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Teacher To Be: Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee — Elementary Education

Endorsement: Special Education

“I have always had a soft spot for teaching. Growing up, I would watch my mom teach classes at a local community college and I can just remember thinking how incredible she was! I knew I wanted to do something big with my life and to be able to have an impact on people the way that she always did, and what better way to do that then through teaching!

“The more time I spend in classrooms, the more I fall in love with this career. There is truly no better feeling than watching the students you are working with have that light bulb moment when something goes from confusing or hard to “I’ve got this!” My hope is that I will one day have my own classroom that nurtures a positive, fun environment and all of my students will be able to see just how much fun learning can be.”


Under the Skin

Under the Skin

Under the Skin: An Introspective Look at the Self was a series of collaborative art workshops that invites everyone from communities in Pullman, Washington and Moscow, Idaho to have critical conversations about who we are.

#UnderTheSkin was an effort to build a critical and dialogical community  where we learn from one another. Collaborators from diverse ethnic backgrounds, academic perspectives, spiritual processes, activism and community work experiences guided participants through dialogues, creation, and healing. During this series, we had the opportunity to learn from Native American, Libyan, mixed race, Latina scholars. Values of social justice, spiritual activism, and equity, among others, inform our dialogues and processes.

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Co-sponsored by: College of Education

College of Education Graduate School Information Session

Free info is great. But free fried chicken with that info? Even better!

WSU’s College of Education will answer questions for potential graduate students at its annual Fall Graduate Preview Day.

Thursday, November 1, 2018.
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Cleveland Hall Room 70

It is open to anyone interested in a career in teaching, educational psychology, sport management, educational leadership, or exploring issues of culture and power in education.

Participants will learn about these programs, the application process, financial aid, scholarships and assistantships, will be able to meet faculty members, etc.

Also, yes, free food. Participants will be able to eat lunch with current graduate students and ask them questions.

To reserve a seat and receive an agenda, email or call 509-335-7016.

Getting to Know You: Deirdre Sanborn





Deirdre Sanborn — Elementary Education undergraduate student Q&A

Where are you from?
Seattle, Washington

Why did you choose elementary education?
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher from a young age. I have many younger siblings who have inspired me to work with kids and make a difference in their lives.

What was it about your siblings that made you so inspired?
With my big family kids were always around and I always found joy in helping them learn and grow. I’ve always been a strong role model in their lives which makes me want to be a role model for many other children. I’ve seen what struggles and successes they have had while in school, which has inspired me to teach students of my own.

What was one of your favorite experiences in the College of Education? 
My practicum last semester in 5th grade at Jennings Elementary in Colfax! I got to chaperone their field trip to visit Schweitzer Engineering!

What are your goals after graduation?
I hope to teach 4th or 5th grade students somewhere in western Washington.


Food:  Mac N’ Cheese

Movie:  Guardians of the Galaxy

Book: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Musician/Band: Above and Beyond

Song: (Right now) Rio by Netsky

Teacher:  Joni Stevens who teaches by classroom management in block 2.

Quote: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room” – Unknown

2016 Advocate for Education Award Recipients – Gene Sharratt

Gene Sharratt

Gene Sharratt

Dr. Gene Sharratt is currently the Executive Director for the Association of Educational Service Districts and OSPI Professional Learning Network.  Prior to this position, Dr. Sharratt served for three years on Governor Inslee’s Cabinet as Executive Director of the Washington Student Achievement Council. The Council is the lead state agency bringing together all sectors of the state’s education system, early learning through higher education, to improve access, attainment, and outcomes for all Washingtonians.

Before joining the Governor’s Cabinet, Dr. Sharratt spent ten years as a clinical assistant and associate college professor for Washington State University.  He served 30 years as a K-12 teacher, principal, school superintendent, and ESD superintendent in international and public schools.   This experience was in Washington, Alaska and Norway.

Dr. Sharratt has published numerous articles in professional journals and magazines.  Gene is the author of “Keeping on your Feet,” an inspirational book of how to overcome challenges in a positive and healthy manner.  He is the past president of the Washington Educational Research Association.

