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Friday, July 13, 2018

Improving Futures Fund Funds Faculty and Staff Endeavors


Philip Yenawine, co-creator of Visual Thinking Strategies
Philip Yenawine, co-creator of Visual Thinking Strategies, was the keynote speaker at the Visual Thinking Strategies Symposium at the SDSU Digital Humanities Center.

Three College of Education faculty received awards from the Improving Futures Fund (IFF), established by to provide monetary support to COE’s faculty and staff endeavors that improve the future of the College’s graduates and of children, youth, and adults they will serve.


Dr. Katina Lambros, associate professor in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology, Dr. Marva Cappello, a professor in the School of Teacher Education, and Dr. Andre Branch, an associate professor in the School of Teacher Education, got IFF awards, launched in the fall of 2014 by Dr. Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., former dean of the College of Education and interim Provost at San Diego State University.

“The School Psychology (SP) program was elated to receive this award! It was integral to updating our assessment and intervention resources so that our students can better serve diverse learners in multicultural schools,” said Dr. Lambros, associate professor in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology, who got an IFF award of nearly $9,000. “Our school psychology students were highly involved in researching evidence-based and cutting-edge assessment and intervention tools that would supplement their course materials and increase their competencies.”

Lambros and her students created Project TAP (Transformative Assessment Practices) which they used to develop a transformative assessment-intervention center for the CSP department. This initiative expanded the department’s assessment center to include:

  • Mental health tools and social and emotional learning (SEL) intervention curricula,
  • Strength-based tools to measure resilience, coping skills, school connectedness and wellbeing, and 
  • Trauma-informed assessments for use in therapy.

“As school psychologists working in diverse schools, we want to ‘TAP’ into the learning potential and social wellbeing of children and adolescents,” Lambros said. “In order to provide high-quality interventions and supports, cutting-edge assessment practices must capture the multidimensional, dynamic, and integrated processes involved in learning.”

Dr. Cappello used the award for her Visual Thinking Strategies Symposium, a one-day event that brought together scholars that use Visual Thinking Strategies in academic areas, including literacy, science and social science.

“I am thrilled that the Center for Visual Literacies continues to have support from the Improving Futures Fund. We owe the success of many of our events over the years to this award. This support is essential to host notable contributors in the field,” said Cappello. “Because of these funds, we were able to offer the symposium FREE to our guests which included K-12 teachers and museum educators from our community as well as SDSU students and faculty members.”

For his part, Dr. Branch used his award to expand SWAG (Students With Academic Goals) which will include female students from Bell Middle School. SWAG introduces 45 students to mentors with diverse backgrounds, offers tips and advice to be successful in and out of the classroom and provides free tutoring and academic resources to students wishing to pursue higher education.

The Improving Futures Fund raises about $25,000 every year and funds three projects annually. For more information about the IFF, visit the fund’s website.