Science educator chooses UMSL for PhD

Carrie Launius

Janet Carrie Launius

Janet Carrie Launius is a very busy person. A doctoral student at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Launius also has a full-time job as the science coordinator for the Hazelwood School District and a part-time job as the education columnist for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

“My adviser and mentor, Wendy Saul, the Allen B. and Helen S. Shopmaker Endowed Professor of Education and International Studies in Collaboration with Springboard to Learning, requires her doctoral students to write, so this was a perfect opportunity,” Launius said.

Writing for the Globe-Democrat has been a new experience, the veteran educator said.

“It enjoy it,” she said. “It’s difficult, challenging. It keeps me current. The amazing thing is how many people actually read what I write.”

Launius has extensive experience in the classroom. The south St. Louis County resident worked in the Lindbergh School District as a teacher and science coordinator from 1984 to 2009, when she joined the Hazelwood district.

As part of her graduate studies at UMSL, Launius is a fellow with the university’s Center for Inquiry in Science Teaching and Learning in the College of Education. It is through the center that she came to meet and work with Charles Granger, Curators’ Teaching Professor of Biology and Education.

“Anyone in St. Louis that studies science should have the opportunity to learn from him,” Launius said. “He truly is a master educator.”

CISTL is one of many community outreach programs in the College of Education. Its Cooperative Approach to Doctoral Research in Education, or CADRE, component is a partnership with local schools, nontraditional education institutions and Washington University in St. Louis. Launius is among 42 diverse individuals from the metropolitan area working to enhance science literacy and expertise through graduate studies, research and exemplary practice.

“Carrie is an outstanding member, as she is always willing to share her expertise with colleagues,” Granger said. “She is very knowledgeable, dynamic and creative in her approach to science education. She is the kind of teacher and administrator that you would like your children to have.”

Launius has received a number of awards and honors during her career. She was named “Most Inspirational Teacher” three times in the Lindbergh district. In 2000, she was named “Outstanding Teacher for Students with Disabilities.” The Lindbergh Board of Education honored her in 2004 for “Outstanding Leadership in Science Education.”

She was included in “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” three times, named a STAR Teacher by the St. Louis Science Center twice, and selected as a Teacher Fellow in 2007 by St. Louis-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. In 2008, she was named to the National Science Teachers Association/Children’s Book Council National Book Council Selection Committee.

Launius holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Webster University in Webster Groves, Mo. She said the quality of UMSL’s graduate programs led her to pursue her PhD there.

“UMSL is the top research university in the area,” she said. “It was just the right place for me to go.”

Launius said she hasn’t developed her PhD thesis as yet, but she is confident she and Saul would do so soon.

“I consider myself extremely fortunate to be working with her (Saul) as my adviser,” she said. “Together, we are researching specific topics. We have not determined the exact thesis, but it will involve studying science and literacy.”

As science coordinator for the Hazelwood School District in north St. Louis County, Launius is closely involved with those two subjects.

“I love my job,” she said. “It gives me great satisfaction working with teachers and helping them go from being a good teacher to a great teacher. It is very exciting to work with science, because it allows students and teachers to make discoveries.”

More information:
http://coe.umsl.edu/web/faculty/teachlearn/grangerc.cfm
http://coe.umsl.edu/web/faculty/teachlearn/saulw.cfm
http://coe.umsl.edu/web/news/2008-09/community-service.html

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