Pelts Named Director Of JLC

Pelts Named Director Of JLC

Dody Pelts has been named as the new director of the Jones Learning Center at University of the Ozarks, effective July 1 Pelts has worked in the JLC for the past 18 years, including the last 12 as the center’s assistant director. She replaces Julia Frost, who announced her retirement in April after serving the past 25 years as the director. “I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to serve Ozarks and the JLC,” Pelts said. “By building upon her rich history and sturdy foundation crafted by many dedicated professionals who served before me, the JLC is well-prepared to launch into the future.” Pelts, who has also served as the JLC’s school psychology specialist, said that unemployment and underemployment for students with learning disabilities, specifically for those impacted by social skills challenges, will be an area of emphasis for the JLC staff. “Helping graduates gain skills beyond those of the classroom to obtain meaningful employment will be a focus of our efforts to support students as they seek to truly live life fully,” she said. Pelts worked as the school psychology specialist for the Dover Public Schools in Dover, Arkansas, before coming to Ozarks in 2001 as the school psychology specialist. She started teaching developmental classes in the JLC a few years later and was named assistant director in 2007. Pelts has presented at various state and national level learning disability association conferences and is a nationally certified school psychologist, a psychological examiner, and a certified school psychology specialist in Arkansas.  She is married to Jeremy and has two children: Macy, who will be a freshman at Ozarks in the fall, and Ike, a senior at Lamar High School. “I am delighted that Dody will be taking on the new role of director of the Jones Learning Center,” said University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill. “I know that the JLC will continue to grow under her leadership and she brings with her new ideas that I am excited to explore with the group. I look forward to working with her as we think about how best to use this incredible resource.” Frost has served as the director of the JLC since 1994. Her 30 years in the JLC included a stint as director of assessment from 1986-91. “It has been a joy to work with Dody as the JLC assistant director for the past 12 years and to watch her become a highly respected colleague not only in the JLC, but also campus wide,” Frost said. “I am confident in her leadership abilities as she builds on the JLC past successes and looks forward with a new vision for its future.” The Jones Learning Center is a comprehensive support program for students with documented learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with average or above average intellectual abilities.  It was established at U of O in 1971 as one of the first of its kind in the country. After three decades as a champion and advocate for students with learning disabilities, Julia Frost is retiring as the director of the Jones Learning Center at University of the Ozarks. Frost, who has served as the director of the JLC since 1994, recently informed U of O officials that she will retire this June. Her 30 years in the JLC included a stint as director of assessment from 1986-91. “I am extremely fortunate that for the majority of my career I have had a job that I consider to be my calling,” Frost said. “It has been such a blessing to be involved in the lives of college students with disabilities and their families at such a pivotal time in their lives.  Watching scared freshmen with little self-confidence grow into college graduates who are ready to take on the world has been a joy beyond any I could have imagined in my life’s work.” Frost said she will miss working with her colleagues and students in the JLC. “I have had the privilege of working with JLC staff members who are dedicated, compassionate and skilled in working with our population of students,” she said. “Our students become a part of our JLC family, and they remain so even when they leave Ozarks.  I am confident that will be the case for me as well.” University Provost Dr. Alyson Gill thanked Frost for her commitment to Ozarks and its students. “Program directors don’t often have the luxury of sowing organizational seeds, watching them grow, and then seeing their impact over the years. Julia has been able to do just that in her 25 years as the director of the JLC,” Gill said. “Julia has positively impacted hundreds of students through her work in providing a nurturing, supportive environment in which to serve students with learning differences. Thanks to Julia and her staff’s efforts, the JLC will continue to play a key role for years to come in assisting students who learn differently. I am grateful for her enduring commitment to our students and to the University community as a whole. She will be missed greatly and we wish her well in retirement.” Frost, who was the recipient of the University’s Alvin C. Broyles Outstanding Staff Award in 1995, said she had been considering retirement for the past couple of years and felt the timing was right. “It is bittersweet to announce my retirement,” Frost said. “Besides the JLC staff and students, there are many, many staff and faculty across campus that I have loved having in my life since I began working here and who will continue to be dear to me in retirement. John and I are planning to continue to live in Clarksville, and while we are planning to travel, we plan to be back on campus for special events.” Frost worked eight years as a school psychologist in Arkansas public schools and two years as a music and English teacher. She has served as the president of the Arkansas School Psychology Association and as a board member for the Arkansas Association for Higher Education and Disability.  