Thursday, May 28, 2015

"It's A Wrap! The First Year of Teaching for Two COE Alumnae!"

Two 2014 College of Education alumnae had much to celebrate on their last day of school at Lincoln Parish's Cypress Springs Elementary. Not only did they successfully complete their first year of teaching, they also received plaques for coaching the 3rd and 4th grade boys to a cross country state championship during the 2014-2015. Congratulations to Elementary Cross Country Coaches, (L-R) Mrs. Mary Kate (Hays) Cortez, 3rd grade teacher, and Miss Rachel Carson, 4th grade teacher.

Blog submitted by Dr. Amy M. Vessel

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blind Center Research to be Prominent in Developing International Standard

Hybrid vehicle being calibrated
Hybrid Vehicle Being Calibrated
Throughout the world, the number of electric and hybrid electric vehicles is increasing at a steady rate. Electric drive vehicles such as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs) traveling at low speeds are essentially silent. These very quiet vehicles present a hazard for pedestrians, including blind and visually impaired individuals.

As a result, the World Blind Union (WBU) in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is working with the United Nations to develop an international minimum sound standard for electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The standard would require electric and hybrid vehicles to be equipped with a sound generating device known as an: “Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS).”

On December 12, 2014, the United Nations posted a draft international regulation for the AVAS. The draft AVAS regulation includes a requirement that the device emit an overall sound level of 50 DBA when the vehicle is traveling at a speed of 10 KPH and 56 DBA when traveling at 20 KPH. The WBU/NFB is concerned that the minimum overall sound level requirements for the AVAS delineated in the draft regulation may be too low to insure the safety of blind and visually impaired pedestrians.

The Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness (PDRIB) at Louisiana Tech University is conducting human trials to determine if the set standards provide sufficient sound to be safe for pedestrians (including those who are blind). During the week of April 20-23, the PDRIB conducted trials with blind pedestrians and blindfolded adults. During these trials, vehicles with and without the AVAS standard traveled in front of these individuals and measures were captured to determine at what distance the new sound standard can be heard.

The results of the research conducted at Louisiana Tech University demonstrated that in fact, the sound being emitted by the AVAS system was too low to provide meaningful warning to pedestrians. The data demonstrated no significant difference in the time that pedestrians could hear the approaching sound of a “quiet” electronic vehicle and the approach of a quiet vehicle using the AVAS alert system. These data are quiet troubling, and suggest that the United Nations needs to do much more work before such a standard can be adopted.

All Electric Chevy Volt Being Tested
All Electric Chevy Volt Being Tested
When contacted for comment, Dr. Fredric Schroeder, first vice president of the World Blind Union, stated that "the work of the PDRIB and its director Dr. Edward Bell is impressive and important with its current research regarding the quiet car issue being only the latest example of the difference he and the institute are making. He further stated that, "without the real-life testing of the alert device by Dr. Bell and his team, we would have no way of knowing whether the proposed technical committee standard will safeguard blind pedestrians or leave them subject to preventable accidents and injury. There are 258 million blind and visually impaired people in the world. Without the help of Dr. Bell and Louisiana Tech University, the independence of these individuals would be seriously limited. That means fewer jobs, less access to education, less participation in community life, all preventable."

During the week of May 11, 2015, Dr. Bell presented these findings to the United Nations committee in Seoul, South Korea to consider in making its determination on whether to accept this standard for all future electric and hybrid vehicles. Although the final outcome of that meeting is not yet known, the data collected here in Ruston, Louisiana during these human trials has played a significant role in  educating the United Nations and international automobile manufacturers as to the efficacy of the systems and standards they are proposing.

