On Point e-Newsletter: Spring 2017

School of Education Newsletter: On Point

A message from the dean: Are you still growing professionally?

As we move into Spring Quarter and toward the end of the academic year, I am pleased to introduce this latest issue of the School of Education newsletter, On Point. In this issue, we present the accomplishments of our faculty and recent graduates, the work of our Center for Professional Education, and other news.

SOE is proud of the many teachers, principals, and school counselors who receive their initial certification through one of our preparation programs. These graduates are engaged in important work in communities around the state, nationally, even globally. However, as is the case for all professionals, ongoing development is very important. In this edition of On Point you can read about how our Center for Professional Education (CPE) offers a variety of professional development opportunities for educators.

CPE is committed to providing high quality, affordable courses and programs that allow not only our own graduates but all educators the opportunity to grow in their professions. Offerings include programs leading to second tier certification, add-on endorsements, and stand-alone courses on a variety of topics to enhance the skill sets of educators. I encourage you to read about the work of CPE and consider how we might support your ongoing professional development.

It is my wish that the news shared in this edition of On Point will be of interest to you and serve as a vehicle for connecting you to the work of the School of Education. As always, we welcome your comments and questions.

Rick Eigenbrood Rick Eigenbrood, Dean
School of Education

Faculty highlights

SOE welcomes new faculty members

Four new faculty members have joined SOE for the 2016-17 school year.

Naline Baliram

Dr. Nalline Baliram joins the School of Education as assistant professor of teacher education, after earning her doctorate in Education from SPU last spring.

During her time at SPU, Dr. Baliram has taught adjunct courses, served as a field supervisor for SPU teaching candidates, and presented at several conferences. Before that, Dr. Baliram spent 14 years teaching high school mathematics in South Florida, where she also served as chair of the Math department, sponsored the Mathematics Honor Society, and led summer mission trips.

Dr. Baliram’s research interests include reflective assessment, teacher feedback, social learning, and integrated effective pedagogical practices in the learning environment. Despite being thousands of miles away from her immediate family, Dr. Baliram has made a home at SPU, a place where she is excited to follow her vocational calling to teach and inspire success in students and continue to serve Christ through a nurturing, positive, and supportive program in the School of Education.

Nicole Cassilla

New Assistant Professor of Special Education Dr. Nicole Casillas comes to SPU after five years as a doctoral student at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR).

At UNR, Dr. Casillas was selected as a trainee with Nevada Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (NvLEND), where she helped to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other disabilities. As a NvLEND trainee, she spent over 300 hours training in didactic seminars, clinical experiences, and leadership projects. Her project titled “Learn the Signs: Act Early” distributed informational brochures on the early signs of ASD in English and Spanish to agencies — such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) — throughout the state of Nevada.

Dr. Casillas has experience as a behavioral therapist and as a teacher’s assistant for students with disabilities. Her research interests include cross-cultural studies on family members of individuals with ASD, transition services for adolescents with ASD, video self-modeling, and the experiences of graduate students in doctoral programs. She has presented her research at local and national conferences.

Munyi Shea

Before joining the School of Education in Fall 2016, Dr. Munyi Shea served as associate professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, a minority-serving institution. Dr. Shea’s research focuses on Asian and Latino immigrant mental health, help-seeking behaviors, and culturally responsive prevention and intervention. She has developed and evaluated several school and community-based prevention and intervention programs, including bullying prevention for Asian and Latino school-aged children and caregivers, a cognitive-behavioral guided self-help program for Latinas with eating disorders, and a peer-led, strengths-based support program for college-going mothers.

Dr. Shea has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has received numerous grants, including support from the National Institutes of Health and American Psychological Association. She is the recipient of several research awards, including the Early Career Award for Research from the Asian American Psychological Association and the Outstanding Research Award from the American Education Research Association.

At SPU, Dr. Shea continues her line of research to increase understanding of the help-seeking barriers faced by ethnically and culturally diverse students. She looks forward to collaborating with colleagues and mentoring school counselors and doctoral students in education who are equally passionate about enhancing the psychological and spiritual well-being, school connectedness, and academic success of underserved student groups.

Eunhui Yoon

Dr. Eunhui Yoon joined the School of Education at SPU this year as assistant professor of counselor education. Dr. Yoon graduated from the Counseling and Counselor Education program at the University of Florida (UF) in December 2015 and specializes in school- and community-based interventions for at-risk adolescents. Her doctoral dissertation explored how demographic, psychological, and environmental factors discriminate among bystanders’ behaviors in bullying situations. During her doctoral studies, she co-authored a book chapter titled “Girls and Women of Color in STEM: Navigating the Double Bind,” which will be published by the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Prior to attending UF, Dr. Yoon worked for the Korea Youth Counseling Institute (KYCI), which is affiliated with the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs in Korea. Her main task was to maintain the national hotline for at-risk adolescents and the national community counseling and care system for adolescents, named the Community Youth Safety Net (CYS-Net). Additionally, she conducted research for the counseling and risk intervention manual and served on a task force to change the legal system for adolescents’ welfare.

