2020 Graduation Speakers and Awards

Dean’s Welcome

Christopher Morphew, PhD


Christopher Morphew, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education, concentrates his research on issues of institutional diversity in higher education, including those related to state higher education policy and the ways in which colleges and universities communicate to constituent groups. His work has appeared in many journals, including the Review of Higher Education; Research in Higher Education; The Journal of Higher Education; Educational Finance; Higher Education Policy; and Studies in Higher Education. He has held leadership positions in the Association for the Study of Higher Education and American Educational Research Association, and he has made invited and refereed presentations in more than two dozen countries. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Research Council of Norway and Ford Foundation. His most recent book, co-edited with John Braxton, The Challenges of Independent Colleges, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in November 2017. Prior to joining the Johns Hopkins School of Education, he was professor and executive associate dean in the College of Education at the University of Iowa. He also has held tenured positions at the University of Georgia and University of Kansas, and served as a visiting professor and Leiv Eiriksson Scholar at the University of Oslo. He holds a PhD in social sciences and education from Stanford University, as well as degrees from Harvard University and the University of Notre Dame.

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Master of Ceremonies and Recognition of Graduates 

Hunter Gehlbach, PhD
Professor and Vice Dean of Academic Affairs


Hunter Gehlbach is a Professor and Vice Dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Education as well as the Director of Research at Panorama Education. An educational psychologist by training and a social psychologist at heart, his interests lie in improving the social and motivational contexts of schools. Thanks to a recent Spencer Foundation mid-career fellowship, much of his recent focus has shifted towards investigating how social psychological approaches might improve environmental education. He complements a methodological interest in helping social scientists improve their questionnaire design processes with recent work on enhancing the rigor of educational research through open science practices. For example, he has written on pre-registration for the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. A former high school teacher and coach, Gehlbach taught at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education from 2006-2015, before joining the faculty at UCSB from 2015-2019, before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins.

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National Anthem

Henry Hubbard, MM ’19


Henry Hubbard is a versatile tenor and voice teacher with experience in opera, art song, and contemporary music. He has portrayed over 12 operatic lead roles in the United States, Canada, and Italy. Previous roles include Laurie in Adamo’s Little Women, Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Little Bat in Floyd’s Susannah, and Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. In addition to opera, he has performed art song, oratorio, and chamber music throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Henry currently serves as a Vocal Fellow for the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and a chorister at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Mount Vernon.

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Alumni Association Awards

Greetings and Award Presentations:
The Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association

Allyson Handley, EdD ’78, MEd ’75
President of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association


Allyson Handley, EdD, is a Johns Hopkins University ex-officio trustee and current president of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Council. Prior to her service on the Alumni Council, Handley was the executive director of the Sanford Education Center at National University. From 2008 until late 2014, she served as president of the University of Maine at Augusta. During her tenure, the university launched several new degree programs and created institutional research, planning, and advancement offices. Previously, Handley served as president of Midway College (now University) in Kentucky and Cogswell Polytechnical College in Northern California. She also has held faculty appointments at Johns Hopkins University, McGill University, the University of San Diego, and Spaulding University. Handley earned her BA from the University of Western Ontario, and her MEd and EdD from Johns Hopkins University. She was honored by Johns Hopkins School of Education in 2010 with the Distinguished Alumna Award, and this year was named to the university’s Society of Scholars.  

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Baby playing with toys

Global Achievement Award

Americo Nobre Gonçalves Ferreira Amorim, EdD ’18


Americo Nobre Goncalves Ferreira Amorim has been an entrepreneur in his native Brazil since he was 15 years old. Starting out as a DJ, he combined his love of teaching children to play music with a personal desire to reduce illiteracy in his country.

In Brazil where more than half of children were graduating from third grade without the ability to read, Americo started his career developing games that were easily accessible by low-resource schools and low-income families. These educational games are now being translated into English and Spanish to gain a broader global reach.

Americo also developed a platform that allows teachers and students to create their own interactive content and distribute them offline on computers, smartphones, and tablets.

In recent years, he has developed more than 20 innovative projects that are currently used by millions of students in public and private schools.

Baby playing with toys

Community Champion Award

Amal E. Awad, BS ’11, MS ’12


Amal Awad received her Bachelor of Science in Management in 2011, and her Master of Science in Management in 2012, from the School of Education’s division of Public Safety Leadership. She earned the division’s Leadership Award and graduated with honors.

She has led a successful 27-year career in law enforcement, culminating in her appointment as the first African American, first female, and first LGBTQ police chief in the 134-year history of the City of Hyattsville Police Department.

Amal began her career in law enforcement in 1990 as a Prince George’s County police officer, retiring at the rank of major in 2013. She served as chief of staff to the chief of police for the Anne Arundel County Police Department from 2013 through 2014. She joined the City of Hyattsville Police Department in 2017 and was appointed chief of police in December of 2018.

Under Amal’s leadership, this force of 46 officers patrol a rapidly growing and changing city outside of Washington, D.C. She has initiated a check-in program for senior citizens, wherein a police officer regularly stops by the homes of seniors; her recruitment team has increased diversity within the ranks more reflective of the community; she is working to strengthen relations with the immigrant community in Hyattsville, a sanctuary city; and most recently, her team partnered with a local research and development nonprofit to develop and implement decontamination processes, establishing a police equipment decontamination station to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, thereby safeguarding her officers, their families and the community.

