SFA University

February 24, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University students enrolled in the James I. Perkins College of Education recently presented research at the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference in Las Vegas.
Pictured from left, Stephen F. Austin State University seniors Haleigh Pickett, Dani Quade, Dr. Vicki Thomas, assistant professor of elementary education at SFA, and senior Lindsey Palat recently presented research at the Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Conference in Las Vegas. Their research focused on the effects of play-based learning on English Language Learners.Dr. Vicki Thomas, assistant professor of elementary education at SFA, explained this two-day national conference serves as a forum for presentations and engagement of ideas in qualitative research.
“Part of our university’s vision is to provide students with transformative experiences such as opportunities for students to conduct research and showcase their work. This experience offered our students time for sharing ideas and presenting the results nationally with qualitative research experts in a variety of fields.”
SFA senior elementary education majors Dani Quade, Haleigh Pickett and Lindsey Palat conducted a study using qualitative and quantitative data titled, “Using Play-Based Learning with English Language Learners.”
“We utilized a constructivist approach to teaching and implemented lessons in a school with a high population of English Language Learners,” Pickett said. “Using play-based learning instruction, we taught students how to compose and decompose numbers using Legos.”
Pickett explained they used Legos as a hands-on activity for students to physically see that when one decomposes something, one takes it apart much like subtraction. Then, when one composes something, one is building on to it like addition. The activity provided students a more visual insight of addition and subtraction.
Mentoring professors Thomas and Dr. Tingting Xu, assistant professor in elementary education, guided the students through the research process. Forty students participated in the study to determine the effects play-based lessons had on learning versus traditional lesson delivery.
The researchers used pre- and post-tests to measure students’ ability to compose and decompose numbers for both the control and experimental groups. Pickett said the test results showed a significant increase in the post-test results for the students who were taught using the play-based method.
Furthermore, the exit interviews with the students who used play-based learning more frequently used the words “math” and “fun” than students who received the traditional lessons.
“We were amazed at how much more enthusiastic the responses were from the experimental group, and to hear them say, ‘Math is fun’ was exciting,” Pickett said.
Quade, Pickett and Palat gave a presentation at the conference describing their study and its results. Pickett said the experience was rewarding and it gave her a great feeling of accomplishment knowing their work was being recognized from people all over the country. Thomas also praised the students’ work.
“These students exceeded far beyond the requirements for our program. They each took responsibility for their roles in the research and were fantastic ambassadors for our university,” Thomas said. “But most of all, they were able to see the effects of play-based lessons on student learning, which is a topic very dear to their hearts.”
SFA’s Office of Student Engagement Programs and the dean’s office in the College of Education helped fund the trip.

February 24, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — SFA Gardens at Stephen F. Austin State University will host its annual Garden Gala Day Spring Plant Sale and Earth Day Celebration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center, 2900 Raguet St.
A wide variety of hard-to-find, “Texas tough” plants will be available, including Texas natives, heirlooms, tropicals, perennials, shrubs, trees and unusual species. Most of the plants are trailed in the gardens before being offered to the public and are produced by the SFA Gardens staff and volunteers.  
This popular event benefits the SFA Mast Arboretum, Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden, Gayla Mize Garden and educational programs hosted at the gardens. More than 15,000 students of all ages are reached on a yearly basis through SFA Gardens programs.
The ninth annual SFA Earth Day Celebration presented alongside the Garden Gala Day Spring Plant Sale will begin at 10 a.m. Informational booths will be set up near the Tucker House and the event will feature guest speakers, activities for kids of all ages, free local food, live music and more.
The outdoor festival is sponsored by Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Pursuits program, the SFA Student Sustainability Coalition, SFA Gardens and Nacogdoches Naturally. The celebration is an opportunity for members of the SFA student body and the Nacogdoches community to join together in furthering the vision of a sustainable campus and community.
Parking is available at the nearby Early Childhood Research Center, 2428 Raguet St. The public is encouraged to arrive early and bring a wagon.
For more information, call (936) 468-4404, or visit www.sfagardens.sfasu.edu two weeks before the sale for a list of available plants.

February 23, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Swingin’ Axes and Swingin’ Aces jazz bands at Stephen F. Austin State University will perform the music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and other jazz greats at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.

“It’s an exciting semester for jazz at SFA,” said Dr. Deb Scott, professor of trombone and interim director of the Swingin’ Axes for the spring. Dr. J.D. Salas, associate professor of tuba and euphonium, is interim director of the Swingin’ Aces this semester. Scott and Salas assumed new roles this semester with the reassignment of Dr. Gary Wurtz as interim director of the SFA School of Music.

“Both jazz bands are sounding great and have really exciting new music planned,” Scott said.

