Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University

Kathy Nitta: Never done learning. Never done teaching.

Kathy Nitta

Never done learning.
Never done teaching.

By C. Brandon Chapman
Sept. 26, 2016

Kelp may be the new kale, and orange may be the new black, but if you want the snowclone that Kathy Nitta obviously believes in, it’s this: when it comes to age, apparently 50 is the new 20.

That’s because even though Kathy is now in the third age bracket, she’s attending classes at WSU, a feat usually undertaken by Millennials who were in diapers at the same time as Kathy’s own children.

When we’re trying be a little more euphemistic, we might call this type of student “non-traditional.”

So why the heck would someone already in their age of fulfillment do this? Good question.

And while you’re trying to figure that out, here’s the real kicker: she already has a full-time job as a senior lecturer at Gonzaga University.

Not only that, she’s pretty darned decent at it, winning the Gonzaga School of Education 2016 Faculty Excellence Award.

Her award certificate from Gonzaga states, about Kathy: “A member of our faculty who models the mission of the University and the School of Education in her personal and professional life, contributes to the improvement of processes and practices in order to enhance our work together, and is respectful and supportive of the common good.”

In other words, Kathy is a rockstar.

But not one to be content, she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the WSU College of Education’s mathematics and science education program. She says it was her professional relationship with WSU’s clinical associate professor Janet Frost that led her to the doctoral program. But this is the latter part of the story, and to better understand it, we must go back in time.

A long career takes a slight but strategic shift in direction

Kathy is from the Tri-Cities. She attended high school in Richland. When it was time to head away to college, she chose Gonzaga. She completed her bachelor’s degree in biology, and completed the secondary teacher certification program.

From there, nothing about Kathy’s story seems extraordinary, though by all accounts, she was an extraordinary teacher. She remained in Spokane and taught in a K-8 school. In those very early years of her teaching career, she completed coursework to add a mathematics teaching endorsement to her certificate. She then completed her master’s degree at Gonzaga in Educational Administration, and earned a certification for being a K-12 administrator. She stayed at the K-8 school for 14 years, the last three of which included being an assistant principal. She then taught high school for 14 years.

But, she wasn’t done with Gonzaga. Not yet.

“After earning two degrees there, I decided that someday, Gonzaga was going to pay me, instead of me paying them,” Kathy jokes.

She began teaching a secondary math methods course at Gonzaga in 2007 as an adjunct instructor. That opened up the door to moving to full-time teaching at Gonzaga, which happened in 2011.

She currently teaches mathematics and science methods courses for elementary certification candidates.

Deborah Nieding, chair of Gonzaga’s Teacher Education Department, says Kathy makes every effort to support the teacher candidates throughout their developmental stage.

“She is an excellent role model who makes learning relevant, meaningful, and fun,” Nieding says. “Kathy is completely dedicated to giving 100 percent to all she does. She is always willing to try new and innovative ideas. She is a reflective practitioner who is willing to revise and try again. She models commitment to excellence in all that she does.”

Assistant professor of teacher education Anny Case says while it’s true that Kathy never stops learning or refining her practice, that’s not what makes her such a valuable resource to her pre-service teachers.

“Pretension and posturing are all too common in academia, but Kathy does not fall into either of those traps,” Case says. “Instead, she is genuine, not afraid to speak her mind, and also humble enough to accept and learn from the good in alternative perspectives. She’s one of the most intentional, reflective professionals I’ve ever encountered, with a strong moral compass that guides her decisions.”

A good fit

The WSU College of Education math and science education doctorate degree helps graduates make important contributions to the field. Maybe that’s in research. Maybe it’s in various learning environments. Or maybe in some professional context. Regardless, this education increases their versatility.

Just the kind of program a person would love if they didn’t have, say, a full-time job as an award-winning instructor at Gonzaga.

But that’s exactly what Kathy has. So, like stuffing 10 pounds of potatoes in a five-pound sack, Kathy finds herself pulled in all directions. But she has a keen understanding of how to balance the schedule correctly.

“It is very challenging in terms of the time commitment, but my first priority is my teaching at Gonzaga,” she says. “My students deserve my best efforts, so I continually focus and reflect on my practice as a teacher educator.”

It’s that same dedication to her craft that led her to the math and science doctoral program – after meeting Janet Frost, now director of WSU’s Health Sciences STEM Education Research Center, as part of a collaborative math grant.

