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Student Spotlight: Tara Turley

Tara Turley

For RBA student Tara Turley, earning her bachelor’s degree is about much more than the academic prestige. It’s about setting an example of determination, hard work and the power of education for her two growing daughters.   

“I wanted to pursue my degree so that I would always have something that no one could ever take away from me again,” Turley said. “No matter what I do with my life or where I go, I will always have the satisfaction of a higher education and the ability to feed my children.” 

Turley’s path to the RBA program at CEHS began when she was laid off from the job she’d held since graduating high school. Determined to forge a new career path and support her family, Turley enrolled in a vocational training program to become a certified electrician. After completing the 44-week program, Turley started working as an electrician, ultimately deciding to join a union and pursue an apprenticeship in the field.   

By combining her apprenticeship with night classes she had completed over the years, Turley was able to earn a Board of Governors associate’s degree from Bridge Valley Community and Technical College in Charleston, W.Va. Through her apprenticeship program’s connection with the American Council on Education (ACE), Turley applied for and was selected as ACE’s student of the year for 2017.  

“It was pretty cool,” Turley said. “They gave me a scholarship, so I was able use that toward schooling.”  

After Turley’s adviser from Bridge Valley Community and Technical College encouraged her to pursue her bachelor’s degree, Turley selected CEHS’ RBA program for its flexibility and the opportunity to include her prior coursework and apprenticeship experience. Along the way, her adviser Colton Metzger has helped her find a path of study that fits her interests.   

Today, Turley is in her third semester of the program and is pursuing minors in business administration and human services. She hopes to use her courses to find a way to support people in the construction industry.   

“I have become increasingly interested in the safety side of things in the construction industry,” Turley said. “I want to be able to help people and keep them safe while performing their jobs. I believe that the communication skills I’m acquiring with the human services minor will certainly behoove me in that endeavor.” 

Turley has pursued a full course schedule since starting work on her RBA in the summer of 2016, and she’s managed to balance it all with a full-time job as an electrician, continued work on her electrical apprenticeship and raising her daughters, ages 12 and 14. Often, Turley will sit at her kitchen table with her daughters so they can all do their homework together.   

“They see me do my homework, and they have done better in school since I started this,” Turley said. “When I first lost my job, we were really in a bad place. I wanted my daughters to see tenacity, and I wanted them to learn what it is to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and to keep going.” 

Turley plans to complete her RBA coursework in the summer of 2018.

New endowment established in light of national teacher shortage

Catherine Perry Cotten

Catherine Perry Cotten

Donald Cotten

Donald Cotten

A newly established CEHS scholarship from Drs. Donald and Catherine Perry Cotten will support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in teacher education. 

“As major supporters of public education, Catherine and I believe in every person having access," Cotten said. "If it had not been for that access, in my case, I would not have been able to do what I have done and continue to do. We are pleased with the current spirit at the University in promoting and continuing to serve the state and the community. We hope our small gift will help continue to support the mission of our land-grant institution.” 

The Drs. Catherine Perry and Donald R. Cotten CEHS Scholarship will specifically support students pursing degrees in education with an emphasis in mathematics, science or computer science/technology. According to the couple, these subjects always suffer when there is a teacher shortage.  

“The Cotten’s gift comes at a truly opportune time, when classrooms across America are working to hire outstanding teachers, especially those in the areas of mathematics and science,” said CEHS Dean Gypsy Denzine. “Our College is grateful to be in a better position to recruit great students interested in teaching in those fields as a result of their generous gift.” 

Perry Cotten, a native of Morgantown, W.Va., received her BA in mathematics from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at WVU before returning to obtain her MA in education from CEHS.  Cotten received his EDD in curriculum and instruction from CEHS, the result of encouragement from a past colleague and mentor, the late Dr. Patricia Obenauf. 

