On Point e-Newsletter: Winter Quarter 2019

Message from the Dean: “The only constant is change”

Quite often when I run into alumni or other friends of the SOE, they ask if so-and-so is still there. And who is now doing such-and-such. We have decided to add a section that gets you up close and personal with the wonderful staff and faculty of the SOE. We are calling it “Q&A with ...”

What questions would you ask if you were conducting the interview? Please feel free to contact us with those questions! In this issue of On Point you will get to know one member of our team.

We have also added a section that offers tips about our various areas of interest. You will find these in our resource center.

On another note, they say “the only constant is change” and I suppose they are right. For this edition I would like to focus on three people, Drs. Ellis, Nagy, and Prenevost, who have been a blessing to SPU and the SOE in particular for many years. They are moving on to new chapters in their life journey. They have been a large part of who we are as a school, and I know I speak for all of us when I say they will be deeply missed.

William Nagy

After 23 years at SPU, Dr. Bill Nagy will be retiring from his role as professor of education. Dr. Nagy is an internationally renowned expert in the area of vocabulary acquisition and instruction. He has been recognized by his guild as an outstanding scholar, culminating in his induction into the Reading Hall of Fame. He was also named 2015 Notable Vocabulary Researcher by the Vocabulary SIG (special interest group) of the American Educational Research Association. Bill is an exceptional instructor, advisor, and mentor to both faculty and graduate students in the School of Education. In all his dealings, Bill has modeled Christian virtues unswervingly — especially humility, generosity, kindness, and respect for all. Many of us view him as a spiritual advisor.

Arthur K. Ellis

Dr. Arthur Ellis has served the School of Education for the past 33 years. He retires from SPU at the end of the current academic year. Dr. Ellis is one of the architects of our first doctoral program. He also created the Center for Global Curriculum Studies in the School of Education, partnering with academic institutions around the world and providing cross-cultural opportunities for students and faculty. Art has published extensively in the area of curriculum and instruction. His books have been translated into Russian, Chinese, and Korean, reaching audiences beyond the English-speaking world.

William Prenevost

Dr. Bill Prenevost has been in education for 50 years and is retiring after 13 years of service to the School of Education. Having served in a variety of roles (superintendent, assistant superintendent of instructional services, high school and junior high school principal, and assistant principal/athletic director) in the K–12 world, Dr. Prenevost has “been there, done that.” The SOE in general and Educational Leadership Program in particular benefited from the educational experience he brought to us. Dr. Prenevost is deeply engaged in school leadership and heavily involved in executive leadership organizations and associations across the state.

They also say “once a Falcon, always a Falcon,” so Art, Bill, and Bill, you may be moving on to other things but we are not completely letting go of you! We recognize that you will continue to make valuable contributions to the SOE, and that makes the parting more sweet than bitter.

As always, we would love to hear from our readers on how we can make this newsletter meaningful to you.

Blessings to you.

Nyaradzo MvududuNyaradzo Mvududu, Dean
School of Education

Faculty & Staff highlights

Sophia Ross

SOE welcomes new staff member

Sophia Ross

Sophia Ross is the new Field Placement and Professional Partnership assistant. Her responsibilities include supporting mentor teachers and field supervisors, assisting the placement coordinator and director during the internship placement process for undergraduate and graduate teaching candidates, and overseeing several on-campus events, including the annual Education Job Fair. A graduate of Houghton College, Sophia spent the last two years at Image journal as their director of marketing. In her spare time, Sophia reads and writes fiction, and was most recently shortlisted for Room’s annual fiction prize. She lives in Wallingford with her husband, Thomas Eckert.

Save the date

In collaboration with the Office of Enrollment Management & Marketing, we will be restarting the School of Education luncheons to stay connected with the larger education community. We have our introduction banquet scheduled for April 27 at noon in Upper Gwinn. Stay tuned for more details!

Emily Huff

Q&A SOE faculty: Emily Huff

What is your new position and how has your experience at SOE changed?

I am the new director of the Field Placement office here in the SOE. Since jumping into this role in July 2018, I have learned so much that happens behind the scenes to make the magic happen for students in their internship experiences. I am grateful to be a part of a wonderful team and am honored to work here at SPU as I grow into this leadership role.

What is one project you are currently working on that you are excited for others to know about?

I am facilitating a group for white faculty and staff committed to undoing racism as we work together to grow in understanding our roles both in perpetuating systemic racism and in dismantling it.

We have read Lee Mun Wah’s book called Let’s Get Real, listened to the Scene On Radio’s “Seeing White” series, and we are currently reading Robin DiAngelo’s new book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.

What makes you excited to come to work every day?

I read something this past summer that has really helped me frame my work here at SPU. I learned something about Bach that may be common knowledge to some but that was new for me. Apparently, he wrote the letters “J.J.” standing for Jesu Juva, which means “Jesus, help,” at the beginning of all of his compositions, and at the end of them all, he wrote “S.D.G.”(Soli Deo Gloria), which means “To God alone be the glory.” These serve as bookends to me when I come to work and when I leave each day, and it is reminiscent of the passage in The Message from Romans 12:1 that says, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering."

