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TC alumni award winners are pioneers in fields ranging from sex ed to disaster management

In October, Teachers College honored five alumni with awards for service to education.

In October, Teachers College honored five alumni with awards for service to education.

The Early Career Award was given to Sharon Ryan  (Ed,D,, Early Childhood Education, 1998), a faculty member at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, and to Michael Lowry (M.A., Educational Administration, 2005), a science teacher at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The Distinguished Alumni Award was given to pioneering feminist sex educator Leah Schaefer (Ed.D., Family and Community Education, 1964); Fordham University professor and trauma-therapy specialist Anie Kalayjian (Ed.D., Nursing Education, 1986); and Susan Fuhrman (Ph.D. Political Science and Education, 1977), President of Teachers College .

Ryan was a classroom teacher in Australia before moving to the U.S. and attending TC. After graduation, she began working at Rutgers, investigating preschool restructuring in poor districts. Ryan has taken the lead in creating new standards for early childhood teacher certification and also has studied other key aspects of early childhood education reform.

Lowry, a graduate of TC’s Klingenstein Leadership Academy, is known for a teaching approach – shaped with his own classes at The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee -- that allows students to determine the scope of their own projects and presentations and select the texts and videos from which they will learn. He is a member of the National Science Teacher Association, the International Writing Centers Association and the board of the Art and Education Council, and has won grants and other support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Fulbright Association. He has also been honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching and National Board Certification in science. 

Before coming to TC, Schaefer was a jazz and folk singer who recorded with the Wayfarers, the Barries and as a solo artist. She achieved a different sort of fame when she adapted her TC dissertation into a book titled Women and Sex: Sexual Experiences and Reactions of a Group of Thirty Women as Told to a Female Psychotherapist. Anticipating the women’s movement by several years, this compendium was one of the very first books that enabled the public to hear the voices of women discussing their sexuality. Schaefer also was a founding member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, among the first national organizations dedicated to sex education and research, and later served as its president. However she is perhaps best known for her ground-breaking research on transsexualism, including ideas that have become the basis for Holistic Psychotherapy, a treatment approach that encourages gender-dysphoric people to focus on the self in its entirety, rather than simply on the gender aspects of their lives.

Kalayjian, an expert on the psychological impact of trauma, has treated and studied survivors of manmade disasters—the Gulf War, the war in Vietnam, the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the World Trade Center attacks—as well as survivors of natural disasters. She wrote about these experiences in the landmark publication Disaster and Mass Trauma: Global Perspectives on Post Disaster Mental Health Management, a practical guide for others in her field. Kalayjian has taught at Fordham, Columbia, Pace, Hunter College and other institutions, and has created or worked with many advocacy organizations, including the Association for Disaster and Mass Trauma Studies; the Armenian American Society for Studies on Stress and Genocide; the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies; and the Global Society for Nursing and Health and many others.

Over the course of her career, Susan Fuhrman has built a reputation as an education leader and scholar who acts upon the basis of evidence rather than ideology. As an education scholar at Rutgers in the 1980s, she founded the Consortium for Policy Research in Education—the nation’s first federally funded education policy center, which she still directs. Fuhrman then served as Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, leading an effort to bring the university into partnership with neighboring low-income communities in West Philadelphia. As the 10th president of Teachers College—and the first woman to lead the nation’s premiere school of education—she is working to replicate those efforts on a broader scale in New York City and more generally to position the institution as an education partner to the world.

Published Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007