The couple quickly leveraged their degrees and knowledge, launching them both into successful careers in education. Perry Cotten transitioned from high school mathematics to teaching mathematics, and later computer science, at the collegiate level. Cotten continued to teach at the collegiate level, serving in various leadership roles in academia.  

“WVU was fantastic in terms of what we learned and the opportunities it afforded us,” Perry Cotten said. “We both have continued to not only grow our careers, but have seen real results and improvements in education.” 

Cotten’s success in academia led him to work with state, federal and private sector partners in building competitive university education and research programs. Perry Cotten secured millions of dollars in state, federal and private foundation funding throughout her career in support of curriculum development, teacher education activities and technology innovation.  

According to the Cottens, while it is important students are still motivated to work hard inside and outside the classroom, they hope their scholarship will offer the students a little extra confidence and support.  

The gift was made as part of “A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University." 

Faculty Spotlight: Alex Hollo

Alex Hollo

Dr. Alex Hollo discovered her passion for helping students with high-incidence disabilities as a tutor in a program for at-risk youth managed by Vanderbilt University.

Though Hollo’s undergraduate degree was in English literature, her work with this program quickly inspired her to further her knowledge in special education.

“I loved those kids, and I loved everything about it,” Hollo said.

Once she earned her master’s degree in special education from Vanderbilt, Hollo moved to New York to teach students in residential treatment centers. There, Hollo began working for an organization where she taught students with learning, emotional, and behavioral disabilities to train service dogs for people with physical disabilities.

Hollo worked in this capacity for 10 years, but she ultimately decided to return to Vanderbilt to pursue her doctorate in special education. In this research-intensive program, Hollo found her niche as a scholar by working to answer a question that came from her years of experience working with students in residential treatment centers.

“What I noticed as a teacher and a practitioner is that you have these kids, who, a lot of the time, don’t fully understand what you’re talking about,” Hollo said. “They don’t have the rich or sophisticated language skills needed to understand complex, higher-order concepts, emotions or processes. They want to tell you something, but they don’t know how, so they act it out. No one gets the message they’re trying to send.”

As a doctoral student, Hollo began to investigate this issue, finding that there were 30 years worth of research describing this problem, but no one had suggested a solution.

“The overarching theme of my research is that kids with severe behavior problems have poor language skills, but nobody notices because of the behavior problems,” Hollo said.

Now an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education, Hollo’s current research seeks to develop interventions that address this problem, for students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities and for the educators who work with them.

“If you give students a way to communicate, problem behavior decreases,” Hollo said.

More specifically, Hollo is working to devise a means of functional communication for students who aren’t nonverbal, but who don’t use language appropriately. She is also analyzing ways to help teachers communicate more effectively with students, an intervention called “Effective Directives.”

“It’s about teaching teachers to modify how they give instructions to students so that the students are more likely to be able to follow them,” Hollo said.

Outside of her research, Hollo, who is also a board-certified behavior analyst, teaches courses in CEHS’ applied behavior analysis graduate program. According to Hollo, applied behavior analysis is “a science of learning and behavior that emphasizes designing interventions based on an understanding why people do what they do, which we would refer to as the function of behavior.”

Hollo explained that behavior analysts investigate this question by observing what people do and what happens in the environment as a result. They modify conditions so they can examine differences in behavior depending on what occurs before or after that behavior.

Throughout all of Hollo’s teaching and research, she hopes to demonstrate the importance of using evidence-based practices such as this in the special education field.

“My goal is to teach people how to identify sources of information and how to critically analyze those sources of information, regardless of what they’re going to do with that information,” Hollo said.

CEHS raises record $9.8 Million

On December 31, 2017, West Virginia University’s ‘A State of Minds Campaign’ came to a close with more than $1.2 billion donated. For CEHS, it was a milestone event. Generous contributions, totaling $9,876,999 from alumni and friends set CEHS well above its $6.6 million goal.  

