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Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) is a U.S.-based organization for professional educators founded in 1906. PDK Chapter 1123, made up of members from Racine and Kenosha counties, held its annual awards banquet May 22. Awards recognized contemporary education programs, outstanding educators, student scholarship recipients, distinguished leaders in education, and friends of education. Those who had achieved milestones as members of the organization were honored, and new initiates were welcomed into PDK.
Several names from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside learning community were called that night. Dr. Ross Astoria, associate professor of political science, and Dr. Peggy James, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies, were honored as outstanding educators. Also honored as an outstanding educator was UW-Parkside alumnus Timothy Griffin. Dr. Nancy Whitaker, UW-Parkside assistant professor of music education, was newly initiated into the organization.
This past year, Dr. Astoria played a key role in organizing UW-Parkside's Model United Nations conference. Students from Wisconsin high schools gathered at UW-Parkside to learn about an issue vital to the survival of our world—climate change. Astoria scheduled the UW-Parkside conference in late November, just two weeks ahead of the historic December climate-change talks in Paris. Students had the opportunity to learn about a worldly issue, develop valuable skills, and Skype with one of Astoria's friends in Vanuatu who served as a delegate at the Paris talks. The experience informed a new generation about the intensity and multiple perspectives of the issue, and provided guidance in solving climate change.
Astoria has been published in several journals throughout his career. He recently gave a presentation with students in his Environmental Policy course to the Greening of Greater Racine. Participants were able to provide community feedback to Astoria's proposal and suggest modifications.
For many years, Dr. James, a professor of politics, philosophy and law, helped direct UW-Parkside's Model Organization of American States. Through this, James provided students with opportunities to learn about other countries, build leadership and teamwork skills, and work together to find possible solutions to some of the most pressing issues in the world today. In 2013, James received the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents Teaching Award. In 2003 and again in 2012, James earned the UW-Parkside Stella Gray Teaching Award.
Recently, James invited representatives of area high schools to meet and develop a closer relationship with faculty and staff in the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies by participating in Social Science Roundtables. This also provided UW-Parkside with the opportunity to learn more about helping students make the transition from high school to a university.
While at UW-Parkside, Griffin earned a B.A. in music, a concentration in music performance, and Wisconsin teacher certification in choral/general music. He began his professional career as a general music and choir teacher at Gifford Elementary in Racine, Wis. Griffin teaches PK-5th grade general music, directs a 3rd-5th grade Orff Ensemble and co-directs two children's choirs. He also co-directs the Children's Choir of the Internet. Griffin receives high praise from his students, as well as from members of the adult church choirs with whom he works. Griffin happily opens his classroom doors for students of UW-Parkside who are seeking music certification. In 2013, Griffin was named Gifford PTA Teacher of the Year.
Last November, Griffin was invited by UW-Parkside Music Professor Dr. James Kinchen to participate in a travel group to Kerala, India, as part of a performance ensemble. Griffin believes that every student has abilities and can develop them if given support and opportunity.