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Washington State University
College of Education

September 2009

Vancouver views and news


Questions for the Vancouver faculty:  If you’re inclined to daydreaming, is it a good thing or a bad thing that the view from your office features majestic Mount Hood?   Or that the blue-green branches of a 100-year-old Douglas fir fill the conference room windows?

High-rent views are among the delights of WSU Vancouver’s new Undergraduate Classroom Building, home to College of Education programs on the West Side.   Construction delays meant that occupants couldn’t move in until a week before classes started.  So, they’re still settling in. But reports are glowing.  Says Academic Director June Canty:   “The faculty and staff love the space.  The classrooms are incredible — state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities.  The students are using all the casual interaction spaces and furniture and the building has really come alive just the way we envisioned it.”

Faculty grant winners
Life’s not all about scenery-gazing and unpacking in Vancouver. There’s a lot of research under way, as evidenced by the fact that education faculty members snagged six of the 13 mini-grants awarded to Vancouver researchers for 2009-2010.  The grants of up to $5,000 fund projects that involve exceptional scholarly activity or will lead to requests for external funding.  Recipients and their grant topics include:
June Canty, Teacher Induction in Southwest Washington. June plans to follow a first-year teacher through her/his  first semester on the job, documenting how and how well a school district helps with the transition into a new profession.
Michael Dunn, Ask, Reflect, Text: Does the Use of Art During Pre-Writing Help Students Write More Elaborate Text? Michael explores the use of artistic expression to improve the work of students who struggle with the standard composition process.
Stephen Kucer, Discourse Context and Its Impact on Word Identification During the Reading Process. Stephen is analyzing data from his research into the effect that initial letters, semantics, location in text, and other factors have on readers’ ability to identify words.
Tonda Liggett, Notions of Diversity in a Neoliberal Context: The Undermining of Education in Chiapas, Mexico. Tonda intends to study the work of teacher educators interested in placing social justice and diversity at the center of their teaching, in a region negatively influenced by the corporatization of education.
Nancy Sanders, Research-based Practices: Guidelines for Educational Leaders. Nancy is investigating how administrators interpret the federal mandate in No Child Left Behind to use scientifically based practices, specifically understandings about research in relation to values of equity and social justice.
Richard Sawyer, Education at the Crossroads of Tension and Change: An Investigation of the Impact of Globalization on the Educational System in Southern Mexico. In a study complementary to Tonda’s, Rick intends to examine how teacher educators in Chiapas are dealing with the influences of neoliberalism in the education of new teachers.

International students
Did you read about WSU’s record enrollment of international students and wonder how many of those students our college enrolls?  The answer: 41, all at the graduate level. Of those, 31 students are current and 10 are on  grad/leave status.  Thanks to Jason Sievers  for the information.

Reading (and viewing) matter
Colleges find juicy titles swell enrollment. When “German Literature of the High Middle Ages’’ becomes “Knights, Castles, and Dragons.’’
Using Twitter in the classroom.  A video from UT Dallas.
Confessions of a D-student. The Seattle School District is considering lowering its graduation requirements. This writer knows first-hand that some good can come from a lousy grade.

No yawns, only smiles

Mark Bergeson counts yawns.

Partnership instructor Kris Lindeblad

That’s why Bergeson, associate director of Washington’s Higher Education Coordinating Board, was so impressed when he sat in on a day-long workshop of the Riverpoint Advanced Mathematics Partnership, aka RAMP. He reported seeing “zero yawns” and no laptop e-mail checking among the Spokane-area educators  getting instruction from the dynamic team of Janet Frost, Kris Lindeblad and Jackie Coomes. He did see many smiles.

Unlike its predecessor, the Riverpoint Partnership for Math and Science, RAMP includes some principals sprinkled among the participating teachers. Janet, the project director,  gives three reasons for the administrators’  interest:  “Principals can be more supportive of their (RAMP) team, because they know better what they’re doing. They can give better teacher performance reviews, based on what they know the person is trying to achieve. And they can make sure what we’re doing aligns with their school’s goals.”

Diversity honor
Ella Inglebret is an associate professor of speech and hearing sciences at WSU Pullman, but she deserves an honorary spot on the College of Education faculty for her work on the report From Where the Sun Rises: Addressing the Native American Educational Achievement Gap in Washington State.  Her research colleagues in Cleveland Hall can take shared pride that she has been named a Diversity Champion by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Ella was honored for her contributions to the report. She explains: “A part of what I did was to identify where there were tribe–school district relationships and where they were at in developing curriculum … My role was to find out what is working and who is doing it.”

chronicle_adAnother member of the Native achievement gap research team, Susan Banks-Joseph, is pictured in this WSU ad that’s scheduled to run in the Oct. 16 Diversity Supplement of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The photo in the ad montage, showing her happily engaged with a child, is a favorite of Susan’s.

Hear the Cougar fight song
Like you’ve never heard it before at

Reading matter

The Rubber Room. The battle over New York’s worst teachers.
Seattle schools may lower grade-point requirement for graduation. They’re considering lowering the standard to a D average.

