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NSU College of Education represented at DaVinci Institute awards banquet

(Tahlequah, Okla.)--On March 27, at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City, the DaVinci Institute of Oklahoma, also know as Oklahoma’s creativity think tank, will host the 2015 DaVinci Banquet, celebrating Oklahoma creativity in higher education. 

The institute, which boasts a mission of promoting statewide creative renaissance through lectures, workshops, professional development, research and advocacy, was established in 1998 as a not-for-profit, statewide think tank. Annually, the institution recognizes creativity in higher education faculty, basing awards on the premise that creativity is not bound by place or time and exhibits itself across all disciplines. 

Dr. Stephan Sargent

A creative man indeed, Dr. Stephan Sargent, assistant professor of Curriculum Instruction, has been named a DaVinci Fellow. 

“While so many faculty and staff at the university are deserving of this wonderful award, being chosen by my colleagues is humbling,” Sargent said. “Analogous to the famous charge given to all Americans by President Kennedy, the role of the university professor must be rooted in the service to others. The university professor has a great capacity to use his/her creativity (the impetus of the DaVinci Fellowship), experiences, intellectual training, role and resources to have a positive impact on society. Through creativity this is possible.”  

Sargent, who has charged himself personally with living a service-driven life, has dedicated his life’s work to helping enhance the literacy of all people.  His service does not end in the classrooms at NSU; moreover, Sargent volunteers weekly alongside his students at Roy Clark Elementary School in Tulsa. 

“While I can’t teach every child, I can help many through my own work and my work in preparing future teachers,” Sargent said. I have discovered that the incorporation of service as an integral portion of coursework helps to bring the textbook to life. I am constantly amazed at how much more students glean from a course when actively involved in a content-related service project then when passively taking notes. I am probably most satisfied that students are rediscovering the truth revealed by Albert Einstein so many decades ago, ‘Only a life lived in service to others is worth living.’”

No stranger to being recognized for his hard work and dedication, Sargent has also received the 2015 North Central Accreditation/AdvancED Oklahoma Excellence in Education Award, the 2014 College of Education Award for Service from NSU’s College of Education, the College of Education Outstanding Faculty Award for Service from NSU in 2011, the Model the Way Award, from NSU President Turner, in 2011 and the Circle of Excellence Award from NSU in 2011. 

After earning his Bachelor of Science in Elementary of Education degree from Oklahoma State University, Sargent went on the earn a master’s degree from the University of Tulsa in School Guidance and Counseling and his Doctor of Education degree from Oklahoma State University in Reading/Literacy. 

Since 2004, Sargent has been an integral part of NSU’s College of Education, serving in the Curriculum and Instruction department, within the Reading/Literacy program, as an assistant and associate professor, and also as the program chair/coordinator for the Undergraduate/Graduate Reading Program. Prior to his time at NSU, Sargent taught at Lincoln Elementary School in Ponca City.

Sargent will join a handful of NSU faculty members who have been honored with the award, which has been given out since 2006. 

David Dotson

NSU was also represented with one of its own education majors. David Dotson, an Elementary Education major, has been named a DaVinci Scholar. 

Coining himself another one of Dr. Linda Wilson’s ‘chased rabbits’, Dotson found both his nomination and selection for the honor to be a great surprise.

“I considered this scholarship a pipe dream, and one Sunday as I was out getting coffee, I randomly checked my email. I was dumbfounded that I had actually won,” Dotson said.  “I wasn’t sure whether it was real until Dr. Wilson called me later that afternoon screaming her head off in excitement.”

The proposal that brought Dotson to the selection committee, although unconventional and to some risky, was exactly the type of innovation and thinking outside-of-the-box for which the DaVinci Institute stands.

Dotson, a member of Mission Tulsa, an organization that has been feeding the downtown Tulsa homeless population for almost five years, used this experience to create a proposal to have “high-risk” students interact with homeless people. Through his service, Dotson explained that many of the homeless people Mission Tulsa serves have inspiring stories, and partnering them with students, provides them with the opportunity to share stories of similar situations, an invaluable resource. Currently, Dotson and his group of students serve food and hang out three times a month in the TCC Metro campus Art Building with some of Tulsa’s downtown homeless population.

“Any college can provide you with a rigorous curriculum ad robust social life,” Dotson said.  “However, NSU provides the best-case scenario for real-world experience. I’m in the middle of 80 full days in an elementary school classroom as well as participating within my proposal, and no textbook can teach you what boots-on-the-ground feels like.”

Both honors were given on a nomination system, followed by a selection committee, where nominees’ accomplishments were judged based on complexity of issue(s), fresh perspective and creative approaches and effectiveness and appropriateness of results. 

For more information about the DaVinci Institute, visit

Published: 3/27/2015 11:47:41 AM

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