Dr. Zuilkowski Wins Ralph Stair Prize For Innovation In Education

April 26, 2023

Tallahassee, FL – Dr. Stephanie Simmons Zuilkowski, Associate Director for Research at the Learning Systems Institute, was awarded the Ralph Stair Prize for Innovation in Education Tuesday evening. The honor is awarded biennially to an individual or collaborative team at FSU who has developed innovative education approaches that demonstrate the potential of having great impact nationally and internationally. 

Zuilkowski was honored for her work leading the development of the Nigerian Center For Reading Research at Bayero University-Kano, a project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The project to establish the research center took place over three years and was achieved despite the personal risk inherent in working in the region.  

“I’m so proud to accept this award on behalf of the large team at Florida State University and Bayero University-Kano that collaborated on this project," said Dr. Zuilkowski. "We all learned so much from each other and through our collaborative research on early grades reading.”"Dr. Zuilkowski posing with the Ralph Stair Prize For Innovation In Education"

The work that Dr. Zuilkowski led to develop the Nigerian Center for Reading Research and Development will have a lasting impact on education in the country and the entire region. Throughout the project, she and her team focused on providing professional development to the faculty on conducting reading research, designing, and delivering courses to pre-service reading teachers, and the publication of research findings. 

All this work took place in an area impacted by the Boko Haram terrorist group. There was and continues to be a high risk of terrorism against Americans and educators in general within that area. Building a reading research center in a country where it will serve as a beacon of light and hope against oppression and terrorism is a tremendous accomplishment.

“Dr. Zuilkowski’s passion for contributing to literacy in the early grades situates her as the most exemplary and inspirational educator with whom I had the pleasure of working,” said LSI Director Rabieh Razzouk. “She had the courage to take on a risky, challenging, and complicated project but made it a true success story that will lead, serve, and improve education to several generations in Nigeria and the region.”

Currently, Dr. Zuilkowski is serving as the principal investigator on the USAID’s Transforming Teacher Education activity in Zambia. Over the course of the project the goal is to provide more than 60 Zambian teacher educators the skills to deliver effective instruction to 9,000 college and university students studying to become primary grade teachers.