What is one thing that alumni should know about your current work/upcoming events/program?

We are currently planning our 16th year of bringing students from the greater Seattle area to our campus for a field trip. This year, our Kinder to College event will be on March 5, 2019, with 90 students from Tukwila Elementary School as our guests. We are excited as two of the kindergarten teachers are recent SPU graduates from the School of Education, and it will be such a treat for them to show their kindergarten students the place that shaped them to be such excellent teachers and leaders at their school.

SOE’s personal and professional commitment to anti-racism

SPU Staff at the Jane Elliott lecture

During fall quarter 2018, as part of SOE’s personal and professional commitment to anti-racism, staff attended a lecture from Jane Elliott, the former American school teacher and anti-racism activist. She is internationally known for her “Blue eyes – Brown eyes” exercise, which she first conducted in her classroom in Iowa, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The Eye of the Storm is a short documentary showcasing Elliott’s classroom exercise in dividing an otherwise homogenous group of elementary-age kids by their eye color. The PBS documentary is staggering and a helpful tool for educators as they practice anti-racist teaching within their classrooms. Teachers around the world continue to implement Elliott’s exercise as a way to teach children about the impacts of discrimination.

Ten things you should know about ... statistics in social sciences

In every upcoming issue of SOE’s On Point e-newsletter, we would like to share interesting facts that you can use in your work and classroom. In this newsletter, our dean, Dr. Nyaradzo Mvududu, offers 10 things that you should know about statistics.

By Dr. Nyaradzo Mvududu

  1. There is nothing magical about alpha level 0.05. Although this is the generally accepted significance level in testing hypothesis, there is really nothing magical about that value. The point is to evaluate the strength of the evidence provided by the data to determine the likelihood of an outcome given a stated assumption.
  2. We don’t know anything for certain. Related to the above point, we are simply evaluating evidence and based on that drawing some conclusions. Because we don’t have perfect information, we can never be certain or prove anything from a hypothesis test.
  3. Context matters. Data are numbers with a context. You always have to keep the context in the forefront in interpreting finds from data.
  4. Random does not mean haphazard or chaotic. This is an example about how the same words we use in everyday speech take on a different, very specific meaning in statistics. And by the way, a sample selected so that each unit in the population has an equal chance of being in the sample is not necessarily a simple random sample.
  5. Good data matters. You cannot get reliable results from bad data no matter how fancy your statistical procedures may be.
  6. Statistical significance is not the same as practical significance. Just because a finding is statistically significant it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s important. Statistical significance simply means you have ruled out chance as a plausible explanation for the results.
  7. Variability is natural. Enough said.
  8. More than a mean. The mean is not the only way to measure an average or what is typical. Remember the median and the mode.
  9. At some level, we are all statisticians.
  10. And all together now: Correlation is not causation.

Alumni highlights

Jim Dunnigan

Jim Dunnigan promoted to program director at Seattle University

SPU alumnus Jim Dunnigan, EdD in Education ’18, was recently promoted to program director for the Master in Teaching program at Seattle University. Jim has been a member of the faculty at SU for six years. His new responsibilities include collaborating on the development of new courses and curriculum focused on culturally responsive teaching, coaching students during their internships, and recruiting new students. Jim has also been selected to represent the College of Education on the Provost’s Innovation Committee.

His doctoral thesis researched the measurement of self-regulated learning with community college students in online mathematics courses. Jim is interested in exploring how his research may be extended to help inform the City of Seattle’s “Promise Program,” which provides free community college tuition for certain Seattle high schools. As more students take online math courses, the ability to self-regulate may play a critical role in their success in college.

Jim represents his college in the Washington Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (WACTE). Jim states: “My educational experience in the doctoral program at SPU was instrumental in the advancement of my career and extremely applicable in my current responsibilities as program director.”

Scott Mauk

Spotlight: Alumnus Scott Mauk

Scott Mauk has over 25 years of experience in education, spanning four decades. He brings passion to learning communities and a deep commitment to equity and inclusion to his leadership. Along with a BS in anthropology from Santa Clara University and a master’s in teaching degree from the Evergreen State College, he has obtained his doctorate from Seattle Pacific University, and is currently in the Executive Leadership program with Superintendent Certification at SPU. While being enrolled in the Executive Leadership program, Scott is also the principal of Edmonds Heights K–12 in the Edmonds School District.

In addition to holding multiple positions in public education and in the community, he has received many awards for his scholarship, teaching, and leadership. Awards received include the 2003 Mentorship Award from South Whidbey Schools Foundation, and the 2006 WALA Educator of the Year Award (Washington Association for Learning Alternatives). He is also the current president of WALA.

Scott Mauk and young students

Scott gravitates back to SPU to be part of a learning community that stretches educators, and to live with the compassion and moral purpose of doing what Thomas Berry calls “The Great Work.” Scott has felt respected and pushed in his thinking with the colleagues he has worked with, and the professors with whom he has had longtime relationships. Scott feels prepared by doing research and leading a building with confidence, and is now leading a district with skill and compassion.