  • Ph.D. — Washington State University
  • MA — Pacific Lutheran University
  • BA — Washington State University
  • AA — Highline College
Some of Gene’s awards
  • Excellence in Leadership Award — College Success Foundation (2016)
  • Leadership in Science Educ. Award, Institute for Systems Biology (Valarie Logan) Award (2015)
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Highline College (2015)
  • Lifetime Legacy Award, Washington Association of School Administrators (2013)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Association. of Washington School Principals (2013)
  • Lifetime Legacy Award, College of Education, Washington State University (2013)
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Education, Pacific Lutheran University (2009)
  • Washingtonian of the Year, Washington Association of Business and Educational Leaders (2004)
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Washington State University (1999)
  • Washington State School Superintendent of the Year (1991)
  • National Educational Administrator of the Year Award, NAEOP (1988)
  • Washington State Administrator of the Year, WAEOP, (1988)
  • Outstanding Teacher Award. Pi Lamda Theta Educational Honorary Society, WSU, (1982)

Kathy Nitta: Never done

Kathy Nitta

Never done

Whether it’s learning or teaching, Kathy Nitta doesn’t know the word quit.

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…





A new university-high school partnership… and joke

Here’s a joke that always brings the house down:

Who do Zooplankton get their Christmas gifts from?
Santa clausi

(**sound of crickets**)

OK, that doozy aside…

Zooplankton, phytoplankton, and other nutrients, including harmful algae and invasive copepods exist in the Columbia River estuary.

The Columbia River’s 146-mile estuary is one of the largest in the nation. Only the Missouri–Mississippi system carries more water. Rapid population growth has changed land use in the Columbia estuary’s watershed in ways that may affect coastal ecosystems.

That’s where WSU Vancouver professor Tamara Nelson comes in. Believe us when we say it’s not just to save everyone from our corny jokes.

She’s joining two other WSU faculty research to lead student-conducted Columbia estuary research. Why? Because it’s critical to understand how nutrients and organisms from upstream contribute to habitat degradation, and the spread of invasive species.

The official project name is called Columbia River Estuary Science Education and Outreach: a Landscape-scale University–High School Partnership Integrating Scientific and Educational Research.

Yes, it’s a mouthful. So… CRESCENDO, for short.

The high school students gather water, plankton, and hydrographic data in the estuary, to learn about and assess relative effects of cumulative watershed drainage, and local factors such as sewage outflows (there’s gotta be a joke in there somewhere).

Nelson will join Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens and Steve Bollens, both also from the Vancouver campus. The job of the trio is to gauge what students have learned about science and stewardship; students’ ecological knowledge and outlook.

The research plan called for students at five high schools along the estuary to spend two years collecting water samples, plankton tows, and hydrographic data.

Teacher Education – Learning Outcomes

outcome photo-story

Learning Outcomes means beyond earning a degree, students must attain knowledge, skills, and abilities.


Upon completion of the BA in Education degree program, students will be able to:

  1. Use enduring content and pedagogical knowledge to inform their teaching (know content, critically evaluate literature on effective practice).
  2. Develop relevant, rigorous, and developmentally appropriate curricula (critically evaluate and apply literature on development, learning).
  3. Modify curriculum and instruction based on the individual needs of their students (address diversity in teaching/learning).
  4. Use assessment of their students’ learning and their own teaching to inform future planning and teaching (reflect on P-12 student learning outcome data, problem solve, critically evaluate literature on effective practice for use in classroom).
  5. Attend to the social and civic development of their students.
  6. Work respectfully & collaboratively with colleagues & community to ensure quality instructional programs & stewardship of public schools.

Kappa Delta Pi

Kappa Delta Pi
International Honor Society in Education

We’re here to help students in teacher education programs excel.

Learn more


Literacy Alive!

Every year, our group takes a trip to the Tekoa School District and help kids with literacy throughout all subjects.

Learn More


Meet us!


For information, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Student Services at

Important collaboration

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M&S Education Syllabi

Here you will find the most recent syllabi for the core courses in the Mathematics and Science Education Ph.D. program.

Please note that these courses change with advancements in the field and the identification of student interests, so future offerings of the course might have different foci, readings, etc.

T&L 531
Frameworks for Research in Mathematics and Science Education
Dave Slavit 198x198EdMthSci 598
Research Seminar in Mathematics and Science Education
Tamara HolmlundT&L 571
Research in STEM Education
T&L 574
Science for All: An Individual Multicultural Perspective
T&L 581
Learning and Development in Mathematics and Science
Kristen Lesseig 198x198T&L 584
Research in Teaching Mathematics & Science