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College of Education


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.

Alumni adventures with NASA and in Africa

Cheryl Fredericks at Mission Control
Cheryl Fredericks at Mission Control

Two of our 2011 graduates returned to the WSU Pullman campus recently to talk with Assistant Professor Jo Olson’s students about their experiences at the NASA Pre-service Teacher Institute.  Cheryl Fredericks of Missoula and Kristin White of Pullman both attended the week-long summer workshop at Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA’s goal is to expose the future teachers  to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) enrichment activities for their classroom.

“We spent the week talking to scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NASA about how to better incorporate STEM fields into our future classrooms,” said Cheryl, who graduated in December and is now substitute teaching. “We also got our own private tour of the space center and had the opportunity to explore and work with elementary-age children at Space Center Houston, the visitor’s center there.  We spent a few of our days participating in hands-on activities and networking with other pre-service teachers.  It was one of the most amazing opportunities and I received a full suitcase of lesson plans and materials throughout the program to use in a future classroom.”

Future teachers with their eyes on a stellar math- and science-related career might want to check out the program’s website.

A second journey to South Sudan

Janet Finke (’75) could relate to those young alums’ zeal for adventure.

Now an associate professor at Central Washington University, Janet Finke has joined two other CWU faculty members, Judy and Phil Backlund, on a second trip to South Sudan. They visited the country last year to train teachers, and left this week to work with more teachers. They will visit an orphanage in Juba to distribute the books and clothing donated by Ellensburg Rotarians, and train teachers at a girls school in Akon.

WSU alum Janet Finke
Janet Finke talks about South Sudan

South Sudan gained its independence in July 2011 after a long-running civil war. The adult literacy rate is 27 percent, and 63 percent of the population above the age of 6 has never attended school, according to a U.S. State Department fact sheet.

Finke said the people of South Sudan are hungry for education.

“The teachers we worked with last year cared so much about children in the villages, and they have a heart to make a difference,” Finke told the Ellensburg Daily Record. “They want so much for the children, and they’ve lacked it because they’ve been so focused on survival.” The trio was also interviewed by KAPP TV.

In a note to the college, Janet wrote that “It is an amazing privilege and incredible challenge to be making a difference in the lives of teachers and children here in Washington State and in South Sudan.”  She also expressed thanks for all she earned from her WSU professors and the support she received during her student teaching experience in a Richland first grade classroom, where she was supervised by Deanne McCullough.

This news about Janet is also posted on the Washington State Magazine’s alumni blog, where recent education news includes Timothy Yeomans’ appointment as superintendent of Puyallup public schools and Jeanett Castellanos’ receipt of the Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues in Higher Education Award.





A special education seminar and the sisters who made it possible

Michael Dunn knew about “special needs” long before he began his career in education. His dad couldn’t hear. Family members learned to cope with that on their own. They had to; they lived in a rural Canadian town far from health services.

First as a school teacher and then a researcher, Michael turned his focus to written words. The associate professor at WSU Vancouver, part of the College of Education’s special education program faculty, studies ways to help kids — with or without an obvious disability — who struggle with writing. He shared his expertise last week at the first graduate seminar supported by the Wilma Kamerrer Special Needs and Special Education Endowment.

WSU Associate Professor Michael Dunn
Michael Dunn

“Writing can be so taxing on students that they have little mental energy left for composing,” Michael said at the Pullman event.

His solution is a three-step teaching method in which students are asked to draw a picture that tells a story. Then they’re told to think about the story. Only then do they actually write the story down.

That approach syncs with Michael’s interest in response to intervention, or RTI. In a nutshell, RTI means not giving up on a student who is struggling. It involves screening for problems, providing help, and monitoring to make sure the student progresses.

“It’s not the traditional ‘wait to fail’ approach, where a student gets to grade three and only then do you decide what kind of help he needs,” said Michael, who is certified to teach RTI methods.

RTI can be expensive. It takes time and the involvement of specialists. But there are things teachers can do on their own to help students, and that’s part of what Michael discussed at the seminar. Soaking up his advice were master’s and doctoral students, including ones who will take their knowledge back to communities as far away as Ghana and Saudi Arabia.

The seminar also featured a presentation by Connie Beecher, a recent WSU doctoral graduate who gave advice on how to communicate research and scholarship agendas.