Baby playing with toys

Woodrow Wilson Award

William C. Ferguson IV, MAT ’07


Bill Ferguson has devoted his career in public service to education and the well-being of under-served communities.

Bill became a member of the Senate at the age of 27, then the youngest senator in the state’s history, beating a seven-term incumbent in the Democratic Primary.

In January of this year, he was sworn in as the President of the Maryland Senate, after eight years representing Baltimore’s 46th District.

Throughout his time as a Senator, he has worked to support secondary school expansion, urban educational reform, community outreach, anti-corruption measures, economic stability, and environmental preservation. He also has served on the state’s most important education policy body, the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (also known the Kirwan Commission).

Outside of the Senate, Bill has served as the Director of Reform Initiatives at SOE; supported Teach for America; and worked on special projects focused on the Center for Safe and Healthy Schools.

Baby playing with toys

Excellence in Teaching Award

Lieny Jeon, PhD


Lieny Jeon, PhD, is an assistant professor teaching in the PhD program, and is also affiliated with the Baltimore Education Research Consortium and the IDEALS Institute at the School of Education.
Examples of what her students wrote about Lieny:

“I’ve never seen Lieny Jeon’s door closed. In fact, it’s possible it doesn’t work. Either that or Lieny is so gracious and welcoming – so open to students and to mentoring – that she’d just rather keep it open. It’s a telling sign and a sign of a true teacher: One who enjoys the presence of students.”

“Her deep knowledge and care for students combine to create a surprisingly exciting class about advanced statistics. She’s always willing to meet or email outside of class, and she takes all questions seriously.”

“Lieny is a fantastic teacher. She explains the content very clearly, and cares about our comprehension. Lieny provides detailed feedback on our assignments, giving us insight into how we can improve.”

Champion in Education Award

People in conversation

John C. Erickson

Chairman, Retirement Living Television
National Advisory Council Member


John Erickson, chairman of Retirement Living Television, rejected the traditional concept of retirement living and in 1983 struck out on his own to create Erickson Retirement Communities for people over 62 years of age. The company has 19 full-service, campus-style communities in 10 states that are home to more than 23,000 people. The Erickson Foundation has invested millions in research to improve the lives of people around the world. In addition, the foundation works to develop inner-city children into leaders. The Foundation’s NorthBay camp, located on the Chesapeake Bay, is a unique educational retreat with a state-of-the-art environmental education center, focused on teaching and experiencing environmental science. In April 2004, he helped establish the Erickson School of Aging, Management and Policy, which is located at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. John holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Bernard’s College and a master’s degree from Catholic University.

Graduation Speakers

Student Address to Graduates 

Kathryn Meredith, MS Candidate | Interdisciplinary Educational Studies



Katie Meredith graduates with a Master of Science in Education, Educational Studies—Interdisciplinary, including a certificate in Mind, Brain, and Teaching that she completed in May 2019. She has focused her studies on education policy and reform, with special interests in equity, math education, early childhood education, and gifted learners. She does not plan to teach in a classroom but has begun tutoring students in math while she explores policy-related careers. Katie’s prior work was in management consulting, and she has been a full-time volunteer at her son’s Montessori school. She holds a BS in Commerce from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Cornell University. Katie has previously lived in Baltimore and New York City, and she now lives in Vienna, Virginia with her husband and two sons, ages 10 and 14.

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Keynote Address to Graduates 

R. Christopher Hoehn-Saric
Senior Managing Director and Co-founder, Sterling Partners





Chris co-founded Sterling Partners in 1983 and is a lifelong entrepreneur. Sterling has led the building of more than 25 education companies in the past 30 years. Chris is passionate about the transformative effect of education and has worked to combine innovative technology and businesses in partnership with cornerstone education organizations to make large-scale, sustainable impacts on students. Chris has founded, chaired, or been the CEO of several education companies including Sylvan Learning, KEE Systems, Prometric, Connections Academy, Meritas, and Shorelight Education. He also serves on the board of KeyPath Education, Panopto, and Amerigo Education.

Johns Hopkins and education have played a central role in Chris’s family for several generations. His grandfather, mother, and uncle received their graduate education at Johns Hopkins. His brother graduated from undergrad and medical school from Hopkins. Chris’s son received his master’s in real estate and his MBA from Hopkins, and his daughter, an assistant principal at a Title I school in DC, received her Johns Hopkins master’s from the Hopkins School of Education while a Teach For America teacher.

Chris’s spouse is a former teacher, and Chris is an emeritus trustee of Johns Hopkins University, having served 18 years on its board.

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School of Education Awards 

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Al Thormeyer Award

Awarded to a Master of Arts in Teaching student who exemplifies the spirit and dedication of its namesake.

Presenter: Mary Ellen Beaty-O’Ferrall, PhD

Recipient: Amalia Amburn

As of May 2020, Amalia Amburn will have the distinction of holding two degrees from Johns Hopkins: a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, with a major in Writing Seminars, and a Master of Arts degree from the School of Education in Elementary Education. In addition, she holds the distinction of being the recipient of the 2019–2020 Baltimore Education Fellow Scholarship, awarded annually to JHU Arts and Sciences graduates who aspire to become teachers and are committed to giving back to the community of Baltimore.

