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Getting hooded in the Cougar ‘hood

When at long last you’re about to get that doctoral degree and your adviser moves to another university, whatcha gonna do?  For Danny Breidenbach, the answer was easy:  Follow him.

Brian French, left, with Danny Breidenbach
Brian French, left, with Danny Breidenbach

Danny actually left Purdue University in 2008, having completed all but his dissertation, just as Brian French was leaving to accept an associate professorship at our college.  Finishing up at Purdue would have meant having only a nominal adviser at the Indiana school, so Danny decided to graduate at WSU, where Brian could be his advocate.  He’s happy he traveled to Pullman in May to receive his doctoral hood. “Brian has gone over and above the call of duty for me at times, and his efforts inspire me to do my best work. He has a real knack for not merely pushing me in the right direction, but lighting up the path to help me get started,” Danny explained. “Attending that ceremony was also my ‘thank you’ to him — because I know it gave him a sense of accomplishment to ‘hood’ me. ”

Danny works for Applied Measurement Professionals Inc., in Lenexa, Kansas.  (He and Brian are psychometricians, a job description with a hint of sorcery about it, don’t you think?)

A cure for bored kids
WSU Vancouver’s At Home At School program is among sponsors of a Web site that helps children and their parents find summer activities. Read about it in this Vancouver Columbian article.   …. By the way, At Home At School and its recent donation from the Legacy Health Fund are featured in the spring newsletter of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

Moving north
Clinical Assistant Professor Leslie Hall is excited about the new challenges that will come with her transfer to the Spokane campus.  She will be taking on many of the responsibilities of Lenore Schmidt, who retired in May.  Leslie will teach, coordinate the masters in teaching program, and work with Ed.M. and Ed.D. students.

Reading matter
For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’
The greeting is so common, the New York Times reports, that some students complain of peer pressure to hug, and some schools have banned hugging.
Education Secretary Duncan Should Come to Washington State.  A Seattle Times editorial.

Power plays, science ed, and more

Jane Kelley

Maybe you were one of those flashlight-under-the-blanket kids who understood all the dark goings-on in the twisting plot of Rumpelstiltskin. If not, your inner child may be relieved to have that confusion validated by children’s literature expert Jane Kelley. The assistant professor is author of Critical Multicultural Analysis of Folktales: Power Representation in Reconstructed Rumpelstiltskin Stories.   As she explained for a WSU Today article, the story is full of power plays, and she examined how a dozen modern authors twisted and turned to plot to make their own points about good and evil.   In an interview, Jane mentioned the Fractured Fairy Tales version of the story. And she explained that, in the French version, Rumpelstiltskin wasn’t after the miller’s daughter’s baby.  He was after her soul.  Now THAT would be a good reason to hide under the covers.

Science education showcased in Vancouver

Results of a graduate-K-12 teacher partnership will be showcased on May 29.
The Partners in Discovery GK-12 Project provides for year-long, one-on-one partnerships between WSU Vancouver Environment Science graduate students and local science teachers to bring scientific research and inquiry into the classroom. The partnership focuses on the implications of growth and change in the Columbia River watershed. Assistant Professor Tamara Nelson is among those involved in the cross-discipline project, which is led by the WSU science faculty and funded by the National Science Foundation.

Seek and ye shall find

Don’t forget that our Web pages have a search box that is specific to It’s located below the right side of the top banner. Using that can be much more efficient than using the WSU search box.   And if you’re ever looking for something on our A-Z site index and can’t find it, drop a note to Geoff Jensen and he’ll add the errant topic.  Also, FYI:  After learning of some security concerns about the software, we’ve removed the “share this” function that was briefly installed on the site.  We’ll keep an eye out for alternative ways of sharing our site’s content.

Reading matter
Sotomayor’s record on education scrutinized.
President Obama’s choice for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a variety of issues with implications for education during her 17 years on the federal bench, including cases relating to racial matters, students with disabilities, and the strip-search of adolescents.

Award winners brighten end of semester

Did you notice? When the Office of Undergraduate Education announced its honorees this week, the list included two elementary education majors who received Harold and Jeanne Rounds Olsen Awards for Undergraduate Excellence in Writing:  Holly Barker at WSU Vancouver and Ingrid Kraig, who is in the Honors College at WSU Pullman.

