Skip to Main Content
College of Education and Human Services

UNF Holmes Scholar Program

twoColumn twoLeft

The University of North Florida College of Education and Human Services is a proud member of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) Holmes Scholar Program. The AACTE Holmes Program supports high achieving doctoral students who self-identify from underserved groups and are pursuing doctoral degrees in education at AACTE member institutions. UNF Scholars are selected based on their accomplishments.

UNF Holmes Scholars enjoy the benefit of mentorship at the local and national level, professional development opportunities, and membership in a national network of peers. UNF Holmes scholars have opportunities to present their research at the AACTE annual conference as well as participate in the AACTE Holmes Scholars Summer Policy Institute and AACTE Day on the Hill.

Meet the Scholars

Crishana Benton head shot

Crishana Benton

Crishana "Crissy" Benton is in her second year of UNF's doctoral program in Educational Leadership. Crissy received her bachelor's in Journalism from Florida A&M University and graduated from UNF with an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. In the 15-year span of her career, Crissy has taught elementary, high school, and adult education. Her current work as a program coordinator at FSCJ aligns with her desire to widen access points for underrepresented student groups. Among her work and doctoral studies, Crissy also represents her cohort on the Ed.D. Steering Committee and works as a Graduate Assistant in both research and teaching. Crissy is driven to infuse trauma-informed practices in higher education and her research interests are educational equity in the virtual classroom and whole-person productivity in faculty research output.

Easter Brown head shot

Easter Brown

Easter is in her second year in the pursuit of her Ed.D. Easter served as a classroom teacher for six years and three years as Resident Clinical Faculty for a Professional Development School in partnership with the University of North Florida before becoming an elementary school administrator. In continued efforts to bridge the gap between higher education and K-12 education, Easter serves as a member of the Business and Industry Leadership Team for Education and Human Services at FSCJ and UNF’s Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Advisory Board. Easter is passionate in culturally responsive pedagogy in elementary school curriculum and the leadership journeys of Black female educators in predominantly white institutions, specifically K-12 education. She is a proud alumna of FSCJ and Jacksonville University.

Brooke Cobbin head shot

Brooke Cobbin

Brooke is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership Program at UNF. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and graduated from the University of Florida with an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. Brooke is honored to be a part of the Holmes Scholar Program and looks forward to broadening her academic and professional knowledge. She has over ten years of teaching and leadership experience in urban settings at various levels and currently serves as a clinical instructor in elementary education at the University of North Florida. She also represents her cohort on the Ed.D. Steering Committee and serves as a mentor to aspiring educators. Her research interests include how professional development school leaders enact their role in coaching for equity and how action research can serve as a catalyst for culturally responsive pedagogy.

Shaneka Ferrell head shot

Shaneka Ferrell

Shaneka Ferrell is a third-year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at the University of North Florida. She received her bachelor’s degree from Edward Waters University and a master’s degree in Counselor Education; School Counseling at the University of North Florida. Shaneka has a rich 6 years of experience as a school counselor at one of the top performing and visual arts secondary schools in the nation. Shaneka is extremely passionate about exploring educational spaces from anti-racist, social justice and advocacy lenses. Her research interests focus on advancing racial and ethnic diversity in the K-12 performing and visual arts teacher workforce.

Lindsay Gallon head shot

Lindsay M. Gallon

Lindsay is a third-year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction Program at the University of North Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida Memorial University in Music and her master’s degree from the University of North Florida in Educational Leadership. Lindsay was an educator for 12 years in urban Title I schools and has served as a teacher, mentor, math coach and assistant principal, before transitioning to higher education at UNF where she still serves in urban based schools. As a Resident Clinical Instructor in Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum department, she supports a school within the UNF Professional Development School partnership and teacher candidates matriculating through the UNF elementary teacher preparation program. Her research interests focus on the impact that peer coaching models will have on teacher candidates’ professional growth by engaging in collaboration and reflexivity. Lindsay is honored to be a Holmes Doctoral Scholar.

Tiffany Green head shot

Tiffany Green

Tiffany Green is a third-year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction Program at the University of North Florida. She earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology from Jacksonville University and a double master's degree in Human Resources Development and Management and Leadership from Webster University. Tiffany has been an educator for 16 years in urban Title 1 schools and has served as a teacher and reading coach before serving as a school-based administrator. Tiffany is currently the principal of Annie R. Morgan Elementary School. Being in administration and reflecting on the preparation process has led her to her research interest, the Effectiveness of Principal Preparation Programs and Principal Non-Reappointment.  

Stephanie Jackson head shot

Stephanie Jackson

Stephanie is a second-year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership Program at the University of North Florida. Stephanie has over 15 years of experience in education and currently serves as the owner of two preschools where she oversees curriculum implementation and professional learning initiatives. She received her bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Stephanie’s experiences in culturally diverse schools with a lack of culturally responsive teaching has led to her vested interest in developing and facilitating professional learning focused on using students’ cultural and ethnic backgrounds to cultivate their academic mindsets. Her research interests include examining the presence of culturally responsive teaching practices in preschool classrooms and understanding how early childhood education programs can lead efforts to eliminate the preschool to prison pipeline.

Marlena Jenkins head shot

Marlena Jenkins

Marlena is a board certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA) with over 20 years of experience working with individuals with developmental and behavioral diagnoses. She holds a Master of Science in Developmental Disabilities with a concentration in Leadership/Advocacy and a Bachelor of Arts in K-12 Special Education. Additionally, Marlena served on a committee responsible for revamping the Florida Educator’s Autism Endorsement. Marlena’s passion for serving students in the areas of inclusion and advocacy led to her current role as the Lead Clinician with the University of Florida Neurodevelopmental Pediatric and Autism Center. It is in this position, that she provides training to families, educational and community personnel, and individuals identified with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and medical or educational complexities. Marlena plans to focus her doctoral research on equity, specifically educator and peer beliefs and practices toward the inclusion of students with disabilities.