Future Cougs, current enthusiasm

Jennifer Beller

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” says Associate Professor Jennifer Beller, after her first gig at Future Cougars Day.  During the Saturday event that’s part of WSU’s annual Seattle Week activities, Jennifer answered questions about kineseology programs while Director of Field Services Chris Sodorff and Clinical Assistant Professor Guy Westhoff explained the teacher preparation program.

Guy Westhoff

In some instances, Jennifer said, she was asked for specifics, such as “What kind of classes should I take senior year?”  Other times she addressed big-picture concerns. When one young man expressed interest in movement studies, and his mom urged him to earn a science degree, Jennifer was able to suggest a middle path.

Guy describes the experience as “three hours of non-stop conversations” on the crowded concourse of the Qwest Field Event Center. The two most common questions he received: What’s the admissions process like? What endorsements can education students complete?  Everyone was impressed by the number of

Chris Sodorff
Chris Sodorff

college alumni who stopped by to say hello.  That continued even when the faculty trio went for a sandwich afterward. Chris reports that the first person who saw them in the restaurant was a recent grad who saw them and proclaimed, “I got a job!”

Kim Holapa, our director of development, has experienced WSU Seattle Week five times.  She reports that Cougar enthusiasm was as high as ever.  For Kim and Interim Dean Phyllis Erdman, one highlight was a very productive meeting of the college Advocacy Board.

Elevating engineering at Garfield-Palouse High School
In an update of an earlier College of Education article, Washington State Magazine’s latest edition includes  a story about College of Education alumnus Jim Stewart and the amazing project his students tackled over the last two years. Be sure to check out the time-lapse photos in which WSU photographer Bob Hubner captured the Gar-Pal design team putting the finishing touches on their agriculture lift for paraplegics.

Facebook boosts brainpower!
We’re not just saying that because the WSU College of Education has a Facebook group. According to a scholar in Scotland, Facebook boosts IQ — but Twitter doesn’t.

Reading matter
How Obama’s Pep Talk Became a Publicity Headache. What started as a simple question on a suggested lesson plan tied to the president’s speech to students ended up as the first major political misstep for a recently minted U.S. Department of Education team.
The Rubber Room.
The battle over New York City’s worst teachers.

Adios, Geoff!

Geoff Jensen

Sad but true:  It’s Geoff Jensen’s last day with the College of Education.  He’s going to burn some vacation time before his position as Web developer officially ends in a few weeks due to state budget cuts.

Geoff has made our large Web site a well-organized and attractive recruiting device, newsletter, directory, public face to the world … in other words, the ultimate multipurpose Internet tool.  It is a distinctive site even while it meets WSU graphic standards. We’ll miss Geoff’s technical and artistic skills and, most of all, his good cheer. He sends this note:

“It’s been such an absolute pleasure to work as part of the College of Education team for the last two and a half years, I’m going to miss you all! Seattle is treating me well – plenty to keep me busy. I’ll be doing both freelance and contract work in the field of user-interface and user-experience design. I’m also looking into earning an advanced degree at UW in Human-Centered Design & Engineering, where new methods of human-computer interaction are researched and developed.  These are times of big changes, but I’m excited to be moving forward in my career. Thank you all so much for the help and support you’ve given me. The College of Ed is a very special place to work and I know it will only get better.”

If you’d like to contact Geoff, his WSU address will be working for a few weeks:

A new face and new talent
The College of Education has its first communications intern this fall. Meet Sarah Goehri (pronounced Gary), who will be writing about college people and programs.  Sarah is a senior in the Murrow College of Communication and has her eye on a marketing/PR career.

Faculty notes
Assistant Professor Jane Kelley is quoted in the Daily Evergreen article, “Reading Rainbow closes the book.”

Professor Michael Pavel has been selected for the Patricia Whitefoot Award for Leadership in Education and has been asked to serve as an advisor for  the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ Making Excellence Inclusive program.

Crimson pride and men in black

2009posterIf you’re at Qwest Field for the Sept. 12 Cougar Gridiron Classic, don’t forget about Future Cougar Day, a regular part of the annual WSU in Seattle festivities. The academic fair begins at 1 p.m., three hours before kickoff. Among those answering questions for prospective students will be three College of Education representatives: Associate Professor Jennifer Beller, Director of Field Services Chris Sodorff and Clinical Assistant Professor Guy Westhoff.

By the way, Friday, Sept. 4, is the deadline to enter photos in the “My Color is Crimson” contest. Top entries will be displayed during Seattle pregame festivities. Game-day fans will choose their favorite crimson-colored scene during halftime. The winner will receive a Cougar football weekend package, including hotel room, game tickets and pregame sideline passes for two. Click here for details and some fun examples of Cougar-themed photos, including one that captures four WSU alumni in non-crimson fatigues on the job in Afghanistan.

Speaking of the military…
You may have read that WSU ranked among the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools doing the most to embrace America’s veterans  in this year’s list of military friendly schools published by the magazine G.I. Jobs. EduCoug would like to salute the veterans among College of Education students and alumni. Can you help identify them? For that matter, do we have vets among our faculty? If you know, please share.

A sign of foreboding?
black-hatsAssistant Professor John Wong is known for his scholarly writing about hockey. And for being a demanding teacher. Judging by this photo, however, he does permit male students to wear caps in class, so long as the caps are black, and on backward.