Katy E. Hisrich
Dr. Katy E. Hisrich’s palette of passions is as colorful and textured as a garden in full bloom. From education and entrepreneurship to technology, from community service to traveling, Hisrich searches for ways to bring each color of her palette to life in her classes in GSU’s College of Education.
As Faculty Chair and Advisor for the Student Education Association (SEA) at GSU, Hisrich has introduced a website and social media launch, research projects, and community outreach events to train education students to be future world leaders.
“It’s important that our students are equipped with the tools that are needed to be successful leaders in today’s world,’’ Hisrich said. She brings more than a decade’s experience of teaching at the elementary, college, and university levels to GSU, as well as research on learning processes, curriculum, developmental psychology, parent education, early childhood education, teacher preparation, and student engagement. She blends all of this with her in-the-now sense of the professional world.
The daughter of an educator and psychologist, Hisrich has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Arizona State University, a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Child Development from the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University, where she originally went to study business.
Before joining GSU in 2014, Hisrich taught courses for education and psychology department at various colleges and universities. She researched parent education, learning, and child development for the Office of Parent Development International at ASU, as well as served as the Executive Editor for ASU’s online education journal, Current Issues in Education. She also reviewed university programs and wrote curriculum for courses in education and psychology. At the New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Research, Hisrich developed and facilitated workshops for parent education programs
At GSU, Hisrich has become synonymous with the SEA, winning awards for the work she’s done with the tiny but spirited group she has cultivated and grown to a high profile organization of undergraduate and graduate students preparing for school-based careers: teachers (infants to 12th grade), social workers, school counselors, and occupational therapists.
In June 2016, the National Education Association recognized Hisrich as an Outstanding Local Advisor, just months after GSU recognized her for securing a record seven grants in two years for the SEA.
“I’m humbled by these honors and hope to do more to promote the SEA and GSU,” said Hisrich, whose SEA events on and off campus have created a high profile in the social media world, as well as the community, for this professor who lives close to the Wisconsin border. “It is really all about the students. I want them to stand apart from their peers. While I may test their resolve, it is to help them become quality educators and productive members of society.”
GSU Newsroom: Living so close to the Wisconsin border, you could easily cut your commute time. What inspires you to travel more than an hour?
Hisrich: The SEA. I’d say I spend about 10 to 20 hours a week with the group because I love my students and the projects we do. So the drive is worth it for me.
Right now, one of my research projects involves doing a student engagement survey to determine how students perceived themselves before they joined SEA and how they perceived themselves after. We want to assess their leadership skills and confidence. Some of these kids wouldn’t have become leaders without SEA. Research shows when students are involved, they enjoy school more, enhance their skills, and earn better grades. Furthermore, they develop as leaders with organizational, teamwork, and communication skills. It puts them ahead of others when they are looking for jobs.
GSU Newsroom: What are your Early Education Students doing with Kids@College this year?
Hisrich: Each summer, the students in my EDEC4460 integration (project approach and STEM) class spend several hours in a morning teaching kids at this Prairie State College program. My students create a center activity on the topic selected that year for Kids@College. Last year it was space; this year it is inventions. My students are creating seven activities that focus on amusement park inventions. Some are recreating rollercoasters or Ferris wheels. The students at the camp will rotate to each of the centers to learn about the invention and figure out how to build it themselves.
GSU Newsroom: Discuss your most impactful grants of the seven you received since 2014.
Hisrich: Care bags for military soldiers & PADS was made possible by an Illinois Education Association grant. We collected items such as socks, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and snacks to make military bags for soldiers. This was rewarding because a lot of people participated and supported us – faculty, students, community members, businesses.
I also liked the technology workshops, Technology workshops for teachers: Connecting through Connections. The National Education Association provided this grant for us to conduct free professional development workshops at schools. My students learned a lot. They felt like they could contribute to the field of education because they taught current educators how to implement technology in the classroom and school. All of these grants really have enhanced my SEA students’ skills in terms of leadership, communication, teamwork, and organization, as well as their professionalism and knowledge in the field.
GSU Newsroom: Where do you draw your drive and inspiration?
Hisrich: My parents. My mom has her Master’s in Psychology. She used to work with adolescents in juvenile delinquent facilities. My dad has a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship. He is a Dean at Kent State University. He’s held many positions, but the last was the Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management. For years, and currently, he teaches classes at the university and travels to other countries to teach, which is why I grew up living and traveling all over the world – living in 7 countries and traveling to over 30. He also has over 40 books on entrepreneurship, marketing, small business, etc. Currently, we are working together now on a podcast on entrepreneurship which will be posted on the website I am creating.
GSU Newsroom: If you could fold all your passions - parent education, children, learning, research, entrepreneurship, and technology into one project, what would it look like?
Hisrich: My long-term goal, for the past 15 years since I got my dog Kaiya, has been to build and create a farm for families. The farm would have a variety of animals, especially cats and dogs, that we would rescue from all over the country. Families would be able to interact with the animals. This interaction helps children and adults enhance their social-emotional skills. It also promotes family engagement. Here, I would also teach parents and families how to better interact and communicate with their children. Plus, it helps save animals, as they have a place to live and people could come adopt them. I have started a business plan with my dad, but it is still a dream.