Dr. Yoon’s research interests include counselors’ burnout and self-care, bullying prevention and intervention, micro-aggression, LGBTAIQ+ issues in counseling, and scale development.

Pete Renn

Faculty spotlight: Dr. Pete Renn

The School of Education is pleased to introduce Dr. Pete Renn, the new director of Professional Education at SPU. In this interview, Dr. Renn speaks about his personal history and interest in education, as well as the future direction of CPE.

Can you tell us about your background?
My journey begins in Seattle and includes Nebraska, Hong Kong, and Southern California before another stop in Seattle, Chicago, and a final return to Seattle. For the last nine years, I served at Concordia University Chicago as a faculty member and director of the international office. That position provided me with incredible opportunities to engage with world-renowned scholars, interact with people around the world, and admire how God works through individuals in trying circumstances. However, the Pacific Northwest is in my genes (I had a one-man parade on our Chicagoland campus to celebrate the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win), and it’s wonderful to be back in the Puget Sound.

What is your original connection to SPU?
Earning a doctoral degree was always a goal of mine and I entered SPU’s program in 2005 while serving as a principal at a local school. Thankfully, I managed to balance the coursework, a full-time job, coaching, and collaborating with my wife to raise our two boys while only experiencing a slight increase in the number of gray hairs on my head.

You have now been named director of the Center for Professional Education. Can you tell us about your vision for the work of CPE?
I am blessed to enter a situation with incredibly talented and skilled program coordinators who provide me with the freedom to explore new opportunities for CPE. The Center for Professional Education’s vision for the future includes expanding our online course offerings, cooperating with different SPU schools and departments to offer continuing education opportunities, serving as a sandbox for innovation, and developing partnerships and programs with international organizations.

That vision seems to already be in full swing — CPE has recently rolled out some new features.
In February, CPE went live with our new online registration system, which provides a user-friendly experience for students to enroll in our courses. This month, the first group of educators participating in our Teachers Teaching Teachers program will head to Haiti for an intercultural exchange and to provide professional development in four schools. This new venture with LeadaChild, a Christian organization that supports schools in 29 different countries, is a program we intend to continue in different countries on an annual basis. Finally, our new “Homeroom” podcast, available on CPE’s Facebook page, interviews scholars about their research interests and discusses the myriad of challenges facing educators.

To learn more about CPE’s offerings for educators, visit To connect with CPE and stay up-to-date on the Homeroom podcast and other educational content, follow them on Facebook and Twitter. You may also sign up to receive the CPE email newsletter.

Dr. June Hyun

Dr. Hyun's sabbatical in Korea

Associate professor and program chair of School Counseling Dr. June Hyun spent her sabbatical quarter working in Korea. Hyun delivered a lecture to a counseling graduate program at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies titled “A System Approach to Bully Prevention,” as well as a lecture titled “Promoting Changes Through Motivational Interviewing” to counseling graduate students and college counselors at Hanyang University’s Counseling Center. She also presented to Korean high school teachers and professors about flipped classroom learning and was invited to the Korean Counseling Psychology Association conference, where she networked with Korean counselors and counselor educators.

William Nagy

Drs. Nagy and Beers present research in Portugal

For the past five years, SOE faculty Dr. William Nagy and Dr. Scott Beers have participated in an interdisciplinary team of researchers for the Center for Defining and Treating Specific Learning Disabilities in Written Language, based at the University of Washington and funded by the National Institutes of Health. This work has resulted in many publications and conference presentations for Drs. Nagy and Beers, including presentations at the most recent meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, held in Portugal.

Alumni highlights

Kerianne Levinson

Alumni spotlight: Q&A with Keriann Levinson

This issue of On Point spotlights alumna Keriann Levison (’97, ’15), principal of Thoreau Elementary School in the Lake Washington School District.

Tell us about your background and how you are connected to SPU.
In 1997, I graduated from SPU with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science Education with a focus in History and Political Science and an elementary teaching endorsement. After teaching for several years in the Northshore and Lake Washington school districts and leading professional development in math curriculum and instruction, I chose to return to SPU for a master’s degree in Teacher Leadership. I expanded that to include my principal certificate and chose to pursue administration following my graduation in 2015. I completed my administrative internship in 2016 and was hired as an associate principal in the Lake Washington School District in July of that year. Soon after, I was hired as the principal of Thoreau Elementary School in the Lake Washington School District. It has been a whirlwind of a few years but both my early and recent studies at SPU prepared me well for a long and rewarding career in education.