“This accomplishment is amazing,” said CEHS Dean Gypsy Denzine. “Our alumni and friends devote their entire careers to educating and helping other people.  They also make giving to their alma mater a financial priority. We have the most loyal donors, who care deeply about the success of our students and the future of the College of Education and Human Services.  CEHS students and faculty members have greatly benefitted from the generosity of our donors and they will continue to thrive in the future.” 

During the campaign, CEHS established 48 new scholarship funds, nine research funds, 17 program support funds and three professorships/directorships. For the 2017-2018 academic year, a total of $196,775 was awarded in aid to CEHS students from these funds.  

“I have been fortunate to benefit from multiple scholarships in my time as a student at CEHS,” said JR Sprouse, a student in CEHS’ master of arts in certification program. “These scholarships have allowed me to stay in school full-time as I pursue my goal of becoming a teacher. I’ve met my scholarship donors and have been humbled by their generosity, passion and commitment to our College and to WVU.” 

The University’s campaign was publically launched June 2, 2012, as a three-year campaign with $750 million goal. In the summer of 2014, the goal was crushed. As a result the campaign was extended to December 2017 with a new goal of $1 billion. That new goal was met in the summer of 2016. 

For CEHS, the $6.6 million College goal was surpassed in April 2016. The largest percentage of donations came from individuals, mostly from CEHS alumni.  The rest of the contributions came from sources including corporations, foundations, trusts and estates.   

“‘Once a Mountaineer always a Mountaineer’ is the best way to describe the donors who gave so generously and made it possible for CEHS to exceed its campaign goal by more than $3 million,” said Dr. Bill Bingman, chair of the CEHS Visiting Committee. “For me and many others, donating is one way to thank West Virginia University for providing an education that has allowed me to achieve my lifetime goals.” 

The first ever WVU Day of Giving, was included in this success with over $337,000 being donated to CEHS by alumni and friends on November 7, 2017.  On this day, out of 145 donors, 56 made their first-ever donation to the University via a gift to our College.   

“As we celebrate this success, we must also look forward,” Denzine said. “We rely on the support of our generous donors as we continue to meet West Virginia’s needs and serve as a leader in education and human services.”

Student Spotlight: Brandon Kerr

Brandon Kerr

One of the most memorable moments in Brandon Kerr’s time at CEHS occurred at a McDonald’s in Romney, W.Va.  

Kerr, a second-year master’s student in CEHS’ speech-language pathology program, had the opportunity to work with a child and his family at Camp Gizmo, a five-day summer program held at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind in Romney, W.Va. For the duration of the camp, Kerr was paired with a young boy who was nonverbal and his family.  

“I really enjoyed my experience as a speech-language pathology graduate clinician at Camp Gizmo,” Kerr said. “I was honestly kind of intimidated by the thought of going to an unfamiliar place to work with families who really needed answers and reassurance for how to help their children communicate. After meeting my client and his family, I felt much more at ease and really enjoyed spending time with them.” 

At Camp Gizmo, Kerr used Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) to help this boy communicate with his family. When Kerr joined the family at McDonald’s for dinner during camp, Kerr had programmed different menu items into the boy’s AAC device so that he could identify them. Kerr’s client was then able to point out what each of his family members was having for dinner.  

“It was just really cool to see that even though he was basically nonverbal and didn’t really have any verbal output, he still knew what was going on,” Kerr said. “He could still communicate. You just had to give him that method of communication so he could participate in conversation and relate to his loved ones.” 

Now prepared to complete his program in May 2018, Kerr did not always envision himself working as a speech-language pathologist. After graduating from Messiah College in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in music business, Kerr went to work as a fundraiser for Redstone Presbyterian Senior Care in Greensburg, Pa. While working there, he came to know the facility’s speech therapist, and his interest in the field grew.  

“I was always interested in voice and kind of became interested in the voice therapy aspects of speech-language pathology, so that’s really how I bridged that gap from music business into the field of speech,” Kerr said.  

While Kerr was working at Redstone, his grandmother was a patient at the facility. This gave him the opportunity to see the real-world applications of speech-language pathology.   

