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College of Education


Faculty Funding Awards yield presentations, grant proposals and more

Mike Trevisan, Associate Dean for Research and External Funding

As the new academic year begins, Washington State University College of Education researchers can look back with satisfaction on the last one. An indication of jobs well done is the list of outcomes from our Faculty Funding Awards. Our researchers compete for these mini-grants, which are expected to be the seeds from which significant scholarly work and larger projects sprout. The 2012 grants resulted in:

  • Fifteen national or international conference proposals presented or to be presented with five invited presentations
  • Twelve peer-reviewed journal manuscripts submitted and in various stages toward publication
  • Three major grant proposals submitted and pending totaling $444,549
  • One book proposal accepted by a publisher

The book-in-progress is a handbook for faculty and graduate students. Co-authored by Professor Gail Furman, it is about action research, leadership and social justice. It will be published by Routledge in 2013.

Faculty Funding Awards provide a single principal investigator with up to $5,000 and research collaborators up to $9,000. To make good use of the money, researchers must plan well and be diligent in maintaining timelines and accomplishing tasks.

Last year was the first time that the Faculty Funding Awards were governed by rules revised with an eye toward accountability, transparency, productivity, and stewardship. The money for these awards comes from gracious donors to the college. These results demonstrate that we are grateful for their contributions and that we take seriously the need to be good stewards of their contributions.

I look forward to seeing what this year’s award winners produce.

Experience in Ecuador redefines ‘need’ for father and daughter

Guest post by Nick Sewell, academic coordinator in the Washington State University College of Education Office of Graduate Studies.

This summer, I found myself in a South American mountainside village, washing the dusty feet of peasants. It’s a story that began nine years ago when, after listening to a woman at our Pullman church share about her overseas medical trip, my eight-year-old daughter Danielle said she wanted to go Ecuador and help people someday.

Danielle and I realized that dream together in June.

Nick and Danielle Sewell with Ecuadorian girl
Nick and Danielle Sewell with Pamela, an Ecuadoran girl

Pullman nurse practitioner Nancy Gregory has gone to Ecuador seven times in the last nine years for a short-term medical mission she calls Ecuador Medical.  Each time she takes a team down, the scope of the mission grows.  Now she works with local political leaders and ministries to determine which villages will receive care.  Her trips have won the attention and support of the Ecuadorian military, which for the last several years has assisted in transporting supplies and setting up the clinic at each location. This year, we set up a medical clinic and pharmacy, washed feet and fitted patients with new shoes and socks, participated in ministry to children, and offered prayer for the needy.

There were about 30 of us on the trip: two doctors, two nurse practitioners, four nurses, a lab technician, three pharmacists, and a whole team of amazing people.  We set up the clinic in four locations and saw more than 900 patients in the medical clinic and pharmacy.

Lessons in medicine and social strata

Given her interest in the medical profession and plans to pursue study to become a doctor, Danielle decided to do the trip this year for her senior project in high school.  Not only was she able to shadow and assist medical care professionals on three different days, she also learned such things as how to take blood pressure, clean out ears, and use a stethoscope.

Several of the villages we went to were very poor.  We brought bread with us to one village after realizing that many of the children come to school without breakfast and have nothing to eat until they arrive home in the afternoon.  Though we were able to get the children to smile when we played with them, we seldom saw adult villagers smile. Perhaps that was because of the hard lives they lead, their hard labor in the fields, and their meager living conditions.

The Quechua are indigenous people, and the lowest class of society. They have struggled to receive services, and there are still many isolated areas in need of medical care, education, training and spiritual support.  Two years ago a retired U.S.Army colonel came as part of the team. He led the socks and shoes ministry. The Ecuadorian soldiers watched as he knelt down and washed the feet of children, men and women. That act broke through cultural barriers. The soldiers, including the commanding officer, became part of the team, washing feet and fitting shoes. Since then, the soldiers have become an integral part of the mission team.

“Long-term changes come slowly,” Nancy told us. “Our work continues to open doors for the Ecuadorians to continue helping their own people.”

Planning Sept. 5 presentation

The highland region we went to in Ecuador was beautiful and the Quechua people seemed grateful that we came and served them.  Just seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when we gave them a pair of shoes was worth it all! This was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. The experience was eye-opening.  My definition of “needs” was redefined.  Food is a need, a newer smart phone is not.

This was my first humanitarian trip, but it won’t be my last.

With airfare, food, housing, and the $1,000 worth of medical supplies that Danielle and I were responsible for providing, the trip cost us about $5,000.  Fortunately, a number of the College of Education staff and faculty helped sponsor us, and that helped a ton.

I was humbled and honored to represent the friends who graciously gave.  Our lives were enriched and we hope to have had a meaningful impact on the lives of those we visited.  I plan to do a presentation at noon, Sept. 5, in Cleveland Hall Room 160A at WSU for anyone who wants to learn more about what we did and see photos of our visit to Ecuador.


