Transforming Education—March 2017

If you’re always racing to the next moment,
what happens to the one you’re in?

A collision of events and observations this month is summed up in this quote. It began with a conversation I had with a friend whose child is in the final stage of the college selection process. The angst of the parent was about what their child would major in and what the job market may be in four years. Having had two children who have completed college, and given my day job, my advice was to make sure their child selected the school that felt like the best fit, encourage them to enter as an exploratory student, and to give them time to find their passion. Only a week earlier I had a young man in my office, a senior majoring in business, telling me he wished he could start over in college because he had discovered a passion for teaching. He shared he had felt the pressure to select a major early and that his parents had emphasized it needed to be a career that would provide a sound financial future. What had been the hurry to make an early decision, racing through the moments of college life without fully embracing the current moment?

A few days later I received an article about the urgency of incorporating college and career readiness standards into the elementary curriculum. James L. Hymes, considered to be a founding father of early childhood education in America, wrote the seminal text Teaching Children Under Six. Over 50 years ago, Hymes challenged the concept of “getting children ready” in the early childhood years. He asked why it is that when a child is four years old the common education practices are to get the child ready to be five years old. Why is it we don’t celebrate all of the wonder of being four, offering experiences for children to learn, realizing they will become five years old on their own? Why is it in American culture we do not appreciate all that each age offers? Why can’t we celebrate, nurture, and encourage without a goal of hurrying to be the next age?

Two days after receiving the article, I began reading the fourth book written by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. In his recent novella, And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, the following dialogue between the Grandpa (G) and grandson Noah (N) reminded me of how Hymes’ message resonates today.

He always wants to know everything about school, but not like other adults, who only want to know if Noah is behaving. Grandpa wants to know if the school is behaving. It hardly ever is.

N: Our teacher made us write a story about what we want to be when we’re big.

G: What did you write?

N: I wrote that I wanted to concentrate on being little first.

G: That’s a very good answer.

N: Isn’t it? I would rather be old than a grown-up. All grown-ups are angry; it’s just children and old people who laugh.

G: Did you write that?

N: Yes.

G: What did your teacher say?

N: She said I hadn’t understood the task.

G: And what did you say?

N: I said she hadn’t understood my answer.

The last collision in the series of events was one that shook me to my core and reminded me of the preciousness of each moment of each day. This month’s column is dedicated to the life and memory of Jackie Kleine Watts, COE Butler 2007 graduate. Jackie lost her life on March 4 as she tried to rescue a lost dog. Her love for animals was immense and her willingness to help others, even those she never met, were qualities to be admired and respected. I was fortunate to see Jackie a few months ago when we bumped into one another at a restaurant. I was delighted to see her and to catch up. She showed me pictures of her pets and we took a photo together. She shared how much she loved her work as an esthetician at an upscale hotel. She asked me if I was disappointed that she was not using her teaching degree. My reply was education happens in many places and in many ways and that the ultimate goal I have for every student is to find happiness. It gives me comfort knowing that she was genuinely happy—she had reached the goal of contentment and peacefulness. Jackie did not race from moment to moment but rather lived each moment fully. She reminded me that life is NOT about what the person will do but rather who they will become. In honor of Jackie, I ask you to pause, be thankful, and live fully every moment. Tomorrow will arrive all on its own.

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education

Editor’s Note: In our ongoing quest to highlight best practices in teaching, we present Brandie Oliver. Oliver is an expert in bullying prevention.

Transforming Education—February 2017


Give to every human being every right you claim for yourself.
Happiness is the only good. The time for happiness is now.
The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.

–Robert G. Ingersoll 

Perhaps like me, you are concerned about many issues happening in our country and the greater world. The negativity, regardless of your political affiliation, may be wearing you down and fear about the future can easily consume you. As I began to write this month’s column, I pondered what I could possibly offer that would be of value and support. Ironically within two days of initiating my writing, I received email messages composed by two of my favorite authors and their shared topics were happiness and fear.

The two authors were Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change, and Margaret (Meg) Wheatley, anthropologist and author of several books including Walk Out…Walk On. Meg begins with the importance of acknowledging fear, to be curious about it, to investigate it, and to engage directly with it. She wrote, “It is our curiosity that transforms fear. Most often, it dissolves into energy that we can work with.” Similarly, Shawn wrote, “Embedded within every stress is meaning. The best way to cope with stress is not to panic and flee from it, but rather to remember why there’s meaning involved.”

I would propose that directing our energy in a positive manner will enable us to not flee from the fear, but rather be energized with a renewed focus on the important work of being an educator and valuing education in our society. If we continue to strengthen the neural pathways of our brains with fear and negativity, we could become paralyzed by fear and unable to see hope, opportunities, and possibilities. Shawn reminds us of how practicing gratitude daily, offering genuine praise to others, and finding time for solitude helps our brains to rest and renew. He wrote, “When our brains are positive, we are better at solving world problems as well as personal ones. But more importantly, the pursuit of happiness should make us lose our fear of sadness. When we know we can create happiness and meaning in our life by changing our habits and mindset, we are more likely and able to face the things that make us sad in the world. It is also important for people to finally understand that the opposite of happiness is NOT sadness. The opposite of happiness is APATHY.”

