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Celebrating the Warner School Class of 2021

Celebrating the Warner School Class of 2021
Warner School Honors Graduates at a Hybrid Commencement Ceremony

The Warner School of Education recognized the Class of 2021 during its 63rd Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 22. A stream of graduates donning caps and gowns gathered at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre in downtown Rochester for the event, which respected COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and included gathering limits, social distancing, and masking.

In just a short time, 252 graduates—10 with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), 36 with a Doctor of Education (EdD), 156 with a Master of Science (MS), and 50 with an Advanced Certificate—became alumni of the Warner School. And, while the ceremony looked a little different this year and families and friends could not physically be there in person, the event was livestreamed so that they could participate and support graduates virtually.
Commencement opened with welcoming remarks from University of Rochester President Sarah Mangelsdorf and Warner School Dean Sarah Peyre. Mangelsdorf praised the Class of 2021 for demonstrating patience, resilience, and creativity in response to the challenges presented by the pandemic, as well as for choosing “to dedicate your lives to one of the most noble professions: the education of future generations.”

Peyre added, “I’m honored to share this space with all of you as we recognize your many accomplishments and our shared dedication in believing that education can transform lives and make the world more just and humane.”

Instead of having commencement speakers, the Warner School celebrates each member of the graduating class with a brief profile, read aloud during the ceremony, that describes each person’s background, academic achievements, and career plans. “Get ready to be inspired,” said Peyre.

In addition to conferring degrees, reading bios, and recognizing the graduates for marking their educational milestones, Provost Robert Clark and Peyre had the honor of recognizing Tricia Shalka, assistant professor with the University’s Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching Excellence. The University-wide award is given annually to recognize a nontenured faculty member who excels in both teaching and research. 
Peyre also honored Warner alumna Alice Holloway Young ’57 (MEd), ’69W (EdD), who is the recipient of the University’s Charles Force Hutchison and Marjorie Smith Hutchison Award. Young, a groundbreaking educator, community leader, and children’s advocate, has called her life’s mission “breaking down barriers so that others may shine.” She will be honored at an in-person celebration in the future. 
Warner graduates were also honored at the ceremony for their exceptional academic performance and commitment to education. The 2021 student award recipients were:
The Logan R. Hazen Award for Educational Leadership was presented to Alonni N. Reid and Leanne Elizabeth Averill. The award is named for Logan Hazen, professor emeritus, who mentored a new generation of student affairs professionals by teaching courses in higher education, serving as the program director, establishing and supervising higher education internships, and advising students at Warner. A tireless advocate for Warner students and the student affairs professions, Hazen kept everyone centered on the experiences and growth of students. The Hazen Award recognizes graduate students who have achieved a high level of academic success, and who have reflected Professor Hazen’s commitment to educational administration.
Reid is passionate about contributing to efforts that aim to create equity in education. Her own experiences with inequity in education, as well as the inequities she observed while working with a variety of students, have influenced her choice to study education policy. Reid will pursue a law degree and focus on collaborating with various stakeholders to impact education for all.
Averill earned a bachelor’s degree in music education and performance from Ithaca College and began her career as a high school choral teacher. She then transitioned to higher education administrative work at the University of Rochester, which allowed her to complete her master’s at Warner. Averill will continue working with undergraduate and graduate students at the University.

The Eleanore F. Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Lara Olivia Andree. The Larson Award is named in honor of Eleanore F. Larson, an extraordinary professor who taught both undergraduate and graduate students in the University of Rochester’s School of Education. Larson’s passion for instructional excellence inspired her students to embrace a strong commitment to the education of children. The Larson Award recognizes graduate students whose commitment to teaching reflects Larson’s work.

Andree’s first teaching job was as a reading teacher through Dallas, Texas Americorps. This ignited her passion for education and advocacy for students from under-resourced backgrounds and led her to earn a master's in childhood education with certifications in urban teaching & leadership and reading & literacies. She will teach this fall at Anderson Academy, a magnet STEAM elementary school in Houston, Texas.
The Harold Munson Counseling and Human Development Award was presented to Robert B. Brunelle, Jr. and Jahan Ara Chughtai. The award is named for Harold Munson, professor emeritus, who initiated the school and community counseling programs at the University of Rochester’s School of Education and developed the programs’ high standards recognized by school districts and community agencies. The Munson Award is given to graduate students who reflect the mission and objectives of the Warner School counseling program.
While student teaching in Rochester, Brunelle enjoyed the social and emotional conversations he had with students over the curriculum instruction. This prompted him to pursue a school counseling degree so he could combine his love of mindset and education, while utilizing his inner child to build connections with students, both inside and outside of the counseling office.

Chughtai, a Fulbright scholar and voice-over artist from Pakistan, earned a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology from Beaconhouse National University, graduating as the gold medalist in her batch. Utilizing the skills gained from the community mental health counseling program, she will return to her home country to serve her community and spread the message of mental health through creative endeavors.
The Mary Ellen Burris Human Development Award was presented to Amanda Katherine Stroh. The award is named for Mary Ellen Burris, a respected figure in the Rochester community who has built an illustrious career as an impassioned advocate for grocery consumers. Burris was a senior vice president of Consumer Affairs at Wegmans Food Markets, where, since 1972, she has used her knowledge of human development to find creative ways to empower millions of Wegmans shoppers to live healthier lives. The Mary Ellen Burris Award is given to graduate students who are devoted to bringing human development theory and research into practice to foster the health and well-being of individuals, schools, and communities.

Stroh, originally from Brockport, found her passion for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) through her work with individuals with autism. From earning her bachelor’s in psychology from Nazareth University to her master’s from Warner, Stroh has become an advanced behavior therapist at Autism Learning Partners. She will continue her work there and eventually sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst and NYS licensure exams.
The Tyll van Geel Award was presented to Harold O. Fields, Loretta J. Orologio, and Megan Wideman. The award is named for Tyll van Geel, professor emeritus, who is a renowned scholar of education law and applied ethical issues in education. Professor van Geel was instrumental in designing the educational leadership program at the Warner School. The Tyll van Geel Award is presented to doctoral students in educational leadership who demonstrate Professor van Geel’s commitment to thoughtful, ethical leadership and decision making, and rigorous application of scholarship to practice.
Originally from Philadelphia, Fields is a product of public schools and the prayers and support of his family. He previously earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Clarion University in Pennsylvania and a master's degree in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University in Pennsylvania. Fields cites his late grandparents, who all moved from rural Virginia to Philadelphia during the great migration, as his inspiration.
Orologio’s childhood teachers and father influenced her love of learning and interest in making a difference in the lives of others. She has been actively engaged in the field of education for the past 35 years, employed as a teacher, elementary principal, assistant superintendent for instruction, and superintendent. Orologio hopes that her passion for education and lifelong learning will be embraced and emulated by her children.
Wideman set a goal over 20 years ago to complete a doctoral program. In 2008, she participated in the Warner School’s Genesee Valley Writing Project, which inspired her to continue her education at the University of Rochester. Wideman completed her certificate of advanced study in K-12 educational leadership from Warner in 2011 and continued on for her doctorate. She is passionate about implementing culturally responsive sustaining practices in education.

Peyre added in her closing remarks: “I would like to publicly recognize all those who have contributed to our graduates’ success—Warner School faculty and staff, and most importantly, the families and friends that sustained them in their journey.”

The University awarded the 2021 William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching to Brian Brent, the Earl B. Taylor Professor at the Warner School, at the University’s Doctoral Degree Commencement Ceremony that was held on Friday, May 21. The University-wide award is given annually to recognize a faculty member who has excelled in graduate instruction, particularly in the University’s doctoral programs.