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Honors Presented at 2011 Convocation

On a “sparkling May day,” as HGSE Alumni Council Award Winner Timothy Knowles, Ed.M.’96, Ed.D.’02, described it, the Ed School community gathered for the 2011 convocation exercises. Knowles, like many speakers who addressed the graduating class of 2011 at Convocation on May 25 in Radcliffe Yard, made a point to remind students that what they do in education matters.

In addition to the Alumni Council Award, the Morningstar Family Teaching Award, the Class Gift, and the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Awards were presented. A flash mob of dancing Technology, Innovation, and Education Program students further livened up the event.

Despite the celebratory mood under the tent in Radcliffe Yard, the challenges facing education were fresh on speakers’ minds. Student speaker Jared Jones, Ed.M.’11, touched upon the misconception that once they have graduated they will have “mastered education.” “I am leaving the school with more questions than answers,” he said. “We are not masters of knowing, but of ‘I don’t know.’”

Sharing a story about class marshal Rich Beyer’s niece, who started kindergarten this fall, Jones noted how after the first day she came home excited but told her parents that she didn’t need to return the next day because she had already gone to school.

“Not the end of a journey, the introduction. Not the last step, the first. That tomorrow is another school day. Well, for me, that is where we are today. With our master’s and doctorates still fresh — a year, or eight, of learning behind us — we are lying in bed with a choice to make,” Jones said. “Was our time here, our day of kindergarten, the sum total of our learning or the orientation session to something much more meaningful? Have we mastered education, or have we simply taken a step?”

Professor Richard Murnane, the student-selected faculty speaker, reflected on five decades of education and the five challenges currently facing all educators around the world: make equality a reality for all children; use money so it affects students’ daily experience; create schools that prepare children for the future; make school choice work for the most disadvantaged; and create school accountability systems that improve education for all our children.

“These challenges are extremely daunting; however, we, the faculty, have been enormously impressed by your skills, creativity, and your hard work,” Murnane said, marveling at the graduates’ relentless pursuit of improving education. “We have no doubt that you will make progress in meeting these five challenges and your good work will improve education for the world’s children.”

Knowles, this year’s recipient of the Alumni Council Award, has faced many of these five challenges head-on through his work as a school leader, reformer, researcher, and policymaker. In particular, he runs four charter school campuses on Chicago’s South Side that are graduating more than 90 percent of their students with 95 to 98 percent of those students attending college.

“This place leaves indelible marks…yet by doing the work, you discover what’s really possible,” Knowles said, reflecting on the Ed School’s impact on his work in Chicago.

The challenges of instruction, leadership, parent engagement, school culture, and professional capacity of teachers are things controlled by us, Knowles noted, pointing out that they also can lead to students 10 times more likely to make substantial improvement and 30 times less likely to stagnate. “Children rise because of what we do,” he said.

In closing, Knowles encouraged students to look “clear eyed,” and “find and use their voice” in education.

“Challenge those who tell us children – particularly those who grow up poor – can’t or won’t prevail. We can change the odds. It will take time. There are no silver bullets but the opportunity is ours and the evidence is before us,” Knowles said.

The complete list of honorees:

Student Speaker: Jared Jones, Ed.M.’11
Morningstar Family Teacher Award: Senior Lecturer Joe Blatt
Alumni Council Award: Timothy Knowles, Ed.M.’96, Ed.D.’02
Faculty Speaker: Professor Richard Murnane
Phyllis Strimling Award: Dorothy Gannes, Ed.M.’11

Class Marshals:
Mara Tieken
John Papay

C.A.S. Jennifer Sohn

Ed.M. Silvia Rodriguez Vega, Arts In Education
Ryan Shephard, Education Policy and Management
Ann Piatt, Higher Education
Maleka Gramling, Human Development and Psychology
Nathalie Galindo, International Education Policy
Ashley Young, Language and Literacy
Richard Beyer, Learning and Teaching
Samuel Ronfard, Mind, Brain, and Education
Dorice Moise, Prevention Science and Practice
Lewis Spears, School Leadership
Dalia Said, Special Studies
Matthew Goetz, Teacher Education
Devon Dickau, Technology, Innovation, and Education

Class Gift: $ 25,696.11

Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award:
Daniel Allen, School Leadership
Mydhili Bayyapunedi, Technology, Innovation, and Education
Mildred Boveda, Education Policy and Management
Sean Breen, Mind, Brain, and Education
Michael Clarke, Special Studies
Moise Derosier, International Education Policy
Nancy Evans, Higher Education
Kelly Kulsrud, Language and Literacy
Rosario Martinez, Learning and Teaching
Blake Noel, Prevention Science and Practice
Jason Rafferty, Human Development and Psychology
Anna West, Arts in Education
Kareen Wilkinson, Teacher Education

For full coverage of Commencement 2011, visit


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