“Toward the end of her life, my grandmother was starting to lose a lot of her speech, and she wasn’t really able to communicate with us,” Kerr said. “I always sat there with her and would help her eat her dinner and wonder what was going on in her mind. I just wished she could still speak her mind the way that she once would have.” 

Kerr was drawn to CEHS’ speech-language pathology program for its small feel, wealth of resources and numerous opportunities for practicum experiences.  

“I think that the program itself has a small, personalized feel to it, but then, you’re also at WVU where you’ve got a major medical center right across town,” Kerr said.   

As he looks toward graduation, Kerr hopes to find a position in healthcare to be able to help clients like his grandmother.   

“Because I have spent so much time in healthcare, I have gained a little more appreciation for the way somebody’s healthcare care is managed,” Kerr said. “I’m just looking forward to graduating, getting out in the real world and putting everything I’ve learned to use. It’s about helping people live their best lives.” 

Alumni Spotlight: Phil Caskey

Phil Caskey

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.” These words, which hang in Phil Caskey’s social studies classroom, have inspired and shaped his career as an educator at University High School in Morgantown, W.Va.  

Caskey, who left a long career as a sports information director at WVU to pursue teaching, integrates experiential learning into every facet of his work as a social studies educator. His decision to switch careers in 2010 was prompted not only by his love for history, but also by his desire to give back.  

“I have a passion for the social studies and for imparting that knowledge onto others,” Caskey said. “I had a lot of really good teachers who helped me out; it was a ‘pay it forward’ moment. The chance to give back, do some good and help out the young minds of our future was something very appealing to me.” 

A native of Martinsburg, W.Va., Caskey grew up just 13 minutes from Antietam National Battlefield, one hour from Gettysburg National Military Park and an hour-and-a-half from the site of the Battle of First Manassas. From a young age, Caskey was a Civil War buff who understood the significance of the Civil War for the State and the nation.  

“I think it certainly helped growing in a history-rich, tradition-rich area like Martinsburg,” Caskey said. “West Virginia is state created from the Civil War; we were born from battle. It’s important that we tell the story of how we got here.” 

After completing CEHS’ master of arts in certification program in 2012, Caskey found his way to his current position at University High School, where his experiential approach to learning history quickly gained popularity with students.  

“Notes, PowerPoints and worksheets have a place, but I prefer a hands-on approach with experiential learning,” Caskey said. “History can be incredibly boring if it’s presented the wrong way.” 

Caskey’s most popular class is an elective called Civil War Studies, a course that he built from scratch. For the course, students have the opportunity to paint toy soldiers, simulate Civil War battles and participate in daytrips to Civil War landmarks such as Antietam National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry, W.Va. For his work in creating and implementing this course, Caskey was selected as the 2016 Civil War Trust Teacher of the Year. 

In order to reach students who weren’t able to participate in the trips, Caskey invited a group of 30 Civil War reenactors to University High School to simulate a Civil War encampment in April 2017. The reenactment included canons, a medical tent and mock drills.   

“I wanted to get people here immersed in the culture of how the Civil War shaped who we are as West Virginians,” Caskey said. “It was extremely well received.” 

In recognition of the work he does to bring history to life for his students, Caskey was nominated and selected as the 2017 Daughters of the American Revolution West Virginia State Social Studies Teacher of the Year. For Caskey, recognition like this reaffirms his decision to become a teacher. 

“I’m incredibly proud to be a Mountaineer and incredibly proud to have gone to WVU for my master’s degree through the College of Education and Human Services,” Caseky said. “It’s been a blessing, this whole journey. The awards reinforce that I’m doing the right thing by myself and by my students.” 

Faculty Spotlight: William Beasley

William Beasley

Throughout the course of his career, Dr. William Beasley has been seeking ways to improve students’ classroom experiences with technology. Beasley, who holds his EdD in education of the gifted, began his career by researching ways to use what were then termed “microcomputers” in gifted education.  