Jeania Jones head shot

Jeania Jones

Jeania is a second-year doctoral student in the Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction Program at UNF. She received her bachelor’s degree from UNF in Pre-K/Primary Education and master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University in Teaching and Learning. Jeania has 8 years of teaching experience in Title I urban elementary settings. She currently serves as the Co-Curriculum Area Director, Lead Field I Instructor, Clinical Supervisor, and Faculty in Residence at the University of North Florida in the Elementary Program of the College of Education and Human Services. She serves as a mentor to recent graduates and aspiring educators that are current students at UNF. Her research interests focus on the influence that professional learning communities for culturally responsive teaching have on teacher’s self-efficacy within professional development schools.

Dominique Keys head shot

Dominique Keys

Dominique Keys is a third-year doctoral student. Dominique is currently serving his fifth year as an Assistant Principal at KIPP Impact Academy, a public charter serving youth in Northwest Jacksonville. Before this role, he worked as a 7/8th grade science teacher, grade level chair, and content lead. A native of Washington, D.C., he obtained his bachelor’s and master's degrees from Tennessee State University. Dominque is passionate about urban education, successful principal leadership practices; his current research interests include educational leadership, teacher development, quality instruction, and student achievement and its impacts on marginalized and urban youth. Dominique is honored to be part of the Holmes Scholar Program and looks forward to learning from the scholarly community and partnering with others to increase the diversity, equity, and inclusion of minority voices in research.

Charles McWhite head shot

Charles McWhite

Charles McWhite is a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program at the University of North Florida. A former elementary school teacher, he is currently the principal at Tiger Academy Elementary School, a YMCA public charter school located in Jacksonville, Florida. A native of Jacksonville, Charles received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his master’s degree from the University of North Florida. He currently coordinates the curriculum implementation process and professional development activities at Tiger Academy. Charles has experience as an administrator in both elementary and secondary schools. He has served as a volunteer for AdvancED on school accreditation reviews for schools as well as districts in multiple states, including Florida, Georgia and Michigan. His research interests include school choice and effective professional development implementation in the K-5 setting.

Tommy Silas head shot

Tommy Silas

“Coach” Tommy Silas is a school-based administrator at an academic acceleration school, a member of the “Divine 29” Doctoral Cohort at UNF, and a member of the first Freshman class admitted to UNF. Tommy is a native of Orlando, but attend Jacksonville public schools. As a coach, he was a Level II USATF Track & Field and Cross Country and Coach of the Year at Raines High School. Throughout his career as an educator and student advocate, he has worked to make the inclusion of marginalized students in academically rigorous events the norm and has inspired students to excel. His research interests focus on teacher bias and students attending academic remediation schools.

Dione Webber head shot

Dione Webber

Dione Webber is a school-based administrator at Mayport Coastal Sciences Elementary School located in Jacksonville Florida. Prior to becoming an administrator, she was an instructional math coach at the Bridge to Success Academy, a double promotion program for students two to three years’ overage for grade. As a teacher she taught 9th through 12th grade mathematics at William Marion Raines High School. Having had a range of experiences at schools primarily educating students from lower socio-economic status, Dr. Webber is extremely passionate about educating youth through the use of culturally relevant pedagogy and sustained relationships that build students character beyond the walls of the classroom. Her research interests focus on the perspectives and experiences of students that are overage including students who successfully completed school after being overaged.

Doctoral students selected as AACTE Holmes Scholars:

  • Are pursuing a terminal degree in the education field. These individuals may be nominated after successfully completing two semesters of coursework and begin their Scholar status at any point after this that the UNF COEHS is prepared to fully support their participation.
  • Are members of groups traditionally underrepresented in leadership positions in the education and education research fields (especially racial, linguistic, and ethnic minorities, and people with exceptionalities).
  • Intend to be or are engaged in teacher education (pre-service and/or in-service) OR are engaged in fields/specializations with a clear school-based focus (e.g., teacher leadership, curriculum and instruction, educational administration, education technology, or counseling).
  • Demonstrate a commitment to equity and diversity.
  • Agree to participate in university-school-community collaborative partnership activities, including teaching, research, service and advocacy efforts.

Apply to be a Holmes Scholar

The UNF Holmes Scholar Fellowship is awarded to students who are actively working to complete their doctoral degree in PK-12 education. This fellowship awards UNF doctoral students funding to attend Holmes Scholar events. Awards may be renewed for up to three years.


Scholar Benefits

UNF Holmes Scholars enjoy the benefit of mentorship at the local and national level by Holmes Scholar alumni currently in academia and other leadership positions. Scholars have access to a national network of peers with access to dedicated social networks. UNF Holmes Scholars have opportunities to present thier research and participate in dedicated mentoring forums at the AACTE annual conference. Scholars can also participate in leadership and professional development at the national level. For more information on the benefits of being a Holmes Scholar, visit AACTE's Benefits for Students webpage.

Now Accepting Applications for the 2020-21 Academic Year

Applicants are required to submit

  1. an application form,
  2. a cover letter,
  3. a letter of support from a COEHS doctoral teaching faculty member, and
  4. a 3-5 page curriculum vitae/resume.

All application materials are due by email to Dr. David Hoppey no later than August 1. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.


If you are interested in becoming a UNF Holmes Scholar, or would like an application form, contact Dr. David Hoppey at