From left: Dean Judy Mitchell, Kromann Medal winner Andrea O'Brine, Assistant Professor Jane Kelley
From left: Dean Judy Mitchell, Kromann Medal winner Andrea O'Brine, Assistant Professor Jane Kelley

Ingrid also put her writing skills to work as a competitor for this year’s Inga Kromann Medal Award. The two medal winners for the annual children’s book prize were Katie Shanks and Andrea O’Brine, both of whom delved into their own childhoods for inspiration.  The  winners were announced at the annual celebration presented by the arts integration class on the Pullman patio, which explains  Andrea’s colorful dancing outfit in the accompanying  photo.  Read about the Kromann awards.

The full, impressive list of College of Education faculty, staff and student award winners for 2008-09 is online.

Striding toward a conference

Professor David Slavit reports that on May 26-27 the  WSU Vancouver STRIDE research team will host a national conference on “Research on Supported Collaborative Inquiry.” Five teacher-researchers will rub elbows with leading researchers from across the country.  Stanford University researcher Hilda Borko will give a plenary address.  The conference is funded by two National Science Foundation research grants.

Reading matter
A Cautionary Video About America’s ‘Stuff’
A short video about the effects of materialism has become a sleeper hit in classrooms across the nation.
Partnership’s First Product Aimed at Middle School Vocabulary Word Generation, which is free to schools, consists of short, engaging vocabulary-boosting lessons that are taught each day by different teachers across the middle school curriculum.
Reading Programs Found Ineffective A federal study intended to provide insight into the effectiveness of programs for reading comprehension has found that three such programs had no positive impact, while a fourth had a negative effect on student achievement.
Coaches struggle to find balance between work and family

Vacation time
Here’s a timely and not-overly-commercial idea:  an educators’ B&B network founded by two Oregon educators to help frugal travelers meet like-minded people.  

Talented teachers, future and present

Jenna Michels multi-tasks as she chats with T&L Department Chair Cori Mantle-Bromley

It’s that time of year when elementary education majors show their semester’s work of designing lesson plans, which is a prerequisite for next fall’s student teaching assignments.  Those in Pullman talked about their lesson plans, and career plans, at a poster session on Monday.  Jenna Michels of Spokane was showing off not only  her lesson plan for kindergartners, but also her daughter, who was born in March.  Suffice it to say, Jenna had an intensive spring semester.  See more photos here.

Awards for two special teachers

Delores “Dee” Baumgartner (’73 M.Ed.) is the first recipient of the Miller-Manchester Teacher Mentor Award. The longtime Pullman kindergarten teacher will be presented the honor at the College of Education’s Homecoming Scholarship and Excellence Event on Oct. 10.  Dee will receive $800, a plaque, a leaf on the Legacy Tree, tickets to the homecoming game … and a whole lot of gratitude for providing outstanding mentoring, coaching, and nurturing for many WSU practicum students and student teachers.

Megan Itani (’02 B.A.) a Pullman special education teacher, is one of two recipients of the 2009 Educating the Whole Child Award.  Megan is working on her master of education degree at WSU.  She’ll represent the dry side of the state when she picks up her award in Seattle at the Oct. 9 conference of the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Budget woes

State budget cuts have made these times that try educators’ souls.  At the College of Education, passions are running especially high over the proposed closure of our Sport Management program.  The EduCoug would be remiss not to acknowledge the grief and controversy.  But given plenty of media attention on the subject, and college/university venues for staying informed (see Dean Mitchell’s column and the provost’s budget page), this blog will continue its focus on the ongoing good work at the COE.  Don’t forget that the provost’s page has a form for submitting input.  And there’s an old-fashioned forum known as letters to the editor…

swine-flu-21On a less serious note:
A nose for tomfoolery

Faculty member Jim Williamson went up to a pharmacy window and asked if any swine flu medication was available.  Looking like this.  (His science methods classes must be lots of fun.)

Spring in their steps

Woo-hoo, something to celebrate

dsc_01931Sunshine, lively songs, dancing, laughter and the promise of some fantastic teaching careers ahead. All were part of the 2009 spring arts celebration presented by Pauline Sameshima’s arts integration class. Every year, the creative energy of this class brightens up the patio in Pullman, leaving some of us to wish it could happen every week. For many more photos and a taste of the clever lyrics set to tunes ranging from “Hokey Pokey” to “YMCA,” click here. Among the lyrics, to the tune of “Wishin’ and Hopin'”: Show ’em that you care just for them. Do the things they like to do. Wear your smile just for them…

