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Washington State University

The human-animal, air travel blues bond

The luggage didn’t make it, but the cats did.

A.G. Rud, our new dean commencing mid-August, is in Pullman this week for meetings and house-hunting.  His busy schedule got off to a slow start when he and his wife, Rita, had an unplanned overnight stay in Spokane, where they waited for their luggage to catch up with them.  Two of the family’s cats did make it on board the Ruds’ flight, although the critters reportedly were not thrilled about their day of air travel.

The Ruds are pet people, as attested by posts on A.G.’s blog, source of this picture of their cat Wendy.  That blog is on hiatus, but you can find a link to it at the end of the  WSU Today article announcing his appointment. The article includes links to his biography and the journal of the John Dewey Society, which A.G. edited for the last six years.

His interest in animals is professional as well as personal.  He is fascinated by the human-animal bond and research into the use of pet animals in the classroom.   Maybe that will be one of his future topics on the College of Education’s dean’s blog.  In a recent email, he mentioned a former WSU dean of veterinary medicine:  “I’ve read about Leo Bustad’s work and am thrilled to be going to work at what folks have called the place where the serious study of the human-animal bond started, with Bustad the father of the bond!”

In addition to three feline household members, the Ruds have a dog and may be getting another.  A.G. confesses to having “a major Chihuahua obsession.”

Teachers aren’t your average students

Teacher leadership doctoral students Brian Routh, left, and Matt Coulter

Think of it as the Goldilocks perspective on WSU’s education doctorate program: “Not too easy or too difficult, but just right.”

That’s a description offered for a WSU Today article by Matt Coulter, a veteran teacher from Olympia who is earning an Ed.D. specializing in teacher leadership.  Matt made his comment during the Summer Institute in Pullman that’s part of the four-year, part-time doctoral program designed for working professionals.

If the program is not too difficult for Matt and his classmates, it’s probably because teachers make outstanding, discerning students. They are keenly aware of both course content and the quality of instruction, and are bound to critique the class in ways other students don’t. Associate Professor Rick Sawyer, who taught a Summer Institute course called Action Research for Teachers, put it this way:

“Instructors in courses with experienced teacher leaders have to be aware of who their students are, what they offer, and what their motivation and goals are. In a course like that, the students will bring the curriculum alive, but the instructor has to orchestrate that process. Instead of delivering content, you have to construct opportunities for the students to generate curriculum together in meaningful ways that respect their time. A two-week summer course moves very quickly and the instructor has to ‘listen’ to the course and the students and be very adaptable. I was lucky because this particular group was just so smart, motivated, and generous. I just had to keep up with them!”

In another story about the institute, which appeared in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, participants talked about what it was like to be college students again.   Said Wendy Watson, an assistant principal from Spokane who is studying educational leadership:  “People are staying up late, late at night.”

Teens spread anti-meth message

“Yay for the power of the arts!”

That was Pauline Sameshima‘s response when she heard that the use of methamphetamine among Idaho teenagers dropped 52 percent between 2007 and 2009, after a series of dramatic video ads.   It isn’t just the writing and acting that give the ads their power, but something also dear to the heart of the assistant professor: research.  The videos were based on key emotional messages that had been tested and shown to influence teens.

The ads deal graphically with prostitution, violent crime and lost lives.  When Pauline showed the ads to participants in the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Leadership Camp, a few of them laughed — maybe out of uneasiness, or because that’s just what teens do when they think adults are trying to impress them.  But the students dived into their assignment, which was to add their own artwork to more than 200 signs printed with the anti-meth mantra “Not Even Once.”

The signs are now posted along U.S. Highway 95 in Plummer, and constitute an entry in the Idaho Meth Project’s Paint the State public art contest.  Two of the teens created their own entries, including this bright banner at the tribe’s Wellness Center.  You can watch for the winners and view the video ads at the Idaho Meth Project Web site.