Credit union support reflects Cougar pride

STCU and College of Education representatives hold the WSU banner

It takes teamwork to prepare good leaders. At Washington State University, one team member is the Spokane Teachers Credit Union, which provides scholarships for educators in our principal and school superintendent certification programs. So the folks at STCU definitely have earned the right to wave (or hold) the Cougar flag. Why, they’re even featuring WSU College of Education alumna Angela Brown (’94) on their website.

On Monday, College of Education Dean A.G. Rud (center back of this picture) joined Clinical Associate Professor Joan Kingrey (far right) and Spokane Academic Director Gail Furman at a luncheon that brought STCU officials and scholarship recipients together. Credit Union attendees included CEO Tom Johnson (in the first row, far left); Traci McGlathery, community relations manager; Jamie Dedmon, community development officer, and Brad Hunter, vice president of marketing.

The scholarship recipients on hand were Ken Russell, Jerry Pugh, Kevin Peterson, Sean Dotson, Steve Barnes, Jared Hoadly, Carole Meyer and Julia Lockwood.

Thanks to Chrissy Shelton of our development team for the photo and info.

Teachers learn how to make math matter for students

Published in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, June 29, 2012.
Reprinted with permission. Photo by Dean Hare.

By Holly Bowen
Daily News staff writer

Teachers discuss their approach to teaching math
Teachers in the Making Math Reasoning Explicit institute

Dozens of teachers from rural Inland Northwest school districts are learning how to make math more relevant and interesting thanks to a National Science Foundation-funded program being administered by faculty at Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

Fifty teachers of grades 4-10 from eastern Washington and northern Idaho have been staying at WSU this month as part of the Making Math Reasoning Explicit program’s Summer Institute. They’re the first and second of three cohorts of teachers participating in the total five-year, $5 million professional development program. The first cohort began its work last fall, and by the time next summer rolls around, all three groups of teachers will be on-board.

Starting last week and continuing through Tuesday, the teachers are spending a couple hours each morning together in math classes, followed by another couple hours in more grade-specific math classes for elementary and secondary teachers. Then in the afternoon, they learn leadership skills and have opportunities for independent and group study.

“We have asked the (participating) school districts to send us the teachers they feel can be leaders in their districts,” said Libby Knott, a WSU math professor and one of the co-principal investigators of the MMRE program.

Sharing with colleagues

She said those teachers will take what they learned during the program and share it with other teachers in their schools and districts, many of which have only a few hundred students.

“I think we felt that rural schools don’t really get a lot of attention, and they have so few resources, that we thought we could really make a difference for rural schools,” Knott said.

About 25 superintendents, principals, curriculum directors and other administrators from participating districts are also on campus, but for only three days this week, to become acquainted with the program that will eventually affect how math is taught at their schools.

“We really want to make changes that are going to last in our schools and districts,” said Dinah Gaddie, a fifth-grade teacher at Washington Elementary School in Sandpoint.

MMRE program logoShe said MMRE is giving her and the other teachers the opportunity to grow their own mathematical abilities and to plan to show what they’ve learned to their students and other educators.

“A lot of professional development is either one or the other,” Gaddie said of the balance between content and leadership.

Knott said during the teachers’ math classes, the university faculty members try to model instruction in the same way the K-12 teachers should be teaching their own students.

Annette Lembcke, who teaches middle and high school students in the Creston, Wash., School District, said the skills that teachers are learning through MMRE will help them push their students to rely more on critical thinking and reasoning than simply completing problems as they’ve been told to.

Now, she said, teachers will also be asking their students, “How did you get to the answer? Is it always true, and why is it always true?”

Gaddie said students can apply those critical thinking skills to other types of life situations.

“It really becomes less about the answers and more about the journey,” she said.

She said the teachers are learning how to present math problems with multiple entry points so students with different types of skills feel comfortable approaching them. For example, some students might learn better with pictures, and others can relate well to the mathematical skills they’ve learned in the past.

As far as her own expertise goes, she said she has always felt like she was good at math but tended to go straight to formulas. Now she’s learning to approach problems in different ways and to anticipate how her students might react, as well.

She said she’s excited to start school again this fall and anticipates that as more critical thinking is infused into lessons, teachers will hear fewer students complaining that they’re not good at math.

‘I feel so smart’

Lembcke said the MMRE-related work she did with her students this past school year appeared to increase academic confidence in some of them. One girl who isn’t a fan of math even said, “I feel so smart.”

The teachers said the new approach encourages children to take ownership of their studies.

Knott said the National Science Foundation hopes the MMRE program will boost student engagement and achievement in math and increase the likelihood they will eventually pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) disciplines.

Teachers visited Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories on Thursday afternoon in part to learn about those types of careers and why people would want to pursue them.

Lembcke recalled one moment from a Summer Institute math class when Rob Ely, an assistant math professor at the UI and another of the project’s co-investigators, asked a teacher to go up to the front of the class to solve a problem. She wasn’t feeling very confident about her ability to answer correctly, but Ely’s response summed up a message the teachers anticipate sharing with their students: “Even if it’s wrong, we have a place to start.”