Sisterly support for education

Kamerrer sisters Wilma and Helen in Italy, 1958
Kamerrer sisters Wilma and Helen in Italy, 1958

The Wilma Kamerrer Special Needs and Special Education Endowment, like so much philanthropy, has roots in a personal connection.

Wilma was a farm girl born on the Palouse in 1927. She grew up to be the first female president of the Seattle First Bank branch in Pullman, according to Kate Kamerrer, who is married to Wilma’s nephew and is director of accounting at WSU Facilities Operations.

Wilma, who never married, died of cancer in 1981. Both she and her sister Helen Kamerrer Schmidt, a high school home economics teacher, were big supporters of education in general and WSU in particular.

It was through the estate of WSU alumna Helen – who also died of cancer – that an endowment was established in Wilma’s name. The endowment originally helped support Camp Roger Larson, a camp for children with disabilities that was run for many years by the College of Education. It was founded by Larson, a physical education faculty member.

“The Kamerrer family was friends with the Larson family, and Wilma lived just down the street from Roger and his wife,” Kate recalled. “As a result of their friendship, both Helen and Wilma supported Camp Roger Larson before they died and with their estates.”

Another reason for the sisters’ interest in the camp at Lake Coeur d’Alene was their passion for outdoor adventure. Helen and Wilma travelled, fished, camped, and skied extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

“We have some great slides of their various trips (several large tubs full in fact) and other fun ‘artifacts’ including skis, tackle boxes, ice skates, and other vintage camping gear.” Kate said.

Teacher alumna lauds brain science, collaboration and WSU

Say you’re a teacher. And you have this popular, mind-expanding lesson plan that gets your seventh graders to explore how people around the world celebrate winter holidays. Only this winter, one of your students is a Jehovah’s Witness. His family doesn’t believe in celebrating holidays.

Do you design a separate curriculum for that young man and risk making him feel left out?

Cram Middle School students in Civil War 'battle'
Barb Godby's lesson planning led to Civil War 'battle'

Not if you’re Barb Godby. In that case, you work with a colleague to come up with the massively engaging and educational Civil War re-enactment described in SpongeBomb SmartyPants: Re-enactment teaches history.

In the WSU News story, the 2005 graduate explains how she learned the importance of teacher collaboration when she studied secondary education at WSU. In an interview, she also praised our faculty for emphasizing that students need different ways to process and make sense of information. “WSU also had a lot of cutting-edge teaching about the brain, about teaching to every child in their own way,” she said of her undergraduate lessons. “That wasn’t the mainstream idea that it is now.”

Barb has worked at Cram Middle School in Las Vegas for five years. She loves teaching seventh and eighth graders, she says, despite “the hormones and the craziness and the angst. It’s my favorite age.” And despite struggling through a case of pneumonia and her grandmother’s death during planning for the first Civil War project, she’s looking forward to working with her colleagues on an even bigger re-enactment in May. “We’re a family here.”

Kinesiology alumnus coordinates student research publication

Justin Ulbright works with students in a Whitworth lab

Justin Ulbright has a lot of things to think about, including cadavers, biceps, and the Paralympics.

The WSU alum (’08) teaches anatomy at Whitworth University, where he oversees dissection in the laboratory. Justin is also a manager and personal trainer at Snap Fitness in Cheney. And he is strength and conditioning coach for Team St. Luke’s, a Spokane wheelchair sports team that has members headed for an international competition in London.

Now he has something else to think about: the Peavy Papers, for which he’s been named coordinator.

“The Peavy Papers is a student portion of a larger journal, the Journal of Kinesiology and Wellness. Undergraduate students submit review and original work to the journal, where it is evaluated by reviewers based on criteria we’ve established,” he said. “Students whose work is accepted may choose to present their papers at the annual Western Society for Kinesiology & Wellness conference.”

WSKW and Washington State have tight connections.

The society’s conference was opened to students in 1999, when WSU’s Professor Larry Bruya introduced the “R.D. Peavy Student Symposium”  in honor of now-retired Associate Professor Bob Peavy. Larry was the first editor of the Peavy Papers. The second was Matthew Silvers (’01) who was Justin’s mentor when Justin went on for his master’s degree at Eastern Washington University. Matt is now an assistant professor at Whitworth and is WSKW’s president-elect.

