Faculty Farewell: Professor Rick Dale and his impact on students and UMF

It is a bittersweet moment when a beloved professor and faculty member leaves the University of Maine at Farmington. Professor Rick Dale is closing the chapter on his time at UMF as he prepares for his retirement. After 11 years as a professor of special education at UMF and 38 years in the field, Dr. Dale has made many positive impacts on the students and colleagues he has worked with.

Dr. Dale was working as a special education professor at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania when he came to UMF in 2006. After previously working as a practitioner, Dr. Dale wanted to focus more on the teaching aspect of special education as opposed to the research process. “My focus was to be a teacher and not focus on research, and thats what the program here does,” stated Dr. Dale. “Research is important too, but it is not what I wanted to do.” The geographic location of UMF was also appealing, and the small size is similar to that of Mansfield University, which is something Dr. Dale enjoys.

Over the past eleven years, Dr. Dale has seen many changes to UMF. During his first semester his office was in Franklin Hall, but he soon moved to the Education Center. There have been changes made to the special education department as well, as Dr. Dale and his colleagues have continuously worked towards improving things that do not work and maintaining those that do. Also, when Dr. Dale came to UMF in 2006, NCATE was the accrediting agency, but now it is CAEP. “There have been many changes in what needs to be done to reach the CAEP standards,” he said, “as well as the focus on Common Core teaching standards and the standards for students.” Dr. Dale has worked very hard to alter the curriculum in order to prepare future educators as they begin to enter the field of special education.

When asked what some of his greatest career accomplishments are, Dr. Dale spoke of his dedication to the field. “I stuck to and stayed in a career that serves a very vulnerable population,” he said. “I started right after college and this is my 38th year in the field. I gave up other career paths that would have made more money, but this was more satisfying and I can look back and say ‘I had an honorable career and I am proud of that.'” When working at the Department of Education in Pennsylvania, Dr. Dale oversaw important regulatory changes in special education as the Regional Service Director in the department. As an administrator in PA and a director of special education, he was very successful in creating and growing programs to help students in the area. Dr. Dale has also been published in Teaching Exceptional Children, writing about influencing IDEA regulations. He was also faculty president for a year at UMF and then became chair of the division. “It’s about the day to day accomplishments of doing what you do,” said Dr. Dale, as he is most proud of the little things that make a big impact.

While being a professor of special education at UMF, Dr. Dale has also repeatedly taught a First Year Seminar class titled, ‘What Would Kerouac Do?’, which was a wonderful opportunity. Typically, Dr. Dale teaches upperclassmen, so teaching First Year Seminar also exposed him to the freshman classes each year. He was able to incorporate his own personal hobby and interest in the works of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation into his teaching curriculum while also working with students from various majors that he might not otherwise have the opportunity to do. “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to teach first year seminar,” said Dr. Dale. “It’s a great chance for professors to teach outside of their discipline, which I did for 5 years.”

When asked about post-retirement plans, Dr. Dale said that he wants to do the things he does not have time to do now, such as travel, read, exercise, and write. He is currently planning a trip to Europe in the fall and plans to visit his family in California. What better way to spend your time than doing the things you enjoy with the ones you love?

Students and colleagues speak very highly of Dr. Dale and his work at the University of Maine at Farmington. He will truly be missed, but the impact he has made on the lives he has touched will never be forgotten. “UMF has been a great place to work and is a great place to finish my special education career at,” he said. “I’ve always felt very supported here and have great colleagues in my program. Special education is a very rewarding career and I encourage anyone interested to consider it as their career path.” Thank you, Dr. Rick Dale, for your work and contributions not just here at UMF, but in the field of special education.

Congratulations on your retirement from all of us here at UMF!

Faculty Farewell: Recognizing Dolores Appl and her contributions to UMF

While the spring semester is halfway through, most students and faculty are preparing for final projects and exams, symposium, and graduation. Some faculty, however, are closing the door on their time at the University of Maine at Farmington and are preparing to retire. One of those faculty members is Dolores Appl.

Dr. Appl is a professor in the Early Childhood Special Education department and is the facilitator of the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup on campus. Over the past fifteen years Dr. Appl has seen and contributed to many positive changes at UMF and has made a difference in the lives of students and young children.

Dr. Appl was working in Pennsylvania as an early childhood special education instructor when she applied to UMF in 2002. When asked what is was about UMF that she liked, Dr. Appl started listing various appealing attributes. “I liked the birth-5 ECS certification, I liked the small size of the school, the ability to work with students over the years, and being able to live within walking distance of where I work” she said. Another quality that drew Dr. Appl to UMF was the available space to implement the PIWI-inspired playgroup.

Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) is a playgroup designed to encourage and facilitate parent-child interactions to help parents create a bond with their young children while contributing to their development. The PIWI Playgroup was founded by professors at the University of Illinois. One of the founders was Dr. Jeanette McCollum, Dr. Appl’s advisor and mentor during her graduate studies. When Dr. Appl came to UMF, she implemented a similar PIWI-Inspired Playgroup that served as a practicum site for students and as a resource for parents. ECS students that implement their practicum with the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup plan various activities and topics of discussion for each weekly playgroup. Students then lead and facilitate the discussions and activities, assisting parents in engaging actively with their children. Dr. Appl mentors the students and helps guide them through planning and instruction. The PIWI-inspired Playgroup meets on Maguire street next to Public Safety and has a generous amount of space and materials for children and families to use.