Golden grads

The College of Education hosted lunch and a tour for 45 of the 270 alumni and spouses from ’49 and ’59 who visited the Pullman campus for the annual Golden and Diamond Graduates Reunion. One memory told and retold was of  “the coldest football game ever,” notable for having one paying customer and a lot of frosty student fans. The colorful written memories offered for an alumni booklet included this one from Judith Bount (now Sanders): “We took Homecoming floats seriously. It never occurred to us to not build one, even with almost all the girls in the house down with the Asian flu. Barbara Doutrich and I found ourselves the only people in a barn, way out of town, stuffing purple napkins into the chicken-wire castle on our float the night before the parade. …  Frantic stuffing until the last minute, until a student came and hooked up his purple car, to match the castle, to pull the float to the stadium and along the parade route. The car and castle looked pretty darned good, we thought, as we pulled in behind and headed down the highway. The driver took off like a rocket. We were driving in a blizzard of purple napkins, with no way to catch him to slow him down. When we arrived at the stadium, the float was the skeleton of a castle, with a handful of pathetic purple napkins hanging on it. As the float was pulled through the stadium, Barbara and I ran along behind with some napkins in a box stuffing them into the chicken wire as fast as we could.”

Our expert on veterans’ issues

With the new GI Bill’s generous benefits to begin this August, thousands of additional vets are expected to be enrolling in higher education.  But fully 30 percent of them are struggling with depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and/or traumatic brain injury.  How can universities help them succeed? Bernadette Mencke, WSU retention counselor and a Ph.D. student in higher education, shares some practical tips in the May issue of the Student Affairs Today newsletter. Among other things, she and her co-author Robert Mock advise:  Identify at least one veteran in each campus department, such as financial affairs and counseling; share the list with vets, who will feel more comfortable seeking help from other vets.  Hire a veterans affairs government liaison. Have properly trained counselors. And assign vets to the first floors of residence halls near an exit. (When vets enter a room, they’re trained to immediately identify quick exits and potential weapons, so may get anxious if they don’t see a quick way out.)

Most clever workshop promotion

“Wine Tasting as a Metaphor for Responding to Student Writing.” It’ll be held on Friday, May 8 from 2-4 PM at the 12th floor lounge of Webster Hall, Pullman. RSVP to Sharolon Carter at

Reading matter
No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap
Between 2004 and last year, scores for young minority students increased on a federal test, but so did those of white students.
Obama’s Long Education To-Do List Awaits Action

Health and fitness majors bask in academic spotlight

From left: Chase Rhodes with brothers Taylor and Zac

It’s been a pleasure this spring to get acquainted with two WSU Pullman seniors who aspire to be teacher/coaches:  Kyle McKeeman, whose volunteer activities won him a Distinguished Service Learning Award and the goodwill of his College Hill neighbors; and scholar-athlete Daven Harmeling, whose accomplishments will be highlighted at the May 9 commencement.  A third health and fitness major, Chase Rhodes, will be noted at commencement as part of a threesome. He and his brothers, Taylor and Zac, are the first triplets to graduate from WSU since 2001. Chase plans to finish his special education teaching endorsement in the next year.

Not to be outshone is health and fitness student junior Richard Swihart III, a President’s Award winner and inaugural recipient of the Virginia E. Thomas Endowed Scholarship for $1,000. The scholarship is presented to a WSU undergraduate who has excelled in leading other students and coaching others to become better leaders themselves. As reported in the Daily Evergreen, Richard came by some of his acumen during 10 years in the military, including two tours in Iraq. He’s attending WSU to become a naval officer.

President’s Award winners

In addition to Richard Swihart, the College of Education boasts six other students among this year’s 44 President’s Award winners. They are: Patricia Celaya, counseling psychology, Ph.D. candidate; Janine Darragh, language and literacy education, Ph.D.; Richard Goranflo III, higher education administration, Ed.M.; Christian Granlund, sport management, B.A.; Ladan Maleki, counseling psychology Ph.D.; joan o’sa oviawe, cultural studies, Ph.D.

Reading matter
End the University as we know it
.  Writer argues that graduate education is the Detroit of higher learning.
Tight Times Call for Trustees Who Push Back, Presidents Say Economists do not know when the recession will end, the presidents said, and boards need to play a significant role in helping colleges restructure.

Question of the day
Who was the only U.S. president to have a Ph.D.? Find out here.