The society’s western regional representative is Associate Professor Jennifer Beller, another WSU faculty member who is gung-ho for undergraduate research.

While he was at WSU, Justin had two articles published in the Peavy Papers. One of them, aimed at undergraduates, was about how to overcome presentation anxiety within the kinesiology profession. It’s advice that will come in handy for students whose papers he approves.

These days, Justin’s academic interest is improving athletic performance in people with spinal cord injuries. So, he’s making plans to pursue a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. Which gives him something else to think about.

MLK Service Awards honor two of our finest

Congratulations to our faculty member Paul Mencke and doctoral candidate Joan.Osa Oviawe, who are among recipients of the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Awards. They’re being honored at the Washington State University MLK Community Celebration today in Pullman.

Paul and Joan embody the College of Education’s commitment to diversity — a commitment that, in Paul’s words, “is fulfilling and exhausting.” The following information about them is from WSU News.

Clinical Assistant Professor Paul Mencke
Paul Mencke

Mencke is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, has a passion for promoting social justice.

Graduate student Bryan Wiggins recalls attending one of Mencke’s classes where students were asked to give a short presentation about someone who had an impact on their field of study. Much to Wiggins’ surprise, Mencke instructed the students to only consider people from underrepresented backgrounds.

“When I asked him why he limited the class to focusing on diverse populations, he responded by saying our students learn about people who look like them every day, and it is important for them to learn how other people have made positive contributions to society too,” said Wiggins.

Mencke is actively involved in WSU’s student recruitment efforts, often serving as a keynote speaker or workshop presenter for events such as Visionaries Inspiring Black Empowered Students (VIBES), Shaping High School Asian and Pacific Islanders for the next Generation (SHAPING), and the Multicultural Student Services banquet.

The former Cougar quarterback said receiving the MLK award helps motivate him to continue this challenging work. “Having a commitment to social justice is fulfilling but often exhausting,” he said. “This award demonstrates that the march is long, but worth every difficult step.”


A reminder of great people, great ideals

Doctoral candidate Joan.Osa Oviawe
Joan.Osa Oviawe

Oviawe is a doctoral candidate in the College of Education whose involvement in social justice extends far beyond Pullman and the Northwest. She established the Grace Foundation in Nigeria, which promotes education and human rights – especially for women and children.

She also organizes cultural conferences, such as one that took place last summer when participants visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta. While working in WSU’s Dean of Students Office, she organized a trip to hurricane-ravaged Galveston Island, Texas, where students helped renovate homes of low-income residents and volunteered at a homeless shelter.

As coordinator of V-Day WSU, Oviawe introduced a new program during the 2011 Week Without Violence called the “V-Day Until the Violence Stops Festival.” More than 500 students participated in the activities, along with faculty, staff and community members.

“This award makes me feel like my little contributions to the betterment of my local and global communities matter and are worthwhile,” Oviawe said. “It will be a constant reminder for me to continue to imbibe the ideals and principals of MLK and all the other great men and women who have impacted our world in extraordinary ways.”

Master teacher Sam Adams shows ropes to classroom newcomers

Sam Adams and Stephen Dale help students
Sam Adams, front, and Stephen Dale help algebra students

CLARKSTON, Wash.—Sam Adams prompts, guides, prods and applauds his audience as he scrawls equations on a white board at Clarkston High.

“Can anybody remember? … How would I know from the start? … That’s the exact right step, Bradley … Did everyone hear Rob’s question? … Eyes up here … You might want to write that in your notes.”

Adams is teaching more than his algebra students. He’s also showing the ropes to Stephen Dale, an eager newcomer to his profession.

Adams is the latest winner of the Miller-Manchester Mentor Teacher Award, bestowed this fall by the Washington State University College of Education. Guy Pitzer, a supervisor of WSU student teachers, describes Adams as positive, flexible and sensitive.

“Over the many semesters I’ve worked with Sam, he’s exacted the highest level of performance from our student teachers,” Pitzer said. One of Adams’s greatest strengths, he said, is how well he gets to know his students.

“He talks with them, not to them. He expresses sincere interest in their activities and interests outside the classroom and incorporates that inside the classroom. Students feel a sense of freedom to ask, risk, and not feel the least bit inhibited or ashamed.”