“I’m an early adopter, which is why I’ve spent my professional career teaching people how to use technology,” Beasley said.  

Years later, Beasley continues to support digital learning by helping graduate students across West Virginia University learn how to design, implement and instruct online courses. Beasley, a professor in the Department of Learning Sciences and Human Development, teaches a course titled “GRAD 693A:  Online Teaching and Learning” for graduate students in any academic discipline.   

Offered each fall, the aim of the course is to educate these future faculty members about the components of building quality online courses, something many up-and-coming faculty members don’t learn until they assume full-time positions. Beasley seeks to reverse this trend. 

“It’s very important, because most university faculty members have never had the opportunity for much in the way of training, pedagogy, classroom management or online course development,” Beasley said. “They’re often deeply knowledgeable in their disciplines, and they know what courses they’ve had as students and how those were taught, but those courses weren’t necessarily taught optimally.”  

According to Beasley, the three components of successful online instruction are solid instructional design, instructor engagement and students who are enrolled in the online courses for the right reasons.  

“You don’t teach an online course the same way you teach a traditional classroom course,” Beasley said. “One of the things that makes a good online class is good instructional design that’s been created with an understanding of the online environment and the online student.” 

To learn how to design good online courses, students in Beasley’s class are tasked with developing online courses of their own, a process that gives them a new perspective on instructional design.  

“Just being a student in an online course can be demanding, but you don’t see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes,” Beasley said. “It’s the difference between riding in the passenger’s seat and driving down Beechurst at class-change time.” 

Many of the students in Beasley’s class design courses that are then implemented by their respective academic departments. For the assignment, students have the option of creating a course from scratch or adapting a preexisting course for the online setting.  

“We’ve got a great mix of courses from multiple colleges across WVU – some undergraduate, some graduate,” Beasley said. “The hands-on experience and the chance to interact with other students and an instructor to ask questions of is invaluable.”  

For Beasley, sharing expertise in instructional design and technology to help graduate students become better teachers is a meaningful way to contribute to his field.  

“I like online courses and they’re very interesting to me, so to the extent that I can help people create online courses that are good online courses and teach them in ways that provide positive experiences for the students in them, I feel like I’ve accomplished what I really want to do professionally in my niche of the world,” Beasley said. 

CEHS Launches Minor in Addiction Studies

In the face of the national opioid epidemic, the  West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services will launch its  minor in addiction studies beginning in the fall of 2018. The minor, open to undergraduate students in all academic disciplines, will provide students with a broad-based view of addiction theories, assessment and treatment to prepare them for employment in substance use disorder treatment and related settings.

Student Spotlight: McKenzi Barnette

In the summer of 2017, McKenzi Barnett rebounded and passed basketballs to her first-grade students in the West Bronx. Though the future educator wasn’t in New York City to play basketball, she learned just as much about teaching on the basketball court as she did in her classroom. Meet McKenzi.

Alumni Spotlight: Mandi Figlioli

Mandi Figlioli

Throughout her career as an educator and administrator, CEHS alumna Mandi Figlioli has been driven by her love of learning and for finding innovative ways to foster creativity among students.  

Figlioli currently serves as assistant to the superintendent for Burgettstown Area School District in southwestern Pennsylvania. This role encompasses many responsibilities, including finding new ways to engage teachers and students in the learning process.  

“In my job, where I have really found a niche is in the maker movement and in the STEM and STEAM fields,” Figlioli said. “I do a lot of grant-writing for the district and have really had the opportunity to be on the front lines of implementing innovation and new strategies.” 

In 2014, Figlioli wrote and earned a grant through the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to kick start the maker movement in her school district by building maker spaces in the schools. The maker movement encourages students to innovate by finding solutions to problems in everyday materials.  

