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Four faculty members recognized for Jack Miller Awards

2018 Jack Miller Award recipients include (l-r) Antonio Gutierrez de Blume, Ph.D., Mete Akcaoglu, Ph.D., Alisa Leckie, Ph.D., and Catherine Howerter, Ph.D.

The Jack Miller Faculty Awards are given annually to recognize Georgia Southern University College of Education (COE) faculty for demonstrated excellence in areas of teaching, service and/or scholarship. Awards can be given in each area along with an additional Educator of the Year Award, which recognizes scholarship in all three of the considered areas.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, four COE faculty members received Jack Miller Awards including Mete Akcaoglu, Ph.D., Antonio Gutierrez de Blume, Ph.D., Catherine Howerter, Ph.D., and Alisa Leckie, Ph.D.

Mete Akcaoglu received the Jack Miller Educator of the Year Award, recognizing his proven success in all award areas including teaching, service and scholarship. Akcaoglu is an associate professor of instructional technology in the Department of Leadership, Technology and Human Development. He earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology from Michigan State University and joined Georgia Southern faculty in 2014 after teaching at West Virginia University.

Akcaoglu’s research is focused on the design and evaluation of technology-rich and innovative learning environments for developing critical thinking skills in K-12 children. He is particularly interested in using game-design activities as a means of scaffolding students’ problem-solving skills and STEM interests. Akcaoglu is a co-founder of the College’s Innovation Studio, which opened in 2015 as a makerspace to provide pre-service teachers and the schools they serve access to cutting edge technologies that can be used to foster innovation in the classroom.

Antonio Gutierrez de Blume, recipient of the Jack Miller Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity, is an assistant professor of research, with specialty areas in research methods, statistics and learning and cognition. Gutierrez de Blume earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and joined the College’s Department of Curriculum, Foundations and Reading in 2014. His research interests include metacognition, metarepresentation, metamemory, self-regulated learning, critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning, epistemic beliefs, executive function and creativity and creative thinking.

This fall, Gutierrez de Blume will be traveling to Chile to continue an international research collaborative he began with a group of international scholars two years ago, led by Christian Soto, Ph.D. of the Department of Spanish, Psycholinguistics Area, at the Universidad de Concepción. Activities will include mentorship of doctoral students on advanced quantitative methodologies. Research objectives will include evaluating the effectiveness of two instructional technologies (COMPRENDE 2.0 and iStart) on the reading metacomprehension (an index of metacognitive monitoring) of Spanish-speaking Chilean learners.

The Jack Miller Award for Service was awarded to Catherine Howerter, associate professor in the Department of Elementary and Special Education. Howerter joined Georgia Southern in 2013 after earning a doctorate in special education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She serves as the director of the B.S.Ed. Dual Certification in Elementary and Special Education program. Howerter also participated in the Faculty In Residence program, a partnership between the College and local schools, to offer her expertise to K-12 teachers and administrators in specific areas of need. This past year, she also assisted with the International School Exchange (ISO) to develop a project for students supported with seminars.

Howerter is an active participant in multiple professional organizations including the Council of Exceptional Children and the Council for Learning Disabilities. She is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Intervention in School and Clinic of SAGE Publications.

Her research interests include co-teaching, access to the general education curriculum for students with disabilities and pre-service teacher education.

Alisa Leckie was named the winner of the Jack Miller Award for Teaching. An associate professor in the Department of Middle Grades and Secondary Education, Leckie teaches courses including middle grades practicum and supervision, applied linguistics, cultural issues, and English as a Second Language (ESOL) methods. Leckie serves as the program director of the graduate certificate and M.Ed. in Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students. Leckie joined the College in 2013 after earning a Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies from the University of Arizona.

Her research centers on the education of language minority students, critical analysis of policies impacting education, literacy across the content areas and adolescent literacy.

The Jack Miller Faculty Awards are given each fall during the College’s annual meeting. The awards are open to all full-time, tenure-track COE faculty who have completed at least three years of full-time service at the University.

Jack Miller was the former Dean of the College of Education at Georgia Southern. He endowed the Jack Miller Faculty Awards in 1994 after leaving to accept the position of Dean of the College of Education at Florida State University. Miller retired in 2016 from his position as the President of Central Connecticut State University. Miller passed away in April 2018, leaving behind a legacy as a passionate and dedicated leader in higher education across the nation.

For more information about the Jack Miller Awards or to view past recipients, visit


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