“This grant funded opportunities for me to grow professionally as the mathematics department chair at the high school where I was teaching,” Kathy says. “As I considered moving from teaching in high school to teaching at Gonzaga, Janet became a mentor whom I often consulted. She shared that faculty in the WSU College of Education’s Teaching and Learning Department were creating a doctoral program in Math and Science Education, and she encouraged me to apply.”

Ah, but for a working-class individual, the great logistical heartbreaker is usually not even one of time, but distance.

As it turns out, Kathy knew up front that this wouldn’t be a deterrent in this case. How? Well, to make a short story long: technology. That’s what makes it work for the wide array of people.

“This program is designed to support a broad range of students, interests, and goals,” Frost says. “That includes full-time students, part-time students working in their studies around established careers in education, students bound for research-focused university positions, teaching university positions, K-12 positions, or STEM professions outside of academia.”

The courses are delivered through AMS. And Kathy says through Google Hangouts, Google Docs, and other online applications, she has been able to collaborate with students in the program located on all the other WSU campuses.

“At first it was a little strange, but it became the norm, and for the most part works rather well,” she says. “I have created great relationships with other students in the program, even though we are not physically located on the same campus. The unique structure of this program allowed me to pursue this doctoral degree. I would not have been able to leave Spokane and my teaching position to pursue this degree.

Doctoral program has created a win-win situation

Kathy has found her coursework has already contributed to her professional development as a teacher educator.

“Through the synthesis of research, I have identified problems of practice in my teaching at Gonzaga and have been able to approach those problems with a stance of inquiry,” she says. “I have applied much of what I have learned in my Ph.D. program to my teaching at Gonzaga.”

But it’s not just a one-way street. Kathy says her teaching at Gonzaga has also informed her doctoral coursework.

“I have found leveraging the intersections between the teaching and the coursework to be essential and vital to keeping it all together,” I believe this is also the reason that my department nominated me for the award.”

Frost says the award is certainly earned.

“It not only validated her hard work and its effects on her teaching and that of her colleagues, but also because it helps other teacher educators understand what a valuable resource she is for improving their own practice,” she says. “Students who complete our program are well prepared to step into their ultimate professions, regardless of the context, and to help initiate collaborations among teachers, teacher educators, and researchers.

Nieding was even more to the point: “Kathy is the teacher I wish for all learners.”

Kathy is currently considered a doctoral candidate, as she passed her prelims in Fall 2015, and is working on her dissertation proposal, which seeks to understand how to support preservice teachers’ learning and development of mathematics teaching practices. Kathy says she thinks this intersects nicely with her teaching at Gonzaga.

Life, love, and ‘Zags basketball

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said, about Gonzaga basketball fans: “They go to school, they do their homework, they shake hands, they say please and thank you, but once you throw that ball up they will rip your heart out and watch you bleed.”

Warms your heart doesn’t it?

This talk about Kathy is all well and good up until now, but for the basketball fans in the room, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Is Kathy a basketball fan? Is she a rabid, dyed-in-the-wool ’Zags enthusiast? Does she show up at 5 in the morning on ticket distribution day?

“I do consider myself a ’Zag and on occasion stand in line for faculty and staff tickets,” she admits. “The energy of the students and the fans in the kennel is amazing.”

But before you go join the Kennel Club with her, she drops the bomb shell on you.

“I probably enjoy watching basketball more on TV from the comfort of my couch.”

And there you have it.

Kathy seemingly gets just as much enjoyment listening to her students’ stories of “tenting” for a great seat at the games. She’s taught student-athletes in several sports, and says she finds them to be dedicated.

“I’m so glad they are pursuing a career in education.”

So while Kathy likes the ’Zags, she keeps things in check with the kind of maturity and pragmatism you’re more likely to find with someone who is… how do we say this again… a little more advanced in years.

“I began the Ph.D. program when I was 50 and sometimes feel a little “too old” to be on this journey, but have found it to be a journey that has been full of opportunities and challenges for professional learning.”

Kathy’s kids are already grown. Her son is 28, a graduate of Seattle University and the University of Michigan Law School. He currently works as a lawyer in Washington D.C. Her daughter is 25 and is at Marquette University studying for her doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology. At one point, all three could say they were in college at the same time.

The only one left out was her husband Darryl. But he has a place in this story, too. The whole story wouldn’t be complete without him.

