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 served 12 years 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. The 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.
In November 2017, the
Florida Campus Compact awarded second place to the University of North Florida
with Duval County Public Schools Urban Professional Development Program. Dr.
Syverud, along with numerous of her university-school partners, was
instrumental in contributing to the success of attaining this
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.