The U.S. News & World Report released its 2022 ranking for Graduate Schools of Education on March 30, 2021, and the UNC Greensboro School of Education (SOE) has been ranked #73 nationally as a Graduate School of Education, the SOE’s highest ranking on record. Within North Carolina, the UNCG SOE has the third highest ranking among Graduate Schools of Education.

Additionally, Counseling and Educational Development (CED)’s Student Counseling specialty area has been ranked #4 in the nation. The CED department has consistently been recognized as a top graduate education program by the U.S. News & World Report, ranking in the Top 8 list for more than two decades.

“These outstanding rankings not only speak to our impact on research and practice at the regional, state, and national level, they also demonstrate the transformative educational experience provided to our students,” says Randy Penfield, Dean of the UNC Greensboro School of Education.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings and data, published in full on, are based on in-depth reputation and statistical surveys conducted in fall 2020 and early 2021 of each program in the six largest graduate school disciplines (MBA, law, education, engineering, medical, and nursing programs).

Learn more here.

Dr. Anthony Chow (Library & Information Science) serves as principal investigator for a team of UNCG researchers who are partnering with tribal nation leaders and two national organizations, Head Start and Little Free Library, to address literacy in the Native American community. A $1.4 million Institute of Museum and Library Services grant supports their work — a project they call “Reading Nation Waterfall.”

reading nation waterfall

The project responds to existing research along with the findings of UNCG’s own year-long study that identified barriers to access to books and libraries for Blackfoot children and youth, collectively representing a book desert.

The goal of the three-year project is to break down these barriers and improve reading scores. Native Americans experience disproportionately high rates of poverty and unemployment. Schools, and in turn, school libraries, are often underfunded.

Additionally, Native American cultures may not typically have the same tradition of visiting and using physical libraries located in communities; rather, they tend to have strong oral storytelling traditions.

With grant support, children and families who may live in book deserts will receive brand-new, carefully selected, culturally relevant books — 35,000 in the next three years. The project, which includes specific plans for increasing parent/child reading at home, reflects a significant paradigm shift for traditional community libraries. By placing Little Free Libraries in centrally located and convenient places – schools, grocery stores, Head Start programs, etc. – and by giving away librarian-curated new books instead of loaning them out, the team hopes to eliminate socioeconomic and physical barriers for Native American youth.

“This grant is a perfect example of a university coming alongside community partners and leveraging its expertise to study and address societal challenges,” says Chow. “For me, this grant represents a lifetime achievement award. It’s a true privilege.”

This story was originally published in the 2020-2021 issue of Transform magazine. Read more stories from Transform here.

Dr. Christian D. Chan and Dr. Jennifer D. Deaton, assistant professors in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development, received a UNCG New Faculty Internal Grant to fund the research project titled “Investigating the Impact of Relational Satisfaction and Identity Affirmation on the Relationship Between LGBT-Based Oppression and Help-Seeking Behaviors.”

This project involves two research studies that examine the factors of relational satisfaction and identity affirmation to explain how LGBTQ+ oppression and race-based trauma can affect help-seeking behaviors among sexual and gender minority (SGM) intimate relationships. The research team includes Dr. Chan and Dr. Deaton as co-investigators, and CED graduate students Nicole Silverio and Jasmine L. Garland McKinney.

Dr. Chan is also the President of the Association for Adult Development and Aging (AADA). As a scholar-activist, his interests revolve around intersectionality; multiculturalism in counseling practice, supervision, and counselor education; social justice and activism; career development; critical research methodologies; and couple, family, and group modalities with socialization/communication of cultural factors. Dedicated to mentorship for leaders and scholars, he has actively contributed to over 43 peer-reviewed publications in journals, books, and edited volumes and has conducted over 120 refereed presentations at the national, regional, and state levels. Learn more.