Future tribal leaders dive into water issues

Participants in the Coeur d'Alene Leadership Development Camp
Happy campers, left to right: Cameron Baheza, Jackie Jordan, Cailyn Dohrman

Going to a creek. Putting on laboratory goggles and doing experiments. Making videos. Bowling. Going out to a movie. Visiting a museum. So, what did students at the 2012 Coeur d’Alene Leadership Development Camp like best?

“Everything!” proclaimed Cameron Baheza before bending over to spray-paint a T-shirt design.

Twenty-five teens and preteens from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe attended this month’s eighth annual camp on Washington State University’s Pullman campus. As always, WSU College of Education faculty planned and oversaw the beehive-busy week of activities. This year’s theme was water, a subject that melded cultural pride and environmental stewardship. They didn’t just talk about the water potatoes; they learned about the threat that mining pollution can pose to the wild native food.

Here’s a nutshell report form Associate Professor Paula Groves Price:

“This was one of our most successful camps to date. The participants were very engaged and learned a lot about the significance of water on a personal, community, and global level.

Campers testing water samples in a WSU lab
Hands-on science: Michaela Green and Jackie Jordan test Lake Coeur d’Alene water samples at WSU

“Many of the students walked into our camp professing that they did not like science. What we later found out during the camp was that many of the students enjoyed science the way that we did it here in the camp. They liked science if it was hands on and applied, which was our focus. In the end, students demonstrated their knowledge of the water cycle as well critical water quality issues specifically with Lake Coeur d’Alene through their projects.

“Students are planning to teach their knowledge about water and share their projects with the reservation community in September.”

Ph.D., Ed.D. … and delighted to be done

Their numbers are few, so theirs is the shortest part of any university’s commencement program. But the “hooding” of doctoral program graduates represents the completion of long and sometimes exhausting journeys. First, these folks finished 18 or more years of formal education before they even began their doctoral programs. Many established careers. Then they spent years — three? 10? — taking classes, doing research, writing dissertations, all the while working to support themselves and their families.

So let’s pause to offer special congrats to our Washington State University College of Education 2012 doctoral graduates. May the wind be at their backs as they start their dream careers. EduCoug invited two of them — one a doctor of philosophy, one a doctor of education — to share their thoughts.

Patricia Celaya, Ph.D.
Patricia Celaya, Ph.D.

Patricia Celaya, a native of Mexico, came to Pullman from  the “different universe” of San Diego. She promised herself she wouldn’t return to California until she had that Ph.D. The advanced degree in counseling psychology would allow her the career options of providing psychotherapy, teaching, and doing research. Or all of those things.

“I was inspired by a professor at San Diego State University, Dr. Roberto J. Valasquez, who took the time to explain to me how I could achieve a Ph.D.,” she writes. “I was part of the McNair Achievement Program, which also provided me with information about graduate school and prepared me for the doctoral process.”

With diploma in hand, she is looking for work in California as a university psychologist. Eventually, she would like to provide services for underserved populations. Her time at WSU included working for Multicultural Student Services.

“I was fortunate enough to have assistantships which not only helped me financially, but allowed me to develop professionally,” she writes. “Helping students reach their educational goals made me accountable and helped me regain motivation during times in which the doctoral process became difficult.”

Patricia credits students and colleagues with keeping her from becoming too focused on day-to-day responsibilities. That “very solid Cougar family” she says, helped her reach her goal.

Jane Lotz-Drlik, Ed.D.
Jane Lotz-Drlik, Ed.D.

Jane Lotz-Drlik had two reasons to be emotional on May 5. It was both commencement day and the wedding anniversary she would have shared with her late husband, Yakima psychiatrist Dr. John Drlik. She writes:

“Jack and I collaborated in research around professional stress issues, stress interventions, and diverse populations. He was tremendously excited at the possibility of my undertaking the doctoral program. When he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, we put our work on hold in order to battle the cancer; I continued teaching while caring for Jack.”

Jack died in 2005. Jane mustered her energy, quit teaching, and moved to Pullman to begin her doctoral work. Then, in 2009, her own health was weakened by the stressful loss of Associate Dean Len Foster, who had been a special inspiration to her. He died after serving one week as acting dean following the death of Dean Judy Mitchell.

“I thought the Ed.D. program was over for me,” Jane recalls. “Thanks to the encouragement of friends and family, and the affirmation offered by many people, including Drs. Debra Sellon,  Jason Sievers, Tariq Akmal, Dawn Shinew, Arreed Barabasz, and academic coordinator Nick Sewell — and by my dissertation committee — I was able to build  my strength and continue the work.  I’m so grateful to everyone for helping me to, as my friend Claudia says, ‘Get ‘er done.’ ”

After 32 years as a teacher, administrator and staff developer, Jane is looking forward to job hunting “and the view around this bend in the road.”

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.