Message From the Dean: Stepping Up
What a year we are having! We have had to remain on our toes to respond and adapt to a constantly changing environment. As always, our topmost priorities as we navigate these turbulent times are the safety and success of our students.
We successfully and smoothly transitioned to remote teaching and learning. I cannot overstate the grace, care, and thoughtfulness with which the School of Education team has risen to the occasion. They have worked long and hard, and sat through countless meetings with external agencies and other colleagues to ensure that every step taken and each decision made has prioritized students’ interests.
The K–12 school closures and move to remote learning threw a wrench in our students’ internships. Our own move to virtual learning required students to pivot without much warning. The team did not miss a beat. As one student said of Dr. Antilla’s class, “… it is one of the most powerful and important learning experiences I've ever had. That you can facilitate genuine engagement through remote learning is amazing to me and I've started keeping notes of your teacher moves so I can try to emulate them with my own students next fall.”
In addition to responding to the pandemic, we keep on keeping on. For example:
- This year the SOE had the highest-ever number of applicants to the Martinez Fellowship for Teachers of Color, a program of the Technology Access Foundation (TAF). The TAF's Martinez Fellowship program focuses on recruitment and retention of teachers of color in public schools. Fellows speak of the power of being able to share with other teachers of color, who often feel isolated and invisible. We usually have two to four fellows. This year we have our biggest cohort, with six students, and next year we will have nine fellows.
- As of 2020–21, the School of Education will offer seven different ways for students to earn their teaching certification and master’s degree. Our flexible program offerings and ability to work with students who are already employed by districts is becoming a distinctive for SPU, and is one way that we are working to recruit and train more teachers of color. Incidentally, this is our 100th year of preparing teachers.
- Dr. Kris Gritter, chair of the MEd Literacy, Language & Equity program, started a National Book Club for Kids with some colleagues around the country. It is a virtual book club that was designed to keep 4th through 6th graders engaged in reading. Over 250 kids participated. The standard structure was that an author discussed his/her book and the kids broke out into chat rooms to discuss text-to-self connections they made with the book that week. The focus on being resilient in hard times was very fitting. Many of the facilitators came from SPU. Several well-known and talented authors donated their time: Cece Bell (El Deafo), Meg Medina (Merci Suárez Changes Gears), John David Anderson (Ms. Bixby’s Last Day), Ruth Vander Zee (Next Year: Hope in the Dust), Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia), Kelly Yang (Front Desk), Gene Luen Yang (Superman Smashes the Klan), Alan Gratz (Refugee), Gordon Korman (Ungifted). The teamwork of authors and facilitators says a lot about Dr. Gritter’s leadership and ability to bring people together for a common cause.
You see, in some ways this challenging time has also been a time to shine.
It has indeed been a hard year. In addition to the challenges of the COVID crisis, we have seen a growing number of protests here in the US and in other parts of the world. These are painful reminders of the racial injustices that People of Color, particularly Black people, face daily. We are not immune to these. In addition to dealing with our own pain and anger, we need to be present for our students. This is a big issue with no easy solutions, and we can feel inadequate to the task of dismantling entrenched systems. And yet step up we must.
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him” (1 Samuel 17:32). The whole army was terrified and in hiding, and it’s likely that, if David had not stepped up, the situation would have remained like that. I believe progress in addressing racial injustice has remained stagnant because many have remained in hiding and terrified. Getting up and stepping out may look risky, impossible, and scary, but we know God is on our side. We in the SOE are committed to getting out of hiding and stepping up in practical ways. We will continue to provide opportunities to learn and grow and, most importantly, translate that learning to action. We have to do our part. We cannot simply wait for someone else to do the work. We are David.
Blessings to you,
Nyaradzo Mvududu, Dean
School of Education
ALUMNI & CURRENT STUDENTS HIGHLIGHTS
Dr. Jon Holmen ’16 has been named superintendent of the Lake Washington School District, where he previously served as deputy superintendent. Read more here.
Nicholas Economou ’20 found a creative way to keep his physical education students moving at home during school closures. Watch him lead a 10-minute workout dressed as Batman here.