“Something that I’m pioneering for the district is bringing in new tools for the students to use – high-tech tools like robotics programming and circuitry, but also low-tech and no-tech items involved in making,” Figlioli said. “We really don’t want to let creativity get lost. We don’t really know what jobs are going to look like for these kids, so they need to be able to not only solve problems, but find problems.” 

Figlioli’s work in the maker movement and her own love for learning inspired her to write a children’s book called “Miss Makey and the Magic Bin,” set to be published in fall 2018.  

“It’s about a teacher who is bubbly and excited about learning, and who is really into collecting trash and upcycling,” Figlioli said. “She collects things like water bottles and egg cartons and uses her imagination to create things that solve problems.” 

For Figlioli, writing a children’s book brings her back full-circle to her time at CEHS, where she earned her degree in elementary education in the five-year teacher education program. As part of the action research project she completed for her final year of the program, Figlioli studied integrating literacy into mathematics.  

“Literacy has always been a great tool,” Figlioli said. “It’s an invitation to have conversations and an invitation to be curious. I knew that there were a lot of books related to mathematics through my action research at WVU, so when I started getting involved in STEM and making, I saw that there was a trend in literature toward targeting these areas.” 

Ultimately, Figlioli’s work in STEM and making has not only provided her with the opportunity to inspire creativity among students and faculty, but also in her own life. She views this as her way of making a difference in the world. 

“Students should be able to explore their passions and interests so they can find what they’re going to be as adults,” Figlioli said. “That’s what makes the world a better place. I want to make sure that my students have every opportunity that any other kid in any other district would have.” 

Hoylman establishes scholarship in honor of daughter's passion for education

Donna Hoylman Peduto and Don Hoylman

The Donna Hoylman Peduto Endowed Scholarship was established by Don and Marcella Hoylman in honor of their daughter’s long-time career in and passion for education.   

Previously an annual scholarship, the $25,000 endowment gift will now perpetually provide a yearly scholarship in support of an undergraduate teacher education student enrolled at CEHS, with a preference for West Virginia residents.  

“My wife, Marcella, and I wished to recognize and honor the tremendous impact our daughter, Donna, has made on students in West Virginia during her 20-plus year tenure as a teacher in Marion County Schools,” Hoylman said. “Her reach has extended beyond her classroom and has positively affected thousands of students through her love of teaching and dedication to the profession.” 

Peduto earned her bachelor’s in elementary education in 1977 and her master of arts in reading in 1980, both from CEHS.  Since graduation, Peduto has remained a committed supporter of her alma mater, and is currently serving as a member of the CEHS Visiting Committee.  Her and her family’s contributions to CEHS have had a clear and lasting impact. The Donna Hoylman Peduto Annual Scholarship has provided support to nine CEHS students, eight who are currently teachers and one set to graduate in 2018. 

“We are beyond appreciative for the Hoylman family’s support of our aspiring teachers,” said Dean Gypsy Denzine. “I have personally experienced Donna’s passion and dedication to the profession and am grateful that we are able to share her story with our students through this award.” 

According to Peduto, her experience as a CEHS student was outstanding. 

“The education I received enabled me to become a highly qualified educator,” said Peduto. “In addition, I was able to become a teacher leader through the Benedum Foundation five-year program, which opened up so many doors for me within teaching and beyond. My career moves have been seamless because of the excellent foundation provided by CEHS.” 

Donna left the classroom after 20 years teaching, stepping into leadership positions with the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Board of Education, as director of K-12 initiatives at the EdVenture Group, and as the director of the learning lab network at the Stupski Foundation in San Francisco. Now, she continues to be a leader in education, serving as the executive director of the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative at WVU.   

It was Donna’s successful career, which began with her exceptional education at WVU, that motivated her parents to honor her with this gift to CEHS.  

“The academic rigor of her education at WVU enabled our daughter to become not only an excellent teacher, but also an exemplary leader in the fields of both education and business,” Hoylman said. “We hope this scholarship will encourage and support aspiring teachers at WVU. Marcella and I always felt strongly that teachers should be respected and elevated at the highest level.”  