I am energized on a daily basis by my College of Education colleagues, our bright and enthusiastic undergraduate and graduate students, and by the profound work I witness when I am in schools. I keep a gratitude journal and not one day goes by that I miss noting how grateful I am for my colleagues, my family, and for being given another day of life. I am working on rewiring my neural circuitry so that happiness and optimism are my most frequent lenses to see the world. And while I am working on my brain, I am thrilled that our students are learning about applied education neuroscience. One Butler: The Brain Project continues to thrive with nationally recognized speakers. On March 29, 10 brain sculptures will arrive on campus for a month-long exhibit. Each sculpture has been created to expand awareness of the differences in our brains due to factors such as aging or depression. Catherine Pangan and Susan Kleinman bravely faced the FEAR of creating this year-long project which had never been done at Butler. It has brought us great HAPPINESS and deepened our understanding of brain health.

On April 29, Dr. Lori Desautels will lead our first Education Neuroscience conference. There has never been a more significant time in the history of education to begin applying the research of neuroscience to our educational practices, assessments, and relationships. We are feeling creatures who think and emotional connection drives all that we employ within our schools, classrooms, and communities. In this Butler University Educational Neuroscience Symposium, we will explore the brain research beneath emotional regulation, the critical executive function skills of attention and engagement, and relationships. Educators, mental health professionals, parents, and students will leave this symposium with:

  • Evidence-based tangible strategies for strengthening self-regulatory capacity essential for building self-reliance and adaptive functioning.
  • A deeper understanding and framework of Attention Deficit Disorder and its implications in our schools.
  • Resources, research, and an understanding that will support all educational practices, K-12 that teach and enhance frontal lobe executive functioning of the brain supporting teaching practices, leadership, and community engagement delving beneath student behaviors and words.

We sincerely hope you will join us for this important conference!

Finally, I would encourage you to join me on February 23 for Butler’s Annual Day of Giving. One of the ways we can tangibly move towards positive action is by giving to those causes that are making a difference. I can’t imagine a force that has the potential to do more good in the world than our next generation of educators.

I encourage you to face the fear, discover its meaning, and to be energized into positive action. Practice gratitude, keep focused on the things you can impact, and keep Robert Ingersoll’s quote in your pocket!

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education

Transforming Education—January 2017

“Leadership is not about being in charge.
Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

—Simon Sinek

A copy of Sinek’s quote regarding leadership appeared taped to my office door one morning and it was simply signed, “Thanks!” It was such a lovely surprise and prompted me to examine what I believe about my role in the College of Education. I believe that I have the best job in the world. Colleagues who are unbelievably talented and dedicated surround me—hence I have named them “The Dream Team.” They challenge the status quo, dare to dream big, and then take action to turn their dreams into reality. They do not speak of fear but rather of hope and possibilities. They speak more often with questions than with directives. And most importantly, they engage in deep collaborations within the college and University, our school-based and community partners, education and social agencies, and state and national policymakers.

I believe Simon Sinek is right—my role is not to be in charge but to nurture, support, guide, listen to, and believe in those in my charge. I frequently remind my “Dream Team” that part of my role is to offer them Gatorade as they run past me with their ideas and brilliance. I am the orchestra director of an amazing symphony!

Does Simon Sinek’s quote speak to you? In his wonderful book, Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration, Sinek wrote, “Leadership is not a rank or position to be attained. Leadership is a service to be given…Leadership is an education. And the best leaders think of themselves as the students not the teachers.” What if we considered the role of every individual in a school or organization as a leader? For example, I think about a member of the custodial staff at the IPS/Butler Lab School who is a leader. She models kindness and respect for the children and when the children created their own board game she was the first person they invited to play. She takes “care of those in her charge” and is a valuable member of the school symphony. Who do you work with who may not have an official leadership title but is a true leader? Have you considered that YOU are a leader too?

An example of leadership from the College of Education “Dream Team” is EPIC: Educators Preparing Inspired Change which is an academy for superintendents created by Associate Dean Deb Lecklider; Cindy Smith, COE Administrative Assistant; J.T. Coopman, Executive Director of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS); and William Gulley, Executive Director of the Butler University Lacy School of Business Executive Education program. The academy officially launched on January 12 and is an example of Sinek’s belief that leaders see themselves as students—we are never done learning!

Another example of leadership is a video created by Dr. Kelli Esteves, Associate Professor in the COE and the recipient of the Richard W. Guyer Chair in Education. Dr. Esteves is the co-author of RTI in Middle School Classrooms: Proven Tools and Strategies and RTI Proven Tools and Strategies for Schools and Classrooms. I encourage you to listen to her message, as you will hear important leadership principles embedded in her words of wisdom regarding RTI.