She served for two years on the Adult Topics Committee of the Learning Disabilities Association of America and has been its chair for the past five years. She is a nationally certified school psychologist and frequently presented at both state and national conferences. Frost and her husband, John, have three adult children. The Jones Learning Center is a comprehensive support program for students with documented learning disabilities, Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with average or above average intellectual abilities.  It was established at U of O in 1971 as one of the first of its kind in the country. “Why be disabled when I can be me.” That’s the personal mantra of University of the Ozarks Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Casey Orndorff, who on Sunday completed the Little Rock Half Marathon in a time of 1:59:27. Orndorff, 28, believes he’s the first person with cerebral palsy to break the two-hour barrier in the 13.1-mile distance. “I don’t want my disability to define me, so accomplishing this goal is something I’m very proud of,” said Orndorff, who is in his second year of teaching at Ozarks. "I’ve always enjoyed running and I don’t want somebody to say I can’t run or that I can’t run competitively because I have cerebral palsy.” Orndorff ran a 2:13 in his only other half marathon attempt in 2018. This time, following a rigorous 10-month training program and with the assistance of one of his U of O colleagues, Ricky Perry, assistant professor of health science, he maintained a 9-minute pace on his way to breaking the mark. “Ricky paced me the entire way and encouraged and motivated me throughout the race,” Orndorff said. “The 11-mile mark was really a struggle for me and I was laboring, but Ricky kept me going. There’s no way I would have broken two hours without his help.” Orndorff overcame race temperatures in the 30s and steady sleet to break two hours. He said the final mile was one of the toughest and most challenging things he’s ever experienced. “My coordination was gone and I was literally at my limit,” he said. “I wanted that two-hour mark badly so I was determined to get there. I had my head down and I was just forcing my body to take one step at a time.” The previous fastest known half marathon time for a person with cerebral palsy was 2:03:49 by Justin Gallegos of Santa Clarita, Calif. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects muscle coordination and body movement. There are varying degrees of cerebral palsy and it can affect individuals in different ways. According to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, one in three people affected by cerebral palsy are unable to walk. While Orndorff is able to walk and even run, his journey to completing a half marathon under two hours did not come easily. While running, the disorder affects Orndorff’s right side, which often leads to severe tightness and cramping in his right leg. He’s also prone to injuries to his left leg while over-compensating for his right leg. “It sometimes takes me a while to get loosened up and I have to really listen to my body,” he said. “I’m certainly susceptible to more injuries and that can make it difficult to maintain a regular training routine, but that’s when you just have to push through.” Orndorff ran cross country at West Virginia Tech, a small NAIA college. He joined the team as a walk-on and went on to earn a scholarship, serve as a team captain for four years and garner Capital One All-American Academic honors. After taking several years off from running while completing his advanced degrees at Louisiana Tech University, Orndorff decided to get back into running after moving to Clarksville in 2018. “I wanted to get in better shape, so I decided to start running again,” he said. “The first mile I ran after starting back took about 14 minutes, very slow. I knew then that I had a long way to go, but I was determined to keep running.” Ironically, one of the people who helped Orndorff get back into running was former U of O Cross Country Coach and Ozarks alumnus Jeremy Provence, who ended up winning the 2019 Little Rock Marathon. Provence is currently the head cross country at the University of North Alabama, “Jeremy helped me get back into running and a lot of friends and colleagues have supported me along the way,” Orndorff said. “I hope this will motivate other people to keep pushing beyond their limits because I uncertainly pushed well beyond mine.” University of the Ozarks will present two screenings of the film “Normal Isn’t Real: Succeeding with Learning Disabilities & ADHD,” on Thursday, March 28, in the Rogers Conference Center. The film will be shown