Inspired by her parents who are both lifelong teachers and her experiences at Kennedy Krieger Fairmont School where she worked with students with special needs, Amalia has been a devoted member of the 2019–2020 MAT cohort. During the past year, she has successfully completed 39 credits of coursework and three internships in Baltimore City Schools, earned a 4.0 GPA and been rated as exemplary on all internship endpoint performance measures, led an after-school tutoring program at Henderson Hopkins K–8 School, and been recognized for her participation in SOE’s Safe and Healthy Schools lecture series.

Like Al Thormeyer, the namesake of this award, Amalia has approached the work of becoming a teacher with thoughtfulness, patience, gentleness, and pleasure. She believes that her role as a teacher will be to serve her students and to inspire them to command change in their lives. She has been inspired by MAT coursework that focuses on relationship and community building and has been recognized for the efforts that she has demonstrated in building relationships with her students. As one mentor wrote, “It is evident that Amalia works hard to establish a relationship with her students, and it’s clear that she understands the value a relationship brings to the classroom. She consistently reflects upon her practice and is always open to suggestions and advice.”

Her efforts to build relationships have extended beyond the MAT program to the SOE community. In collaboration with the Office of Constituent Engagement and Alumni Relations, Amalia helped to establish SOE’s Teachers’ Closet, a pop-up closet that provides free materials to teachers in the SOE, funded by the Give a Teacher Some Love campaign.

With very close ties to her family, Amalia will likely be heading back to Connecticut after graduation where she will become a teacher whose students will find it easy to give their teacher some love in return for the joy and kindness that she will bring to their lives. We wish her all the best.

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Dianne Tobin Memorial Award

School of Education faculty created this award in her honor to recognize those who have demonstrated excellence in teaching.

Presenter: Mary Ellen Beaty-O’Ferrall, PhD

Student Recipient: Madison Larson
Madison Larson, distinguished member of the 2019-2020 Master of Arts in Teaching cohort, has set two goals for her work as a teacher. She wants to be an ally to her students, and she wants to inspire them to become strong leaders.  Given the evidence of Madison’s work over the past year, it seems very likely that Madison will reach these goals, with efficiency and enthusiasm. 
Madison wasted no time in starting her teacher preparation program at the SOE. Immediately after graduating from the University of Oregon, where she studied Education and Geological Sciences, she moved to Baltimore in search of experiences that would expand her prior educational experiences, which included working as a teacher at the Chemawa Indian  School, camp counselor, and swimming coach. As a member of the MAT cohort, she quickly became known for her strong organizational skills, proactive thinking, strong work ethic, and interest in issues related to equity and social justice. Over the past year, she has completed 39 credits, maintained a 4.0 GPA, received exemplary ratings from program mentors, completed three internships in Baltimore City Schools in grades 1 and 2, led after-school tutoring in mathematics at Henderson Hopkins School for grade 6 students, and received recognition for her participation in the Safe and Healthy Schools lecture series. Her work is characterized by detailed planning and deep concern for her students’ social-emotional and academic development. When schools closed because of COVID19, she quickly learned to deliver instruction online. On one occasion, when a student was not able to connect to the online teaching platform, Madison, teacher as ally, took the time to contact the student by telephone to review the day’s lesson.  
Madison’s MAT story has a very happy ending. She is planning to stay in Baltimore and accept a position with Baltimore City Schools for the 2020-21 school year. She reports feeling very loved and supported by the SOE community. In response to the news that she was the recipient of the Diana Tobin Memorial Award for excellence in teaching, she immediately shared an enthusiastic response focused on these highlights of her preparation experiences at the SOE and her hopes for the future:  Super great future educators that I met in my cohort and incredible support from SOE faculty…writing my own lessons/units and actually teaching them to students…connecting with the community (history day, after-school clubs, building relationships with student families, etc.)…teaching super smart and super cute kiddos!!…learning more about technology and keeping in touch with my class via virtual learning…earning even more outside of class and internship at lectures via the SOE!  
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Dianne Tobin Memorial Award

School of Education faculty created this award in her honor to recognize those who have demonstrated excellence in teaching.

Presenter: Mary Ellen Beaty-O’Ferrall, PhD

Alumna Recipient: Robyn Evans

Robyn Evans, distinguished member of the 2011 Master of Arts in Teaching program, chose teaching as her second career. After many years in retail management, she wanted to figure out how she could transfer her skill set into something different. In her role as a manager, her greatest joy was developing people, and this is why she decided to become a teacher. According to Robyn, being a member of the Johns Hopkins School of Education’s 2011 MAT cohort was the best decision she could have made. The experience provided her with a group of smart, fun, hard-working, dedicated educators with whom to collaborate, commiserate, and celebrate her experiences as well as strong mentors who continue to guide her in her professional life today.

One of Robyn’s most important mentors was her internship mentor at the National Academy Foundation in Baltimore City. His pedagogy, based in meaningful culturally responsive instruction, served as the model for her own practice. In his 9th grade English classroom, Robyn discovered who she was as an instructor. She learned that it was not just about reading her favorite books; it was about building strong relationships with her students and understanding who they were as individuals and as learners. After completing the MAT program, she was hired by Baltimore County Public Schools to teach 6th grade language arts. There she continued to grow as a teacher, with deeper insights into who she was an educator. She learned that by providing students with engaging, experiential learning opportunities, every single one of them had a chance to learn and share knowledge and become more confident.

