School of Education Professor Dr. Willett to Receive University President’s Public Service Award

Dr. Jerri Willett, chair of the College of Education’s Department of Teacher Preparation and Curriculum Studies Department, has been named a recipient of the President’s Public Service Award for 2008, according to the Office of the President of the University of Massachusetts. Dr. Willett will receive the award along with other outstanding faculty at a ceremony and luncheon on Nov. 19 in the Great Hall of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.

Dr.Willett, a Conway resident, has earned an international reputation for her work on language and literacy. She has been a compelling advocate for the professional development of teachers of second language learners.

Her accomplishments include establishing the Access through Critical Content and English Language Acquisition (ACCELA) Alliance which is a federal and state-funded professional development collaboration among UMass Amherst, the Springfield, Holyoke and Amherst, Mass., public school districts, and several community organizations in western Massachusetts. ACCELA supports academic literacy development of linguistically and culturally diverse students attending public schools by providing their teachers with data-driven professional development activities.

ACCELA scholarships and programs have supported:

  • 21 paraprofessionals and community educators from Holyoke and Springfield to complete their bachelor’s degrees
  • 63 teachers from Holyoke and Springfield to complete their master’s degrees and ESL licensure or Reading licensure
  • teacher-educator apprentices to pursue doctoral studies. These apprentices both supported the teacher’s action research projects and conducted their own research on teaching and learning in Holyoke and Springfield.
  • administrators and instructional leaders in Holyoke and Springfield to receive professional development
  • 34 UMass Amherst faculty to participate in professional development, many of whom engaged in collaborative research with ACCELA participants.

Dr. Willett is currently working to expand the ACCELA program across the Commonwealth.