and test the boundaries of their knowledge. Today, dozens of early childhood programs throughout the region now offer Reggio Emilia inspired education, and Fyfe is recognized as one of the foremost experts in the country on the educational approach.

This year, Dean Fyfe announced her retirement.

“The contributions of Dean Brenda Fyfe to education in the St. Louis region are immeasurable,” said Julian Schuster, the provost, chief operating officer and senior vice president of Webster. “The programs she created and supported at the university and at area school districts will impact how we teach our children for generations to come.”

Fyfe is well known throughout the St. Louis educational community for her work in helping school districts adopt the Emilia Reggio philosophy. As early as 1991, Fyfe was recognized by local media for her work in introducing Emilia Reggio to St. Louis and more recently in 2007 for her efforts to bring this approach to the Early Childhood Education Center in Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District. She also helped establish similar programs at numerous Head Start programs, public school districts and private in St. Louis, Clayton, University City. and Webster Groves.

Outside of the region, Fyfe established a collaborative research and education partnership with Reggio Children, the Preschools and Infant Toddler Centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and the University of Modena and Reggio. She also serves on the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance national board of directors, as well as on the board for the Association for Constructivist Teaching and for the Educational Deans for Justice and Equity.

She previously served on the editorial boards of several publications that discussed early education or Reggio Emilia. She has contributed to nine books about childhood education, has been interviewed by the authors of two books that focus on Reggio Emilia education, has written several dozen research papers on early childhood education, delivered keynote speeches at four national conferences, and presented research at 12 national and international conferences.

“Brenda leaves behind a legacy of creating community partnerships at Webster University, and also of strengthening the scholarship in the School of Education” said President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “Because of her leadership, the School of Education is one of the leaders in teaching English language learners and in helping introduce early childhood literature comprehension in homes and in the classroom. Webster’s School of Education is much stronger because of her work.”

During her tenure as dean, the School of Education secured millions of dollars in grants and donations for specific educational programs. Among the largest were a $2.7 million state grant to allow 120 St. Louis area public school teachers in three regional school districts to complete the coursework required by Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for English Language Learner (ELL) Certification, a $1.9 million Department of Education grant to provide  provided ELL Certification coursework to more than 80 public school teachers in Kansas City, and a two-year, $1 million grant from the PNC Foundation for the project “Mind Full of Words,” designed to help build preschool children’s vocabularies in two St. Louis low-income neighborhoods. The School also secured a $300,000 state Math and Science Partnership Grant to cross-train K-5 Math teachers in St. Louis to serve the needs of ELLs.

In 1999, Fyfe secured a $2.8 million endowment Gift from Beatrice Kornblum, which was used to establish the Kornblum Institute for Teaching Excellence, which awards scholarships, funds professional development, research and special projects focused on urban education. Just this month, she announced the School received a $300,000 grant from PNC Bank to extend the original $1 million grant for “Mind Full of Words” for a third year.

As dean, she oversaw and supported the re-design of five Master’s in Teaching degree programs, oversaw the development or redesigned 10 other master’s programs, and helped create a doctoral program.  She led the school to achieve national accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation in Techer Education (NCATE).  In addition, seven graduate programs in the school have achieved additional national recognition through accreditation by special professional associations.

During her tenure, the School of Education established professional development partnerships and corporate partnerships with Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, University City School District, Webster Groves School District and Special School District.

“Brenda has fostered a great work environment where people can cultivate their skills in new ways,” said DJ Kaiser, a professor of education and associate dean of the School of Education. “Through her leadership, faculty have been able to explore new grant opportunities, cultivate new programs, create our new Maker Space, and make our mark on education all over the world.  She will greatly be missed but never be forgotten.”

Fyfe’s last day will be Dec. 31. The University has announced that Thomas Cornell, associate professor and chair of the Language, Literacy, and Leadership Department, has been named interim dean of the School of Education. DJ Kaiser, associate professor and program director for the MA in Teaching English as a Second Language, has been named associate dean on an interim basis.

School Psychology Awareness Week

Faculty and students in Webster University Applied Psychology and School Psychology celebrated School Psychology Awareness Week

The event included a guest lecture on education in Afghanistan from a fellow Webster student with unique insight into the topic.

Their speaker was Shabnam Granzooy, one of two Fulbright Scholars from Afghanistan pursuing master’s degrees at Webster’s main campus in Webster Groves. Granzooy is pursuing a master’s in forensic accounting, and upon her return to Afghanistan she plans to help monitor the flow of money, improve the economic system and invest more in the education sector.

New School of Education Leadership Announced

The Office of the Provost has announced new leadership for the Webster University School of Education upon the retirement of Brenda Fyfe, dean, at the end of 2017.

Thomas Cornell, associate professor and chair of the Language, Literacy, and Leadership Department, has been named interim dean of the School of Education. DJ Kaiser, associate professor and program director for the MA in Teaching English as a Second Language, has been named associate dean on an interim basis.

“Tom and DJ have long been forward-thinking leaders among our faculty in both the School of Education as well as throughout Webster,” said Julian Schuster, Webster University’s provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “In addition to their teaching background, their experience in developing programs and curriculum, securing grants and partnerships, and collaborating with school districts will serve the School well through this leadership transition.”

Thomas Cornell and DJ Kaiser

In Memory of Patricia McKissack

Webster University recently held an event and celebration to honor the life and work of Patricia McKissack. Many friends, family, and colleagues were in attendance. A former graduate of Webster University, McKissack had written over 100 children’s books. Patricia felt that there was a lack of children’s literature featuring African Americans, and together with her husband Frederick, wrote stories to fill this void and highlight the history of African Americans. Patricia McKissack was also a board member of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, a national not-for-profit that actively advocates for literacy, literature, and libraries.

A collection of books by Patricia McKissack is now on display in the Emerson Library on the main campus in Webster Groves.