How did your time in the Teacher Leadership program prepare you for your position as principal?
I specifically chose SPU’s Teacher Leadership program over others because of its focus on building relationships and servant leadership, as well as the deep, real-world experience that all of the professors bring to the classroom. Many programs are research- and theory-based, but those programs’ professors have often only studied educational theory instead of practicing it themselves. SPU is different in that all of the professors in the program are former administrators. I learned not only through the academic studies but through the wisdom each professor brought to the classroom. The four commitments of the SPU School of Education — service, leadership, competence, and character — fit with my own value system and beliefs about leadership. This program prepared me to be an instructional, organizational, and most of all, highly relational leader. Learning how to “take the pulse” of a building and grow a staff to be their best is never-ending work, but I feel prepared each day because of my education at SPU.

What advice would you give to educators who are thinking about becoming school administrators?
Just like teaching, this is not a job to do for any reason other than that you absolutely love it and have a deep passion and vision to help kids grow to be their very best and achieve their highest potential. In order to do that, you must engage your staff and community as partners in that work. Build your instructional and leadership skills, take advantage of opportunities to grow and lead others, and — if you choose to take the leap — be prepared to work harder than you ever have before. It isn’t an easy path to take or job to do, but it is highly rewarding. I am thankful to SPU for the great preparation and the ongoing support.

Visit our website to learn more about SPU’s educational leadership programs

Laurynn Evans

SOE alumna appointed North Kitsap superintendent

Laurynn Evans ‘97 was recently selected as superintendent of the North Kitsap School District in Washington state. Read more about her new position on Kitsap Daily News.

whitney meissner

La Conner School District selects SPU alumna as new superintendent

Whitney Meissner ‘97 was also newly selected as superintendent of the La Conner School District in Washington State. The news of her appointment was announced by the Skagit Valley Herald.

News and events

Two graduate students named 2016–17 Martinez Fellows

The School of Education is pleased to announce the 2016–17 Martinez Fellows, introduced here in their own words.

Meghan Milam

Meghan Milam

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and moved to the Pacific Northwest at the end of 2014. In the years prior to settling in Seattle, I lived in San Francisco, Brooklyn, London, and D.C., spending the most time in New York City. I am interested in equity, social justice, feminism, and re-imagining what leadership looks like. I live with my wonderful fiancé and a silly pit bull named Rook.

My pathway to education has been non-linear and exciting. Taking a luxurious five years to complete undergrad, I finally graduated at the end of 2008, a member of the Millennial generation without many options for employment. Luckily, I was driven by and committed to dance and performance, finding a community of like-minded people in Brooklyn, NY. When my educational wanderlust kicked in, I traveled to London to complete a master’s in International History. It was at this point that I began to seriously consider a career in education. With my own desire to complete a PhD not quite feeling like the right choice, I found myself applying to high school and community college level teaching positions.

Currently, I am seeking endorsements in History and English to teach in high schools in Washington state.

Linda Teng

Linda Teng

I was born and raised in Beaverton, Oregon. I graduated with honors from Westview High School in Portland. I attended Oregon State University in Corvallis. From there, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in General Science, with an interest in psychology and chemistry. For my extracurricular activities I ran on the long distance track and field and cross country teams. I also played the point-guard position for the girls’ basketball team. I ran four full marathons in Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and Las Vegas.

My husband and I moved to Seattle in 2010. We lived in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle for five years with our two mischievous cats, Java and Moo. We then settled in Bothell in July 2015. We enjoy nature, theater, music, traveling, learning to cook new recipes, watching comedy on Netflix, and community service.

I am currently volunteering as a student teacher in the Seattle/Bellevue Area. In the past I have worked as a preschool teacher with a focus on reading, phonics and mathematics. I have been volunteering for Seattle Children’s Hospital since 2012 and in the elementary classroom setting at Seattle and Bellevue Public Schools since 2015. I also have 15 years’ experience teaching toddler and kindergarten Sunday school for various local churches in the Portland and Seattle areas. I have co-led small group discussions for a high school youth ministry at a church in Seattle. I find great joy and reward in enriching the hearts and minds of children.

I am currently a second year graduate student at Seattle Pacific University. I am studying to get a Master of Arts in Teaching with Elementary Education and Middle Level Science endorsements.

Learn more about the Martinez Fellowship program.

SPU school counselors partner with local support group

Associate Professor and School Counseling Program Chair Dr. June Hyun and several SPU graduate students have partnered with Hawthorne Elementary School in the Everett, Washington school district to host community engagement meetings aimed to support diverse students and their families. Jointly, the group will help families gain information about how to support student learning, maintain involvement in their students’ education, and advocate for resources and support as their children transition to middle school and high school.

Registration open for 2017 Global Curriculum Studies Symposium

The seventh Center for Global Curriculum Studies Symposium will be held June 28–30 on the SPU campus. Visit the Symposium website to learn more about the event and review previous presentations. If you are interested in submitting a paper or attending as a guest, contact Dr. Arthur Ellis at


Like you, we believe in our mission to engage the culture and change the world, starting in the classroom. That's why SPU’s School of Education is always looking for new ways to help you connect with the future of education in our state and beyond. There’s more than one way to get involved — in fact, here are four ways to give.