The Aces will perform “Just Friends” by John Klenner, arranged by Joe Jackson; “Basic-ally Yours” by Thad Jones; “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” by Antonio Carlos Jobim, arranged by Mark Taylor; “C-Jam Blues” by Duke Ellington, arranged by Dave Wolpe; and “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans” by Louis Alter, arranged by Les Hooper.

The Axes’ program features “Moanin’” by Charles Mingus, arranged by Sy Johnson; “Count Me In” by Count Basie, arranged by Billy Byers; “Point No Point” by Dan Gailey, jazz director at the University of Kansas; “Wrygly” by Maria Schneider; “Got a Grip” by Chris Culver; and “Point of Return” by Paul Ferguson, a fast Latin number composed for the Paul Ferguson big band.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.

February 19, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — The Department of Human Services and the Center for Digital Scholarship at Stephen F. Austin State University recently published the first edition of the Journal of Human Services: Training, Research, and Practice.

This online, peer-reviewed journal publishes reviews and articles based on research, theory development, case studies, and program and intervention applications.
The journal’s mission is to provide practitioners and educators with a forum to report data that substantiate current practices or raise questions about mainstream thinking and practices in education and service delivery within disciplines specifically related to human services.
Dr. Robbie Steward, chair of the Department of Human Services at SFA and the journal’s executive editor, began working on the project in 2014.
“One goal I have maintained is facilitating not only faculty members’ engagement in research and scholarship, but also providing guidance in encouraging undergraduate, graduate and doctoral student participation,” Steward said. “The journal offers a nice balance because it keeps students interested in research and encourages them to collaborate with faculty members in the research process.”
The first issue featured five articles with topics ranging from social work to system changes in education. SFA students from the visual impairment and school psychology programs served as co-authors on three of the published articles. To view the journal, visit http://scholarworks.sfasu.edu/jhstrp/.
“The journal provides another forum for students and faculty members to enhance their professional development and it gives them an opportunity to add to the literature related to their specific disciplines,” Steward said. 
The journal’s multidisciplinary nature allows for the consideration of a range of manuscript types. Also, the educational and comprehensive feedback distinguishes it from many other publications.
“Our review process has an educational component beyond the typical accept, reject or revise outcome. All authors receive detailed and comprehensive feedback from discipline-associated editorial board members regarding how to strengthen the submitted manuscript regardless of the final decision,” Steward said.
The journal’s editorial board is comprised of professionals experienced in various human service-related disciplines from many locations, including South Korea, New Hampshire, Michigan, Georgia and Florida.
“The diversity of the editorial board enhances the journal’s quality and validates the source of the feedback and investment of the editorial board members. This special attention to each manuscript is provided as an educational component for students and faculty members who are beginning their careers as academicians,” Steward said. 
The journal will be published twice a year with special issues approved by the editorial board. Students and faculty members working in any field can submit articles to the journal for review.
Steward believes the research opportunities and experience this journal will afford students will be valuable for their careers. 
“School is not just about course enrollment and degree completion; it’s about preparing for a career,” Steward said. “Publications and presentations at conferences will help distinguish SFA students from others because these added experiences document our students not only know what they are doing and the reasons for their practices, but also are familiar with the literature and the process of inquiry and critical thinking within their disciplines.”
For more information, contact Steward at stewardjr@sfasu.edu.

February 19, 2016 NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts and the Children’s Performing Arts Series will present two performances of ArcAttack Science Show on Friday, March 4.

The Children’s Performing Arts Series at SFA will present ArcAttack Science Show at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus.Described as “the most electrifying science show on tour,” ArcAttack was seen in the fifth season of “America’s Got Talent.” A highlight of an ArcAttack show is the use of two custom-built singing Tesla coils that have been modified to play musical notes.

“Students will explore concepts such as electricity, voltage and current, magnetism, robotics, and lightning through demonstrations and experiments with ArcAttack’s signature Tesla coils, capable of throwing electrical arcs up to 12 feet long,” explains Diane J. Peterson, Fine Arts Box Office manager and director of the children’s series.

The ArcAttack crew and their trusty robot take classrooms on an interactive journey of discovery where students will learn the science behind the amazing display they see on stage. To view a video of the performance, visit www.arcattack.com/

This show targets students in third through 12th grades.

Performances are at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in W.M. Turner Auditorium. Tickets are $7.50 for individuals and $6 per person for groups of 20 or more.

To order tickets, call 936.468.6407 or 888.240.ARTS. Visit the CPAS website at www.cpas.sfasu.edu for additional information.

February 18, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University students will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience while helping people in the community as part of a service learning project offered this fall semester.

Dr. Dusty Jenkins, SFA assistant professor of psychology, is coordinating the project through the Janelle Grum Family Crisis Center of East Texas, a non-profit organization that provides crisis intervention and advocacy services intended to prevent family violence and sexual assault.

Students enrolled in Honors PSY153: Human Sexuality will have the option to work with the Family Crisis Center in a variety of roles suited to the students’ interests.

