2023 Reich College of Education Award Recipients Named

Eight faculty and staff members of Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education (RCOE), along with the Mentoring Guild faculty, were recently honored with the 2023 RCOE awards.

  • Angela Brooks-Livingston ’11: Outstanding Adjunct or Instructor/Clinical Faculty Award
  • Teressa Sumrall ’05 ’07: Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award
  • Debra Prykanowski: Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award
  • Glenda S. Johnson: Inclusive Excellence Award
  • Hannah Reeder ’05 ’08: Outstanding Leadership Award
  • Lisa Poling: Outstanding Mentoring Award
  • Andrew Koricich: Outstanding Scholarship/Creative Achievement Award
  • Claudia Palta: Outstanding Staff Award
  • Mentoring Guild: Community of Practice Award

RCOE faculty, staff, and students were invited to submit nominations in ten categories: Outstanding Adjunct or Instructor/Clinical Faculty, Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching, Outstanding Graduate Teaching, Inclusive Excellence, Outstanding Leadership, Outstanding Mentoring, Outstanding Scholarship/Creative Achievement, Outstanding Service, Outstanding Staff, and Community of Practice. 

Nominated individuals or groups were then asked to provide supporting portfolios, which were reviewed by the RCOE Awards Committee. Recipients were announced at the RCOE Faculty/Staff Closing Meeting on Thursday, May 4. 

Committee chair Rebekah Saylors, RCOE’s director of marketing, communications, and engagement, expressed thanks to all who nominated a colleague or submitted a portfolio. 

“The faculty and staff of the RCOE continue to make an impact on education through their innovative and inclusive work in and out of the classroom, and we are honored to recognize them,” said Saylors.

“We would also like to acknowledge and congratulate all the nominees for their outstanding contributions to the college,” she added. 

Saylors also thanked committee members for their time and service on the committee: Lynn Church, Staff Representative; Mary Ferrell, Adjunct/Lecturer Representative; Amanda Gregory, Department of Family and Child Studies; Dr. Robin Groce, Department of Reading Education and Special Education; Dr. Aleica Jackson, Department of Leadership and Educational Studies; Dr. Dan Poling, Department of Reading Education and Special Education; Dr. Patrick O’Shea, Department of Leadership and Educational Studies; Dr. Christina Rosen, Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling; Dr. Pamela Shue, Department of Family and Child Studies, and Dr. Rachel Wilson, Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

2023 RCOE Awards Recipients

Angela Brooks-Livingston

2023 Outstanding Adjunct or Instructor/Clinical Faculty Award

 Christina Rosen and Angela Brooks LivingstonDr. Christina Rosen presents the Outstanding Adjunct or Instructor/Clinical Faculty Award to Angela Brooks-Livingston. Photo by Claudia Palta. 

Angela Brooks-Livingston (she/they) has served as an adjunct instructor for the clinical mental health counseling program in the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling since 2014. 

Brooks-Livingston was humbled and honored to receive this award. “It means a great deal to me, especially since I was nominated by a student.” 

“I have a passion for teaching and use innovative classroom activities to engage students in critical thinking as they begin their career as new therapists,” they continued. “My intention is for students to leave my class with their own ideas of how they want to work with clients.” 

They expressed their gratitude to the faculty of the HPC department for their “continued support and encouragement. I am honored you continue to trust me with the task of preparing future counselors.”

Brooks-Livingston completed is a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling with a concentration in marriage and family therapy, as well as certificates in addictions counseling and expressive arts therapy, from App State. They hold credentials as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor, Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist, Certified Clinical Supervisor, and a National Certified Counselor. 

For the past eight years, they worked in community mental health in several positions including outpatient therapist, intensive in-home team lead, and child services director ad currently owns a private practice and specializes in working with transgender and gender-expansive clients. 

As a graduate student, Brooks-Livingston was encouraged to join the North Carolina Counseling Association by their professor, Dr. Christina Rosen. They are still an active member today.

They served as the 2016-2017 President of NCCA, and currently serve as the president-elect of the Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities of North Carolina Division of NCCA. 

Brooks-Livingston practices soul-care by hiking with her partner, son, and dog, crocheting, watching British television, reading, working puzzles, practicing Julia Child recipes, and listening to 80s hairbands.


