Watson College of Education Professor Susan Catapano Selected as Fulbright Scholar

Susan Catapano, director of international programs and former chair of the Department of Educational Leadership at the Watson College of Education, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, the U.S. Embassy in Belize announced Jan. 21.

Catapano will spend the spring semester teaching and conducting research in Belize in the area of early childhood development. She will work with the University of Belize to support early childhood and early primary teachers in earning teacher certification in the Cayo, Corozal and Toledo districts.

“Being a Fulbright Scholar is a great honor and I am really pleased to be selected. I am the first Fulbright Scholar to Belize in 10 years,” said Catapano. “I am here several times a year with students. This time I will concentrate on sharing my area of expertise while learning more about education at all levels.”

While in Belize, Catapano will write three courses for a new online associate’s degree in early childhood education and will train 21 University of Belize faculty members on how to develop the courses online. She will also work with the on-campus pre-school program at the university to help them become a model pre-school program, which includes helping prepare their teachers.

“My research is in the area of culturally relevant children’s literature and using technology to help students and teachers research and write community-based literature.” Catapano is also working with teachers in San Pedro on a digital storytelling project.

She will continue her work with co-authors on a three-book series about the selection and use of culturally relevant children’s literature to support reading instruction.

For the past seven years, Catapano and Watson College professor Dennis Kubasko have collaborated with Belizean educators through partnership with the Ministry of Education, Isla Bonita School, San Pedro High School, San Pedro Junior College, Galen University and the University of Belize.

Faculty-led field education field experiences to Belize are offered to UNCW students. Watson College students and faculty share strategies for teaching and classroom management, provide literacy and writing workshops and conduct surveys to learn the needs of rural schools.

“Engaging faculty and students as members of the broader global community is a hallmark of the Watson College,” said Dean Van Dempsey. “Dr. Catapano has developed connections with educators around the world that have led to significant educational opportunities for our faculty and students. She has led efforts to create an interactive, multi-level relationship with educators in Belize, leading to education enhancements there and significant international field experience opportunities for our faculty and students. The Fulbright Scholarship is a competitive and prestigious award, and one that exemplifies the commitment of Dr. Catapano and the college to educational leadership and globalization.”

The Fulbright Program is a highly competitive, merit-based grant for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists. The program was founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 and is sponsored by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.