Heads up, sports fans

Be watching for a late-April announcement of the first fellowships awarded to Masters in Teaching students by Edgar and Holli Martinez, who through their Martinez Foundation are on a mission to increase the number of teachers of color in our schools.  The winners will be honored at the Seattle Mariners’ June 6 “Latinos in Beisbol” game.  Put on your crimson T-shirt and cheer them on. Each ticket bought through this link will result in $7 going to support the foundation’s efforts.

Speaking of sports…
Assistant Professor John Wong of our sport management faculty scored in the publishing scene with his chapter in The Chicago Sports Reader, “a celebration of the strong, the agile, and the tricky.”  John’s chapter is about the founding of the Chicago Blackhawks Professional sport-bookHockey Team. It uses literature in entrepreneurship as a framework in examining why the Chicago team succeeded when some of the other NHL teams folded during or shortly after the Great Depression. Of 20 chapters submitted to the editors, John’s was one of 13 chosen. I asked him how he got involved with the literary project. His reply:
“I got an e-mail about a couple of years ago from one of the editors – a fellow sport historian. He told me he and another sport historian were going to work on an anthology of sport in Chicago. They had started gathering contributors but then realized they did not have a chapter on hockey. Since Chicago had one of the oldest franchises in the NHL, they felt that hockey should be included. Because hockey is one of my research interests (and they know that from my conference presentations and publications), they approached me to take on the chapter. At the time, I did not know who the other contributors were. Now that I have received my copy of the book, I realize that the editors have recruited some of the big names in sport history. And, of course, I am very flattered and humbled by their invitation for me to participate.

By the way, John and his colleagues have ventured into the blogosphere with SMANET, a way to connect sport management alumni.

Reading matter
Washington Senate passes major education reform bill.
The state could eventually pay more for basic education under a bill passed by the state Senate on Thursday. Just how the state will find money for that obligation, however, is still far from certain.
UW is getting a big demotion
. Scarcely any state, even those with worse economies, is planning to cut higher education funding more than the Washington Legislature.
Don’t Just Rebuild Schools—Reinvent Them Prakash Nair writes, “What may be great for bridges and highways may be exactly the wrong thing for schools.”
Appreciation: Judith Krug. Defending the freedom to read from damaging assaults by censors in and out of government was a life’s work.

Special talent, special ed

Prize winner
michael-dunn-artWSU Vancouver’s just-released 2009 Salmon Creek Journal features prose, poetry and artwork that has been blind-juried by students, faculty, staff and alumni. The top-prize-winning art, “American Falls-Niagara Falls” (shown here), is the creation of our own Assistant Professor Michael Dunn, whose academic focus is on literacy and special education.  The journal’s release party will be held during the Art Fair today (April 10) from 3 – 5 p.m. in Vancouver’s Administration Building, rooms 129 and 130.
From left: Connie Beecher, Jamie Messinger-Willman, Janine Darragh
L-R: Connie Beecher, Jamie Messinger-Willman, Janine Darragh

Special delegation
Speaking of Michael Dunn… he and Assistant Professor Matt Marino of Pullman were part of a six-member WSU delegation that attended the Council for Exceptional Children national convention, held April 1-4 in Seattle.  With them were  doctoral students Connie Beecher, Danielle Clark, Janine Darragh, and Jamie Messinger-Willman. Connie and Janine gave a joint presentation on “Using Children’s Literature to Teach Preservice Teachers about Autism Spectrum Disorders”; Jamie presented on “Technology-based Teacher Planning and Collaboration Tools.” Reports Matt: “This was the first national presentation for Connie and Jamie, both of whom had very well attended sessions. Our doctoral students are to be commended for their dedication to the field and their professional presentation skills.”

Reading matter
Lessons Sifted From Tragedy at Columbine A decade after the attack at a Colorado high school, scholars are gaining fresh insights into student gunmen and the havoc they wreak.
Report Envisions Shortage of Teachers as Retirements Escalate Over the next four years, more than a third of the nation’s 3.2 million teachers could retire, depriving classrooms of experienced instructors and straining taxpayer-financed retirement systems, according to a new report.

Have you noticed?

Our college Web pages now boast a print button, just below the banner on the right. Another new feature is a “share” button so you can send COE information via email, or post it on a dizzying array of social networks such as Facebook.

