Promoting school engagement of migrant students through summer school takes top honors

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Thursday, February 7, 2013
Abigail Kopelman and Ginna Moreano with their research poster.
Abigail Kopelman (pictured above right), Kirstin Miller (not pictured), and Ginna Moreano (pictured above left) earned first prize for their research project that promotes summer school engagement for migrant students. Photos by Kirk Murray.

A trio of University of Iowa College of Education doctoral students in School Psychology took home top honors at this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Research Symposium.

Abigail Kopelman, Kirstin Miller, and Ginna Moreano earned first prize for their research project, “Promoting School Engagement of Migrant Students through Summer School Participation.”

The women worked with students whose families move from state to state following agricultural jobs throughout the year to see if summer school and certain interventions could help these students feel more connected to their education and more likely to complete their studies. Kopelman reports that this population historically has high dropout rates.

“These are some of the most educationally disadvantaged students,” Moreano says. “It’s hard to track their progress. These kids are just barely getting by.”

Kate Kedley and her research poster.
Kate Kedley placed second for her ethnographic case study of teachers in post-coup Honduras.
Lauren Levy and her research poster.
Lauren Levy placed third for her work with Guatemalan female survivors of interpersonal violence.
Sally Huddle and her research poster.
Sally Huddle placed fourth for her work with students with emotional and behavioral disorders.
Abby Haywood and her research poster.
Abby Haywood placed fifth for her work teaching tolerance in general music classrooms.

Other winners included second place finisher Kate Kedley, a Language, Literacy and Culture doctoral student, for her work, “An Ethnographic Case Study: Teachers in Honduras.” Counseling Psychology doctoral student Lauren Levy earned third place for her work, “Evaluation of a Guatemalan Comprehensive Care Center for Female Survivors of Interpersonal Violence.” Fourth place went to Sally Huddle, a doctoral student in Special Education for her research, “The Utility of Class-wide Peer Tutoring for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.” Abby Haywood, a doctoral student in Music Education, earned fifth place for her work, “Teaching Tolerance in General Music Classrooms.”

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research Symposium is an annual event hosted by the College of Education’s Diversity Committee and sponsored by the UI Epsilon Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa. The purpose is to celebrate College of Education student research focused on diversity and service.

Orville Townsend, who earned his master's degree from the College of Education's Rehabilitation Counseling Program, served as this year’s keynote speaker. Townsend spoke of his experiences as one of a small number of African Americans in Iowa City during his time as a UI student and football player in the 1960s.

“We would not go around town alone. It was a matter of safety, a matter of survival,” he says. “We stuck together. It’s interesting what you can accomplish when you work together.”

He told the crowd that he and his fellow African Americans in Iowa City believed that their challenges were paving the way for a larger, stronger black community in the future.

Orville Townsend speaking at podium.
Orville Townsend

“We have built bridges,” he says. “Our kids have it far better than we had it.”

Still, he says, it’s important to educate younger generations about the struggles of the past.

“If you are not knowledgeable about the past, you can’t protect your future,” he says.