Michele Gregoire Gill

Associate Professor, School of Teaching, Learning, & Leadership, College of Education and Human Performance 2015 Womens History Month

What is your current job title and responsibilities ?
Associate Professor; School of Teaching, Learning, & Leadership; College of Education and Human Performance
Treasurer, American Psychological Association’s Division 15 (Educational Psychology)
Chairman of the Board, Galileo School Foundation.

What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
I began my academic career as an assistant professor of educational psychology in the Educational Foundations department at UCF. (Previously, I was a graduate assistant at the University of Florida.)
In 2006, I was a UCF Fellow of the Teaching Academy. During my time at UCF, I co-created the innovative master’s degree program in Applied Learning and Instruction. I helped revised the EdD in Education to follow Carnegie Foundation guidelines on the Professional Practice doctorate in education. I created an educational psychology specialization in the Ed.D. program. I also created Lifelong Learning tracks in our undergraduate elementary and secondary education programs. I became a tenured, associate professor of education in 2009. In 2010, I founded the Galileo School for Gifted Learning, a K-8 charter school in Seminole County focused on meeting the unique needs of all learners, with the help of a few community members, including our own Dr. Debbie Hahs-Vaughn and Dr. Gillian Eriksson at UCF.

What is your academic background?
I received my undergraduate degree from New College of Florida where I wrote a thesis deconstructing the philosophical underpinnings of the current educational paradigms influencing education in the U.S. I was accepted into a highly selective, alternative teacher certification program through the University of New Mexico in 1991, and I taught elementary school and middle school for five years. I studied educational psychology with Dr. Patricia Ashton, who greatly influenced my growth as a scholar and teacher. Along with my educational psychology coursework, I took all the classes required for a doctoral degree in research methodology. During my time at UF, I became passionate about studying how teachers’ beliefs and paradigms shape their instruction. I created a model of conceptual change that has received national recognition. This year, I was co-editor of a new handbook by Routledge, The International Handbook of Research on Teachers’ Beliefs.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
I attended UCF for one year in lieu of my senior of high school back in 1984. In between classes, a group of students used to hang out by a group of trees near the Education building. They were informally called the Tree People, and I became a part of their group for a while. We would play instruments and talk about music and life. It’s one of my fondest memories of UCF, though I also remember a fantastic class on literature I took with Dr. Schiffhorst.

As a professor, my favorite memory is having dinner with my graduate students, who fondly call themselves “Ed Psychos.”

If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
I would change faculty’s teaching load in the College of Education and Human Performance to “2 and 2” (two classes per semester). We want to do more research, but we have heavy course loads here.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Family first. Never feel guilty for spending quality time with your kids.

If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
I love trees, and we have so many beautiful ones on campus, so it would be nice to have a tree named after me, with a bench underneath for students to sit in and reflect, something that we do too little of in our fast-paced society.

If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
Dr. Deborah German. I greatly admire her commitment to innovative pedagogical methods in medical education.

Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Dr. Karen Biraimah, my first chair, for her tremendous support of me while I was an assistant professor. Dr. Michael Hynes, my current supervisor, for involving me in initiatives linked to my passionate interests. I also want to thank my fantastic colleagues for their mentoring, including Dr. Juli Dixon, Dr. Lisa Dieker, Dr. David Boote, Dr. Joyce Nutta, Dr. Cynthia Hutchinson, and Dr. Cynthia Young, among many others.

Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
Reading about Lev Vygotsky’s work during my teacher certification classes inspired my teaching and still does. His radical idea that learning precedes development has shaped my instructional style as well as the underlying philosophy of the Galileo School. Although I don’t think this idea is always true, it serves as a reminder of the tremendous importance of education in bettering students’ lives.

What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
My undergraduate experience at New College was like no other educational experience I have ever had. There were no grades, but the course work was very rigorous, and you had to perform very well to be able to pass your classes. I was able to take one on one classes with professors and study anything I desired, which ended up being mathematics, French, classics, and the history and philosophy of education. It certainly gave me the background and skills for my current position, and it shaped my views on the need for a true transformation of our public education system.
I also have to say that working with Dr. Patricia Ashton and Dr. James Algina at UF was an amazing experience, and I learned so much from them during my doctoral program.  They embraced Deci and Ryan’s theory of self-determination, providing me with autonomy, support, and scaffolded opportunities to experience competence. They are truly selfless professors, and they are my role models and inspiration when I teach.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I like Seasons 52, Ethopian, Thai, and Indian cuisine. Anything fresh, homemade, and yummy.

What is your favorite movie, book or music?
Favorite movie: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Favorite book: The Gospel of John
Favorite music: Sigur Ros

What is your favorite vacation destination?
Anywhere there are trees; just being in nature.

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