Our department is always thrilled to hear how our teacher candidates contribute to their mentors’ classrooms during internships, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our placement office received the following from Sarah Major, the mentor teacher for Michael Hill ’20, as her classroom made the transition to online learning:
“Mike has really done so much assisting me with tech stuff and issues I wouldn’t know what to do!!! He has done some research with district tech help to keep up this fast pace while I handled the required daily emails to families. He converted some documents on One Note for ELL students (5 languages in one class — Russian, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Spanish) so that we can be equitable to all students… So a bunch of WOW’s for Mike! Also a great opportunity for interns to learn how to teach online as I’m in that same boat too! Who knew that in my 33rd year of teaching that I would be in this position? Thanks, Mike!”
Have a professional success to share? Send it to On Point editor Sophia Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org for publication in the “Alumni Highlights” section of our next issue.
SPU CELEBRATES SCHOOL OF EDUCATION FACULTY & STAFF
The end of the school year is a time to celebrate accomplishments — from our graduates to our own faculty and staff. While this year’s celebrations were entirely virtual, Seattle Pacific University honored three of our colleagues:
Graduate-Selected Faculty of the Year
Excellence in Teaching Award
Staff Member of the Month, May 2020
Congratulations Emily, Krystle, and Kristi! The School of Education is grateful for your work.
TEN THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE LEARNING ONLINE
1. You are part of a community
Although you won’t meet face-to-face as you may have done typically, you’re very much a part of the SPU community. You will be supported, challenged, and connected to your fellow students and to SPU faculty. View the flexibility of the learning format as an opportunity to expand your interests, explore, and see what else is out there.
2. Leverage available support
To reiterate, your courses may be online, but we are still a community of learners. You will have plenty of support from your instructor and your classmates, as well as SPU’s Computer and Information Systems (CIS) and Educational Technology and Media (ETM). They are there to support you so you can get the most out of your learning experience. Do not hesitate to reach out to any of them.
3. This is not independent study
We are here to help you to succeed, and we want to help you start or continue your program with the right approach. So let us clear up a misconception right away. It’s important to remember that online learning is not the same as independent study. You may not be together physically but your lessons will involve interactions with instructors and with other students.
4. Collaboration is your friend
You’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with your instructors and other students in real time throughout the course, as well as in other virtual spaces which we’ve set up to foster connections and community.
5. Plan carefully
The courses are structured to promote your success, so although you will be given some flexibility, you cannot take a course entirely at your own pace. Prepare to pay close attention to the course schedule and stay on track with assignments. For instance, it would be imprudent to wait until week 5 to catch up on all the work of the previous weeks.
6. Have a specified structure
Just as you would plan for a more traditional on-campus program, you will need to set aside time in your schedule to complete weekly tasks and assignments and meet due dates. Each course will typically require some level of synchronous participation, so you’ll interact with your cohort and instructor in real time.
7. Same expectations and rigor
Overall, keep in mind that the expectations for academic performance are the same for online courses as they are for on-campus classes. Although the delivery method is different, the courses are just as rigorous. We have the same expectations and provide the same level of support, and we know you’ll achieve the same outcome!
8. Stay connected
One key to success is staying connected. Please take advantage of the various ways to connect with instructors and classmates. A big part of learning happens during social interactions. Avoid isolation and don’t limit yourself to “gatherings” initiated by the instructor. Feel free to initiate your own.
9. Ask questions
Just as is the case in the physical classroom, feel free to ask questions. Questions can be about the course content or about some technical aspect arising from the class format. Assume others have the same question. It is likely that you are not the only one who doesn’t understand something in the class. Your classmates will thank you for it.
10. Minimize distractions
It is very easy to get distracted when you are online. Plan for your class and put aside other devices that may be a distraction, and close other windows on your computer. You might be tempted to just quickly check out an email, or respond to that social media post. “Multitasking” will compromise your learning more than you might think. Turn off notifications and monotask when studying online.
FACULTY Q&A WITH CHER EDWARDS
Online education is more relevant than ever today, and the School of Education is working to prepare candidates for teaching, and even counseling, online. Cher Edwards, professor of counselor education, is pioneering a new program through our Continuing Professional Education office for students to gain experience in online counseling. The program, titled MCOC, will launch later this year. Read more in our conversation with Cher below.
What is MCOC? What is the goal of this program?
MCOC is an acronym for Micro-Credential in Online Counseling. The goal of this credential is to provide training and identifiable expertise for individuals in the counseling profession to provide counseling interventions via online platforms as an alternative to face-to-face support.
