Dr. Susan M. Syverud is an associate professor
in the Department of Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreter Education in the College
of Education and Human Services at the University of North Florida. She serves
as Professor in Residence at the Urban Professional Development School Woodland
Acres Elementary, Jacksonville, Florida and is currently developing an International
Professional Development School in Belmopan, Belize.
She primarily teaches
literacy methods for exceptional learners courses where her students tutor
struggling readers under her guidance and supervision. Her research interests
include preventing reading failures, remediating poor academic achievement of
struggling learners, preparing highly qualified educators within a professional
development school model, and developing university-school partnerships.
In 2011, the Department of Exceptional, Deaf,
and Interpreter Education became a designated “Community-Based Transformational
Learning Engaged Department.” At this time, Dr. Syverud was already serving as a Professor in
Residence at UNF Urban Professional Development School Woodland Acres
Elementary where she prepared teacher candidates to tutor young struggling
readers, provided professional development and coaching as needed, and served
on various leadership teams. Although Dr. Syverud was collecting and analyzing
data weekly from my UNF students to determine if the children were making
learning gains and to guide her UNF students if the children were not, as a
Community Scholar, she realized that she was not collecting data that
investigated the impact that tutoring young struggling readers at an Title I urban
elementary school where almost the entire population are children of poverty
and an increasing amount of English Language Learners had on her UNF students.
Thus, she had her UNF students write reflection papers that addressed their
commitment to citizenship or, more specifically, their commitment to equity and
social justice for students and families from diverse cultures and communities.
overall feedback from these reflections reinforced the rationale for UNF’s
commitment to urban education.
Most recently, Dr. Syverud has taken her
commitment to equity and social justice via university-school partnerships
abroad to Belize. Along with several of her colleagues, she received a $90,000
grant to develop an International Professional Development School (IPDS) in
Belmopan, Belize. In addition to strengthening university-school partnerships
in Belize and improving literacy achievement and special education services,
the IPDS has provided a perfect venue to immerse UNF faculty and students’ in a
different culture by extending UNF faculty and students’ commitment to
community-based learning in Belize. The IPDS that was selected in Belmopan,
Belize is primarily a Mayan school. The needs of the children mirror many of the
children’s needs in our urban schools in Jacksonville, Florida. The informal
reflections that have been collected reinforce the transformational power of this
partnership that upholds a global commitment to equity and social justice.
As a Community Scholar this past year, Dr.
Syverud co-authored a book chapter that discusses her local community-based
work entitled “A Stone of Hope: Preparing
Masterful Readers and Teachers in an Urban Professional Development School.”
(Syverud, Delane, & Raiser, in press). She also shared her community-based
university-school partnership work in five scholarly presentations. In regards
to her most recent international work, Dr. Syverud’s was invited to participate
on a panel discussion on Global Citizenship and contributed to two scholarly
presentations describing the development of the UNF International Professional
Development School in Belize.
For the 2016-2017 academic year, Dr.
Syverud plans to conduct formal research investigations of the impact of her community-based
work in our Urban and International Professional Development Schools in
Jacksonville, Florida and Belmopan, Belize, respectively. Disseminations of
these investigations will assist in validating and broadening the impact of her
Dr. Syverud earned her Ph.D.
and M.S. in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She
earned a B.S. in Economics from the same institution.
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