Alumni News and Notes

June 22, 2016

Changing students’ lives

School counselor Sylvia Sanders-Thomas, B.A. ’86 (Special Education), has changed countless lives as she’s helped students navigate their way through high school and into college.

It is for her years of dedication and service that she was nominated as the Michigan School Counselor of the Year. She was invited to the White House in January 2016 and met First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her honors.

At Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Mich., where Sanders-Thomas herself went to high school, she enjoys wearing many different hats and working in different capacities with her students. She interacts with all of her students individually and in groups to help with their emotional and academic needs.

“I am so pleased and proud that my education career began at Michigan State University and has opened many doors and windows of opportunity, “ Sanders-Thomas said.

Saying thank you

Kenneth Hartman, M.A. ’84 (College and University Administration), received the Outstanding Civilian Service Award, one of the highest awards bestowed upon private citizens, from the U.S. Army in spring 2015.

Hartman was honored for his work with Our Community Salutes, a volunteer-run, nonprofit organization dedicated to thanking and honoring high school seniors who plan to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces after graduation. He established the organization in 2009, and serves as president.

Hartman himself is a veteran. He served as lieutenant for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) from 1980-90, and while a student at MSU, served as part of the military police.

Today, Hartman consults with colleges and universities to build and expand on their online programs, authors books and other publications and helps coordinate volunteer efforts through Our Community Salutes to “be the first to say thank you” to servicemen and women.

On the Web



Elizabeth Arcand is a long-term substitute for math teachers at Great Falls Public Schools in Montana. Arcand, B.A. ’09 (Mathematics-Secondary Education), also does freelance math curriculum work, and recently served on a panel for expert teachers at the Friendship Public Charter School Annual Convocation in Washington, D.C.

Sian Beilock, Ph.D. ’03 (Kinesiology), was appointed as executive vice provost for the University of Chicago in May 2016. In this role, she will help tackle major strategic initiatives. Beilock has been on the faculty at UChicago since 2005, and joined the provost’s office in 2015 as vice provost for academic initiatives.

John Brender, Ph.D. ’06 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), was honored with the Individual Performance Excellence Award from the Confucius Institute World Headquarters in December 2015. Brender, director of the Confucius Institute at Wayne State University, received the award alongside 29 other delegates from around the world.

Dee W. Edington, Ph.D. ’68 (Health and Physical Education), is scheduled to present at the eighth annual Employer Healthcare and Benefits Congress, one of the nation’s largest healthcare and benefits conferences, in September 2016 in Washington, D.C. Edington is an author and the founder and CEO of Edington Associates. He is also the founder of and a professor at the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center.

In January 2016, Sakeena Everett started a new position as director of research and outreach for the Black Male Early Literacy Impact Project at the University of Illinois. Everett, Ph.D. ’15 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), previously was an assistant professor at MSU in the College of Education and the College of Arts and Letters.

In December 2015, Faaiz Gierdien, Ph.D. ’01 (Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy), was appointed as an associate editor of Pythagoras, a South African mathematics education journal, for 2016-17. Currently, Gierdien is on the faculty in the Department of Curriculum Studies at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Alumnus Charles Hameline, B.S. ’11 (Biological Science-Secondary Education), is in his fourth year teaching science at Canton High School in Canton, Mich. He has been named “Most Influential Teacher” by students, coached a state-placed Science Olympiad team and has taught during summer school, among other professional achievements.

Carol Hutchins received the Professional Achievement Award from the MSU Department of Kinesiology in April 2016. Hutchins, B.S. ’79 (Physical Education), is in her 32nd season as the head coach of the University of Michigan softball program. Hutchins and her team recently earned her 1,458th career win, making her the all-time winningest coach in NCAA softball history. She is also ranked as the most winningest coach in UM Athletics history.

Jerry L. Johns, M. ’66 and Ph.D. ’70 (Elementary Education), received two prestigious reading honors: In August 2015, he was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame and was awarded the William S. Gray Citation of Merit by the International Literacy Association for his contributions to the field of reading. Johns is a professor emeritus of Northern Illinois University.


Three-time alumna Deborah Loewenberg Ball, B.A. ’76, M.A. ’82, Ph.D. ’88 (Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy), was elected president-elect of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She will begin her term as president May 1, 2017, at the conclusion of AERA’s Annual Meeting. She is the dean of the School of Education and the director of TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan.

Lauren Perry, B.A. ’13 (Elementary Education), is the lead pre-kindergarten teacher at Tutor Time in Ann Arbor, Mich. Perry, whose studies focused on urban education and integrated sciences, is currently working to become a “Master Teacher” within early preschool and pre-kindergarten classrooms through Learning Care Group.

Shanteisha Pruitt was hired as an athletic trainer for the University of Maryland’s women’s soccer and tennis teams during the 2015-16 competition season and is responsible for medical coverage for the teams. She is also an adjunct professor in Morgan State University’s Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. While a student at MSU, Pruitt, B.S. ’07 (Kinesiology), served as a resident assistant, and worked with the men’s soccer and football programs.

Alumna E. Missy Wright, M.S. ’05 and Ph.D. ’13 (Kinesiology), recently achieved certified consultant status for the Association for Applied Psychology. Wright is an assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University, East Bay.

Yisu Zhou, Ph.D. ’12 (Educational Policy), was chosen as an Outstanding Reviewer for Educational Researcher, an American Educational Research Association (AERA) journal, in 2015. Zhou is an assistant professor of education policy at the University of Macau in China.