How did you get interested in this topic?
I have been passionate about cultural competency and social justice issues in the counseling profession since the onset of my career as a counselor. Over the years, it has been evident that brick and mortar K–12 educational settings are not a place where all students can thrive, for a variety of reasons. Some students have children that they need to care for — their own or younger siblings. Other students have experienced significant bullying, others are experiencing medical interventions that make it difficult or socially uncomfortable to attend a traditional school, others are expected (and needed) to work outside the home, and related issues.
Public and private K–12 schools are increasingly prevalent and have attended well to the academic needs of these, and other, students. However, social emotional support for online students is often absent. Given the research regarding the importance of social emotional learning and academic/post-secondary success, it seems problematic that this type of intervention is overlooked. It may be argued that students who are already being served in the online K–12 system are particularly well-positioned and in need of this support, while at the same time they are the very group least expected to receive it. I see this as a social justice issue and one that is addressable through the training of school and community counselors to provide culturally relevant counseling services to online students.
Most school counseling programs do not include specific training relevant to how to translate face-to-face interventions to an online setting. Running a small social skills, career exploration, or grief group will look differently via an online video platform versus having all students or clients together in one room. Assessing for at-risk behavior, including but not limited to suicide prevention, requires a unique skill set from that taught to emerging professional counselors in their graduate training.
That being said, our current state of K–12 education and the closures of brick and mortar K–12 schools has additionally fueled my passion for this topic as thousands of school counselors across the country have found themselves in a position requiring that they attempt to care for their students in an online format without the support of the school building and the professionals within it. Domestic violence and child abuse cases are on the rise, while at the same time many families struggle to maintain housing and sufficient food. Students and clients who have historically benefited from the services and wraparound support that schools provide are now isolated. Students who have struggled with minor depression and anxiety are experiencing debilitative and dangerous mental health issues. Counselors are not prepared to attend to these issues quite simply, because it is not within their scope of practice. They have not been trained, nor have they had the opportunity to practice under supervision, this new service delivery model.
Who is the target population for this micro-credential?
This program was developed to provide additional training to practicing school and community counselors throughout the country. As the program is launched, the focus will be on Washington state school counselors with an ESA in school counseling. However, the intention is to expand geographically and with regards to counseling specialization.
What would you say are some benefits of pursuing this micro-credential?
At the risk of aggrandizing, I will say the major benefit is saving lives. If students’ and clients’ needs are exacerbated by the current state of K–12 education and/or those students typically served by online K–12 institutions already represent a population that would benefit from additional support, AND these higher-risk groups are now being served by counselors who are not trained to provide online services, it is expected that individuals will be significantly underserved. Additional benefits include increased professional opportunities, advanced training, and additional skill development. For some, it may allow them to use their counseling skills professionally when life circumstances prevent or dissuade them from working outside the home.
What can those participating in the program expect?
The program includes four courses totaling nine credits at a reduced tuition rate through the School of Education Center for Professional Education. The first six credits will consist of three courses focusing on skill development related to online counseling practice, including individual and group counseling interventions, community support, collaboration, and ethical practices. These courses will be offered during the summer and can be completed in one term. The final three credits include an opportunity to practice online counseling under the supervision of experienced online counseling practitioners. This will include a 50-hour practicum arranged during the typical school year and will allow the MCOC candidate to apply the skills and techniques learned in the didactic courses previously experienced. Upon completion, graduate students will obtain a transcript of their additional graduate credits (which may also be beneficial in the school system) and evidence of the attainment of the Micro-Credential in Online Counseling.
I am very excited about this opportunity as there is a clear, current need as well as systemic and ongoing benefits for groups historically underserved. Counselors are often called upon to care for significantly challenging populations and this program will provide support for those doing so in online forums.
FACULTY AND STAFF HIGHLIGHTS
SPU Hosts Virtual Symposium
This summer the Center for Global Curriculum Studies hosted our first virtual symposium, focusing on Reflections and Forecasts on Educational Change as a Result of the Covid-19 Virus Epidemic of 2020. About 19 countries around the world were represented. The format was different from our previous on-campus meetings, but the time was just as rich. The connections and learning were as fulfilling as in previous years, and the professional growth just as meaningful. Special shout out to Liz Ebersole, Dr. David Wicks, and Dr. Jeremy Delamarter, under the leadership of Dr. Art Ellis. Way to go!