Jenkins said she chose the Family Crisis Center because it deals with many topics covered in the course.

“It’s important for students to be able to apply what they’ve learned in class to real-world experiences when possible,” Jenkins said. “Students who get the chance to go into the field and learn firsthand about issues tend to take away a deeper understanding of course concepts.”

Jenkins said participating in the service learning projects could help the students after graduation land jobs or admission to graduate school while providing a valuable service to the Family Crisis Center and its clients.

“The client demand is often high and having the extra help from trained students can be very helpful to the paid employees,” Jenkins said. “Students often go about their work with a lot of energy and excitement and have fresh ideas and perspectives that they can add. In addition, students might opt to continue volunteering with the agency after the semester has ended. Since nonprofit agencies often heavily rely on volunteer support, working with students is a great way for agencies to potentially expand their pool of community volunteers.”

Amber Watson, primary prevention coordinator for the Family Crisis Center, said the service learning projects are beneficial to all involved parties.

“These learning projects were important to the student because they allow the students to see firsthand what it means to apply their education to work experience,” Watson said. “It is important to our organization to give students the opportunity to learn in a hands-on manner. The students’ work is important to clients because through learning they spread awareness of domestic violence and its impact on families.”

Alexis Willis, a junior from Beaumont, Texas, completed a service learning project this past fall through the Family Crisis Center as part of the class taught by Jenkins. She said she had wanted a project where she could work with the community since she first enrolled at SFA.

“I gained a sense of caring or how to care and help people,” Willis said. “Initially, I went into the project thinking I'm going to help so many people, and it actually helped me as well. I believe in this project and I helped get the word out to many students and parents about the fact that we actually have a family crisis representative on campus.”

Victoria Pentecost, a freshman from Porter, Texas, also worked on the project this past fall through the class. As someone new to the area, the project had an added social benefit.

“Being a freshman, I didn't have any connections or knowledge of SFA or other areas around Nacogdoches, and I felt that the service learning project would be a great way to get involved,” Pentecost said, adding the experience provided her valuable skills she can use to help other people.

Alexis Willis, left, and Victoria Pentecost speak to their PSY153: Human Sexuality class after completing their service learning projects in December. The course will continue the partnership with the Janelle Grum Family Crisis Center of East Texas in the fall semester.“I was able to learn about the resources available to the students here at SFA, as well as reach out and spread the word about what we do at the Family Crisis Center,” Pentecost said. “I also was trained to become a sexual assault advocate, which taught me a lot of communication skills used in handling delicate situations such as sexual assault and other forms of intimate partner violence.”

Jenkins and Watson said the success of the service learning projects during the course has created a partnership they would like to continue.

“I feel that this service learning project was a valuable experience for the students, organization and clients as well,” Watson said. “I look forward to working with Dr. Jenkins and her students in the future.”

February 16, 2016 NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Two graduates of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art filmmaking program will have their works showcased at the fifth annual Nacogdoches Film Festival, a celebration of the art and entertainment of film in all its forms.

Tickets are now on sale for the festival, which is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 25 through 27, in downtown Nacogdoches, on the SFA campus and other venues in town.

This year’s event includes a star-studded lineup of featured guests, including New York Times best-selling author and the brains behind the hit TV series, “True Blood,” Charlaine Harris.

Festival events also include project viewings and a short film competition, various panels including Q-and-A sessions with featured guests, a “Best True Blood Costume” contest and more, according to information at nacogdochesfilmfestival.org.

Brandon PolancoBrandon Polanco and Derek Wayne Johnson, both graduates of SFA, are among the filmmakers whose works will be shown. Polanco’s short film projects “Alchemy,” “Vicky & Jonny” and “Writer’s Block” will be shown beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House, located at 329 E. Main St. A question-and-answer session with Polanco will follow at 8 p.m.

A Brooklyn-based filmmaker from Austin, Polanco earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre at SFA in 2009. He was among the Rose Bruford Exchange students in the School of Theatre, and while on the exchange he also studied at RESAD (Spain’s Royal Dramatic Academy) in Madrid. His short film “Writer’s Block” starring Bryan Cranston of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” fame won widespread acclaim in 2013-14 and was shown at the 2014 Nacogdoches Film Festival. Polanco’s film “Vicky & Jonny” was accepted last year into the world-renowned Cannes International Film Festival as part of the Short Film Corner. Polanco is co-owner of the production company 3 of A Kind Productions.

Derek Wayne JohnsonJohnson’s documentary about the Oscar-winning director of “Rocky” (1976) and “The Karate Kid” (1984) entitled “John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs” (2016) will show from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Theater on the SFA campus. It will be followed by a Q&A session with Johnson.

