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NLU Prof Won Fulbright, Chairing Prestigious Caldecott Awards Dr. Junko Yokota credited with most diverse Caldecott book honors ever

junko yokota at wroclaw university

NLU’s Dr. Junko Yokota poses in front of the University of Wroclaw, Poland, where she is teaching on a Fulbright award.

NLU’s Junko Yokota, Ph.D., is having an amazing couple of years. Newspapers all over the world — in Korea, Turkey and Poland—are writing about her.

In 2013, she was chosen to chair the jury to determine the winners of the 2015 Caldecott  children’s book award. If you’ve ever browsed children’s books, you’ll recognize the Caldecott as one of the top honors in this category of literature.

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Students Present Community Service Projects to Mexican Consul Those who had scholarships from Mexican government completed requirements

By Monica Ramos


Itzel Hernandez, from left, Mitxi Ortiz, Claudia Moreno, David Rios and Juliana Alejandre spoke about their community service, a component of receiving their IME awards.

The government of Mexico created the IME Scholarship Program in 2005 in order to raise the educational levels of the Mexican and of Mexican-descent population living in the United States. Since then, Mexico has awarded 10 million pesos (about $643,000) annually to non-profit social organizations or educational institutions with education and training programs or support to higher education, for Mexican immigrants interested in starting, continuing or completing their studies.

On June 4, the 2014-2015 IME (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior) Scholars presented their community service projects as part of the last phase of IME becas. NLU students, families and Rebeca Aguilar, Coordinator of Education programs in the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago were present. Dr. Ignacio Lopez, NLU’s Vice provost, welcomed the participants and highlighted NLU’s commitment to community engagement and student leadership. Monica Ramos thanked the scholars on their professionalism and the good work on representing NLU in the community. Rebeca Aguilar spoke very highly about the students and the impact they had in the different programs in which they participated.

MexicanScholarsIMD06042015NLU students presented videos and testimonials about the service they provided to the Mexican community. At the end of the ceremony the participants celebrated the success of the IME program with traditional Mexican food.

Meet an NLU Student Veteran: Pilar Arteaga Hopes to transfer Navy work in logistics, inventories to civilian business world


After serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy, Pilar Arteaga is preparing for her second act. She returned to Chicago in the summer of 2014 and began attending NLU in the fall. She is on track to graduate in the winter of 2015 with a B.S. in Business Administration. Her 11-year-old son Nathan previously embraced the life of a military child, but has settled in to living in Chicago and excelling in school. Pilar talked with us about why she went into the Navy two weeks after high school graduation, where she traveled and what she plans to do with her degree.

What prompted you to enter the military?
I struggled academically and was having some problems at home when I graduated high school. I decided to enter the military two weeks after my graduation day. I planned to serve for about four years, but that timeframe extended to 20 years. Continue reading »

Golden Apple Awards Presented To Two NLU Alums Fields, Thomas Get Surprised in their Classrooms with Prestigious Awards


Sonya Fields, Ph.D., a second grade teacher at Chicago’s Dixon Elementary, is presented a Golden Apple award.


Sonya Fields, Ph.D., and Fontane Thomas became the latest in a long line of National Louis University alumni to receive the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Golden Apple Foundation, based in Chicago, chose them from more than 600 nominations of Pre-K through 3rd grade teachers throughout Chicago and suburbs.

Golden Apple officials surprised the teachers by entering their classrooms during the school day to present the awards. Fields teaches second grade at Arthur Dixon Elementary School in Chicago’s South Side Chatham neighborhood, where 90 percent of her students come from low-income homes.  Thomas teaches pre-K students, mostly English Language Learners, at Stephen K. Hayt school in Chicago’s North Side Edgewater neighborhood.

Golden Apple officials also recently named NLU alums Laurie Mayer, Amy Orvis and James Schoepski as Golden Apple winners in the Rockford, Ill. area. These three, together with Fields and Thomas, combine to make 67 NLU alums in the Chicago and Rockford areas who have won Golden Apples in the foundation’s 30-year existence. <story continues below photo>


Fontane Thomas, a pre-K teacher at Chicago’s Hayt Elementary, poses with students after receiving the Golden Apple award.

“National Louis is so proud of our alumni who have been recognized with the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching,” said Alison Hilsabeck, Ph.D., NLU provost and former executive dean of NLU’s National College of Education.

