New Faculty 2022-2023

September 9, 2022

The College of Education welcomed several new faculty members and academic specialists this academic year. In addition, several faculty were named to leadership positions within the college.

This page is still in the process of being created; please check back for updates.

New Leadership:

Jerlando F. L. Jackson became dean of the MSU College of Education and MSU Foundation Professor of Education on July 1, 2022. Jackson previously was the Rupple-Bascom Professor of Education and Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Jackson is only the second in the history of the college to be named an MSU Foundation Professor; Kenneth Frank also holds the distinguished title.)

Previously the Starting August 1, 2022, Panteleimon “Paddy” Ekkekakis became professor in and the chair of the Department of Kinesiology. He was formerly a professor at Iowa State University.

Professor Karin Pfeiffer was named the director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, also on August 1, 2022. Pfeiffer had immediately previously served as interim chairperson for the Department of Kinesiology.

In the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education:

Sarah Avendaño (she/her/hers)

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Michigan State University

Enhancing child early literacy

“My research goals are to improve student literacy proficiency using evidence-based instructional practices and data-based decision-making. Through my research, I hope to improve the academic and social outcomes of students who are at risk of learning challenges. Ultimately, through partnerships in the community, I would like to increase reader independence, confidence and motivation to read and disseminate information on effective instructional practices to educators working with students with and without disabilities.”

I-Chien Chen

Assistant Professor, dually appointed with the Office of the Hannah Chair

Julie Helber headshot; she wears a red and black floral top with a black cardigan over it. Her blonde hair is about shoulder-length. She wears dark-rimmed glasses.

In the Department of Educational Administration:

Julie D. Helber (she/her/hers)

Assistant Professor
Ed.D., Eastern State University

Kenya Messer headshot. She wears a black outfit and a string of pearls. Her black hair falls around her shoulders.

Kenya LeNoir Messer (she/her/hers)

Assistant Professor
Ed.D., Columbia University

Developing learning environments to aid retention

“As an educator, my objective is to create learning environments that foster transformative experiences for students to motivate them to think broadly, critically and intentionally. This commitment to creating innovative learning environments for students fuel my research interests in developing pathways for student access, success and persistence in college. Specifically, I have focused on the retention of African American male student-athletes, students of color and underrepresented populations participating in study abroad. I hope to further explore how utilizing high impact experiences as expanded learning environments, can aid in student persistence and retention.”

In the Department of Kinesiology:

Nicole Hoffman headshot. She wears a white blouse and a blue cardigan over it. Her light brown hair falls around her shoulders.

Nicole Hoffman (she/her/hers)

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Georgia

Improving sleep following concussion

“Sleep is necessary in the maintenance of many cognitive functions and may serve as a key factor in brain injury recovery. This may be an important missing piece in concussion treatment and management, since abnormalities in sleep components such as duration, quality and efficiency may negatively impact symptom severity, cognition and balance post-injury. Understanding the influence of sleep on concussion recovery would have a significant impact on clinical concussion management as sleep is not accounted for in the current assessment battery and may be a critical variable in treatment. My current and future research in this area will not only inform clinical best practices but will allow for the development of interventions to mitigate negative effects from sleep disturbances after brain injury.”

Hoffman photo courtesy of Lyndsie Schlink, Senior Photographer, Illinois State University

Jeemin Kim (he/him/his)

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Wilfrid Laurier University

Promoting sport and physical activity engagement

“Physical inactivity is a major societal challenge that is difficult to solve. My goal is to find ways to harness group and social influence, both of which are fundamental to humans, to promote individuals’ engagement in sport and physical activity. Because humans have innate tendencies to identify with groups, sport and physical activity engagement often occur in group settings (e.g., sport teams). Thus, my first research area focuses on finding ways to optimize the dynamics of sport teams, such that the teams function effectively and the individual members enjoy and maintain their engagement in sport and physical activity. In addition, humans naturally tend to adhere to the social norms in their environment. Thus, my second research area focuses on understanding how social norms are related to sport and physical activity. Overall, studying group and social influence offers a promising direction for promoting sport and physical activity engagement for all.”

Sanghoon Kim headshot. He wears a burgundy button-down shirt and tie, and a tan blazer. His dark hair is cropped short.

Sanghoon Kim (he/him/his)

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Texas A&M University

Enhancing societal well-being through sports

“My research aims to gain a better understanding of sport consumers’ experiences and responses to technology-mediated communications and environments as well as further provide valuable practical implications to practitioners to enhance personal, communal and societal well-being through sports.”

Spyridoula Vazou (she/her/hers)

Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Birmingham (United Kingdom)

Enhancing whole-child development through physical activity

“My research aims to better understand how physical activity can enhance learning, cognitive function and academic performance, and develop high-impact, evidence-based programs that are successful and sustainable. With my research, I hope to provide educators with physically active, easy, fun and engaging tools to help all children learn better while at the same time nurture their physical, motor, cognitive, mental and social-emotional skills.”

In the Department of Teacher Education:

Ann Castle (she/her/hers)

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Michigan State University

Gregory S. Child (he/him/his)

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Iowa

Develop equity-minded teachers of multilingual students

“I became interested in teacher development through my work as a university supervisor of student teachers. At the end of my first year, I had a teacher candidate tell me, ‘I feel like a teacher now.’ I was immediately curious about what that feels like: How does that feel different? What does it mean to feel like a teacher? Since then, I have been engaged in work that centers teacher development with a particular focus on strengthening effective and equitable practices for emergent multilingual learners. My research aims at fostering equity for racially, linguistically, and culturally diverse learners in conjunction with developing teacher capacity to do the same. I hope that my work will support the development of equity-minded teachers of emergent multilingual learners.”

Curtis Lewis headshot. He wears a white button down shirt and a blue and white striped tie. He wears a black blazer. His black hair is cropped close to his head, and he has a black beard.

Curtis L. Lewis (he/him/his)

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Michigan State University

Clausell Mathis (he/him/his)

Clausell Mathis headshot. He wears a red button-down shirt and a dark blazer. He has a dark goatee.

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Florida State University

Develop culture-based, equitable physics teachers

“My work examines how to help teachers see the plethora of resources students bring into the physics classroom, both culturally and conceptually. In addition, I want to help teachers see how their ideas of themselves, their students and others impact how they teach. Ultimately, we hope that physics teachers can use our work as a tool to teach physics in a way that resonates with their students’ lives and encourage them to use it to make impacts in their communities.”

Anne-Marie Sladewski

Assistant Professor
Ed.D., Michigan State University

Learn about the academic specialists joining the college in 2022-23:

Andrea Childress headshot. She wears a bright green top. Her blonde hair falls around her shoulders.

Andrea Childress

Academic Specialist – Academic Specialist (Outreach) in the Department of Kinesiology
M.S., Illinois State University

Andrea Childress is an academic specialist in the Department of Kinesiology. She specializes in curriculum and instruction, including coordination of the department’s Basic Instruction Program, internships and practica. 

Marambo Otiende

Academic Specialist – Academic Specialist (Outreach) in the Department of Kinesiology

Stephanie Winston headshot. She wears a dark coat. Her long brown hair falls down well past her shoulders.

Stephanie Winston

Academic Specialist – Academic Specialist (Outreach) in the Department of Kinesiology
M.S., Illinois State University

Stephanie Winston is an academic specialist in the Department of Kinesiology. She specializes in day-to-day project management and operations of the USAID Empowered Youth project. Much of her role involves project planning, monitoring, performance, evaluation and reporting. She also supports field-office requests while contributing to the implementation of the project’s strategic short and long-term vision.