Vanderbilt Peabody College faculty, student win national awards

Three Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development faculty members and a Peabody graduate student have been recently named recipients of national awards in their fields of study.

Donna Ford, professor of special education, has been selected as the 2008 National Association for Gifted Children Scholar of the Year.

The NAGC annually presents the Distinguished Scholar Award to an individual who has made significant contributions to the study of the education of gifted and talented individuals. Ford was judged by the NAGC to have “a continued record of distinguished scholarship and contributions to the field of gifted education for more than 10 years.”

The award will be presented Oct. 31 at NAGC’s 55th Annual Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Ford has written over 100 articles and chapters focusing on gifted education in urban, multicultural environments and has made over 200 presentations at professional conferences and school districts. She is the author of Reversing Underachievement Among Gifted Black Students and has co-authored several other books on the subject of designing and providing gifted education for minority students.

Video of Ford discussing her research is available on VUCast,

Janet Eyler, professor of the practice of education and director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, is the co-recipient of the 2008 National Society for Experiential Education Researcher of the Year Award. This award was made in recognition of Eyler’s research and publications in experiential education, and in particular, research she has conducted with Dwight Giles at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

The award was presented at the NSEE Conference in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 26.

Mary King, professor emerita at Fitchburg State College, nominated Eyler and Giles for this honor. In her nomination narrative King noted, “As individual scholars, they have an impressive history as authors of books, articles, book chapters and academic papers that spans decades of work in the field of experiential education. As a team of researchers, they have over 26 shared publications to their credit in this field including Where’s the Service in Service Learning? Their work covers multiple aspects of the impact of service learning as it pertains to student learning and development, faculty support and scholarship.”

Eyler’s research focuses on the impact of service learning on civic engagement, cognitive development, problem solving and transfer of learning. She is the co-author of three books and over 50 articles, book chapters and monographs.

Richard Lehrer, professor of science education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, has been awarded the Distinguished Contributions in Applications of Psychology to Education Award by the American Psychological Association‘s Board of Educational Affairs.

This award is given in recognition of the efforts of psychologists who have made distinguished contributions to education and training, who have produced imaginative innovations, or who have been involved in the developmental phases of programs in education and training in psychology.

Lehrer’s work focuses on children’s mathematical and scientific reasoning in the context of schooling. He also studies the design of learning environments that foster the growth and development of mathematical and scientific reasoning, as well as the concept of students as software designers. He has published over 100 articles, reviews and book chapters as well as six books.

Tracy Cummings, a graduate student in the Experimental Education Research and Training program, received the NASA Science Engineering Mathematics Aerospace Academy Award in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 26. The Science Engineering Mathematics Aerospace Academy is a national program with 22 sites in 17 states. Cummings worked with a team that was awarded a grant to build the 23rd site at Tennessee State University, the only SEMAA site in Tennessee. The TSU SEMAA Program was a finalist for the 2007 Innovations in American Government Award, sponsored by the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

In addition, Cummings is being awarded the NASA SEMAA Leadership Award in recognition of her exemplary work supporting the project’s efforts. She is credited with helping the program, which has provided 6,000 K-12 students with free programs designed to increase interest and participation in science, technology, engineering and math, succeed.

For more information about Peabody College, ranked the No. 2 education school in the nation in 2008 by U.S. News & World Report, visit

Media Contact: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-NEWS

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