“The National College of Education has a history of partnering with schools to immerse our future teachers in the classroom environment from day one. This early entry in the classroom and experiential preparation truly is making a difference as our students lead their own classrooms.”

According to Golden Apple, its mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher excellence in Illinois. Each Chicago-area award winner receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University, and a $5,000 cash award.

Each Rockford awardee receives a cash award and a professional development stipend, a desktop computer for their classroom, a laptop, and a professional development scholarship.

Student Speakers Aim To Inspire At Commencement Rencher, Patel To Speak; Martinez, Lawson To Speak

graduationmortarboardsGraduating students and their families will hear the stories of a fellow student’s perseverance when they attend National Louis University commencement exercises.

For Illinois students, commencement will be held  Saturday, June 20. Wisconsin commencement will take place May 29, and Florida commencement will be June 12.

In Illinois, Sabrina Rencher, who is obtaining her B.A. in Criminal Justice, will be the speaker for the College of Professional Studies and Advancement (formerly known as both the College of Management and Business and College of Arts and Sciences) commencement.

Poonam Patel, who is obtaining her M.Ed. Specialized Endorsements, will speak at the National College of Education commencement in Illinois. Vanessa Hurtado, who will receive her B.A. in Elementary Education, will be the singer and perform the national anthem.

In Florida, the speaker will be Nancy Martinez , who obtained her Ed.D. and is participating in commencement with 16 other students from the first doctoral cohort at NLU Florida. Kendall Louise will sing the national anthem at the ceremony.

In Wisconsin, the student speaker will be retired U. S. Army Sgt. Garry Lawson, who is obtaining his Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership degree. In 2014, he was recognized by the Department of Defense Troops to Teachers program as one of 48 exemplary teachers across the country that year. He is a Special Education Teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools.

NLU alum D’shaunta Stewart, who holds an M.Ed. in Teaching, Learning and Assessment,  is back for a return engagement at the Wisconsin commencement after singing the national anthem at last’s year’s graduation.

The university called for students to audition for the speaker roles a few months ago, and a committee evaluated speakers based on their speaking quality, articulation, grammar, stage presence, the degree to which they presented inspiring messages and other factors.

Students are not paid to be speakers; however, Jose Marroquin, associate director of NLU’s Student Services Department, said they often use the speaking engagement as professional development, and many list it as a distinction on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. They’re also honored as part of the party on the platform at commencement exercises.

“Students who audition tend to be seeking some sort of public speaking experience, or they may have a non-profit, church or volunteer group they’re trying to get exposure for,” Marroquin said.

“Many of them also tend to have a strong personal story, such as ‘I wasn’t meant to pursue higher education but I did, and I persevered.'”


NLU’s Yokota Heralded as Kid Lit Expert at International Festival Yokota Helps Guide Jury in Selecting Books With 'Soul'



A Nami Island Children’s Book Festival exhibit. Photo by Korea Joongang newspaper.

People came from all over the world recently to visit Nami Island in South Korea for its well-known International Children’s Book Festival. It features exhibitions of art from childrens’ literature, classes, exhibitions and lots of fun, creative, colorful things for kids to do.

NLU’s Junko Yokota, Ph.D., professor of Reading and Language and director of NLU’s Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, served on the jury this year. The Korean newspaper Korea JoongAng Daily quotes her as saying they selected books with “soul” that children would want to keep coming back to.  Continue reading »

HuffPo Cites NLU As A Top ‘Value-Added’ University in Illinois Alums' Mid-Career Salaries Are Higher Than Expected, Research Finds

value-added-calculation’s illustration shows the factors Brookings Institution researchers calculated to determine “value-added.”

National Louis University has an elusive combination of factors–including academic quality, professors’  connections to their fields, professional reputation, graduation rates and more–which make it one of Illinois top “value-added” universities, according to Brookings Institution research published in the Huffington Post.

The typical NLU graduate was predicted to earn $61,556, according to factors such as students’ academic preparation and income level, but in actuality earned $71,300. Thats 14.7% higher than expectations based on the researchers’ data.

The researchers said the “value-added” factor that a university such as NLU provides comes from graduation rates, the market value of the skills the university teaches, and other factors, such as professors’ connections to their fields, the location of the university, the availability of internships, name recognition and possibly some factors which are unknowable.