at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by a panel discussion with four U of O students who are a part of the University’s Jones Learning Center. The screenings are open to the public and there is no cost for admission. They are being presented by the Jones Learning Center, Student Success Center and the Office of Student Affairs. “Normal Isn’t Real,” is an inspiring documentary that features the stories of four young adults with LD/ADHD issues sharing their journeys to success in work and school and the strategies they use to manage their challenges. These candid portraits take the viewer into the subjects' daily lives; showcasing their talents, venting their frustrations and employing the strategies they use to manage their challenges and utilize their strengths. They come from diverse backgrounds, and their journeys are as unique and varied as the careers they have developed. They have all become experts on themselves and what they need to succeed. For more information about the screenings, please contact the Jones Learning Center at 479-979-1403. Julia Frost, director of the University of the Ozarks’ Jones Learning Center, will make a presentation at the Learning Disabilities Association of America’s annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 20. Frost’s presentation will be titled, “Transitioning to Employment for Adults with Learning Disabilities.”  Frost will lead the full-morning workshop with a disability service provider from another institution and two successful adults who have learning disabilities. One of those adults is Eric McGehearty, an Ozarks alumnus who will also serve as the Adult Luncheon speaker following the workshop. The conference brochure describes the presentation this way: “The transition from an educational setting to employment can be one of the most challenging transitions for anyone, but when you have a learning disability, the challenges are often multiplied.  This panel, made up of two adults with learning disabilities and two college disability program directors, will focus on effectively preparing for this transition, what challenges to be prepared for, and how to meet these challenges in a manner that will result in successful long term employment. Also covered will be understanding the laws that cover employment, disclosing the disability, exploring assistive technology, and learning effective self-advocacy skills.” “During this workshop, you will hear from two individuals who have had to decide whether to disclose their learning disabilities to their employers, why they made the decisions that they did, and how they chose to proceed.  They will also share compensatory strategies they developed to enable their employers to assist them in implementing effective, reasonable accommodations so that they could succeed at work and life.  You will also hear from two college disability program directors who have seen their former students experience both success and failure in the world of work.  From their experiences, they will share what strategies the students who were successful used and suggest what steps others might take to reach the same success.  If you are an adult with LD or if you work with or parent of an adult with LD, this session will help you to make this transition a much smoother one.” For more information on the services of the Jones Learning Center, please contact Frost at 479-979-1401 or jfrost@ozarks.edu. Julia Frost, director of the University of the Ozarks’ Jones Learning Center, will be making presentations at national conferences in Los Angeles and St. Louis during the month of November. On Nov. 7-9, Frost will be attending the Independent Educational Consultants’ Association (IECA) conference in Los Angeles. She will be part of a panel presentation on Nov. 7 titled, “Post-Secondary Options for Students with LD/ADHD/ASD.” The conference will include representatives of diverse educational models from various locations throughout the United States who will provide an overview of their university and the comprehensive support provided at each institution. In addition, a diplomat from Eye to Eye National will discuss how a young person with LD/ADHD can create a chain of confidence in different learners that could change the world. Frost will also have a table at the conference’s College and School Fair on Nov. 8. On Nov. 9-11, Frost will be attending the 2018 Annual International Conference on ADHD in St. Louis.  She will make a presentation titled, “Life After High School – Is There Really Another Option,” with a colleague from Brehm Preparatory School in Illinois. She will also be a part of a panel presentation titled, “Tribe Time.”  Her portion of that workshop will be “How to Flunk Out of College Even if You’re Really Smart.”  An Ozarks alumnus, Mark Schneider, will also be a part of the panel presentation.  He will talk about learning to manage AD/HD symptoms in college and beyond.  The title of his portion is “Party!  Party!  Party!” For more information on these presentations or the Jones Learning Center, please contact Frost at 479-979-1401 or jfrost@ozarks.edu. The University of the Ozarks’ Jones Learning Center presented its 2017-18 tutor of the year awards during its annual reception, held on May 3. The JLC provides academic support services for students with learning disabilities.  