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Salisbury University, Siedel faculty wins big for students

Updated: Mar 31, 2019

Faculty members of Salisbury University's Seidel School of Education continue to find ways to impact the community and make a name for Salisbury University.

Recently, Dr. Thea Williamson and her colleague Kira Leekeenan were one of three winners

of the English Language Teacher Educators Research Initiative Grants this year.

The award, for $2,500, will be used to further facilitate their research.

The research project, titled “Understanding Youth Literacy Identity,” works directly with students and attempts to figure out exactly what impacts the self-esteem of students in

English classes and how educators can create environments for all students to thrive in.

The program started two years ago, when Williamson was a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. Over the summer of 2017, she worked as a supervisor for student teachers working with middle school students.

Primarily working with middle school students in the Austin, Texas area who would be the first members of their families to attend college, Williamson’s project provided enrichment opportunities for young people, as well as social and academic support.

Her goal was to see an improvement in self-opinion from students. Like many experiments, the first attempt yielded one of the ways that did not work.

“There were a lot of kids who didn’t think they read any better, or that they wrote any better at the end of the semester. So we were kind of puzzled by that,” said Williamson.

Williamson is eager to continue her work in helping students embrace education as a personal endeavor. The key to her research lies in creating a positive self-image.

“We redesigned some of the teaching activities that they did, and we did it again in the summer of 2018 ... and then we’re going to do it one more time in the summer of 2019, this upcoming summer in Austin. What we’re doing differently this year is we’re also asking the teachers what they thought of what their students said.”

In addition to providing a quality education in education, the Seidel School of Education also continues to provide a hands-on benefit to the Eastern Shore to both student teachers and professors.

“We’re really thinking about ways to be involved in education on the Eastern Shore, supporting in-service teachers and educational professionals,” said Williamson.

“In addition to the work that goes on in the classroom, a lot of our students are doing their own research projects, really making a change in educational settings across the Shore.”



Staff writer

Featured photo: Salisbury University's Office of Public Relations image.

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