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Washington State University

Golden grads, bright grins

Carol Ackerman ('62) chats with education student
Carol Ackerman ('62) chats with a future teacher

It’s our pleasure every year to welcome WSU College of Education graduates from 50 and 60 years ago as part of the annual Golden Grads celebration in Pullman. It’s a chance for alumni to comment on how much the campus has changed since “back in the day.” The best part of the visit, judging by their animated responses, comes when they interact with students.

Today’s happenings included two recognitions of student creativity. One was presentation of the Inga Kromann Book Awards, for children’s books written and designed by teacher education majors. The other was the modeling of capes made by students in arts integration, a teaching methods course taught by Pauline Sameshima. The capes served as canvases on which the future teachers shared their personal stories and their teaching philosophy.

You’ll find more Golden Grad pictures on the college Shutterfly site.

The WSU Alumni Association’s campus-wide events continue on Thursday.

Remembering Peter Harrington once again

Peter Harrington's former colleagues
Peter Harrington's former colleagues remember his wit

Ever come across a commemorative plaque and wonder about the person being honored? If you approach Cleveland Hall from the north side, you just got something else to wonder about.

Kappy Brun plants the maple
Kappy Brun plants the maple

Today, a small group gathered to witness the planting of a tree and a plaque-adorned rock that honor Peter Harrington, 1953-2002. Peter was a computer technician who worked at the College of Education and, later, at WSU’s Information Technology office. When he died of a heart attack, his IT colleagues honored him by planting a Japanese maple in the atrium of the Information Technology Building. But the  expansion of the adjacent Martin Stadium eliminated the atrium. So, Peter’s plaque was moved to Cleveland Hall, home of the College of Education.

Among those present for the planting were education faculty members Marcia Katigbak Church and Tim Church. Marcia described Peter as “kind of a rebel/nonconformist but not in an annoying way—sort of a funny, ‘glint in his eyes’ way. I was still a grad student then—he was ready to help and very approachable. He had lots of stories, like a local historian.”

He was the sole information services person during his stint in the college, Tim said.

“I found Peter to be very helpful and service oriented, just as our college IS staff are today. He had a wry sense of humor and was lots of fun,” Tim said. “For several years he was a regular at Friday evening sessions at Rico’s pub with several of the faculty. I suppose because he chatted with almost everyone who needed computer help, he had more informal knowledge about what was going on in the college than anyone.”

Peter was a Pullman High grad (’71) who studied at Fairhaven College (part of WWU) and WSU. The folks who gathered to remember Peter were, pictured above from left, Chris Kell, Geoff Allen, Jackie Kell, Kathy Vogeler and David Wherry, all from Information Technology; and Lynn Buckley, Krenny Hammer, Marcia Church and Tim Church, from the College of Education.

WSU grounds supervisor Kappy Brun did the honors of planting the maple.

Edu-moms rock, and here’s proof

Karen Bleibtrey and daughter Sunni
Karen and Sunni Bleibtrey

Many, many teachers are exemplary parents. Karen Bleibtrey’s daughter is a reminder of that.

Karen and her husband, Jim, raised three kids in tiny Victor, Mont. She taught fifth grade science in nearby Corvallis, south of Missoula. It’s no surprise that her kids got a strong message about the value of education. The message echoed in the brain of her teen daughter Sunni, this way: “I love sports. I’m good at basketball and soccer. I could go to a small college and make the team. But, nah. I’ll go to a university where I can focus on my education.”

When she got to Washington State University, Sunni discovered that she could combine her athletic zeal with a career path by majoring in sport management. Now a senior, she’s president of the Sport Management Club and works for WSU Athletics. And, as reported in WSU News, she’s organizing a second Moms Weekend run this coming Saturday — nearly a year after her own mom died, very quickly, of breast cancer.

Karen’s obituary recounted how she found her own career:

“Karen had a great passion for life and her family, but in 1978 she found her other true passion, teaching. For 27 years, she changed students’ lives at Corvallis Middle School, being a beloved friend and teacher to all. Her students meant the world to her. Even over the last few weeks of her life, Karen talked about her students and how she couldn’t wait to return to teaching.”

Students help teachers by reviewing online learning resources


Sure, there’s a ton of online resources for teachers: educational websites, magazines, quizzes. But with so little time for browsing and reading, how do they know which web materials are worth using?

WSU College of Education students to the rescue.

ecology learning resource snapshot
A "biome" resource review; click to enlarge

Writing reviews of teacher resources was one of the service learning projects tackled this year by students in Assistant Professor Pauline Sameshima’s Arts Integration class, aka T&L 390, in Pullman. The effort got a rave review of its own from Larry Beutler, editor of Clearing, an online journal of community-based environmental education.  He told Pauline that the resources exceeded his expectations, and wrote to the students:

“The reviews were insightful and creative, and the layout and design of each section was attractive and compelling. I was impressed by the in-depth analysis that you did on the materials, particularly the comments about how you would use the materials in a classroom. Your perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the various materials will be very helpful to current and incoming teachers as they look for tools to teach these important topics.”

Over the last two semesters, the topic areas that the students picked have included: climate change, biomes, place-based learning, forests, the solar system, oceans and aquatic environments, food chains, Washington history and salmon,  and alternative energy.

The reviews represented one of several arts integration service-learning projects tracked through WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement. Students also made more than 120 curriculum bags (instructional directions and sample product in a gallon-size zip lock bag) for three after-school programs and for the Palouse Discovery Science Center. Some students will be going to those sites to present their lessons.

“By working with community partners in need, students help to make a difference and also have the opportunity to apply what they are learning in courses,” Pauline said.