Her growth as a teacher has continued into her current role. She is now a clinical faculty/academic coach in the Johns Hopkins School of Education Urban Teachers program. The message she shares with her future teachers that she supports is this: “Teaching is not about dictating but about offering and exploring. It is about providing students with a choice and finding connections.”

Robyn’s learning has not stopped yet, and perhaps never will. She recently began work on earning a terminal degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Virginia. She hopes to use this experience so that she can better prepare teachers to be resilient, informed, compassionate, and deliberate instructors in their own classrooms. The MAT program is proud to name Robyn Evans as the 2020 recipient of the Diane Tobin Memorial Award for excellence in teaching and wishes her continued growth and happiness in teaching!

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Edward F. Pajak, Jr. Award

Awarded to an alumna/us of the School of Education’s EdD program. The recipient is a K–12 school leader who has demonstrated visionary leadership through the application of progressive educational theory to the practice of serving communities, families, and youth.

Presenter: Camille Bryant, PhD

Recipient: Christine Brookbank

Christine Brookbank, EdD, graduated from the School of Education with her EdD in 2018. She is the first female dean of academics (and first female in administration) at Archbishop Moeller High School, an all-male, private, Catholic high school in Cincinnati. In this role, she oversees about 65 teachers and the academic programming/support for approximately 870 students. Brookbank was hired in this role right after she received her Doctor of Education degree and is in her second year in the academic dean position. Prior to hiring Brookbank, the school had not had an academic dean for seven years. As the dean, she has developed a new academic vision, initiated the use of Professional Learning Communities among teachers, revamped the teacher hiring and evaluation process, initiated the Innovation Hub/Center—a two-story addition that focuses on interdisciplinary connections between art, engineering, I, and business, and used her knowledge of online teaching and learning gained from the Doctor of Education program to institute remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The EdD program recognizes Brookbank as an alum who is making an impact in her educational context as a scholar-practitioner.

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The MEHP Alumni Award

Awarded to an alumna/us who has demonstrated impact in the global transformation of health professions education through scholarship, leadership, and commitment to excellence.

Presenter: Antoinette Sapet Ungaretti, PhD 

Recipient: Sharon Park

Dr. Sharon Park is associate professor of clinical and administrative sciences at Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy, and clinical specialist in medication use policy and clinical informatics at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Park has distinguished herself as a prolific researcher and educator and teaches a wide range of trainees in both didactic and experiential curricula. Her research interests in education include mentorship, preceptor development, service learning, and technology in teaching and learning. She has made significant contributions to both Notre Dame of Maryland University and Johns Hopkins Hospital by serving on numerous committees and task forces related to education. At Notre Dame, she served on the Strategic Planning Committee, the Curriculum Committee, and as chair of the Assessment Committee. Dr. Park also has served on the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association and as assistant editor for the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP). She is an author of over 40 articles in peer-reviewed publications, and coauthor of two textbooks in pharmacy: Pharmacotherapy Casebook: A Patient-Focused Approach; and Drug Information: A Guide for Pharmacists.

Dr. Park earned her PharmD at the University of Maryland and, in 2017, completed her Master of Education in the Health Professions (MEHP) degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Education. She now serves the MEHP program as an adjunct faculty member, teaching courses in education research design and implementation as well as mentoring MEHP Fellows on final Capstone research projects. Dr. Park also serves as a pharmacy exemplar for medical, nursing, and pharmacy students at both Notre Dame and Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) events. She recently assumed the role of co-director for a new Health Systems Science Distinction Track, part of IPE, at Johns Hopkins Hospital for post-licensure trainees.

Society of Excellence Awards

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Doctor of Philosophy

Presenter:  Hunter Gehlbach, PhD

Recipient: Dhathri Chunduru

The PhD program is delighted to present our Excellence Award to Dhathri Chunduru. Dhathri came to Johns Hopkins having earned a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt. Prior to Hopkins, much of her career has been as a teacher. Through Teach For America, she began as a special education teacher for 2 years, but she then rose to be the managing director of the Teacher Leadership Development group.

These experiences in Atlanta, shaped what would later become her core research interests: immigrants’ motivation and educational outcomes. Once at Hopkins, she immediately excelled both in her research and her teaching. Advisor Stephen Morgan noted, “Dhathri demonstrated in her first two years in the program that she had the capacities one wants to see in a graduate student—raw intelligence, strong writing skills, passion for her work, and willingness to work hard to master details of data. In my experience, most graduates have only two or three of these!” This same passion for addressing educational inequality was infused in the master’s students who were fortunate enough to have Dhathri as an instructor. Faculty member Lieny Jeon (who Dhathri collaborated with as Lieny’s teaching assistant) observed that Dhathri “respects different thoughts and opinions students have and creates an environment where every student can be actively engaged in class.”

Solving the challenges of educational inequality resembles the challenge of curing cancer in the medical field. Society needs our most passionate and intellectually gifted educational researchers to take up this daunting challenge. We are delighted that Dhathri Chunduru is one of these scholars.

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Doctor of Education 

Presenter: Camille Bryant, PhD

Recipient: Paula Clark

Paula Clark is a stellar student who has demonstrated leadership and academic excellence in the Doctor of Education program. She has maintained this excellence while employed as a full-time high school mathematics teacher, department chair, and Ohio Resident Education mentor. Her work is often recognized as exemplary by her instructors. She has also been encouraged to share some of her work with the Ohio Department of Education Superintendent.

