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Liberty News

Professor’s emphasis on community outreach leads to honor society award

July 25, 2017 : By Tobi Walsh Laukaitis/Liberty University News Service

Dr. Kristina DeWitt (third from the left) poses with the Pi Sigma officers. When Liberty University senior Chandler Alder had the chance to nominate School of Education Associate Professor Dr. Kristina DeWitt for the 2016-17 Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) Southeast Regional Chapter Counselor Award, Alder didn’t hesitate.

For the last six years, DeWitt has been the faculty advisor for Liberty’s Pi Sigma Chapter, the undergraduate chapter of the KDP international honor society in education, which is designed to promote excellence in future professionals and recognize the outstanding contributions made to education. As chapter president, Alder wanted to honor his mentor, especially with the Spring 2017 semester marking her last one as faculty advisor.

“For all her students, Dr. DeWitt’s door is always open,” Alder said. “She has offered so much support to the chapter, and it is clear that she cares about every one of her students. Dr. DeWitt has been like my second mom at college.”

Alder kept his nomination a secret until KDP notified DeWitt via email earlier this month.

“I was in shock and in tears,” DeWitt said when she learned she had been chosen out of hundreds of applicants. “It means a lot that the nomination comes from your students, and it is a chance to highlight what the Liberty chapter is doing.”

Applicants are scored in the areas of modeling leadership, motivating and communicating with chapter members, impacting the careers of chapter officers and members, involvement in chapter programs and activities, and exemplifying the mission and ideals of the society.

Senior Chandler Alder dresses as a circus ring leader for Literacy Alive Day. Alder said DeWitt’s connections to school districts in the Lynchburg area played a huge part in her nomination as she opened doors for the chapter to mentor local students through events such as Literacy Alive Day, a campaign aimed at encouraging elementary students to read more.

“This year we had a circus theme,” DeWitt said of the campaign. “We rented a Liberty bus and went to three different schools as a traveling circus. Our chapter leaders interacted with the children through skits and performances. Then we were able to read a story and hand out books.”

DeWitt’s contribution to helping students prepare for full-time teaching positions post-graduation also made a big impact.

“As I’m working on interviews, she has given me advice and suggestions about which schools to apply to for jobs that she feels would be a good fit,” Alder said. “She’s been so positive and encouraging to all of us.”

DeWitt will be formally honored at the society’s national Convocation held in Pittsburgh, Pa., in October.

It won’t be the first time that Liberty’s Pi Sigma Chapter has been recognized at the KDP Convocation. Since it was founded in 1984, the 200-member chapter has been awarded the Achieving Chapter Excellence (ACE) Award each year, which honors chapters for their exceptional programming, leaders, and active members.

“When we travel to Convocation every year, people ask us how we do it,” DeWitt said. “But it really comes down to all the hard work our students put into it.”

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