Dr. Teressa Sumrall

2023 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award

 Denise Brewer and Teressa SumrallDr. Denise Brewer presents the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award to Dr. Teressa Sumrall. Photo by Claudia Palta.

Sumrall is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Child Studies and currently serves as the program director of the child development program (non-licensure) and the internship/practicum coordinator. 

“From the onset, I’ve always identified as a ‘teacher’ first, whether my students were infants, toddlers, preschoolers, or adults,” noted Sumrall. “Few things in life bring me greater joy than supporting others in their educational journey, and I’m honored to be recognized for this work.” 

“I’m grateful for my students and colleagues in the RCOE as well as the amazing teachers I have had along the way,” she added.

She received her B.S. and M.A. in child development from App State and her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

Prior to joining the faculty at App State, she worked as an education coordinator with Head Start and Migrant Head Start programs in North Carolina and in higher education at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. 

Her other joys in life include spending time with her husband, two beautiful children, and Marty McFly (their beloved hound dog). 


Dr. Debra Prykanowski

2023 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award

 Deb Prykanowski and Dave KoppenhaverDr. David Koppenhaver presents the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award to Dr. Debra Prykanowski. Photo by Claudia Palta.

Prykanowski is an assistant professor of special education in the Department of Reading Education and Special Education, as well as the program contact for two graduate certificates - special education (residency) certificate and autism certificate

She joined the faculty at App State in 2018 and teaches graduate courses in autism, classroom management, and behavior interventions. 

“I believe the most important job I have here at the RCOE is preparing high-quality special educators so to receive an award for that job is such an honor,” said Prykanowski. “My students are so important to me, and I always strive to make sure I am giving my best to them every time I develop and teach a graduate course.”

Prior to receiving her doctorate, Prykanowski was a special education teacher and behavior consultant in Clifton, New Jersey, for 11 years. 

She earned a Ph.D. in special education at the University of Florida, an M.A. in special education with a concentration in behavior disorders at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.S. in inclusive elementary and special education at Syracuse University. 


Dr. Glenda Johnson

2023 Inclusive Excellence Award

 Will Sheppard and Glenda JohnsonDr. Will Sheppard presents the Inclusive Excellence Award to Dr. Glenda Johnson. Photo by Claudia Palta.

Johnson is an associate professor in the professional school counseling program, which is housed in the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling

“Receiving the Inclusive Excellence Award is an honor and especially meaningful to me because the nomination came from some of my students,” noted Johnson. “School counselors serve all students, and as part of our student's preparation, the professional school counseling program's focus on diversity begins on day one.” 

She continued, “So for the students to choose this award to nominate me demonstrates their recognition that I engage in inclusive excellence in the classroom and beyond.”

Johnson earned her Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and a Master of Arts in counseling from Prairie View A&M University, a historically Black college and university (HBCU). 

She has worked as a school counselor for 17 years, a teacher of students who are deaf or hard of hearing for seven years, and a part-time licensed professional counselor for over three years, all in the state of Texas. 

Her school counseling research interests include providing services to students experiencing poverty, college and career readiness, and English as second language students.


Dr. Hannah Reeder

2023 Outstanding Leadership Award

 Hannah ReederDr. Hannah Reeder receives the Outstanding Leadership Award. Photo by Rebekah Saylors.

Reeder serves as the Reich College of Education's assistant dean and director of lab schools. She is responsible for providing oversight for the university’s two laboratory schools - the Academy at Middle Fork and the Academy at Elkin

She also develops and manages strategic partnerships for the Reich College of Education and coordinates grants and special projects to forward the work of the college.

Prior to this position, she was the director of clinical education and an instructor in the elementary education program, both in the Reich College of Education.  

Reeder began her career as an elementary school teacher before moving into administration. She loves that her work allows her to redefine and strengthen university partnerships with public schools.

“Lab schools are tasked with redefining and strengthening university partnerships with public schools,” noted Reeder. “I am continually striving to increase intentional, collaborative partnerships to build a stronger community of practice between the lab schools and the university.”  

“Lab schools are also granted the flexibility to be innovative,” she continued. “I’m leading the effort in our lab schools to rethink what school can and should look like.” 

“We are re-imagining education by moving away from the one-teacher, one-classroom model to a team-based teaching model that is focused on creating student-centered learning communities that empower teachers through shared leadership,” she added. “This innovative work is positioning us to consider possibilities instead of limitations.”

