Walden University Graduate Receives Outstanding Dissertation Award

Minneapolis—November 8, 2006—Walden University, an accredited online institution, is pleased to announce that Dr. Michaela Celeste Cole, a 2005 Ph.D. in Education graduate with a specialization in Early Childhood Education, received the 2006 Merrill/Prentice Hall and NAECTE Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE).

The award is in recognition of doctoral dissertations in early childhood education or related areas in education. Dissertations are judged on excellence in meeting scholarly standards, potential positive impact on or relevance to early childhood teacher education philosophy, policy and/or practice, and overall quality.

The award was presented to Dr. Cole Nov. 8 at the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators Fall Conference Reception and Awards Ceremony, a pre-conference event to the NAEYC Annual Conference and Expo at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center Cottonwood Room in Atlanta, Ga., before an audience of early childhood professional educators.

Dr. Cole’s dissertation for her Ph.D. in Education from Walden University, Mexican-Origin Mothers’ Views on Preschoolers’ Transition to Prekindergarten, explored school readiness issues by focusing on the transition to school from the perspectives of Mexican-origin mothers of preschoolers residing in a low-income neighborhood in a south-central Texas urban area. The intent of this investigation was to give voice to those who may not have an opportunity to be heard. The study explored how the targeted group of mothers views their own beliefs, values, behaviors, and practices of child rearing, related to preparing their preschoolers to transition to a social and educational institution outside of their home environment prior to kindergarten entry.

Dr. Cole’s findings are important to the early childhood education arena as they will help educators gain understanding of how immigrant and U.S. born mothers of Mexican descent consider the transition from home to the preschool environment. Because mothers see themselves as role models and nurturers for their children, placing them in a preschool setting at 3 years old can often be difficult for both the mother and the child. Mutual understanding of what to expect from both the mothers and the school system increases the chances of a smooth transition and future success in school. The transition to school is a process that occurs over several years and involves relationships between several individuals within multiple contexts.

Dr. Cole is an assistant professor and director of the Early Childhood Education Program in the School of Professional Studies at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. She also works as an independent consultant and contractor to private, nonprofit and public institutions, social service agencies and private sector businesses, providing a multitude of services from planning and developing to research, program evaluation, training, and project management.

Dr. Cole is a member of several organizations, including the NAECTE, the NAEYC, the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (TAEYC) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She is also active in many civic organizations in San Antonio, Texas, where she resides.

In October 2006, Walden University's Education programs were ranked No. 1 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Largest Grad Programs rankings for online graduate-level programs. The magazine ranked 435 colleges and universities based on size, accreditation and a variety of other key attributes of the learning experience.

About Walden University

Since 1970, Walden University has offered working professionals the opportunity to earn advanced degrees through distance learning. Today, this comprehensive, accredited online university offers master’s and doctoral degrees in education, psychology, management, public policy and administration, and health and human services, as well as master’s programs in engineering and IT and bachelor’s completion programs in business. For more information, visit www.WaldenU.edu.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, www.ncahlc.org; 312-263-0456.