Serafini receives Founders' Day award

March 30, 2009

Some people float through life without taking much interest in the world around them. Frank Serafini isn’t one of those people.

Painter, photographer, chef, and guitarist are some of the titles that can be applied to Serafini, along with teacher, researcher, author, and literacy advocate. For his efforts to help future teachers become adept at developing and promoting children’s literacy, Serafini received the 2009 Faculty Achievement Teaching Award from the ASU Alumni Association as part of its annual Founders’ Day celebration on March 3. Download Full Image

An associate professor in ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL), Serafini has been involved in the field of literacy education for two decades. He views literacy as much more than the ability to read and write.

“It’s about helping children learn to make sense of their world,” Serafini says. “A participatory democracy won’t work without literate citizens.”

Along with the Founders’ Day award came the opportunity for Serafini to select a student to receive a $2,000 scholarship. He selected Alicia Chavez, a CTEL elementary education major at ASU’s West campus whom Serafini describes as an outstanding, dedicated student.

“Dr. Serafini taught me that reading a book is more than just reading the text and looking at the illustrations,” says Chavez, who took a language literacy course taught by Serafini last fall. “Reading is the active process of constructing meaning. That meaning is made, not found.”

Serafini has written and provided photography for five children’s books, with two more due out in 2009. Titles include “Looking Closely Along the Shore” and “Looking Closely Through the Forest.” He says the books, aimed at children in primary grades, are designed to promote observation skills as well as an appreciation of nature.

“I hope that if children are paying close attention to the natural world, they will grow up wanting to preserve it,” Serafini says.

Professional books Serafini has authored include “Lessons in Comprehension” and “Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days.”

He says his goals an instructor include encouraging future teachers to pay closer attention to the children in their classrooms and to become reflective practitioners. “Teaching is not a script to be followed,” Serafini says. “Making sense of text is a human activity that cannot be reduced to a quantitative formula.”

“Dr. Serafini’s enthusiasm for literature is always present in his classroom, and his commitment to teaching has really opened my eyes to the teacher I hope to become,” Chavez says. “The knowledge I have gained from him will be an important part of my educational journey as a teacher.”

“Frank is a true Renaissance man,” says Mari Koerner, CTEL’s dean. “His dedication to teaching and learning is obvious to his colleagues and students. He brings an energy to his work which is contagious.”

Serafini, who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at ASU, praises the supportive atmosphere Koerner and his faculty colleagues have developed within CTEL. “There’s a clear focus on creating better teachers for the new millennium,” he says.

Founders’ Day awards honor individuals who exemplify the spirit of the founders of the Territorial Normal School of Arizona, ASU’s predecessor institution. Serafini joins a distinguished list of Teaching Award recipients dating back to 1964.

Cronkite students dominate regional SPJ awards

March 30, 2009

For the ninth consecutive year, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University dominated the Society of Professional Journalists' regional student awards competition.

Cronkite students captured 39 awards – almost four times the number won by the second-place school. Download Full Image

The Region 11 SPJ Mark of Excellence competition honors the best student work in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Guam and the Mariana Islands. The Cronkite School has taken first place in the region every year since 2000.

This year’s Cronkite awards included 15 first-place honors in print, radio, television and online categories. The first-place winners will go on to the national SPJ awards competition, which the Cronkite School also has dominated, winning more national SPJ awards than any other school in the country for the past three years.

Cronkite students swept two categories – Online Opinion and Commentary and TV Feature Photography – in this year’s regional awards.

“Our students continue to amaze us with their performance in the SPJ awards and other regional and national competitions,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “We’re very proud of them.”

For the second year in a row, Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s student-produced television newscast, was named Best TV Newscast in the Region 11 competition.

The Cronkite Zine, the school’s online student magazine, was named Best All-Around Online Student Publication, and the ASU Web Devil, the online branch of The State Press, ASU’s independent student newspaper, was named Best Affiliated Web Site.

The University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Arizona came in second and third, respectively, in the regional competition.

Students will accept their awards at a ceremony April 4 during the Region 11 SPJ conference, which is being held at the Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix.

Below is the complete list of 2008 Cronkite regional winners:


Radio Feature
First: Colton Shone, “Tattoo”

Radio Sports Reporting
Second: Dana Granillo, “Ticket Scalping”

Television Breaking News Reporting
Second: Emily Graham, “Los Angeles Gang Bust”
Third: Jeff Skrzypek, “Immigrants Found”

Television General News Reporting
Second: Emily Graham, “McCain’s Final Rally”

Television Feature
First: Amber Dixon, “Dairy in the City”
Second: Jeff Skrzypek, “Mobile Doctor”

Television In-Depth Reporting
First: Amanda Soares, “Children of the Borderlands”
Second: Michelle Ashworth, “Teen Prostitution”

Television News Photography
Second: Michelle Ashworth, “Teen Prostitution”

Television Feature Photography
First: Amber Dixon, “Dairy in the City”
Second: Liz McKernan, “Musical Peers”
Third: Amber Dixon, “Special Needs/Young Adults”

Television Sports Photography
First: Michael Seiden, “Fighting for Redemption”
Second: Matt Pagel, “ASU Wrestling”

Television Newscast
First: Staff, Cronkite NewsWatch


Online News Reporting
First: Allison Denny, Matthew Burrows and Michael Shawn Tucker, “ASU Crime”
Third, Monique DeVoe, Jeremy Alm, Shea Drefs and Kim Foley, “ASU Students Face Economic Hard Times”

Online Feature Reporting
First: Ryan Kost, “U.S. Children Stuck in Mexican Orphanages”
Second: Keridwen Cornelius and Jillian Sloan, “Diepsloot: A Township”

Online In-Depth Reporting
First: JMC 470 and JMC 494, “Divided Families”
Second: Ryan Kost and Jourdan Rassás, “Defining Change”

Online Sports Reporting
Second: Andrew Pentis, “Small Town Transfer Finding Success”

Online Opinion and Commentary
First: Jillian Sloan, “Quiet Despair”
Second: Joshua Schoonover, “It’s the People”
Third: Daniel O’Connor, “The Dark Side”

Best Affiliated Web Site
First: Staff, the ASU Web Devil

Best All-Around Online Student Publication
First: Staff, Cronkite Zine


General News Reporting
Third: Matt Culbertson, "Justice Served 30 Years Later"

In-Depth Reporting
Third: W.J. Hennigan, “Last Resort”

Sports Writing
Second: Andrew Pentis, “Letting Go of It All”

Editorial Cartooning
First: Joseph Ward, cartoon collection

General Column Writing
First: Christopher Ogino, column collection

Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper
Second: Staff, The State Press

Non-Fiction Article
Third: Ryan Kost, “Border Orphans”

Best Student Magazine
Second: Staff, “Divided Families”
Third: Staff, “Health E”

General News Photography
First: Deanna Dent, “Border Orphans”

Sports Photography
Second: Matt Pavelek, “ASU on Wrong Side of Saturday Night Surprise”