The documentary examines the life, career and films of the legendary director and features exclusive never-before-seen interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Ralph Macchio, Martin Scorsese, Burt Reynolds, Jerry Weintraub, Talia Shire and many more, according to the festival website.

Johnson is an award-winning film director/writer/producer and owner of AJ16 Entertainment, a production company specializing in feature films and documentaries. After film school at SFA, he got his start by acting in Hollywood films and TV as well as directing independent features in Texas and Louisiana, eventually making his way to California.

Among the festival panelists are Herbert Midgley, an instructor of music technology in the SFA School of Music who is also an active filmmaker. Midgley has worked as a director, unit production manager, assistant director, cameraman, editor, sound designer, sound mixer, boom, grip, production assistant, screenwriter and composer. He has worked on nine feature films, more than 30 short films, and has made many art films. In 2014, Midgley premiered his sci-fi feature film, “The Rise Of The Robots,” in film festivals across the United States.

A portion of the festival proceeds will fund filmmaking projects within the SFA School of Art.

For a full list of featured guests, event specifics and ticket information, visit nacogdochesfilmfestival.org.

February 15, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen Lias, professor of composition at Stephen F. Austin State University, will present “Encounters: Music Inspired by Our National Parks” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.

The recital showcases the musical compositions of Lias and will be performed by guest artists Scott LaGraff, baritone; Gary Wurtz, trumpet; Christina Guenther, flute; Jennifer Keeney, flute; Carly Hood, saxophone; Deb Scott, trombone; and Ron Petti, piano.

The recital is presented as part of the centennial celebration in 2016 of the National Park Service.

“This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service,” Lias said. “As part of our national celebration, I recently released a CD of park-inspired chamber works titled ‘Encounters: Music Inspired by Our National Parks.’ Three of the pieces from that CD are included on this recital.”

“River Runner” was the first piece Lias composed about a national park. It recounts a paddle trip on the Rio Grande through Big Bend’s Santa Elena Canyon.

“Starting with the frenzy and excitement of setting out, it moves through the somber landscape and then concludes with the terror of ‘Rockslide Rapids,’” Lias said. “The audience can be assured that the performance is entirely authentic, since the trombonist was there for the adventure as well.”

“Range of Light” is the most recent of the pieces on the program, and employs a different approach, the composer said. Rather than going into the park and writing about his experiences, Lias used four of Ansel Adams’ iconic photos of Yosemite as his inspiration – composing one movement about each of them. Lias will display the images for the audience during the recital.

As an added treat, those in attendance will see the first public showing of a new “Art & Inspiration” short film produced by Denali National Park. This six-minute movie features Lias along with other artists – painters, writers and photographers – who have been inspired by Denali National Park. Special permission was obtained from the National Park Service to premiere the film at this recital.

Lias’ park-inspired pieces have been performed across the country, and upcoming performances are scheduled with the Shreveport, Anchorage, and Fairbanks symphonies, as well as an NEA-funded commission from the Boulder Philharmonic for a new orchestral work to be premiered in 2017 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

There will be a reception in the lobby following the concert. Audience members are encouraged to stay and greet the composer and performers. CDs will also be available for sale. A portion of all CD sales will go to the National Park Foundation.

The concert is a joint presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.

February 11, 2016 - Lone Wittliff, Stephen F. Austin State University lecturer of marketing, demonstrated and discussed proper dining etiquette to help students prepare for job interviews, banquets, galas and other professional dinner settings in a recent Student Success Passport Program workshop in the Nelson Rusche College of Business.
More than 20 students attended the workshop where Wittliff explained the do’s and don’ts for several-course-meal dining. She also recommended students be on time, wear appropriate attire, network with other guests and more.
The Student Success Passport Program helps SFA students hone their professional skills while competing for scholarships. Program activities and workshops are designed to assist students in developing their personal and professional branding, experiential learning, leadership development, and engage in college activities and events.

February 10, 2016 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – No injuries were reported as a result of a minor fire that activated a single fire sprinkler in the small kitchen area of the Baker Pattillo Student Center first-floor food court Tuesday evening.

The building’s fire suppression system was activated, and the building was evacuated at approximately 9 p.m. The University Police Department and Nacogdoches Fire Department responded immediately, according to Dr. Steve Westbrook, vice president for university affairs.

“There was only minor damage from the fire, and the smoke was cleared by the smoke evacuation system,” Westbrook said.

When the sprinkler system in the building was reactivated, a broken pipe on the third floor caused flooding in the area of several student organization offices. This flooding then affected the second and first floors of that area of the building.

Because of these two events, retail food services on the first floor atrium of the building will be closed until the areas can be cleaned and inspected. This includes Urban Bricks Pizza, Sushic, the C-Store, Great American Cookies, Chick-fil-A and Marble Slab Creamery. Ongoing clean up and restoration of other portions of the building will continue for an undetermined amount of time.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.