“I am lucky to have a husband who has supported and encouraged me all along, even though that sometimes means he has taken second place to my Gonzaga and doctoral coursework commitments,” Kathy says. “My husband is a Seahawks fan, and football fan in general, so it has worked well that he watches football on Sundays and I work on my PhD coursework.”

“Some days I really do not know how it all gets done, but it does,” she says with a smile.


Food: Artisan breads and cheeses

Restaurant: Cedars

Book: Radical Compassion: Finding Christ in the Heart of the Poor, by Gary Smith

Movie: Sound of Music (makes me happy)

TV show: Outlander

Music: I like country music, both classic and contemporary, so, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Alan Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band

On Kathy…

Janet Frost (WSU): “Kathy is a focused, highly knowledgeable, and articulate educator-researcher who has continually sought out opportunities to learn, reflect on, and apply the most effective research-based strategies to her own teaching and to formal and information professional development for other teachers and and teacher educators. She is a role model for all who know her, including K-12 and higher education faculty and her peers in the WSU Mathematics and Science Education Ph.D. program.”

Deborah Nieding (Gonzaga): “She is a wonderful colleague, whom I enjoy working with on any and all projects. Kathy is open minded and willing to work toward consensus.”

Anny Case (Gonzaga): “Kathy is a person of  integrity. She lives and works in a manner that is consistent with what she knows and believes. This makes her completely trustworthy.”

It’s never too late…

“My father used to say that it’s never too late to do anything you wanted to do. And he said, ‘You never know what you can accomplish until you try.’ “

– Michael Jordan

From our photo shoot…





Globalization Conference 2017 (#GDE2017)

Globalization, Diversity, and Education 2017 (#GDE2017)
Conference Theme: Living With(in) Borders: immigration, indigeneity, and education
February 15-17, 2017
Northern Quest Resort, Airway Heights, WA



REGISTER HERE     Call for Presenters     Conference Program

Conference Overview

Living With(in) Borders: immigration, indigeneity, and education

Immigration is a topic of great concern around the world. From borders and how they are constructed and enforced, to the migrant crisis resulting from increased poverty, famine, and war, people have reacted with both openness and care as well as with hostility. According to Gloria Anzaldúa, borders are “where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds” (1987/2012). Often silenced or marginalized are indigenous peoples and the diverse knowledge(s) from around the world, forcedly moved from and in some cases still living on ancestral lands.

The conference theme, Living With(in) Borders: Immigration, Indigeneity, and Education, invites researchers from a wide range of disciplines to examine the following questions: How can researchers and practitioners contribute to more nuanced understandings of immigration, indigeneity, and education? How do we teach the historical record and ongoing issues of enslavement, dominance, and forced migration? How can we “speak back to manifest destinies” (Calderón, 2014)? In this conference we will discuss ways we can talk and act productively and sensitively about immigration, indigeneity, and education.

We invite proposals from diverse perspectives that address the conference theme. Such topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Student activism and immigrant justice.
  • Post-colonial and Indigenous perspectives towards decolonizing research.
  • Land Education and Place-Based Education.
  • Immigration and language rights.
  • Tribal sovereignty.
  • Teaching immigration and indigeneity in K-12 and higher education.
  • Allies in education and immigrants and indigenous peoples.


  • Anzaldúa, G. (1987/2012) Borderlands/la frontera: The new mestiza (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books.
  • Calderón, D. (2014). Speaking back to manifest destinies: A land education-based approach to critical curriculum inquiry. Environmental Education Research, 20(1), pp. 24-36.


For questions related to Globalization Conference, please contact Julie Killinger at

Keynote Speaker
Dolores Calderón

Read More

Keynote Presenter
Nancy Carvajal

Read More

Keynote Presenter
Danica Wixom

Read More

Keynote Presenter
Zach Mazur

Read More

Devasmita Chakraverty

Deva Chakraverty_

Devasmita Chakraverty

Assistant Professor
Science Education
WSU Spokane

Center for Clinical Research and Simulation 217
PO Box 1495
Spokane, WA 99210

Phone: 509-358-7568

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Website || ResearchGate || Google Scholar || LinkedIn

Interested in participating in the Imposter Phenomenon Study?
Click the button below.

Imposter Phenomenon Study

Research interests

Dr. Chakraverty’s research involves examining the experiences of the underrepresented groups based on gender and race/ethnicity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Recent work has specifically focused on individuals in medicine and biomedical science research programs. Dr. Chakraverty also examines impostor phenomenon among individuals in STEM and medicine.