AVIS Delivery System
AVIS Delivery System
Dr. Bell stated that Louisiana Tech University is at the forefront in innovative research in the area of education and rehabilitation for the blind, and the work we are doing here will be used to make the world a safer place for blind (and sighted) pedestrians in the future. We are proud to represent Louisiana Tech University and are confident in the impact that our research will have on the United Nations and auto manufacturers as they seek to make vehicles that are both environmentally friendly and safe for pedestrians. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

AEP Student, Davis Glen Ellis, Qualifies for National MathCounts Competition

Davis Glen Ellis, an A.E. Phillips Laboratory School eighth-grader, is one of the four students who will represent Louisiana at the MathCounts National Competition in Boston, May 7-10. Jayaditya Deep of Northwestern State University Laboratory School, Neelambar Mondal and Suraj Zaveri of Haynes Academy in Metarie are also on the team that will represent Louisiana, according to the National MathCounts website. The team will be coached by Karen Impastato of Haynes Academy for the national competition.

The A.E.P. MathCounts team won second place during the state competition held in Pineville, La on March 27, 2015. This team included Davis Glen Ellis, David Griffin, Sarah Ann Hegab and Amanda Meng. Besides Davis Glen Ellis, Amanda Meng finished 12th overall. They both qualified for the Count Down round. The other students competed individually were Graham DeForest and Nicholas Derosa.  The team was coached by Drs. Beth Hegab and Dave Meng.
MathCounts is a nonprofit organization “that strives to engage middle school students of all ability and interest levels in fun, challenging math programs, in order to expand their academic and professional opportunities,” states the national MathCounts website. The organization’s competition series has competitions that take place in over 500 local chapters. Students compete at the school, chapter, state and national level, according to the website.

Article written by Ashley Ellis and submitted by Beth Hegab.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Little Something Extra for the COE from Lagniappe Ladies

Dr. Edward Bell, Director of the PDRIB Center in the College of Education
Louisiana Tech’s Lagniappe Ladies, "Louisiana Tech University's  ladies-only giving society," made the announcement May 11, "that it has made its grant selections for the 2014-15 academic year and has awarded 16 grants totaling $74,190.96," according to an email from Mrs. Jennifer Riley. Of the 16 awarded projects, three were selected from the College of Education. Project awardees, titles and amounts are listed below.

      Dr. Libby Manning, Dr. Carrice Cummins, Dr. Kimberly Kimbell-Lopez, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Leadership
Project:  Stock the Louisiana Tech model classrooms in Lincoln Parish elementary schools with content-related hands-on teaching materials
Grant Award:  $4,960.49

Dr. Edward Bell, Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness
Project:  Six Perkins Braillewriters
Grant Award:  $4,989.36

Dr. Lanie Dornier, Department of Kinesiology
Project:  Renovate the foyer area of Scotty Robertson Memorial Gymnasium to a study area for students
Grant Award:  $5,000.00

Congratulations to each awardee for your selection and you hard work! Thanks for all you do for the COE and our students!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thank You for Supporting UTeachTech

The UTeachTech team wishes to extend its thanks to everyone who came to the Kickoff on May 4 in University Hall. We had approximately 100 members of the Louisiana Tech community in attendance to help us express appreciation for teachers and to christen the UTeachTech program.

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice speaks about the
importance of the UTeachTech program.
We would like to thank all of our speakers who came to be with us in person. Dr. Les Guice, President of the University helped start the event. We were also joined by several state and local dignitaries including: Richard Hartley, representing the Office of Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne; Julie Ricca, representing NASA; Kristi Lumpkin, representing the City of Ruston; Alex Keechle, CEO of Ruston's newest corporate community member Monster Moto. Finally, we were joined by representatives of several of our sponsoring agencies. Ronda Brandon, Vice President of UTeach Expansion represented the National Math and Science Initiative while UTeach Institute Director Kim Hughes joined us as the representative for The UTeach Institute.

Louisiana State Senator Gallot speaks at the UTeachTech
event via recorded video from the State Capitol.
We would also like to thank many other dignitaries who could not join us in person, but did send recorded statements. United States Senators David Vitter and Bill Cassidy both sent videos congratulating Louisiana Tech on the UTeachTech launch. United States Representative Ralph Abraham from the 5th Congressional District also sent remarks congratulating Louisiana Tech for being "on the cutting edge" in North Louisiana. Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne also expressed his congratulations by video. Rick Gallot, Louisiana State Senator for District 29, sent a video recorded on the Louisiana Senate floor. We understand each of these public servants were busy fulfilling other obligations of their office, so we are greatly appreciate of their support.