Ms. Clark has consistently demonstrated her transformational leadership style through her collaboration with peers and faculty within the program. She is currently working with classmates to create and record a monthly podcast—Educators as Learners. In addition, she has collaborated with advisers and professors to lead presentations for several EdD residency sessions. Further, Paula’s leadership extends beyond the EdD program. She is currently working with the National Institute of Learning Development (NILD) to create resources for middle school students to support the NILD’s program objectives and to present at NILD conferences and webinars. The EdD program recognizes Ms. Clark’s academic excellence as well as her ability to lead and collaborate with others to solve educational problems and advance the field of education.

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Presenter: Antoinette Sapet Ungaretti, PhD 

Recipient: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin

Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin has held leadership positions in medical education for over 15 years. Since joining the faculty at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in 2003, she has served as the pediatric residency director, associate dean for graduate medical education, and associate dean for education compliance and quality. Dr. Le-Bucklin currently oversees undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education as vice dean for medical education. She also leads strategic interprofessional education initiatives across the schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health as associate vice chancellor for education.

Dr. Le-Bucklin has an extensive history of scholarly work in medical education, with primary areas of interest in education accreditation and curriculum development. She has served as a survey team member for the UCI Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) since 2015, and has presented on a number of subjects related to accreditation compliance. In 2018, she was invited by the LCME to present on how to conduct an institutional self-study and prepare for an accreditation visit.

Currently, Dr. Le-Bucklin is engaged in the implementation of a student mistreatment prevention curriculum, #MDsToo, a grant-funded project through the American Medical Association (AMA). As a result of this work, UCI was invited to join the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, a select group of 37 schools chosen by the AMA to serve as national leaders in education innovation. In June 2019, Dr. Le-Bucklin was elected to the AMA Academic Physicians Section’s Governing Council and, in July 2019, was awarded a third AMA grant to further develop the #MDsToo curriculum. The #MDsToo curriculum has been implemented at three medical schools in three different states. In September and November 2019, Dr. Le-Bucklin presented the #MDsToo curriculum at the national AMA and AAMC conferences, respectively. She completed the Master of Education in the Health Professions degree in December 2019.

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Counseling – Clinical Mental Health

Presenter:  Anita Young, PhD

Recipient: Brook Fulton

Brook was the president of John’s Hopkins Lambda Chapter of the Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) during the 2019–2020 academic school year. The CSI is the international honor society for professional counseling. Brook was an outstanding president who represented the spirit of CSI through committed leadership and advocacy to the members of the chapter.

She has expertise working with the LGBTQ population and has taken an active role to advocate for the population. For example, she collaborated with the Homewood Students Affairs Office to provide Safe Zone Training to counseling students. Moreover, during her presidency, she led the CSI board members to host several successful events such as the induction ceremony in April 2020. In addition, she demonstrated servant leadership and has been held in high esteem by other students. She organized every board meeting and keep the board members on track. In summary, she is a natural leader and problem solver, easily identifying and proposing solutions to any road bumps that the team hits along the way.

Most importantly, she has achieved a good balance in multiple academic, work, leadership, service, and other personal commitments. She has excelled in academic courses and at her internship site at the counseling center at Georgie Washington University. She aspires to achieve academic goals while also maintaining co-curricular involvement and personal wellness. She has been admitted to a doctoral program at Georgie Washington University.

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Counseling – School Counseling 

Presenter: Anita Young, PhD

Recipient: Dantavious Hicks

Dantavious Hicks is a School Counseling student whose vision, work, disposition, and goals epitomize a both a stellar student and extraordinary human being. Dantavious has proven himself to be a leader, critical thinker, and a supportive force to his peers with a deep commitment to multicultural counseling and social justice.

For example, as a Practicum student, Dantavious worked diligently to serve the needs of students at Henderson Hopkins by meeting students where they were and helping them see the possibilities and strengths they possess. Now as a School Counseling Internship student, he continues to serve Henderson Hopkins and has become a vital part of the school counseling strategy to help students and families cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Dantavious is serving students and families, he is also engaged in scholarly activity. Dantavious currently serves on several research teams with Norma Day-Vines, PhD. One team is conducting a national study that examines the relationship between school counselor trainees’ ability to broach or discuss the contextual dimensions of race, ethnicity, and culture during the counseling process and their racial identity development. Dantavious has been instrumental in the development of the institutional review board proposal, the data collection and analysis process, as well as the writing of the manuscript. In June of this year, Dantavious and other members of the research team were to present findings of this study at the American School Counselor Association annual conference in Seattle. He has exhibited tremendous leadership abilities in bringing this project to fruition. Dantavious is so ambitious that he volunteered to participate in a second research team that is developing an instrument that measures the extent to which clients perceive their counselors’ ability to discuss issues related to race, ethnicity, and culture.

To know Dantavious is to know someone who is thoughtful, kind, sensitive, and aware of the needs of others. At the same time, he is willing to ask hard questions, engage in challenging dialogue, and imagine what could be in ways that move beyond what already exists for both individual clients and the larger society.

One of Dantavious’s goals include entering a doctoral program. He will undoubtedly continue to make tremendous contributions to the counseling profession.