I invite you to share your stories of leadership with us on Twitter and Facebook. I wish each of you a Happy New Year in 2017 as we travel the road of learning and leading together!

Until next month,

Dr. Ena Shelley
Dean, College of Education

COE Short Term Study Abroad – Tour of Italy


COE Short Term Study Abroad | May 2017

Call Out Meeting

Wednesday, October 5th from 4 – 5 pm in JH 171

Giro d’talia (Tour of Italy)

Milan, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Orvieto, and Rome

      cinque terre


Anticipated cost: $4,000 – includes 3 hours of elective credit

Would you like to TOUR ITALY for 12 days in May 2017?  The College of Education presents:  Giro d’talia (Tour of Italy) including stops in Milan, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Orvieto, and Rome.  This study experience is for open to all undergraduate, graduate, alumni and friends of Butler.  If you are interested in learning more about this short-term study abroad trip led by Dr. Deb Lecklider, please contact Chris Price at or 940.9752.

For approximately $4000, participants will receive 3 hours of elective credit, air transportation, hotel accommodations, all entry fees and travel into cultural events, breakfast and some dinners.  Please plan to attend the call out meeting on Wednesday, October 5, 4:00 – 5:00 PM, in JH171.  Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity!


Study Abroad Trip to Reggio Emilia, Italy

reggio emilia

Interested in studying abroad?  WE WANT YOU to travel Infant Toddler Centers of Reggio Emilia. Because of their reputation, and because demand is high, the opportunity to visit these schools is rare. Don’t miss your chance to explore these internationally acclaimed schools, meet with world-renowned teachers, and interact with educators from around the globe!

DATES: October 15-22, 2016

PARTICIPATION FEE: $2,850 or $3,150 Cost includes the program fee to Reggio Children, hotel accommodations for 7 nights. The per person amount is based on hotel accommodations in shared double rooms at 3 or 4 star hotels. Single room supplement is $300 (see registration form).  North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) members receive a $100 discount. For membership information please visit:

Fee to Reggio Children S.r.l.:
• The organization and presentation of the study group program for the week
• An informational folder for each participant with materials about the town of Reggio
Emilia, its municipal infant toddler centers and preschools, Reggio Children and the Loris Malaguzzi International Center
• Private bus transportation to and from the centers in Reggio Emilia when required by the program
• Professional interpreters when required by the program
• Refreshments during coffee breaks each day
• Lunch Mon through Friday at Pause Restaurant and a farewell reception Services provided by Angela Ferrario, U.S. Liaison for Study Groups to Reggio Emilia and by International Study Tours, LLC:
• Introductory meeting and welcome lunch on Sunday, October 16, 2016

HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS:  Accommodations for 7 nights are included from check-in on Saturday, October 15 to check-out on Saturday, October 22.  To accommodate our group, blocks of rooms have seen reserved at three and four star hotels within 10 to 20-minute walking distance of the Loris Malaguzzi International Center. Rates for accompanying non-participants and for additional nights are available upon request. Every effort will be made to honor hotel preferences while the priority is to keep groups from the same school/organization together.

AIRFARE: Participants must arrange their own flights and cover the entire travel expense. Expedia shows an airfare of approximately $1,200 (Round Trip – Indianapolis-Bologna). Bologna Marconi is the most convenient airport to reach Reggio Emilia. Alternatively, you could fly to Milan Malpensa or Milan Linate. Participants should arrange to fly on Friday, October 14, arriving in Reggio Emilia on Saturday, October 15 (departure from the U.S. is one day prior to arrival in Italy). Our first group gathering in Reggio Emilia is the introductory meeting and welcome lunch on Sunday, October 16 at 12 noon. The Program begins Monday morning and ends on Friday, October 21 at approximately 6:30 p.m. Hotel check-out is Saturday, October 22 by 11 a.m.

FARE FROM ARRIVAL AIRPORT TO AND FROM REGGIO: Please plan for transportation from the airport to Reggio Emilia and back. The cost will vary depending on type of transportation (bus, train, etc.).

PASSPORT: You must have a current, valid passport. Cost is approximately $135.

ADDITIONAL MEALS AND PERSONAL EXPENSES: Varies by participant and length of stay.

PHOTOGRAPY & VIDEOTAPE POLICY: For privacy issues, participants are not allowed to photograph or videotape inside the infant/toddler centers and preschools, inside the Exhibition area and the Ateliers at the Loris Malaguzzi International Center, as well as during the presentations. Reggio Children’s policy allows the possibility to audio record the presentations.

REGISTRATION: A $500 deposit is required to reserve a space. Please mail check deposit made payable to Butler University and Registration Form on following page to:

Susan Adamson
Butler University College of Education
4600 Sunset Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46208-3485.

Confirmation and Invoice for Balance Due will be sent by email. Payment Balance is due upon receipt of invoice but no later than September 12, 2016.

Download the Reggio Emilia Study Tour Flyer