University of Pittsburgh School of Education

School of Education Honors Alumni at 2015 Awards Reception

Published on 3/31/2015 6:00:00 AM

The School of Education celebrated the 2015 Alumni Awards this past Friday, March 27, at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association in Oakland. Awards for the school’s departments and also individual categories were presented at the reception. The winners and some information about their background is listed below.

2015 Distinguished Alumni Award Carol McGrevin
Carol McGrevin is currently a partner in MCG Partners, an LLC involved in start-up organizations in health care and education. Her career started as an elementary teacher, opting to become active in administrative management. She later became an elementary school principal and assistant superintendent of schools in New Jersey. After earning her PhD, she served on the faculty at Texas Christian University, University of Northern Colorado, Pepperdine University, and Georgia State University. As faculty member at GSU, she directed their Principal Center, which is a member of the International Network of Principal Centers. After leaving academia, she became a master consultant for the Southern Regional Educational Board, focusing on school leadership to improve principal effectiveness as school leaders.

McGrevin and her husband Gene established the Lois Lyden Zord and Joseph Zord Jr. Endowed Scholarship in the School of Education, which provides financial support to Pitt students. They have also established the Dr. Carol and Gene McGrevin Endowed Chair in the School of Education through their estate, provided professional and financial support to the Center for Urban Education, and created the McGrevin Post Doctoral Award in the School of Medicine. The McGrevins reside in Atlanta and St. Petersburg, Fla., and have a son and granddaughter living in California.

2015 Early Career Award Lauren A. Silverstein
Lauren A. Silverstein is the founder and director of Jr. Apprentice, a program that helps underserved teens in Hartford, Conn. get work experience, develop job skills, and receive career mentorship through paid apprenticeships. The idea for Jr. Apprentice came from Silverstein, who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education in 2012 with a PhD in the Social and Comparative Analysis in Education program. Silverstein had worked with both low-income teens at urban public high schools as well as taught undergraduate and graduate students at universities. Among all her students, few knew about the variety of careers available to them or were able to make informed decisions about which careers were good fits based on their talents, interests, and market demands.

Starting in 2013, Jr. Apprentice now involves over 150 volunteers and supporters, along with a waitlist of local professionals interested in hosting an apprentice and facilitating a workshop. Student applications in the second year tripled the number of spots available. The organization exceeded the fundraising needed for its annual budget by 22 percent, which allowed it to meet all first year expenses and start the second year in fall 2014 on solid ground.

2015 Pre–K-12 Educator Award Brian White
Brian White is superintendent of Chartiers Valley School District, where he is responsible for managing the day-to-day operation of the district. During his five years as superintendent, White created and facilitated a comprehensive strategic planning process involving the entire Chartiers Valley community. He is currently leading the district through the construction of a new high school and middle school.

White began his career with Pittsburgh Public Schools as a teacher, activities director, and band/orchestra director at Brashear High School, before becoming an administrative practitioner and then acting assistant principal at Schenley High School. He then held several positions at the Beaver Area School District, including assistant principal, middle/high school principal, and assistant superintendent before becoming superintendent of the Chartiers Valley School District.

White is an active member of several educational leadership organizations including the American Association of School Administrators, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, Tri-State School Study Council, and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. In 2005 he was recognized by Pittsburgh Magazine as one of the 40 Under 40 young leaders in the Pittsburgh area who are having a positive impact on the region’s development.

2015 Departmental Alumni Award - Administrative and Policy Studies Erica Kolat
Erica Kolat received her Doctor of Education from the University of Pittsburgh in School Leadership in 2014 and completed her Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility certification program in 2010. Kolat is currently the Superintendent of Schools for the McGuffey School District, where she most recently was named one of 100 superintendents from across the nation being recognized for leadership in transitioning her district to digital learning. The Superintendent Summit was hosted in November at the White House by President Barack Obama, Secretary Arne Duncan, and senior leadership at the U.S. Department of Education. Selected superintendents were recognized for their leadership in helping transition their districts to digital learning. The special honor helps and provides opportunities for educational leaders to share lessons learned with each other and to help disseminate promising approaches across the nation.

In her past leadership roles, Kolat served as assistant superintendent for McGuffey School District, district administrative assistant at Chartiers-Houston School District, elementary school principal for Allison Park Elementary School, elementary school assistant principal for Claysville Elementary School, English teacher for Waynesburg Central High School, and a substitute English teacher for the Albert Gallatin Area Senior High School.

2015 Departmental Alumni Award - Health and Physical Activity Andrea M. Kriska
Andrea M. Kriska is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. She is a physical activity epidemiologist who has guided many National Institute of Health (NIH) studies in the areas of both physical activity assessment and lifestyle intervention. Kriska led the development of the physical activity component of the original Diabetes Prevention Project (DPP) lifestyle intervention curriculum as part of the national DPP Lifestyle Resource Core at the University of Pittsburgh. She continues her involvement in physical activity intervention and assessment, as well as and being principal investigatory of a study involving the translation of the DPP’s successful behavioral intervention into diverse community settings, ranging from senior centers and the worksite to the military.