Tutors are scored by students and staff in each of the nine departments reflective of the Ozarks LENS program.  From those scores outstanding tutors are identified and recognized. The recipient of the overall tutor of the year and business tutor of year for 2017-18 was Ohany Roman Blandon, a sophomore business administration major from Nicaragua. Other tutor award recipients included, Olivia Pippin (education), Berenice Osorio (communication), Alec Mertin (math and physics), Tonya Palmer (biology and chemistry), Elias Loria (psychology, health and environmental studies), Stephanie Payton (fine arts), Catherine Varvel (humanities) and Hannah Oler (social science). “Tutors are a vital piece to the academic success of students in the Jones Learning Center,” said Julia Frost, director of the JLC. “This year they provided over 6,000 hours of weekly, one-to-one tutoring.” The JLC employees 125 student-workers each semester who support students as tutors, note-takers, writing assistants and readers.” The University of the Ozarks’ Board of Trustees presented its annual faculty and staff awards during the 2018 Trustees Awards Banquet, held April 27 in the Rogers Conference Center. Among the recipients for 2018 were (pictured, from left) Patti Schuh, enrollment data manager; Debbie Siebenmorgen, accountant; Tammy Harrington, professor of art; Susan Edens, assistant professor of practice for communication; and Lisa Gruben-Inness, office manager for the Jones Learning Center. Harrington and Edens each received the Richard and Katherene Bagwell Outstanding Faculty Award. Gruben-Inness was honored with the Arnold G. Sims Outstanding Staff Award and Siebenmorgen earned the Alvin C. Broyles Outstanding Staff Award. Schuh was presented the 2018 Dr. Rick and Sheree Niece President’s Above and Beyond Outstanding Service Award. Several other faculty and staff members also received service awards, including Heather Dickerson, Gruben-Inness, Dr. Joel Hagaman, Dr. Brett Stone, Greg Stone, Marilyn Harris and Susan McKee for 10 years of service; Monica Frizzell, Dr. Deborah Sisson, Eddie Wood and Glenda Wood for 15 years; Felecia Atkinson, Lou Chapman, Edens and Kimberly Spicer for 20 years; Dawn Schull Dvoracek for 25 years; and Deborah Mooney and Stuart Stelzer for 35 years. The trustees also recognized five employees who announced their retirements this year: Marian Askins, office manager for the Mathematics and Sciences Division; Dr. Rickey Casey, professor of management and former director of the Walton International Scholarship program; Lou Chapman, academic program coordinator in the JLC; John Hodge, maintenance technician; and Carl Ramsey, head women’s basketball coach. Julia Frost, director of the University of the Ozarks’ Jones Learning Center, will make a presentation titled, “Parenting a Young Adult with a Learning Disability,” at the 2018 Learning Disabilities Association of America’s (LDAA) annual conference in Atlanta on Feb. 20-24. In preparation for the presentation, the JLC staff provided Frost with the names of their “best parents.” Those parents were all invited to complete a survey and many of them participated in a phone interview with Frost. “Although parents of millennials are often criticized, those who work with them and their adult children have seen many parents who support their children when needed and also lead them toward successful independence,” Frost said. “I will talk about characteristics of these parents and the techniques that they have used to successfully lead their children into adulthood.” Frost will also serve as the chair of the Adult Topics Committee at the annual international conference. For more information on the LDAA international conference or the JLC, please contact Frost at jfrost@ozarks.edu.

The Jones Learning Center (JLC) honored its outstanding student tutors for the 2016-17 academic year during a special ceremony on May 3.

Jose Salinas,a junior from Honduras, was named the overall tutor of the year.

The JLC provides academic support services for student with learning disabilities, AD/HD, and autism spectrum disorder.

Tutors are vital contributors to the academic success of students in the JLC, providing more than 6,000 hours of weekly, one-to-one tutoring.

The JLC employs about 125 student-workers each semester who support students as tutors, note-takers, writing assistants and readers.

Tutors from each of the nine departments reflective of the Ozarks LENS program were scored by students and staff. From those scores, outstanding tutors were identified and recognized.

The outstanding JLC tutors for 2016-17 are:

  • Education Department: Catherine Varvel
  • Communication Department: Mora Marcia
  • Business Department: Gray Gordy
  • Math and Physics Department: Robert Ketterer
  • Biology and Chemistry Department: Darious Parrish
  • Psychology, Health, and Environmental Science Department: Riley Skaggs
  • Fine Arts Department: Stephanie Payton
  • Humanities Department: Jose Salinas
  • Social Science Department: Kelley Criss
  • Overall Tutor of the Year: Jose Salinas
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The Jones Learning Center recognized its outstanding student tutors in a ceremony on May 3