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Special Education 

Presenter: Laurie deBettencourt, PhD

Recipient: Huma Bhola

Huma Bhola began full time as a graduate student in the fall of 2018 and has been a delight as a graduate student. Huma’s family had planned to travel to Hopkins this spring from India to celebrate her graduation until the pandemic changed those plans. I would have enjoyed, as her adviser, to have met them to tell them that Huma  has done very well in her courses, volunteered at Henderson Hopkins Elementary, and worked on campus part-time. This past semester, she volunteered to serve as a research assistant on a grant studying autism. She has done a great job, always on task and completing requirements quickly, typically ahead of when they are needed.  She was a great team player on the grant, and the researchers stated they were excited to have her as part of their team.

During her two internships, her university supervisor stated, “Huma hit the ground running in her first internship last year by leading small group instruction to students she got to know before the semester started. Her relationship with her elementary-aged students inspired them to work hard and to accept her guidance when they struggled with new skills. During her second internship this past spring, she expanded her ability to differentiate instruction to meet the individual learning needs of the middle school students with whom she was working.”

As her adviser, I am proud to have her represent Hopkins as she embarks on her career as a special educator. She will be an asset to any school system that employs her.

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Administration and Supervision

Presenter: Annette Anderson, PhD

Recipient: Kevin Wells

Kevin Wells was selected as the 2020 Society of Excellence Award for Administration and Supervision because of his distinct tenacity and commitment to improving learning opportunities for himself and fellow educators across the globe. He and I have talked at great length during his enrollment in our graduate certificate program about the role of equity and adequacy in education reform beyond the shores of the United States.

Kevin is currently a high school English teacher and department leader at the Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. It has been a joy to watch him grow into a leader—confident in his commitment, humble in his self-assurance, capitulating in his allegiance to make life better for children halfway around the world. He has been an active participant in all of our synchronous sessions no matter the time difference, day or night. He’s often the first to show up and the last to leave. I have always been highly impressed by his superior writing skills as well as his thoughtful contributions to our classes. He is also a strong proponent of social justice, writing in his admissions essay:

Social Justice is the pursuit to enable all people, all demographics, and all identities to overcome obstacles preventing them from realizing their dreams…Our solutions need to be as diverse as our problems. We also need to strive to better understand each other, especially those who are different than us. No matter their demographic or identity, I encourage all of my students to be the best version of themselves. I also want them to learn to appreciate the differences in those around them and challenge their own biases and fears.

It is my great honor and privilege to present the 2020 Student Excellence Award in Education for Administration and Supervision to a visionary student, a caring educator, and a true leader. Kevin Wells, we salute you!

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Digital Age Learning and Educational Technology

Presenter: James Diamond, PhD

Recipient: Irene Jurado

During her time in DALET, Irene Jurado has demonstrated many skills and competencies as an educator who effectively and creatively integrates technology into educational settings to meet the needs and interests of her students. She began DALET as a foreign language instructor and has repeatedly shown her facility with using technologies innovatively and with a strong focus on achieving equitable outcomes for her learners across her courses in DALET. Irene’s course projects and lesson planning have consistently evidenced her familiarity with and passion for the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, which is intended to optimize teaching and learning experiences based on the needs of all learners. As she completes the creation of her professional portfolio in her last semester in the program, it is clear that Irene has developed strong competencies in nearly all of the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards, to which the DALET program learning objectives are aligned. As I know from my own courses with Irene, she is extremely collaborative and works productively with others to deliver high-quality work and to add to her peers’ learning experiences. Knowing Irene’s facility with the use of technology, and her dedication to the use of technology to achieve equitable outcomes for her learners, it makes me very proud that she will be a graduate of our program. I am happy to nominate her for this Student Excellence Award and look forward to her ongoing participation with the DALET program as an alumna.

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Gifted Education

Presenters: Keri Guilbault, EdD

Recipient: Sara Melmed

The Johns Hopkins University School of Education Gifted Education graduate program is pleased to recognize Sara Melmed as our graduate student of the year. Ms. Melmed has been teaching gifted and advanced learners in Montgomery County Public Schools since 2016. She began her course work in gifted education in 2017 and has demonstrated outstanding performance, creativity, and leadership throughout her program of study according to Keri Guilbault, EdD, assistant professor and faculty lead of the Gifted Education graduate programs.

According to her adviser, Jonathan Plucker, PhD, “Sara has been among our best students since we resurrected the gifted education program three years ago. She is a first-rate student, and her work—both on paper and during class—is marked by insights we would normally expect from doctoral students. She is a good team player and enjoys engaging with others during class discussions. In terms of leadership, I expect great things from Sara in the future. Her natural leadership ability, in combination with sharp thinking and a good work ethic, make her one to watch for in the future.”

We are proud to celebrate Sara Melmed and her accomplishments and look forward to her continued contributions to the field of gifted education.

