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College of Education

November 2010

Education is his field, in more ways than one

Justin Hougham greets visitors at the WSU Organic Farm

Sometimes EduCoug is mostly an excuse for sharing pictures.  Hence, these shots of WSU College of Education lecturer and Ph.D. alum Justin Hougham, who also plows a lot of his time into the WSU Organic Farm.

Justin finds a lesson in every plant

His role as the farm’s education and outreach coordinator is one reason behind the Palouse Pollinators series highlighted in the WSU Today article “Workshops harvest lessons from food.”  When he’s not on the farm or presiding over an indoor classroom, Justin might be found at the Pullman farmers’ market. Or at the University of Idaho, where he also shares his passion for wholesome food.

The other reason for the workshops is doctoral student Francene Watson — a graduate assistant, community activist and former classroom teacher. Together, they’re helping keep the college involved in the important cause of place-based education.

You can see pictures of the Palouse Pollinators field day on the College of Education’s Shutterfly site.  Also posted there:  photos from last week’s Future Teachers and Leaders of Color dinner.

You may not know …
French filmmakers were on the Palouse last weekend to interview Associate Professor Pamela Bettis, an expert on gender issues.  The crew is making an hour-long documentary on cheerleading, “which the French find fascinating,” Pam says.

Professor Joy Egbert sent along a population report from the Language and Literacy Education program:  “Ph.D. students Emma Lin and Maysoun Ali both had their babies this week!”

Music teacher helps orchestrate teaching careers

Retired Bellevue music teacher James Taylor just happened to see a local cable TV program. Because of that, Ingrid Morente of Wenatchee—the first person in her family to attend college—had help getting into Washington State University’s highly competitive teacher education program.

Margarita Vidrio, left, and Ingrid Morente

What Taylor saw in 1998 was then-Dean Judy Mitchell talking about the WSU College of Education’s efforts to recruit and mentor students of color. Taylor, a Spokane native, was a 1963 graduate of WSU. Although he was white, there were many students of color in his western Washington classrooms and choruses. He wanted them to succeed, and knew it was important for them to see faces like their own among their teachers. Inspired by the dean’s message, he contacted the college and offered to help.

He died eight months later. When his estate was settled, it included $186,766 for the establishment of the James Taylor Future Teachers of Color Endowment.

For a decade now, the endowment has been used to help minority students. Its impact will be on display Nov. 16 when Future Teachers and Leaders of Color, as it’s now known, hosts its third annual Thanksgiving dinner.  Current and prospective students in the Department of Teaching and Learning will mingle with faculty at the invitation-only evening of solidarity and conversation.

Two FTLOC student ambassadors have been busy planning the event. One is Ingrid, whose family emigrated from Guatemala to Wenatchee when she was a child.

“I’ve always worked with children – volunteering for Sunday school, doing day care,” she said.

After high school graduation, she worked three years as a para-educator at Washington Elementary School in Wenatchee. A teacher friend encouraged her to go to college so she could someday have a classroom of her own­.  She got an associate’s degree at Wenatchee Valley Community College and applied for admission to WSU.

Ingrid learned that admission required an interview in addition to paperwork and grade transfers. FTLOC members who were already enrolled in Pullman helped prepare her by conducting a mock interview. This year, she’s returning the favor for prospective students.

In recent years, the FTLOC program has recruited student ambassadors and provided them with scholarships from the James Taylor endowment. So Ingrid has helping paying her tuition. So does Margarita Vidrio, a Kennewick High School graduate who is in her second year as an ambassador.

Unlike Ingrid, whose goal is to teach elementary school, Margarita plans to be a high school math teacher. The passion for education runs in the family; she has an aunt and two cousins who are teachers in Mexico.

The two young women did not get to meet their benefactor, but their enthusiasm for education seems in keeping with his own.  One of Taylor’s former students said of him: “He worked 15 hours a day and on weekends. He never turned a kid away saying ‘You know what? I want to, but I’m too busy.’ ”

Movement studies student researchers win recognition

If you listen to music when you exercise, does hip-hop rock your workout better than country or classical? Do the beats per minute make any difference? Zachary Cole aims to answer those questions.

His fellow undergraduate, Lexi McCullough, has been measuring the impact that a female college student’s family has on her physical fitness.

Lexi McCullough and Zachary Cole

Neither had planned to study physical education, much less to become researchers before they earned their bachelor’s degrees.  But both are winning praise for their work in PE — also known as kinesiology — at Washington State University.

Zach, a senior from Tumwater, Washington, arrived on the Pullman campus planning to become an engineer. When that field didn’t flip his switch, he tried pharmacy for awhile.  Ultimately, he says, his exercise habits led him to the WSU College of Education’s movement studies program. “I liked weight lifting, and that lead to personal training, and that led to kinesiology.”

Zach has received a $1,000 Auvil Scholars Fellowship to continue a study that also involves student researchers Richard Swihart (who started the study), Jeff Boice and recent graduate Kyle Mendes. The work they’ve done so far suggests that tempo and beat, regardless of music genre, do influence performance during exercise. They want to ramp up their research with a study involving runners who can choose what kind of music they listen to. The Auvil money will go toward such expenses as purchase of audio equipment and publication/conference costs.

Zach has created a poster reviewing the literature of research into the relationship between earphone music and running.  He presented it at October’s annual meeting of the Western Society for Kinesiology and Wellness (WSKW) in Reno. The poster’s “amazing graphic” drew lots of attention, says Professor Larry Bruya. Both Zach and Lexi are his teaching assistants, and both attended the WSKW conference, where they were courted by graduate program researchers who wanted to recruit them.

Zach does have his eye on graduate school and, possibly, an academic career. Lexi wants to be a physical therapist.

A senior from Randle, Washington, Lexi started out as a neuroscience major. When she switched to movement studies, she began researching different mood states in 37 Alpha Delta Pi sorority members. She also gathered information on the women’s family history of physical activity and fitness. She learned that not only are physically active college students happier, but those who are more active in college came from families that value fitness or are physically active.

Her paper on the subject was one of 27 (out of 100) accepted for presentation at the WSKW conference, where it won a 2010 R.D. Peavey Excellence in Writing Award. When asked by a professor at the conference why she studied women, Lexi replied: “Because I am one, and because most of the literature is about males. We know too little about females.”

Washington State University