Finding life’s passions

Adams is a 1979 graduate of WSU, where his father, also Sam Adams, taught physical education. A crimson Cougar T-shirt hangs front and center in his classroom. It’s one of many shirts decorating the room, each representing a college or university that former students have attended. Adams hopes the display will inspire his current students—maybe those struggling the most—to think about their future, and think big.

Teacher Sam Adams reads to his students
Adams starts class with an inspiring book

He sometimes starts class by reading from an inspiring book, such as Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson.”

“We talk about finding passions in life and, hopefully, having your future occupation stem from your passions,” Adams said. “Also, I can discuss the connection between mathematics and different careers.”

Adams went to WSU intent on a science career. Along the way he decided he was a “people person” and earned a teaching certificate in addition to a biology degree.

Dale, who is student teaching in Adams’ classroom this year, had a similar change of heart. He studied kinesiology at WSU, planning to go into physical therapy. After graduation, he had an unexpected chance to substitute-teach in his hometown of Federal Way.

“I thought I wouldn’t like it,” he said, grinning. He returned to Pullman last summer to enroll in WSU’s one-year Master in Teaching Program.

The masters students spend two days a week in their teacher mentors’ classroom. The next semester, for 12 weeks, they are there full time. Students in the undergraduate teaching program have a similar schedule.

Ideally, the student teachers are more like teammates than observers, said Pitzer. “When it works well, it’s like listening to a good concert.”

Learning from each other

Dale makes the 34-mile commute to Clarkston along with other student teachers. At Clarkston High, he and Adams take turns in front of the classroom. Between lessons, both roam among the desks, offering help to students who work in pairs to solve the latest equation.

One trick Dale said he’s learned from Adams is to give a short lesson, then allow students time to absorb it. “He calls it chunking. He wants the students to look at the board – ‘watch me first’ – then he gives them a couple of minutes to take effective notes.”

“The chunks can’t be too long,” Adams added, “and you have to give them a second chunk of time to ask questions.”

Adams has mentored 18 or 19 student teachers over the years. The last three have been from  WSU and have been phenomenal, he said.  “We learn from each other.”

Adams has coached several Clarkston high sports—he’s still leading the tennis team—and clearly enjoys helping a new teacher like Dale develop his strengths.

“We talk about classroom management, teaching style, how you deal with kids,” Adams said. “He will be his own kind of teacher, as I am mine.”

Sam Adams’ students at Clarkston High include his sons Drew, a senior; and Ryan, a sophomore. His wife is  pharmacist Kristen Auer Adams, also a graduate of WSU. See more photos from his classroom.

College standard bearer carries on family teaching tradition

WSU graduate Kayla Hutton with her parents Dan and Kathy
Kayla Hutton with her parents, Dan and Kathy

Dan Hutton’s success as a teacher and role model was on display at Saturday’s Fall 2011 commencement celebration. His daughter Kayla, who was also his student for six years, was the standard bearer for the WSU College of Education. She earned that honor with her 3.93 grade point average–the highest among graduates from the Department of Teaching and Learning.

Kayla was among 41 graduates picking up College of Education bachelor’s degrees. Eight education masters and seven education doctorates were also conferred. There was plenty of tradition and holiday sparkle in Beasley Coliseum and one giant new ornament– the digital scoreboard that gave everyone a closeup view.

Kayla’s personal cheering section included Dan, who teaches at Tekoa High School and is one of several teachers in the family; her mom, Kathy; and her fiance, Ryan Burchett. Ryan is a 2009 WSU graduate and agriculture educator in Cle Elum.

Kayla Hutton carries college banner
Kayla Hutton, teacher and standard bearer

Come spring, Kayla will be doing her student teaching at Woodard Elementary in Spokane. Besides landing a teaching job, she looks forward to more studies in her interest areas of human development and reading. And she’ll always look back fondly on her days learning and laughing with other students in her “block” or cohort of education majors in Pullman.

“The things I will remember most about the College of Education are the relationships I’ve established with my ‘block mates’ and teachers,” she said. “We’ve spent a lot of time together and gotten to know each other really well.”

As educators, Kayla and her classmates are well positioned to heed commencement speaker Brig. Gen. Julie Bentz, who encouraged them to “do what is right, love what is good and leave the world a better place than you found it.”