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Educational Studies – Interdisciplinary 

Presenters: Eric Rice, PhD, and Robert Keddell

Recipient: Kelly Clark

The name that comes to mind immediately regarding the MS, Interdisciplinary option, is Kelly Clark of the Johns Hopkins Teaching Academy Program and her work on creating an observation tool for faculty. Kelly’s work was complex for all the reasons that go with higher education and the work it took to make the tool operational. Her project was a very important one for higher education; Kelly’s project was thorough and stretched leadership to its fullest as she was getting the project off the ground during class. Two other points stand out: (1) Her support for classmates was excellent as she had a vast reservoir of knowledge about Johns Hopkins, which she readily and professionally shared with other students working on their projects; and (2) her final presentation included a focus on writing a grant to fund her ideas. Kelly asked for and provided the opportunity to challenge her in a robust final presentation because “she knew she would be challenged.” It was a great exchange for the rest of the class to listen to and reflect upon.

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Educational Studies – Independent Schools 

Presenters: Eric Rice, PhD, and Sarah Meech

Recipient: Margaret (Peggy) Brady Marks

As a dedicated student, Peggy is always greatly involved in her courses through tireless independent study. Not only does she personally strive to deeply understand the material putting her on a path to educational success, but her selfless personality is visible through her desire to have each of her classmates achieve success as well. Her thirst for knowledge drives her to always go above and beyond each assignment, researching and exploring new and innovative ways to connect with students in the classroom. In addition to her own busy work and personal schedule, you will often find Peggy helping classmates or offering to share information she has found outside of the classroom hours. She deeply believes in supporting others success, which is one of the main foundational goals of the Independent School Program.

Peggy is also humble on her path of learning and realizes when a topic is beyond her initial grasp. She will immediately reach out to her professors and spend countless additional hours developing her understanding of a topic. She is not satisfied until the topic not only makes sense for her but is deeply ingrained in her brain.

Peggy exemplifies the Johns Hopkins Independent School student with her desire to become a successful teacher and leader in independent schools. The combination of her unwavering thirst for knowledge and her generous spirt to help others makes her the perfect candidate for the Student Excellence Award. A leader in the Independent Schools program, Peggy has displayed countless examples of what it means to be an excellent teacher and humble leader, a true role model for all students in the Independent School program.

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International Teaching and Global Leadership 

Presenters: Richard Weisenhoff, EdD, and Veronique Gugliucciello

Recipient: Xin (Effie) Bian

Effie was a member of the inaugural International Teaching and Global Learning (ITGL) cohort. From the start of her program, she took a leadership role in her classes and outside of class as well. She organized a volunteer experience for her cohort members at a local private school. She contacted the school, arranged for experiences, and oversaw the volunteers. Her leadership skills led the school to offer her a position for her Optional Practical Training (OPT) experience. Effie is always courteous to her classmates and instructors and has a very creative spirit when it comes to the field of education. As the first student to receive the School of Education Excellence Award for the ITGL Cohort, there is no more deserving student then Effie as she embodies what it truly means to be a global education leader. 

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Urban Teachers

Presenters: Eric Rice and Rebecca Clark

Recipient: Danielle McClinton

It is with great enthusiasm that I write this narrative for Danielle McClinton. There are two main professional qualities that come to mind when I think of Dani. First is her commitment to excellence in her studies. Dani was able to balance all of the required tasks to be successful in course work. Her thoughtfulness during class discussions translated to engagement with course materials on Blackboard. In her residency year, she knew that her future success as a teacher depended on her ability to adopt a learner stance. She made frequent use of office hours, asking for feedback on her work before submitting it, seeing her first year in the program as a unique opportunity to be both a full-time graduate student and a practitioner applying what she learned. Her enthusiasm to become a culturally responsive educator was evident in both her formal and informal assignments.

The second professional quality that comes to mind is Dani’s ability to build professional relationships and create a learning community both inside and outside of the formal graduate school setting. Dani’s placement with her host teacher for the 2018–2019 school year was with a 5th grade English Language Arts class at Commodore John Rodgers, a part of the 100% Project. Dani had originally intended to teach a much younger grade, but eager to make the most of this placement, she quickly became an integrated part of the 5th grade team while still managing her graduate coursework and other Urban Teachers professional obligations. Dani was an active member both within the Urban Teachers elementary cohort and within the 100% Project schools professional learning community. Ultimately, she was offered a 5th grade position at the CJR school, where she is beginning her journey as a Baltimore City public school teacher.


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Organizational Leadership

Presenters: PSL staff members Tammy Pedrick and Carol Herrmann

Recipient: Heather Erickson

Heather earned a cumulative GPA of 3.98 while enrolled in our program. She is the first in her family to earn a graduate degree. Dit Talley, one of her instructors in the program, shared the following about Heather: “Heather played an active role in our online program and was always the first to respond to posts. Her posts and contributions were outstanding. Her critiques of others’ posts were on point and helpful. As part of the learning process, students are required to complete a capstone paper. Her topic was Post-Service Employment: Challenges, Benefits, and Situations Veterans Encounter as per topic.” Her Capstone instructor, Ira Blatstein, shared the following: “Heather produced a well-researched, well-organized, and well-written paper. The way she smoothly interspersed the results of the interviews with the rest of her research and way she organized and presented her recommendations was very clear. She produced an excellent Capstone paper.”

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Organizational Leadership (bachelor’s)

Presenters: PSL staff members Tammy Pedrick and Carol Herrmann

Recipient: Clyde Porter

Clyde Porter is our excellence award winner, with a GPA of 3.84, one of the highest among his cohort. Academically, Clyde led one of the three learning teams within his cohort, and was considered the leader of that cohort. He frequently took the initiative during class, always demonstrating his leadership abilities. Clyde has worked in the law enforcement profession for over 26 years, first with the Washington, D.C., Police Department then with the Federal Air Marshal Service. Professionally, he’s been recognized for his strong work ethic and ability to adjust quickly to changing priorities, always with a stable presence.