Additional thanks go to the inaugural UTeachTech Advisory Board. Jamie Brooks, Bill Campbell, G.B. Cazes, Judy Copeland, Cathi Cox-Boniol, Jeff Hankins, Alexander Keechle, D.C. Machen, Travis Napper, Linda Ramsey, Lee Sawyer, Robert Shadoin, and Kathy Wyatt, who have all agreed to serve on the first UTeachTech Advisory Board. We thank them for their commitment of service and their interest in promoting STEM education and in the Louisiana Tech community.

UTeachTech Co-Director Don Schillinger is interviewed by
KTVE's Taylor Thompson for a story on the UTeachTech launch.
Finally, we would like to recognize all of the people here at Louisiana Tech who have made UTeachTech a reality. Co-directors Don Schillinger and Bill Deese, as well as grant co-writers Lindsey Vincent, Dawn Basinger, Kelly Crittenden, Bernd Schroeder (now at University of Southern Mississippi), Lawrence Leonard, Pauline Leonard, and Stan Napper all deserve credit for casting the vision for the program and securing the funding for it. Further credit goes to the UTeach Implementation Team that included Don Schillinger, Bill Deese, and Lindsey Vincent, as well as UTeachTech newcomers Diane Madden, Christopher Coleman, and the program's first Master Teacher, Chris Campbell. Each of these people brought unique talents and gifts to the table that helped make the UTeachTech kickoff event a great success.

Tempting as it is to celebrate this great day, we must remember that it is not an ending, but a beginning. There will be great work ahead for the UTeachTech Team, as we begin preparing courses and recruiting our first UTeachTech cohort for this fall. It will not be easy and it will take considerable work. In the meantime, we cherish the support of the community, both local and distant. We can build the structure of the program, but we need your help to make it a success. Your support, through word-of-mouth promotion, through interaction with us via social media, or through financial gifts is what will make UTeachTech a success. We have a strong team, but we have an even stronger Louisiana Tech community that will build a model UTeach implementation in which we can all take pride.

Thank you all so much for your support yesterday, today, and into the future.

With Great Appreciation,
-The UTeachTech Team

For more information on UTeachTech, please visit our website at We also invite you to "Like" our UTeachTech page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @UTeachTech.

UTeachTech was made possible by a $1.45 million gift from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative and the UTeach Institute.

Our College of Education Represented Well at the Lincoln Parish Schools Community Volunteers Appreciation Luncheon

Volunteer of the Year Nominee, Dr. Amy Massey Vessel
On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, a number of Louisiana Tech University faculty and staff as well as community and corporate leaders were on hand to celebrate volunteerism and support of Lincoln Parish Schools. The event, hosted by Lincoln Parish ACHIEVE, included presentations from Ms. Cathi Cox-Boniol, Ms. Lisa Bastion, Superintendent Danny Bell, Mr. Jeremy Jones and Mr. David Darland. Recognized were faculty and staff from the Department of Kinesiology including Drs. Tammy Schilling, Jean Chen, and Lanie Dornier, for their work with students in elementary and early grades. In addition, Dr. Amy Massey Vessel, of the Department of Curriculum,  Instruction, and Leadership, was selected as a finalist for the Volunteer of the Year Award. In addition to the outstanding Louisiana Tech University representation, also celebrated were the efforts of many others including Ruston Rotary, Ruston Kiwanis, Goodwill Lunching, Lincoln Rotary, Blue Bell Creameries, Super 1 Foods, and many more! Thanks to Cathi Cox-Boniol, Project ACHIEVE, and Lincoln Parish School Board for a wonderful celebration of volunteerism and student success!
Pictured are recipients of the 2014-2015 Keep Encouraging Youth to Succeed (KEYS) Champions Awards. COE's Dr. Tammy Schilling is third from the left on the top row.