Hoylman believes this scholarship will help to bring attention to the amazing value of the teaching profession, while also providing those students who have the hope and desire to change the lives of children to select teaching as a profession. 

“I am so touched my parents have honored me through this endowed scholarship,” Peduto said. “It demonstrates their high regard for the profession of teaching and their personal pride in my career as a teacher.”

Dean's Message

It’s difficult to believe that another successful academic year at the College of Education and Human Services is drawing to a close. As Commencement approaches, we experience the bittersweet feeling of saying ‘see you later’ to our graduates and the joy of watching them make their mark on the world.  

May is also a time of great celebration for our College, not only for our graduates, but also for our outstanding alumni. We are delighted to recognize four such alumni with Jasper N. Deahl Awards at our CEHS Alumni Dinner on May 4, 2018. The recipients of these awards represent the very best in professional leadership, community engagement and loyalty to our State and University. We are so proud of all they have achieved. 

Furthermore, our College has the great privilege of welcoming alumna Colonel Kristen Casto as our Commencement Speaker on May 13, 2018. Colonel Casto earned her BS in speech pathology and audiology and her MS in audiology, both from our College. She has served our country as an Army audiologist and now serves as director of the Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Audiology and the Hearing Conservation Consultant to the Army Surgeon General. We look forward to hearing her wisdom for our graduates.  

While we celebrate the class of 2018 and the many achievements of our students and alumni, we are already hard at work preparing for another year at CEHS. We thank you for your support and enthusiasm for all that we do and all that lies ahead.  

CEHS recognizes four alumni with Jasper N. Deahl Awards

The West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services is pleased to announce the four recipients of the 2018 Jasper N. Deahl Award, which honors CEHS alumni for demonstrated leadership in their personal careers, engagement in their communities and/or loyalty to the state of West Virginia or WVU. The 2018 awardees are Barbara N. Armstrong, Gretchen Gibson, Donna Hoylman Peduto and Lydotta M. Taylor. 

Barbara N. Armstrong, PhD, was a nationally recognized leader in family life and adult education, and held numerous teaching, administration and research positions during her academic career in home economics. During her career, Armstrong earned distinguished teaching awards from West Virginia University, the University of Akron and The Ohio State University. Other accolades included recognition as an Outstanding Home Economist by the Ohio Home Economics Association and the Distinguished Service to Families Award from the Ohio Council on Family Relations. Armstrong earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in family and child development from WVU, as well as a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Akron, and her PhD in human ecology from The Ohio State University. Armstrong passed away in June 2013.  

Gretchen Gibson, NBCT, is a mathematics teacher at Morgantown High School who was selected as the 2010 West Virginia Teacher of the Year. Gibson also earned the Arch Coal Teacher Achievement Award in 2009 and obtained her National Board Certification in 2008. Students in Gibson’s AP Calculus AB course consistently score above the national average on their AP exams, and she offers an afterschool ACT/SAT preparation course that helps students improve their scores on college entrance exams. Gibson serves as the student council advisor at Morgantown High School, helping students organize school and community food drives, caroling at nursing homes and Mohigan Idol, an annual fundraiser for WVU Medicine Children’s that has raised more than $80,000 for the organization since 2008. She has been the director of the West Virginia Governor's School for Math and Science since 2011. Gibson earned her BS in speech pathology and audiology from WVU in 2001.  

Donna Hoylman Peduto is an experienced educator and long-time expert in educational policy in West Virginia, and currently serves as executive director of the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative. Prior to assuming this position, Peduto served as director of operations for the West Virginia State Board of Education. Throughout her career, Peduto has held numerous positions with the West Virginia Department of Education and also worked as director of Learning Lab Network Sites and senior innovation lab coordinator for the Stupski Foundation in San Francisco. Peduto has led multiple educational research, technology-based, and personalized learning initiatives and has more than 20 years of public school teaching experience. The Donna Hoylman Peduto Scholarship, awarded annually to a teacher education student in the College of Education and Human Services, was created by her parents in her honor. Peduto earned her BS in elementary education and her MA in reading from WVU.  