NLU ranked 13th of all colleges and universities in Illinois for the “value-added” factor.

See the post here.

Columnist Spotlights NLU Veterans Program’s Successes Extols benefits of the 'wraparound services' approach


News is getting out around the nation about how National Louis University’s Veterans Program provides holistic support for military-connected students.

Seattle-area news columnist Mike Schindler, who is also CEO of Operation Military Family, a veteran-centric consulting firm, praised NLU’s wraparound model of support in his April 26 post in

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Kids Need International Picture Books, NLU Prof Says Junko Yakota tells conference kids benefit from other countries' ideas


Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 4.21.03 PMWhy are American children presented with mostly American picture books? Why do children’s books from other countries, whose different ideas and styles of illustration might benefit young Americans’ minds, seldom make it into their hands?

Junko Yakota, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Reading and Language at National Louis University and director of its Center for the Teaching of Children’s Books, told a recent conference, “Where the Wild Books Are,” at New York City’s New School,  that diversity is about embracing  different modes of storytelling, not just including foreign books on the reading list.

Learn more from a School Library Journal article.


Grow your Student Experience this Spring; Give Back, Too The Winter blues are over, and we've planned plenty to get you out and about with your NLU Family with anything from service projects and professional development, to concerts and family art!

140512-NLU-CHICAGO-CAMPAS-MICHIGAN-AVE-41_smallIt’s spring outside. It might finally be here to stay. Around National Louis, it feels like things are just getting started. There are so many things to look forward to this term and we’re certain to keep you busy until the glory days of summer are upon us. Spring at National Louis is easy as 1, 2, 3.

#1 – Treat Yourself to Some Enlightenment & Professional Development

  • April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and activities are well under way. We will be focusing on important topics such as Healthy Relationships, Dating Violence, and Bystander Intervention. National Louis is actively working on policy changes, programming and training to ensure we have a safe and respectful environment for student learning.
  • Online Webinars are scheduled in April and May for the following topics: Domestic Violence, Overcoming Procrastination, and Making the Transition from Student to Professional. Join us from the comfort of home or work!
  • Is your LinkedIn profile polished, professional and ready to impress employers? Workshops are scheduled in Chicago, Wheeling, and Lisle the last week of April. Do not miss this opportunity, as it will help you prepare for the Spring Career Expo in Chicago on May 12th.

#2 – Show a Little Love to your Community

  • Donate to the NLU USO Drive and Support our Troops as we collect donations to send care packages overseas.
  • Join the Office of Student Experience during our Month of Service in May for a variety of community service projects including: assembling safe sex kits on May 6th, donating blood at the Lisle campus on May 13th, or visiting a high school and speaking to minority students on May 15th.
  • Looking for other ways to volunteer, or not sure what’s out there? Stop by the Virtual Volunteer Fair! Our Civic Engagement Team will be in Chicago April 28-30 from 12-6pm in the 6th floor Student Center. Not convinced? Check out our webinar Lead as You Lend a Hand on May 4th at 12pm where we will discuss how and why NLU students should be civically engaged.

#3 – Be a Part of the Inspiring NLU Family

  • April is also dedicated to Faculty Appreciation. Please take a minute to nominate a great faculty member for our annual Excellence in Teaching Award, post a Shout Out to recognize a faculty member who inspires you, and post a #nlufaculty selfie on Twitter with your favorite faculty!
  • Give back to NLU and become a SafeZone Ally. This special training program equips our students, faculty and staff with the opportunity to support the LGBTQ community on campus. RSVP:
  • Our NLU Family Day at the Art Institute of Chicago is May 16th.  All NLU community members and their guests will be granted free access to the museum. May 16th is also the Art Institute’s Family Festival; there will be activities all day for the whole family.
  • Join us for a little musical fun as we see RAIN: A Beatles Tribute at the Bank of America Theater. These Broadway in Chicago tickets will be on sale in May for $10. A limited number is available so let’s Come Together for a great night on May 21st.
  • For our graduating students, you will not want to miss Countdown to Graduation on May 27th in Chicago and May 28th in the suburbs (Lisle). Get your picture taken in a cap and gown, pick up a special graduation gift, and there will be fun activities for the whole family. Look for more details soon!