Below is a photo of Dr. Appl and Dr. Jeanette McCollum at the 2015 Division for Early Childhood (DEC) conference, posing with Dr. Appl’s poster on research being done on the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup. This Playgroup has been a great resource for UMF students and community members and families!

Over the past fifteen years Dr. Appl has seen many changes in UMF. When she started here, most classes were worth 3 credits and most professors taught four classes a semester at 3 credits each. Once the classes became 4 credits each professors started teaching three classes a semester. This was a shift that required a lot of changes in the curriculum to be made, which Dr. Appl assisted in. The accreditation system as also changed considerably, and the ECS program was revamped by Dr. Appl and Lorraine Spenciner.

Dr. Appl has made many great accomplishments throughout her career. Implementing the Playgroup at UMF is one of her greatest, including her publications and presentations about the playgroup. “Since being at UMF I have been published in peer-reviewed journals ten times, six of those including collaborative work with students.” Dr. Appl also contributed to the creation of the individual progress monitoring document (IPMD) which helps ECS students keep track of various assignments that line up with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and DEC standards in order to better organize final portfolios. Dr. Appl has enjoyed working with students during symposium and served on the Institutional Review Board, reviewing research done by faculty and students. Dr. Appl certainly has been very involved over the years.

When asked what her post-retirement plans are, Dr. Appl listed an array of options. “I am thinking about doing accreditation through CEC and increasing my involvement with CEC and DEC. I plan to consult with the UMF playgroup, try to implement playgroups in Texas where my kids live, travel, and spend time with family. I plan to stay in Farmington for a while and will probably volunteer somewhere nearby.”

Dr. Dolores Appl has made tremendous contributions to the University of Maine at Farmington and the early childhood special education department. The PIWI-Inspired Playgroup will carry on and will be taken over by the incoming ECS professor. While Dr. Appl will be missed at UMF, the impact she has made on students and children will be remembered. Thank you, Dr. Appl, for your hard work and dedication over the years.

Welcome to our Newest Education Faculty & Staff!

Meet our newest Education Faculty & Staff!


LA_HeadshotDr. Leigh Ann Fish is coming to UMF from Troy, Ohio where she worked in public education as an elementary teacher and coordinator of gifted and talented education.

After earning her Ph.D. from Miami University in 2015, Leigh Ann decided to pursue her passion for working with the next generation of teachers… and was thrilled to find the talented and welcoming UMF community!

When not on campus, Leigh Ann enjoys spending time outdoors withIMG_6466 her husband and two young daughters hiking/kayaking, exploring historical sites, and trying her hand at modern-day “homesteading” on their 18th century farm.

She will be teaching ECH 150 (Intro to Early Childhood Ed) and ECH 232 (Social Science for Young Children) this fall.


Dr. Kathryn Will-DubyakTena and I

In her own words:  “Although I am a Florida native, I arrived at UMF from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana where I was a part of the community for 23 years.  I am thrilled to be here.

Teaching literacy courses to pre-service teachers is the job I have been dreaming of for quite sometime.  Being able to do it in a community like Farmington is beyond my wildest dreams. My husband, Travis, and I are looking forward to getting involved in the community.

Family

Throughout my life I have had many opportunities to work with children of varying ages.  I taught in a four room school house in Big Sky, Montana where we often had to alter our recess schedules due to elk herds on the playground, and went skiing every Friday for our physical education program.

During the time in my life when I was a farmer, I established and developed science camps for preschool-aged children as well as famichainsawly-to-farm summer camps where entire families learned about the origins of their food and food preparation.  I also have two children who are now 18 and 20 years old.  When they were younger we spent hours (and hours) every day reading.

When I am not thinking about literacy and preparing teachers for their future classrooms, I really enjoy growing and preparing food, hiking, knitting or crafting in some form, and learning new things (a.k.a. reading, reading, reading).”

 


Julia2Julia Jeremias is the new Early Childhood Education Off-Campus Bachelor’s Degree Program Advisor and Coordinator. Julia comes to UMF from southern Maine where she is adjunct faculty in the early childhood department at Southern Maine Community College.

Julia1After graduating from Mount Holyoke College and Lesley University, Julia started her life in education as a toddler teacher and continued in various rolls from teacher to public school administrator, until her family was transferred to Maine.

When not working, Julia enjoys hiking with her partner and son, traveling, quilting, and baking.

 

“Last Lecture: Forty-six Years of Wonders, Worries and Wishes” by Professor of Literacy Education, Cathryn Wimett

Cathy Wimett knits hats for her students.The “Last Lecture” is a yearly event sponsored by UMF’s Alpha Lambda Delta, now in its fifth year. Alpha Lambda Delta is a nationally recognized honor society for students who achieved a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in their first year at UMF. The UMF chapter focuses on community service and academic excellence through a variety of events. Continue reading