Kriska is a faculty member of the Diabetes Prevention Support Center of the University of Pittsburgh, which provides training and support in lifestyle intervention efforts in diverse communities. Much of her research and almost all of her service efforts, including local and national committees and task forces, focus on underserved populations in which prevention efforts are most needed.

2015 Departmental Alumni Award - Instruction and Learning Kay Alicyn Ferrell
Kay Alicyn Ferrell is Professor Emerita at the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). With over 40 years of service, Ferrell has been instrumental in leading the field in the education of individuals with visual disabilities, with particular emphasis in research of infants, preschoolers, and their families; cross-modal abilities of infants with disabilities; personnel preparation; distance education methodologies; and leadership development.

Ferrell is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the field of service to professionals who serve individuals with visual disabilities. Her areas of specialization include the development and education of individuals with visual disabilities, particularly infants and preschoolers; personnel preparation; and distance education methodologies. She has authored books and monographs, including most recently Reach Out and Teach (2011), and has coordinated graduate programs in visual impairment, early childhood special education, and the doctoral program in special education at both UNC and at the Teachers College at Columbia University.

Ferrell has served as an assistant dean and as chair of the School of Special Education. She directed the National Center on Low-Incidence Disabilities from 2001-2010. In collaboration with colleagues, she has obtained over $16 million in external funding during her academic career.

2015 Departmental Alumni Award - Psychology in Education Hedda Sharapan
Hedda Sharapan, after graduating from college in 1965, followed her interest in children’s television and sought advice from Fred Rogers. At his suggestion, she enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School for Child Development. In her second year there, Fred Rogers received funding for the very first production of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and brought Sharapan on board as assistant director.

During 48 years with the Fred Rogers Company, she has served as assistant producer and associate producer, working with the viewer mail, co-authoring a nationally syndicated newspaper column, and speaking at conferences about his approach to children and families. Sharapan is currently director for early childhood initiatives for the company.

Sharapan has been inducted into the McKeesport High School Hall of Fame, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for Family Child Care, and an honorary doctorate from St. Vincent College. Most recently, Sharapan has been named PNC Grow Up Great Senior Fellow at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College.

2015 Falk School Outstanding Alumni Award Christopher Norio Avery
Christopher Norio Avery grew up in Squirrel Hill and attended Falk School from kindergarten in 1971 through 8th grade in 1980. After graduating, Avery attended from Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, completed his undergraduate degree in applied mathematics at Harvard University, and earned a PhD in economic analysis from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. After earning his PhD, Avery began his career in 1993 as an assistant professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and he has continued as a member of the faculty since, having been named the Roy E. Larsen Professor of Public Policy in 2005.

Much of Avery’s research has been particularly focused on improving the college-going prospects and outcomes of disadvantaged students in the U.S. For example, together with Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University, he has documented the extent to which high-achieving, low-income students miss out on realizing their potential to attend high quality colleges and universities.

In addition to Avery’s extensive body of research related to educational equity, he worked for many years to put his research into practice through the College Opportunity And Career Help (COACH) program, where Harvard students support students in the Boston Public Schools to navigate the college application and financial aid process.

2015 Student Leadership Award Everett Herman
Everett Herman is pursuing a PhD degree in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, with an area of concentration in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education (SCAE). His research interests include exploring the link between the motivations and outcomes of students that participate in academically based civic engagement. Since 2012, Herman has served as a graduate student researcher at the Collaborative for Evaluation Assessment Capacity (CEAC), led by Cindy Tananis. As an active member of the Council of Graduate Students in Education (CGSE), Herman has served as a student representative on the School of Education Council and the Student Affairs Committee.

Additionally, he has organized and assisted in the facilitation of the Department of Administrative and Policy Studies’ new student orientation and has been a dependable, professional, and committed member of the School of Education Community. The School of Education previously recognized him in 2012 when he was selected to receive an Alumni Doctoral Fellowship.
2015 Alumni Dissertation Award Lisa Brahms
Lisa Brahms is director of learning and research at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, as well as a visiting researcher with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE). Brahms earned her PhD in Learning Sciences and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014, holds a master’s degree in Museum Education and Childhood Education from Bank Street School of Education, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College in religion and Jewish studies.

Professionally, Brahms has been an educator and designer of formal and informal learning experiences and environments for over a decade, working in schools and at numerous children’s, art, and history museums across the country. Since 2011, she has lead the development and study of MAKESHOP, a makerspace designed for young children and family learning at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The MAKESHOP project has become a national model of informal learning research and practice.

Brahms research considers the design of informal learning environments for meaningful participation in creative processes with physical and digital media. Brahms dissertation was titled: “Making as a Learning Process: Identifying and Supporting Family Learning in Informal Settings.”

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