SOE Contributes to International Project for Children, Youth, and Their Families
The Corona Multimedia Showcase has been a great success. This is an international celebration of creativity in the time of a pandemic, coronashowcase.org, initiated by Action for Media Education, a US-based nonprofit organization, and supported nationally and internationally. School of Education adjunct instructor Tatyana Tsyrlina-Spady is serving as one of the coordinators.
The project was created in full accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and provided a platform for children and youth, ages 3 to 19, and their immediate and extended families to create and display media projects in a variety of formats that reflect their lives in this time of COVID-19. The showcase with every digitally published submission will be open in October on the project website. This is indeed a festival of creativity and child’s wisdom in various native languages!
New Issue of Curriculum in Context Out Now
The latest issue of the Washington State ASCD award-winning e-journal Curriculum in Context launched this past June. Co-edited by the School of Education’s own Jill Heiney-Smith, Emily Huff, and Peter Renn, the Spring/Summer 2020 issue is titled “The 21st Century is Now!” and focuses on innovation in the Washington education system. The issue features an article from Renn on teacher self-care, and an article including 25 strategies for engaging adult learners in remote formats on both Google and Microsoft platforms. Says Heiney-Smith, “You might find some cool ideas for summer courses or Zoom meetings!” The e-journal has also put out a call for articles for the next issue, titled “Learning and Leading for Equity During Times of Change.” Submissions are due by December 1, 2020. Read the new issue plus learn more about submission guidelines for the journal here.
Adjunct Instructor Jennie Warmouth Gives Lightning Talk at Seattle Aquarium
You may remember Jennie Warmouth, an adjunct instructor in the School of Education’s Literacy, Language, and Equity program, from her and her second-grade students’ philanthropic work with a local animal shelter in last month’s issue. This past May, Warmouth was featured as one of seven virtual lightning talks at the Seattle Aquarium with her presentation, “Get the Spork Out of My Ocean: Translating Global Conservation into Local Action for Kids.” According to Kristine Gritter, chair of the Literacy, Language, and Equity program, “Dr. Warmouth uses literacy tools to challenge her students to research how sporks can end up in the Arctic where no humans live. She received a National Geographic fellowship to travel to the Arctic last summer.” You can watch Warmouth give her talk here.
SOE WELCOMES NEW STAFF MEMBERS
Shana Hainzinger joins us from working in public schools as a classroom teacher for the past four years. She brings background knowledge of the K–12 school setting and firsthand experience in a graduate teaching certification program. As the new field placement and professional partnerships assistant, Shana will support mentor teachers and field supervisors, collect data for state reporting, and support the field placement team with the internship placement process. Shana is passionate about serving children, and prior to entering the field of teaching she worked on a marketing team at the child-focused nonprofit World Vision. During her time at World Vision she had the opportunity to conceptualize and design graphics for corporate and major donor fundraising campaigns. A common thread throughout all of Shana’s professional experience is the desire to serve in mission-driven spaces. She attended Seattle Pacific University as an undergraduate and is thrilled to be returning to this Christ-centered community that had such a big impact on her faith development and career trajectory. Shana met her husband, Nate, through a classmate and friend while attending SPU. Now her friend is her sister-in-law! Shana and Nate welcomed their baby boy, Holden, into their family this past fall. When she’s not working or soaking up baby cuddles, Shana enjoys taking long walks with her family, reading, design, and spending time in God’s creation.
Sophia Ross joined the School of Education in January of 2019 as the field placement and professional partnerships assistant, and this spring stepped into the position of field placement coordinator. Her primary role is placing undergraduate and ARC teacher candidates in their internships across Washington state. She will also be supporting the certification office in certifying students in the SOE’s growing online and in-person graduate teacher education programs. Sophia grew up in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and earned her bachelor of arts in writing and English literature at Houghton College in New York. In her spare time, Sophia reads and writes fiction, and was most recently a semifinalist in Ruminate’s 2020 short fiction contest. She also brings her writing and editing skills to the role of editor for On Point. This is her third year in Seattle, where she lives with her husband, Thomas, a software engineer and watercolor artist, and their one-year-old corgi, Winona.
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.
Do you have news or know of any faculty, staff, or alumni who could be featured in the next issue? Contact On Point editor Sophia Ross at email@example.com.