Lydotta M. Taylor, EdD, is president and CEO of The EdVenture Group, an organization that manages federal, state, local and private funding to provide innovative solutions to common education obstacles throughout the nation. Taylor is also the owner and president of L-evation, LLC, a certified small business working with corporate organizations on personal and organizational development, culture, change and strategic planning. She has served as an adjunct professor for the West Virginia University Leadership Studies program and for the WVU College of Business and Economics MSIR, MBA, and eMBA programs. Taylor served as the 2018 campaign chair for the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties and on the board of the Salvation Army. She began her career as a mathematics teacher at Morgantown High School and holds her BSEd in secondary education, her MA in secondary education and her EdD in Curriculum & Instruction, all from WVU. 

The Jasper N. Deahl Award recipients will be recognized at the annual CEHS Alumni Dinner on Friday, May 4, at the Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown, W.Va.  For more on the award, past recipients and nomination information, please visit the Jasper N. Deahl Award page.  

Casto to speak at spring commencement

Kristen Casto

When she completed her bachelor’s degree at CEHS in 1991, Col. Kristen Casto was selected as the student speaker for her Commencement ceremony. Twenty-seven years later, Casto will serve as the Commencement speaker for her alma mater at the College’s May 12, 2018, ceremony.  

For Casto, now the Director of the Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Audiology and Hearing Conservation Consultant to the Army Surgeon General, speaking to her peers as a student was a nerve-racking task.  

“I didn’t feel like I had any words of wisdom to share,” Casto said. “I remember feeling very uneasy about that.” 

As an undergraduate student at CEHS, Casto studied speech pathology and audiology and participated in the WVU ROTC program. According to Casto, both programs prepared her well for the position she holds today. 

“The ROTC component of my education was very focused on leadership,” Casto said. “The combination of the ROTC leadership training with the subject-matter education and clinical and technical training in my academic program was very powerful.” 

After finishing her bachelor’s degree, Casto took an educational delay from the military to continue pursuing her master’s degree in audiology at CEHS. When she completed her graduate program in 1993 and after a clinical fellowship in 1994, she began fulfillment of her four-year commitment to the military as an Army audiologist.  

Originally, Casto did not think she’d continue to serve in the military after her four years were up, but the choice to stay has provided her with a fruitful career.  

“I told my first boss that I’d be leaving the military when my four-year commitment was over,” Casto said. “Three years ago, I reached retirement eligibility. Needless to say, I was wrong.” 

Throughout her storied career, Casto has continued her academic pursuits by earning her AuD from Central Michigan University and her PhD in industrial systems engineering (human factors) from Virginia Tech. She has worked as an Army audiologist at Fort Riley, Kan., Fort Rucker, Ala., Fort Campbell, Ky., and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. 

After completing her PhD in 2009, Casto led the Acoustics Branch at the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Fort Rucker, Ala., and from 2012 to 2017, she served as the Audiology Staff Officer to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Health at the Office of the Surgeon General in Falls Church, Va. 

According to Casto, her wealth of experiences – both good and bad — has taught her some important life lessons to share with the class of 2018. Much like when she spoke to her fellow graduates in 1991, Casto feels the burden of sharing her wisdom with others.  

“I don’t want to come across as having done everything right,” Casto said.  

In her remarks, Casto hopes to provide helpful tips for graduates to include in their daily lives in order to meet their larger goals. 

“A lot of commencement speeches that you hear are about following your dreams, but I’m going to offer more practical advice,” Casto said. “Because, ultimately, you have immediate control over little things you do every day, and a lot of little things done well over time turns out to be a big thing done well in the end.” 

Jolyn Lentz Receives Her First Hearing Aid