Teaching interests

Dr. Chakraverty teaches the following graduate courses: Survey Development and Implementation Methods, Social Foundations of Education, Introduction to Academic Writing.

Recent accomplishments

Peer-reviewed publications
  • Chakraverty, D., Jeffe, D.B., & Tai, R.H. (Accepted). Transition experiences in MD-PhD programs. CBE- Life Sciences Education.
  • Dabney, K. P., Chakraverty, D., Hutton, A. C., Warner, K. A., & Tai, R. H. (2017). The bachelor’s to PhD transition: Factors influencing PhD completion among women in chemistry and physics. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 0270467617710852.
  • Gantner, S., Großschedl, J., Chakraverty, D., & Harms, U. (2016) Assessing what prospective laboratory assistants in Biochemistry and Cell Biology know: Development and validation of the test instrument PROKLAS. Empirical Research in Vocational Education and Training. DOI: 10.1186/s40461-016-0029-9
  • Stains, M, Pilarz, M., & Chakraverty, D. (2015). Short and Long-Term Impacts of the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative New Faculty Workshop. Journal of Chemical Education, 92(9), 1466-1476.
  • Lund, T.J., Pilarz, M., Velasco, J.B., Chakraverty, D., Rosploch, K., Undersander, M., & Stains, M. (2015). The Best of Both Worlds: Building on the COPUS and RTOP Observation Protocols to Easily and Reliably Measure Various Levels of Reformed Instructional Practices. CBE- Life Sciences Education, 14(2), ar18 DOI: 10.1187/cbe.14-10-0168
  • Baker, L.A., Chakraverty, D., Columbus, L., Feig, A.L., Jenks, W.S., Pilarz, M., Stains, M., Waterman, R., & Wesemann, J.L. (2014). Cottrell Scholars Collaborative New Faculty Workshop: Professional Development for New Chemistry Faculty. Journal of Chemical Education, 91(11), 1874-1881. doi: 10.1021/ed500547n
  • Kong, X., Chakraverty, D., Jeffe, D.B., Andriole, D.A., Wathington, H., & Tai, R.H. (2013). How do interaction experiences influence doctoral students’ academic pursuits in biomedical research? Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 33(3-4), 76-84. doi: 10.1177/0270467613516754
  • Chakraverty, D., & Tai, R. H. (2013). Parental occupation inspiring science interest: Perspectives from physical scientists. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 33(1-2), 44-52. DOI: 10.1177/0270467613509367
  • Dabney, K. P., Chakraverty, D., & Tai, R. H. (2013). The association of family influence and initial interest in science. Science Education, 97(3), 395-409. DOI 10.1002/sce.21060
Conference presentations (2018)
  • Jeffe, D.B., Chakraverty, D., & Andriole, D.A. (November, 2018). Predictors of Faculty Appointment among Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Medicine: A National Study. AAMC Annual Meeting, Austin, TX.
  • Chakraverty, D. (June, 2018). Impostor Syndrome among Black and Hispanic Women in STEM. Annual Network of STEM Education Centers National Conference, Columbus, OH.
  • Chakraverty, D., Dabney, K.P., Jeffe, D.B., & Tai, R.H. (April, 2018). Pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Science: Reasons and Challenges. Annual AERA Meeting, New York, NY.
  • Chakraverty, D. (March, 2018). Impostor Phenomenon among Graduate Students in STEM. Annual NARST Conference, Atlanta, GA.
  • Chakraverty, D., Jeffe, D.B., & Tai, R.H. (March, 2018). The Role of Prior Research Experience and Other Related Experiences in Medical School Entry. Annual NARST Conference, Atlanta, GA.
  • Chakraverty, D. & Jeffe, D.B. (March, 2018). How Graduate School Climate Perpetuates the Impostor Phenomenon in STEM. 10th Conference on Understanding Interventions that Broaden Participation in Science Careers, Baltimore, MD.


  • Washington State University
    New Faculty Seed Grant (2017; $30,000)
    Title: Impostor Phenomenon in Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
    Principal Investigator
  • Washington State University, College of Education
    Faculty Research Funding Award (2017; $6,500)
    Title: Impostor Phenomenon in STEM
    Principal Investigator

Interested in participating in the Imposter Phenomenon Study?
Click the button below.

