May 20, 2017
Two top graduate awards were announced May 20 at the College’s 147th Commencement. Ashleigh N. Rizzo received The Joan Develin Coley Award for Excellence in Education for earning the best record as a graduate student in the study of literacy theory and practice, and Trisha Leigh Waddell received The B. Jill Brooks Hodge Professional Development Award, presented to a graduate student, who demonstrated academic excellence with a strong compassion for individuals with special needs and an interest in serving the deaf or disabled.
Rizzo of West Friendship, Md., is a 2010 summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of McDaniel with a major in Psychology and minor in Elementary Education. She returned to her alma mater for graduate work and earned her master’s degree in May of 2017 in the Reading Specialist: Literacy Leadership Program. A highly effective third- and fourth-grade teacher at Carroll County’s Robert Moton Elementary since 2011, she has also served in leadership positions at the school, including instructional team leader and professional development facilitator.
“Ashleigh’s classroom is a pure joy to visit,” says Deb Miller, McDaniel professor of Education and coordinator of the Reading Specialist program, who has mentored Rizzo in four grad classes plus a summer reading clinic. “She works particularly well with all types of students and creates a warm, exciting, caring and especially visually appealing classroom environment.
“She exemplifies our mission as a knowledgeable, caring and reflective practitioner.’”
A committed lifelong learner, Rizzo devours professional books recommended to her, especially by McDaniel’s Reading faculty, Miller and professor Sharon Craig. She is a member of Carroll County Reading Council and the State of Maryland International Reading Council (SoMIRAC).
After honing her skills during McDaniel’s 2016 Reading Clinic, Rizzo joins her professors this summer as a clinical mentor to the Reading Specialist students who annually create a camp-like environment and work with Carroll County elementary school children to improve their reading and writing as the culminating clinical experience of their master’s degrees.
Waddell, a deaf daughter of deaf parents, earned a master’s degree in Deaf Education. While a graduate student at McDaniel, she served as house director of the ASL house, an on-campus residence where ASL is the primary method of communication, as well as a mentor in the ASL lab.
She pursued her undergraduate degree at Gallaudet University, where she was a double major in Theatre and English. There, she contributed to Gallaudet’s newspaper, “The Buff and Blue,” and was on the college’s yearbook staff. During the summer of 2014, she worked with deaf youth in London as an intern at Deafinitely Theatre.
Waddell, of Hyattsville, Md., completed an internship at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C. She wishes to continue her pursuit of impacting the lives of deaf teens.