As a counselor educator, Dr. Deaton facilitates culturally responsive pedagogy that builds self-awareness, fosters a multicultural lens, and promotes evidenced-based practitioners. She aims to drive interdisciplinary collaboration in areas of trauma-informed care, posttraumatic growth, and vicarious posttraumatic growth with methodology expertise in program evaluation and instrument development. Through her research, she aspires to extend a trauma-informed lens to K-12 educational institutions. Dr. Deaton has served as an evaluator for externally funded research and evaluation projects, including university-based teacher induction programs. Learn more.

Robyn Verba

Congratulations to Robyn Verba, who has received the 2021 UNC Greensboro Student Teacher of the Year Award! Robyn graduated in 2021 with a degree in Secondary Social Studies Education from the Teacher Education and Higher Education (TEHE) Department, and she completed her student teaching this Spring at East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, NC.

Robyn’s story about what made her choose a career in teaching is remarkable and inspirational — she and her sister were the first in their family to graduate from college. After dropping out of high school in the tenth grade, Robyn immediately started working, and spent the last twelve years waiting tables and bartending. She says that she took a sociology course at a community college on a whim.

“The class ended up forever changing the way that I see and interact with the world around me,” she said. “As a sociology major, I learned that the concurrent study of history is vital to making sense of present-day society. I understand the personal and social impact that these fields of study can have when taught by passionate teachers, and I want to be exactly that for these next generations.”

Robyn is proud of her non-traditional path to education, because she feels it is time to move forward and away from traditional approaches. “I will be a teacher for those that are college-bound, and those that are unsure. I will empathize with my students that finish assignments late at night after working long shifts, and those navigating a home life that has been molded by working class struggles.”

Robyn enrolled at UNCG because she was looking for an educational experience that was financially attainable, and close enough to where she lived and worked in Winston-Salem — considering she was a financially independent, first generation college student. It turned out to be a perfect fit.

“I have loved every semester at UNCG, and feel greatly indebted to the talented and passionate professors that I have been fortunate enough to have had along the way,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade my experience at this school for any other in the world.”

When asked about her favorite memory from student teaching, Robyn shared, “I would have to say that every time I heard a new voice enter into the classroom discussion as the semester went on always felt like such a win. I have had as much to learn from my students as they did from me, and I loved when I could tell they felt confident and safe to share different perspectives and thoughts. It was always such a proud moment for me.”

Robyn will now represent UNC Greensboro at the NC-ACTE North Carolina Student Teacher of the Year competition for the entire state. She has accepted a job offer to teach social studies at Polk County High School for this Fall in the Asheville, NC area where she will be moving in the near future. We wish her the best of luck!

Greensboro, NC • May 7, 2021 — 

Good afternoon! My name is Randy Penfield and I have the honor of serving as Dean of the most outstanding school of education in the state of North Carolina — that’s your UNCG School of Education.

It is my distinct privilege to congratulate you on your graduation from UNCG! Commencement is something we look forward to every year, and I am absolutely thrilled to be able to address the Class of 2021 in person today.

dean randy penfield 2021 commencement
SOE Dean Randy Penfield at the UNCG Class of 2021 Commencement ceremony on May 7, 2021.

What a year it’s been! The Class of 2021 has overcome obstacles that none of us ever imagined — you have made the best of a virtual university experience with remote classes, meetings, and exams, all while braving a perfect storm of challenges with lasting consequences regarding the pandemic and racial equity. Against these headwinds, you have made it here today and that is a testament to your tenacity and resilience. I couldn’t be more proud of how you have handled these uncertain and unprecedented times with determination and perseverance.

In the School of Education we are dedicated to promoting a just society and fostering educational and social equity. The past year has cast a particularly bright light on the vital importance of these principles, exposing massive inequities in educational opportunities and health services. As if you didn’t already have enough motivation and passion to pursue your careers and paths of impact, your calling now becomes even more profound and I am grateful. I am grateful for the lives you will positively impact and the norms you will challenge. I am grateful for the voice you will bring to the children, families, schools, and communities that you will serve. And, with much optimism, I am grateful for the change you will create.

Class of 2021, congratulations! You have shown us what it means to be a Spartan, and I am humbled to stand beside you as you continue to light the way toward a brighter future.

Randy Penfield Signature

Randy Penfield, Dean of the School of Education