Imposter Phenomenon Study


  • Jhumki Basu Scholar Award (2017). Awarded by the NARST Equity and Ethics Committee.

Educational background

  • Ph.D., Science Education (2013)
    University of Virginia, Curry School of Education
    Dissertation: An Examination of how Women and Underrepresented Minorities Experience Barriers in Biomedical Research and Medical Programs
  • M.P.H., Toxicology (2008)
    University of Washington, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
    Thesis: An Evaluation of Potential Risk Factors for Cancer and Non-Cancer Health Effects Associated with Heavy Metal Exposure
  • M.Sc., Environmental Sciences (2005)
    University of Calcutta, Department of Environmental Sciences, India
    Thesis: Estimating benzene in the ambient air in traffic intersections, residential areas, and indoor air using gas chromatography (West Bengal Pollution Control Board, Kolkata, India)
  • B.Sc., Zoology (Honors), Chemistry, Botany (2003)
    University of Calcutta, Department of Zoology, India

Naomi Proett

Naomi Proett

Administrative Assistant

College of Education
Spokane campus
Center for Clinical Research and Simulation 228
412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Spokane, WA 99210-2131


Naomi Proett provides secretarial support to the Washington State University College of Education academic director and faculty on the Spokane campus.  She oversees unit budgets, fiscal processes, and general office operations. She also makes travel arrangements and coordinates events and training.

Leslie Hall


Leslie Hall

Clinical Associate Professor
Department of Teaching and Learning
Slokane campus
Center for Clinical Research and Simulation 213
PO box 1495
Spokane, WA  99210-1495


Curriculum Vitae

Research interests

Leslie Hall’s research interests include educational technology professional development for K-12 teachers and teacher education faculty. She is working on a video game to aid Supiaq-Alutiiq youth to learn their native language.

Teaching/professional interests

Dr. Hall is the coordinator for the Spokane Master in Teaching program, and teaches in the Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education graduate program. She is interested in media literacy, technology and culture, and technology in the classroom. Hall spent 13 years teaching elementary school in Mabton, Wash., and six years teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in educational technology and media literacy at the University of New Mexico.

Service interests


Dr. Hall was elected to the College of Education Faculty Affairs Committee (CEFAC), to represent non-tenure track faculty in non-Pullman campuses, with the appointment to begin Jan. 1, 2016.

Recent accomplishments

  • Hall, Leslie & Sanderville, James (2009). United Sugpiaq Alutiiq (USA) video game: Preserving traditional knowledge, culture, and language. Educational Technology. 49(6), 20-24.
  • Hall, Leslie & Campbell, Anne (September 2007). Online resources and instructional strategies for  K-8 ELL teachers and students. Learning and Leading with Technology.
  • Hall, Leslie (2006). Modeling technology integration for preservice teachers: A PT3 case study. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 6(4). Available:
  • Hall, Leslie & Hudson, Roxanne (2006). Cross-curricular connections: Video production in a K-8 teacher preparation program. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 6(3).
  • Hall, Leslie, Fisher, Clint, Musanti, Sandra & Halquist, Don (2006).  Professional development in teacher education: What can we learn from PT3? TechTrends, 50(3), 25-31.
  • Hall, Leslie (2006). Media literacy for educators: Fostering subversive allies. Journal of Democracy in Education, 16(1), 13-15.

Educational background

  • Ph.D. Ohio State University, 1996
  • M.A. Education, Instructional Design and Technology, Ohio State University, 1995
  • K-12 Teaching Certification, University of Washington, Seattle, 1977

Clearinghouse on Native Teaching & Learning

Clearinghouse on Native
Teaching and Learning


Clearinghouse Mission

We help pre-service and in-service teachers to connect with students in local public schools through professional development and community collaboration using the WA state Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum.

Read More


Since Time Immemorial

All 29 Washington Native tribes have endorsed this state-mandated curriculum (SB 5433) which supports the teaching of tribal sovereignty, history, and current issues. Each unit is aligned with national and state standards and builds toward the successful completion of a Content-Based Assessment.

Read More


Meet our staff

We bring Indigenous perspective to Washington public schools. Both members of our staff are from federally-recognized tribal nations and areas of interest include: Indigenous teacher education, policy, advocacy, special education, and culturally-responsive curriculum and training. This includes working in both reservation and urban communities.
Meet them