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Washington State University
College of Education

October 2009

Faculty share their inspiring stories

Anybody who knows Paula Groves Price is familiar with the way she throws her head back when she laughs. Which is often.  The associate professor explains that her family is the source of her humor–and her resilience–in a chapter of Trajectories: The Social and Educational Mobility of Education Scholars from Poor and Working Class Backgrounds. Paula grew up in San Diego, where she attended very different schools.  Clinical Associate Professor Leslie Hall grew up on a Washington farm where money was always in short supply, and dreamed of going to law school. She also writes about her childhood, as well as her career decisions, in Trajectories.

trajectories-sIn “Sometimes You Gotta Live Your Life on a Bridge,” Paula explains that being a jokester helped her stay afloat as a multicultural child in a sea of white students:  “They may have had extensive knowledge of proper forks … and ballroom dancing techniques, but I knew how to read and write graffiti, and how to maximize multiple meals from a single block of cheese. I entered the 6th grade feeling lost and alone, and I exited as the elected class clown.”

Leslie was the only child in her family to earn a college degree, after which she moved to the Seattle area.  She returned to the Yakima Valley to teach the children of farm workers because that’s where she could find a job. She planned to stay a couple of years before moving back to suburbia.  But her instincts intervened.  In a school that mandated English-only instruction, she insisted on giving bilingual lessons to help her kindergarten students. The principal told her she could be fired.  In her chapter “Changing Fields: The Growth of a Subversive Educator,”  Leslie writes: “I continued to alternate between English and Spanish. That wasn’t the last time insubordination and termination were mentioned, either. My passion for social justice had finally overcome my desire for the ‘good life’ of the suburbs. I decided to stay and work with those wonderful children.”

Jason Margolis
Jason Margolis

What keeps teachers teaching?
Two out of five of America’s 4 million K-12 teachers appear disheartened and disappointed about their jobs, while others express a variety of reasons for contentment with teaching and their current school environments, new research shows.  It’s a subject that Jason Margolis explored in his 2008 article “What Will Keep Today’s Teachers Teaching? Looking for a Hook as a New Career Cycle Emerges.”  Editors at Teachers College Record felt the piece was so relevant that they’re published on the TCR Web site, where it can be read free of charge this week.

Jason’s paper concludes with three potential areas of exploration for both educational practice and research concerned with keeping “good teachers” teaching: merit pay, differentiated jobs, and university-school partnerships.

Scholarship, excellence and a good party

Applause follows Mac Bledsoe after he accepts the Advocate for Education Award

Alas, the EduCoug’s fashion reporter was so busy bundling up in designer stadium wear that she couldn’t attend the College of Education’s 2009 Scholarship and Excellence celebration, that grand Homecoming weekend soiree that doubles as a recognition of remarkable faculty, students and friends.  If she had made it, she would have spotted some celebrities — football great Drew Bledsoe! world famous mascot Butch T. Cougar! — and reported that bright smiles and crimson were de rigueur at WSU’s Palouse Ridge Golf Club.

If you missed the Oct. 10 party, or want a second look at the celebs, view the Homecoming album on the College of Education’s Shutterfly site. Read about the extraordinary teachers who were honored, Dee Baumgartner and Rena Mincks, on the alumni news page.

If you missed the seminars presented Friday by Advocate for Education Award winners Mac Bledsoe and Bob Craves, read the report on their presentations.  You’ll want to share Mac’s five top parenting tips with everyone who has kids. And you’ll be inspired by Bob’s decision to switch career gears in order to give more students a shot at college (and lifetime) success.

Cougar land, through Japanese eyes

Mayumi Yoshinaga

Mayumi Yoshinaga, a native of Nishinomiya, Japan, was puzzled one evening when the man who brought her pizza stood in the doorway of her apartment waiting for something.  All that was on her mind was grabbing a hot slice of the pizza but she could tell something was expected.  Tipping isn’t common in Japan, and it took an explanation from Mayumi’s roommate for her to understand this familiar U.S. practice.

Mayumi is in Pullman as part of the WSU College of Education-Nishinomiya Education Board Partnership.  The Nishinomiya Board selects a teacher each year to send to WSU to take courses at the Intensive American Language Center  and to learn how to teach English as a second language when she or he returns to Japan.  Mayumi has found her courses very helpful and says  that they have definitely prepared her for teaching when she flies home on Oct. 17.

Although her instruction is the main reason for her visit to the U.S., Mayumi’s time here has provided a variety of new experiences outside of the classroom as well. Tipping is just one of many cultural differences she’s experienced. For example, the strength of the electric burner in her Chinook apartment  is different than the typical gas burner she uses in Japan.  Testing this new cooking device was followed by a few run-ins with the smoke alarm and a couple of burnt meals.

Mayumi has also had to transition from using the metric system to our English system, which she says is confusing when the news reports the weekly temperatures in Fahrenheit, rather than traditional Celsius. In fall, Pullman’s typical overnight low of 30 degrees would be equivalent to a scorching 86 degrees based on the Celsius scale.

Mayumi considers herself lucky to have experienced one of the most traditional of Pullman activities, Cougar Football Saturday.  While attending her first PAC 10 football game with a friend, Mayumi was confused by the yellow flags being thrown out onto the field by the referees.  WSU fans around her were helpful in explaining the details of the game and kept her informed when big plays were made on either team.  That was typical. Mayumi has found that most people on campus are welcoming and full of questions about her life and what she thinks of Pullman.

Throughout the trials of adapting to life in a radically different place, Mayumi has proved successful and will hopefully return to Japan with entertaining stories and a wealth of knowledge found only at WSU.  — By guest blogger, Sarah Goehri

Alumni honor, alumni praise
Two college of Education graduates, Danyell Laughlin and Michelle Kelly, are winners of regional Washington State Teacher of the Year Awards.  Good for them, and great for their students.  When told that their honors would be mentioned on the College of Education’s alumni news page, Michelle responded with a compliment: “My Master’s program at WSU was one of the most influential professional experiences of my career. I still think about it fondly. The professionalism of the faculty in my program inspired me to achieve at a higher level than I thought possible.”

If you’ve heard alumni news worth sharing, please remember to pass it along.

Undergraduate scholar
Elementary education major Jacqueline Nuha will be among the scholars featured at the McNair Achievement Program‘s Research Poster Exhibition, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Oct.14 in Pullman’s Holland/Terrell Library Atrium. Jacqueline’s topic: Understanding the College Choice Process for Asian American and Pacific Islanders and Their Access to College Information.

Mooovie of the day
Ever create a video to share a message with students or colleagues?  Two WSU Distance Degree Program academic advisers who were preparing for a technology conference wanted to show simple that is, so they made their own video at a farm. It was meant to be a light-hearted piece about communication techniques. Then the cattle got busy.