Reeder is “humbled and honored to receive the RCOE’s Outstanding Leadership Award.” 

“I believe that leadership is not about individual accomplishment, but about empowering those around you,” she said. 

“I am grateful to work with an amazing team that does incredible work,” she added. “Together, we are reimagining school by proposing solutions to current educational challenges.”

Reeder earned her B.S. in elementary education and M.A. in curriculum specialist from App State and her Ed.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis from East Tennessee State University.


Dr. Lisa Poling

2023 Outstanding Mentoring Award

 Lisa Poling and Beth CampbellDr. Beth Campbell presents the Outstanding Mentoring Award to Dr. Lisa Poling. Photo by Claudia Palta.

Poling is a professor and assistant chair in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. As a researcher, her current work is grounded in the ways in which to consider teaching mathematics to highlight issues related to spatial justice, how to incorporate quantitative literacy skills to bring attention to issues of inequity in society, and how faculty can best support and improve practice related to mathematics with pre-service teachers

“In receiving this award, it acknowledges that I have, in some ways, paid forward the same gift that others shared with me throughout my time in academia,” said Poling. “Undoubtedly, I would not be where I am today without the support and mentorship of others.” 

“I fully believe that in academia and life, the individuals that invest in your well-being and development help you become what you envision as your best self, and I am most thankful that I have been able to share that gift,” she added.   

Poling also shared Peggy Tabor Millin’s quote, "We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace." 

She earned her doctorate from The Ohio State University, with a concentration in mathematics education. Preceding her graduate work, she was a public school teacher for seven years.  

Prior to working in the field of education, she worked in business and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Franklin University.   


Dr. Andrew Koricich

2023 Outstanding Scholarship/Creative Achievement Award

 Andrew Koricich and Melba SpoonerDean Melba Spooner presents the Outstanding Scholarship/Creative Achievement Award to Dr. Andrew Koricich. Photo by Claudia Palta.

Koricich is the executive director of the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges and an associate professor of higher education in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies

Influenced by his experiences growing up in a rural community in Pennsylvania, his research focuses on rural issues in postsecondary education, particularly rural-serving institutions.

“It's an honor to have my work recognized through this award,” said Koricich. “The last couple of years have come with many surprises and the opportunity to work on projects that I had only been able to dream of until recently.” 

“I'm grateful that this work has already brought value to my field and inspired a greater appreciation for the work of rural-serving colleges and universities across the country,” he added.

Since 2020, his scholarship and creative activities have included:

  • Three peer-reviewed journal articles,
  • Four book chapters,
  • Three peer-reviewed presentations,
  • Six invited presentations/panels,
  • Two op-eds,
  • Three podcast features,
  • Two external grants awarded -- totaling $440,000,
  • Two external advisory/editorial board invitations, and
  • The establishment of the ARRC research center.

Recently, Koricich was interviewed on NPR’s 1A, discussing the impact and importance of rural, regional colleges and universities. 

He earned his Ph.D. in higher education from Pennsylvania State University, an M.B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and a B.S. in information sciences and technology, also from Penn State. 


Claudia Palta

2023 Outstanding Staff Award

 Aftynne Cheek and Claudia PaltaDr. Aftynne Cheek presents the Outstanding Staff Award to Claudia Palta. Photo by Rebekah Saylors.

Palta has developed most of her career as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she was part of the vast artistic community. As a choreographer, she worked for musical theater, workshops, TV shows, and tours nationwide. 

She has also led dance schools for over 25 years, where she taught different techniques and styles. She helped many of her students discover their talents and achieve their dreams. 

In 2012, Palta moved to the U.S., where she was able to mix her vast experience with the continued learning from a different culture and the influences of many other mentors. 

Currently, she serves as the student services manager in the Department of Reading Education and Special Education. She is very engaged in her job of helping students and faculty to achieve their goals. 

She is also always willing to share her passion for dance, artistic expression, and enthusiastic interest in people's well-being.

“This award is a validation of my work,” said Palta. “It also means a warm recognition of my everyday purpose of helping people.”

“Coming from a different culture and not having English as my first language, each day is challenging,” she added. “Therefore, this award makes me feel accepted and welcome.”


Mentoring Guild

2023 Community of Practice Award

 Mentoring Guild with Dean SpoonerDean Spooner presents the Community of Practice Award to the Mentoring Guild. Photo by Claudia Palta.

