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Washington State University

High-fives for school leaders, grad students

Top: Herman Stoney Myers, Traci Haddad. Bottom: Angela Freeman, Robert Ford.

Middle-school boys work through their social and academic problems, and then mentor younger boys;  fifth-grade math whizzes jump ahead to middle school classes; literacy teachers systematically set higher expectations for their students. Those are among the successful projects documented by the first participants in WSU Vancouver’s  Administrative Professional Certification Program.

Throughout the state, school districts and universities collaborate to offer certification for school administrators.  WSU Vancouver’s certification program, the first to be offered in southwestern Washington, is integrated into the work life of the administrators. They have five years to complete it. Four ambitious school leaders  zipped through the WSU pilot program in 14 months.  As a finale, each gave presentations that focused on student achievement at their schools.

Three of the four were from Evergreen Public Schools: Robert Ford, assistant principal at Frontier Middle School; Angela Freeman, assistant principal at Harmony Elementary, and Traci Haddad, principal at Marrion Elementary. The fourth was Herman “Stoney” Myers, assistant principal at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver. They were recently honored by their school boards for earning their certificates last fall.

Becky Fleming, the retired Evergreen administrator who supervises the WSU program, snapped a picture, above, when she reunited the foursome to celebrate their achievement.

Graduate student honors

Connie Beecher, right, and Janine Darragh

Connie Beecher was selected by the Graduate and Professional Students Association as a 2009-2010 award winner for excellence demonstrated in the role of teaching assistant.  Connie, who was nominated by Assistant Professor Matt Marino, is working toward a Ph.D. in special education. She’s shown here dressed to the nines with fellow Pullman grad student (and fellow veteran classroom teacher) Janine Darragh at the GPSA’s March 27 celebration.

Another doctoral candidate, Cara Preuss, will be among students honored by the Association for Faculty Women at an April 6 reception.  Cara, who was nominated by Professor Joy Egbert, will receive the third place Harriet B. Rigas Award.  Cara’s expertise is language and literacy education; her award was named in honor of  a former WSU faculty member and engineer renowned for her computer research.


Campus rites of spring

Grad student Paul Mencke, a Showcase presenter

From age regression to athlete concussions, from mathematics tests to hip-hop pedagogy — the education research topics at WSU Pullman’s annual Academic Showcase on Friday were as varied as the spring weather outside.  There were 20 posters representing the work of College of Education faculty and students in the vast expanse of research presentations in the Bohler gym.

For more pictures from the event, see the 2010 Showcase album on the college Shutterfly site.

For a searchable list of research abstracts from the occasion, see the WSU Academic Showcase site. Similar information is available online for the WSU Vancouver Showcase, which takes place April 15.

Brooke Wolf

Transfer days
Another campus rite of spring is Transfer Registration Days, a two-day orientation and registration program designed to prepare admitted students for their transition to WSU.  The first day, Sunday, found College of Education advisers Brooke Wolf, above, and Judy Schultz, below, answering questions for students who were cruising the information stations at Pullman’s  Lighty Hall.

Judy Schultz


Yet another Woman of Distinction


Bernadette Mencke with her winner's bouquet

For the third year in a row, a College of Education graduate student has been named a Washington State University Woman of Distinction. Bernadette Mencke was honored today in Pullman, along with payroll services staff member Alice Smethurst and psychology faculty member Rebecca Craft.

Bernadette, who expects to receive her Ph.D. in higher education administration in December, is also associate director of the WSU Office of Student Conduct. Her many activities have included serving as a student regent, as chairperson for the Coalition for Women Students, and as executive cabinet member for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

When asked by a Daily Evergreen reporter for her thoughts on the award, she responded with gratitude to her adviser, Professor Michael Pavel, who nominated her. He told the awards committee:  “Bernadette impresses me with both her determination to learn about and nurture the climate here at WSU … (She) is a wonderful woman who has the courage and motivation to take on the challenges of working in a world afflicted by inequality.”

Education grad students Joan O’viawe (2009 Woman of the Year) and Xyanthe Neider (2008 Woman of Distinction) were honored at the last two Women’s Recognition Luncheons. (For a full list of winners since 1998, see the Women’s Resource Center pages.)

Michael Pavel
was in the news himself last week, commenting on Washington schools’ efforts to reclassify families by ethnicity as part of new state guidelines.  The professor, who with his WSU colleagues wrote a report on the Native American educational achievement gap in Washington, hopes the move establishes meaningful relationships between tribal families and their schools and teachers. Read the articles at and The Olympian.

Rural Education Center director Jim Kowalkowski, who was featured last week in the EduCoug, got his own byline in the Seattle Times with his article Rural schools are effective and don’t need consolidation.  The March 19 opinion piece took issue with the newspaper’s editorial on the subject.


The Rural Education Center’s evolving mission

Back in the day of one-room country schoolhouses, each administered by a local board, Washington state had about 2,000 school districts.  There are now 295.  Preserving the remaining small districts, where schools are the heart and soul of often remote communities, is a mission for Jim Kowalkowski, who directs the Rural Education Center.


Jim Kowalkowski

The center is based in the Davenport School District, where Jim is superintendent. It was created in 1987, the result of collaboration between the Small Schools Committee of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) and the WSU College of Education. At first, the center focused on gathering and sharing research that would help district superintendents and principals. Research topics included dropout rates, in-service instruction for teachers and the ever-popular “Cooperation vs. Consolidation.”

The center increasingly has became a voice for rural schools.  Jim has been director for six years. Like his predecessors, he often finds himself speaking with legislators and other state policy-makers.  He comes to the conversation armed with statistics. For example, the dropout rate — or lack thereof — at rural schools.

“The highest on-time graduate rates in our state are in rural schools,” he says. “Compare Spokane’s 60 percent rate to places like Harrington, with 100 percent.”

The college-center collaboration is still going strong, as evidenced by this week’s WASA Small Schools Conference in Yakima. Among the presentations: “Making Innovative Connections With Your Land Grant Institution.”  Jim was a presenter, as were two WSU education faculty members, Matt Marino and Hal Jackson.  To the best of anyone’s recollection, they were the first university researchers to speak at the annual rural schools conference. Matt explained his work  developing video games to teach middle school science, and interested 13 school districts in helping with the project.  Hal discussed plans for a forum that will unite schools, communities and university experts in helping students at risk of social and academic problems.

Such partnerships are a priority of two other conference speakers. Jake Dingman,  superintendent of the Oakesdale School District and chair of the Whitman County School Superintendents, spoke about a recent professional development day in Colfax. Arlene Hett, director of the College of Education’s School & Community Collaboration Center, facilitated the “Innovative Connections” discussion.

The WSU delegation in Yakima included Collaboration Center staffer Ashley Herridge, who provides support services for the Rural Education Center — helping continue a connection between the university and small-town Washington that’s now in its 23rd year.

Other faculty news
Jennifer Beller was in Tacoma last week to address the Pacific Lutheran University Wang Center International Symposium on Understanding the world Through Sport and Recreation. Her topic: doping in sport.
Tariq Akmal has been elected as a council member for the Middle Level Research Education special interest group of the American Education Research Association.