In Scott’s own words: “I believe the purpose of education is human happiness and fulfillment. I want to continue to work with organizational complexity and challenge, and apply my adaptive leadership skills and my vast knowledge and experience in public schools with children and adults.”

Michael Nelson selected as 2019 Washington Superintendent of the Year

On November 16, 2018, at the WASA Superintendent Component meeting, the announcement was made that Michael Nelson, SPU alumnus, is Washington’s 2019 Superintendent of the Year. Nelson is now a candidate for the AASA National Superintendent of the Year. The national award will be announced during the 2019 AASA National Conference on Education scheduled for February 14–16 in Los Angeles.

Upon learning of this award, Superintendent Nelson stated: “It is pure joy to serve as superintendent in the cities of Enumclaw, Black Diamond, and many unincorporated communities that represent the 4,000 students in the Enumclaw School District. The honor of being named 2019 Washington State Superintendent of the Year represents a collective, collaborative, and united effort by so many and demonstrates the value for public education championed by our entire school district community! I am deeply grateful and honored.”

News & Events

10th Biennial Symposium: Educational Innovations in Countries Around the World

June 25-27, 2019, are the dates of our 10th Biennial Symposium: Educational Innovations in Countries Around the World. The symposium is sponsored by the School of Education, the Center for Global Curriculum Studies, and the Henry Jackson School of International Studies of the University of Washington.

Participants from more than a dozen countries will gather to share perspectives on trends and research in education from preschool through higher education levels. In addition to presenting ideas for the improvement of teaching and learning, we strive to create a true community of friends who want the best for coming generations.

Once again, we will team with the journal, International Dialogues on Education, to publish selected papers from the conference proceedings. If you wish to know more about the symposium, contact Dr. Ellis or our program manager, Stephanie Tichelaar. More information can also be found here.

Guatemala opportunity for SOE alumni

SPU’s Center for Professional Education invites SOE alumni to travel to Guatemala this summer! Teachers and school counselors can earn credits while exploring Antigua and Nebaj, Guatemala – July 18-29, 2019. In partnership with the Center for Global Curriculum Studies and the Nicolás Fund for Education, participants will spend 10 days collaborating with international educators, teaching in local schools, and facilitating professional development workshops. To read more about this opportunity, visit the program page. Application and deposit due March 4, 2019.

Cancer and Counseling event

The school counseling department and Chi Sigma Iota/Sigma Phi Upsilon, SPU’s chapter of the international counseling honor society, organized a Cancer and Counseling event in November: How to support students and their families in a K–12 setting.

SPU’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota/Sigma Phi Upsilon hosts a panel: How to support students and their families in a K-12 setting

An amazing panel of parents, school counselors, and psychologists and social workers from Seattle Children’s participated.

Many educators experience students and/or their families with cancer or terminal illness but don’t always have the resources to adequately support them. This event was a great opportunity to raise awareness, gain information and resources, and network. As school counseling graduate Kate Oliver stated: “It was really beneficial to hear from all kinds of educational stakeholders regarding students and families dealing with cancer. I came away with a lot of practical knowledge that I can use in the field.”

Interested in more future events organized by CSI/SPU? Follow their page on Facebook!

Family Engagement Resource Fair

SPU Teacher Education is hosting the first annual Family Engagement Resource Fair on Wednesday, May 15. This event has grown from our effort to center families and communities as critical partners in every student’s success in P–12 schools.

All teacher education students take an internship seminar course in the spring of their final year. For the past several years, instructors of these courses have collaborated to host panels and discussions on this topic, and students complete a Family Engagement Plan during the course. These panels have aimed to bring the parent and community voice to our students during their preparation as teachers. Parents share their hopes and dreams for their kids, stories of their experiences in schools, and possible barriers that teachers might not think about. 

The Family Engagement Fair will further develop this learning by bringing community-based organizations who support families to campus, allowing for teacher candidates to collect resources and make connections. Our online students will participate through a “Zoom Room,” where attendees can engage with online students through a synchronous online platform. We will invite families to come and share their stories in break-out rooms, allowing for more intimate discussion with students.  

If you are an alumnus/a, educator, or community member who works with an organization or family member that would like to attend this event, contact Jill Heiney-Smith at

Child Development and Parenting Autism 200 Series

SOE faculty Krystle Jalalian-Chursky and her Severe Disabilities class went to a lecture held by Seattle Children’s Hospital: Child Development and Parenting Autism 200 series. On October 18, they attended Autism 209: Let’s Talk About AAC and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

SOE faculty Krystle Jalalian-Chursky and her Severe Disabilities class at a lecture held by Seattle Children’s Hospital: Child Development and Parenting Autism 200 series

Many children with ASD face challenges communicating. Luckily, communication is more than the words we speak. The goal of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) is to provide alternatives to talking out loud or provide tools to verbal communication to help a child find the power of their voice. This presentation focused on current trends in AAC technology as well as tools, goals, and teaching techniques that are available for different types of communicators.


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. And there’s more than one way you can get involved. In fact, here are four ways to give.

On Point

Do you have news or know of any faculty, staff, or alumni that should be featured in the next issue? Contact On Point editor Stephanie Tichelaar at