The Mentoring Guild is an interdisciplinary community of faculty across departments. Members include:

Established in 2021, the Guild was created with the goal of making mentoring and mutual development a part of the culture of the college and increasing mentoring capacity and the richness of faculty community experiences.

Through the Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives and the Guild, faculty are provided experiences and tools to help them identify, cultivate, and extend their career support networks. 

Activities include:

  • Welcoming our new faculty members;
  • Hosting writing retreats;
  • Recognizing scholarship in the college;
  • Connecting faculty to resources to support research and scholarship, and
  • Providing guidance and feedback for annual reviews.

Wilson recently moved into the role of the faculty fellow for the college this year. Her research focuses on the use of multiple modes of representation to make science learning more accessible for students, as well as the identity work of elementary science teachers. She focuses her projects on the collaborative planning of science units with classroom teachers. An additional area of interest is environmental literacy and climate change education. 

“Our Mentoring Guild group has been working hard together to develop programming to support and promote faculty development in our RCOE,” said Wilson. “It's an honor to work with my fellow members of the Guild, as we all bring important perspectives to our group and truly collaborate with each other as thinkers, creators, developers, and facilitators.”

For Luetkemeyer, mentoring is “near and dear” to her heart, especially as an associate faculty fellow for the college. Her research is focused on the ways that people access information and knowledge, what resources and information they have access to, and how information and knowledge are presented to them. She is also interested in the role of mentoring in the workplace and in arts-based practices.

“My internal guiding question is ‘How can I help’, and I can't think of a better way than what we've been doing in the RCOE Mentoring Guild: making processes transparent, providing spaces for mutual mentoring, helping new faculty navigate academia, and more,” she said. “I'm thrilled that our collective work is being recognized.”

This is Adams’ first year with the Guild. Her research broadly focuses on teaching practices and teacher preparation and Black students’ educational experiences.

“Because the Mentoring Guild is working hard to establish a foundation for supporting the RCOE, I believe this recognition will increase our presence and overall awareness throughout the college,” she noted.

Cheek’s research interests include students with extensive support needs, specifically literacy instruction, teacher preparation, eCoaching, and teacher mentoring.

“I've had great mentors throughout my life that have provided guidance every step of the way,” she recounted. “I love sharing what I've learned so I can help people reach their goals and the mentoring guild provides a way for me to do just that.”

She added, “This is a great group to be a part of! We support each other while supporting others in the college. We also appreciate the direct support from Dean Spooner for our efforts.”

With Garrett’s research, she examines the systems and structures that support or suppress the diversification of higher education through the experiences of folx of color. She's particularly interested in documenting faculty experiences and creating equitable workplace environments.

“Being able to join this group and build upon the work of the inaugural members of the guild has been a joy,” said Garrett. “I have found an opportunity to move my research to practice through membership in this community of practice.”

“As someone who researches faculty experiences, I know how important it is to feel valued in an institution,” she continued. “I have found community in so many different spaces in the RCOE and for that, I am truly grateful.”

From 2019-2023, Smith was the Faculty Fellow for Mentoring Initiatives for the College of Education. For her fellowship, she designed a developmental community model of mentorship. In addition, in 2021, she founded the RCOE Mentoring Guild, a shared craft model of faculty support. Those models, grown in the RCOE, are influencing the institutional models of mentoring and career support now.

Her current research interests include mentoring and educational development in higher education, middle-level education, and teacher preparation, the relationship between teaching expertise and student learning, and evaluating the depth of student understanding.

“I am so proud of the mentoring leadership that has been growing in the College of Education,” said Smith. 

“That work is influencing the university models that are in development now,” she continued. “Though there is still work to do, my vision is that every Mountaineer - students, staff, and faculty -  would have a constellation of support that they can access, leverage, and/or lead.”

Whitehead’s teaching and research interests include the preparation of preservice teachers with a focus on the development of preservice elementary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching.

“Winning this award, alongside my Mentoring Guild colleagues, is such an honor,” said Whitehead. “This award shines a light on the work we are doing within the college and for our colleagues.”

“Our Community of Practice works hard to provide mentoring to the college in a variety of avenues - from Writing Retreats to Research Fairs to Welcome Days for new faculty,” she added. “I am fortunate to be a part of this group and to support faculty in the RCOE in multiple ways.