In addition, Clyde traveled from Virginia on Fridays and Saturdays to attend our face-to-face classes. Although he traveled the furthest distance, he was always the first one to arrive early to class.

Names Read By

Yolanda Abel, EdD

Associate Professor
Chair, Advanced Studies in Education


Yolanda Abel is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Advanced Studies in Education, Johns Hopkins University School of Education. The department includes Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Doctor of Education programs and the Master of Education in the Health Professions programs. Abel is also a faculty affiliate with Center for Social Organization of Schools and the Center for Safe and Healthy Schools. She was co-principal investigator on the Student Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools grant (NSF 12-518 MSP-Targeted Awards) awarded in 2012. Her publications appear in American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Negro Education, Education and Urban Society, and School Science and Mathematics Journal. Abel has held several leadership roles within the American Educational Research Association specifically in the Family School Community Partnership Special Interest Group where she is currently chair-elect. Her dissertation, African-American Father Involvement in Their Children’s School-Based Lives, earned the 2008 Judith Ruchkin Research Award from the Maryland Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In 2017, she was awarded the inaugural Excellence in Mentorship Award for providing a quality mentoring experience for a junior faculty at the School of Education. In 2019, she was named Honorable Mention for the 2019 Provost’s Prize for Faculty Excellence in Diversity.

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Camille Bryant, PhD

Associate Professor
Interim Director, Doctor of Education Program


Camille Bryant is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education. She teaches research methods courses across a variety of program areas, and her research interests focus on the use of advanced methodological approaches to examine the impact of policy implementation on student outcomes. She aims to better understand how contextual variables influence teachers’ implementation of policies and their combined effects on student outcomes. She has published and presented research in the areas of survey research, policy implementation, and spatial reasoning, and has experience managing federally funded research studies. Prior to becoming a professor, she worked with refugee children as an Americorps VISTA. She also taught in the inner city as a Teach For America corps member.

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Ileana Gonzalez, PhD

Assistant Professor, Counseling and Educational Studies


Ileana Gonzalez, assistant professor in the Counseling Department, joined the faculty in 2012. She holds a CACREP-accredited master’s and education specialist degree in school counseling and educational media and instructional design from the University of Florida and a CACREP-accredited doctoral degree in counselor education from the University of Maryland. She has presented locally, nationally, and internationally, and written on topics relating to urban school counselors and social justice and social justice-related issues in counselor education. She is a member of the American Counseling Association, Association of Counselor Education and Supervision, Chi Sigma Iota-International Counseling Honor Society, Counselors for Social Justice, and the Association of Multicultural Counseling Development. She has previously served as the Chapter faculty adviser for the Johns Hopkins University Lambda Chapter of CSI and was recently awarded the 2020 Counselor Educator of the Year by the Maryland School Counseling Association.

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Amy Lynne Shelton, PhD

Professor and Associate Dean for Research



Amy Shelton is the director of research for the Center for Talented Youth and a professor and associate dean for research in the School of Education. She holds a joint appointment in the School of Medicine and serves on the steering committees for the universitywide Science of Learning Initiative. She was on the faculty in psychological and brain sciences at JHU from 2002 to 2013 before assuming the joint position with the Center for Talented Youth and the School of Education. She also serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and on the editorial board for Spatial Cognition and Computation. She is affiliated with a number of different professional organizations in psychology, neuroscience, and education. Her research in cognitive psychology/cognitive neuroscience focuses on spatial skills, individual differences, and mechanisms of learning, couched in the broad context of understanding the characterization and needs of the individual learner. She has a track record of publications in major academic journals and grant support, and her professional orientation takes a strong basic science approach that is informed by the problems and questions of practice and application.

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Eric Rice, PhD

Assistant Professor
Interim Chair, Counseling and Educational Studies


Eric Rice is an assistant clinical professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, where he teaches and does research about urban school reform, the social context of education, and educational inequities. He coordinates the Master of Science, Educational Studies program, serves as program area lead for advanced educator programs and program liaison for the Urban Teachers partnership program, and leads the urban leadership specialization in the Doctor of Education program. He also represents assistant professors on the Faculty Senate and serves as an associate director of the Urban Health Institute, where he provides leadership for the Small Grants Program.

While completing his PhD in anthropology at Johns Hopkins, he began work on a multiyear ethnographic evaluation study of new teacher mentoring in the Baltimore City Public School System. After spending several years in the city schools’ Department of Professional Development, he returned to Johns Hopkins as the program evaluator for a U.S. Department of Education partnership grant that brought over 700 teachers into Baltimore City Schools. At the end of that grant, he began coordinating Johns Hopkins’ educational outreach to the East Baltimore Development project, as well as administering several School of Education programs related to urban education.

His research interests include school funding, teacher leadership, charter schools, and urban school reform. Current projects include an analysis of the discourse around school funding in Baltimore, the creation and improvement of teacher professional development modules to help teachers better motivate students, and an evaluation of a school-university partnership focused on engaging families in the transition to ninth grade. He also partners with the Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda, on a study abroad program that focuses on public health and education affecting the lives of Ugandan youth.

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