Up the academic ladder

Come August, Cathyrn Claussen, Joy Egbert, Michael Pavel and Kelly Ward will be full professors; Jason Margolis, Lali McCubbin and Judith Morrison will be associate professors; and Leslie Hall will be a clinical associate professor. Click here for the WSU list of faculty promotions.

kucer-bookHow do you know that you’re a successful textbook writer? When your publisher puts out a third edition. That’s what happened for WSU Vancouver faculty member Stephen Kucer with Dimensions of Literacy: A Contextual Base for Teaching Reading and Writing in School Settings. The dimensions in question are linguistic (the nature of language, oral-written language relationships, language variation), cognitive (constructive nature of perception, the reading process, understanding written discourse, the writing process), sociocultural (literacy as social practices, authority of written discourse) and developmental (constructing the written language system).

Cyberbullying: Hot topic of the week
This Thursday’s Education Research Forum and Community Dialogue on Cyberbullying couldn’t be more timely. Listen to this NPR report on the subject, which discusses proposed legislation to prosecute offenders. It begins: “For years, kids who were the victims of bullying and teasing at school or on the playground could find refuge at home. But in the age of new technology, bullying has become a 24-hour problem, with harassers able to taunt and tease their peers through e-mail, text messages and social networks.”

Notable quote (from an ’02 Ph.D. Cougar)
From the April 2 Spokesman-Review:  Raphael Guillory, EWU Faculty Organization vice president, said legislators must recognize that if the state has any hope of pulling out of the current economic slump, it must make an investment in the future. “What you see here today,” Guillory said of the crowd of enthusiastic students in Cheney, “is the return on that investment.”

Reading matter
Stimulus Providing Big Funding Boost for Early Childhood. While other education officials are weighing the risks of starting new programs with federal money that may dry up in two years, early-childhood programs are ramping up for expansion after years of being underfunded, their supporters say.
Education Secretary Says Aid Hinges on New Data. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tells the nation’s governors that in exchange for billions of dollars in federal education aid provided under the economic stimulus law, he wants new information about the performance of their public schools, much of which could be embarrassing.

Pondering among the posters

Adisa Anderson greets a visitor at the Academic Showcase
Adisa Anderson greets a visitor at the Academic Showcase

It’s fun to wander around the annual WSUPullman Academic Showcase and ponder studies that are outside the range of most mortals (“Jump Frequencies of CdProbe Atoms”) and others that are charming as well as elucidating (“Shadow Play and Romance: The Oboe in Southeast Asia”).  The giant poster session is a great place to eavesdrop, too.  At Friday’s Showcase, I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about research being done at the College of Education, such as “Academic Achievement Among Native Americans: Performance or Data Gap?” Grad student Adisa Anderson explained to me, with passion, the findings displayed on a poster that featured striking Native art.  Did you know that almost 75 percent of Washington school districts that have Native students do not report their test scores? That’s to protect the privacy of students, who comprise a tiny minority, but clearly makes it hard to gather data about how Native students are doing.  Adisa worked on the research with recent Ph.D. graduate Jason Sievers, student Lisa Bruna, and Assistant Professor Lali McCubbin.

Got perspective? Students, faculty and staff in Pullman still have time this semester to sharpen their intercultural skills and earn a certificate confirming the fact.  Christian Busnardo, who is finishing his master’s in higher education, is one of the presenters at the Global Perspectives Workshop, which “provides participants with a working knowledge of different cultural values, norms, behaviors and expectations that are critical in today’s multicultural workforce. ” The hour-long workshops sponsored by the Cougar Leadership Program are tailored to fit each group’s specific needs. Interested? Contact Christian at

Alumni success: Gene Schmidt (’08 Ph.D. education administration, ’73 teaching certificate) is superintendent of the Bridgeport, Wash., School District, which is a grand prize winner in the American School Board Journal’s 15th annual Magna Awards program.  The district will receive $4,000 in scholarship money during a presentation at the National School Boards Association’s conference in April. Bridgeport was recognized in the under-5,000 enrollment category for “College in the High School,” which offers college-level classes to high school students in the tiny district. Students from the past five graduating classes have completed high school with up to 45 college credits and many now attend colleges and universities throughout the nation. The college-level classes also have helped increase scores on state reading and writing graduation tests.  Read other success stories on our alumni news page.

Healthy Schools Summit, May 28-29, Seattle, co-sponsored by WSU Extension.

Reading matter:
Lessons from the Ivory Tower. K-12 learns from higher education’s online experience.
Idaho teacher sells advertising space on tests. Good morning, class, and welcome to U.S. history, brought to you by Molto Caldo Pizzeria.