On Point e-Newsletter: March 2021

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Message From the Dean: Showing Up

The year 2020 is behind us and we are now fully launched into 2021. Unfortunately, most of the challenges of 2020 remain with us. The pandemic rages on and the insurrection of Jan. 6 is a reminder that much work still needs to be done to heal our nation. We are weary, yes, but not despairing. I am sure you have heard some version of the adage attributed to Woody Allen, “Just showing up is half the battle.” If ever there was a time to show up, it is now. This raises a few questions: What does it mean to “show up”? What is the other half of the battle? What happens when you show up?

The other half of the battle is being fully present. If we show up reluctantly, or fail to engage in a meaningful way, we can’t expect much to follow. When you are fully present, you transform from spectator to active participant. You are no longer on the sidelines, watching and waiting. You are in the fray, getting your hands messy, making a difference. When you are fully present in mind and spirit, you are open to hearing God’s call. You become open to new possibilities. You are ready to pay close attention to people and their ideas, and ready to consider various perspectives outside of your own.

During this pandemic, teachers, administrators, school counselors, and others have shown up in different ways to support their students. Thank you! In this issue you will meet some of our students who keep showing up and doing what needs to be done. You will read about the work of two principals, Andre Stout and Michael Clark, both graduates of our Principal Certification program and current doctoral candidates. You will meet Brian King, a U.S. Army veteran and student in our MAT program. These are just three of the educators making a difference in students’ lives.

There is much to be done, and there is no doubt in my mind that we are up for it. From wherever we are, each of us can do our part. You have likely heard another adage that “many hands make light work.” Thank you for your continued partnership as we navigate our new reality. We remain driven by our commitment to preparing educators for service and leadership among diverse learners in schools and communities. We will continue to show up and say, “Here we are, Lord.” Show up, be fully present, and watch God work.

Blessings to you,

Nyaradzo MvududuNyaradzo Mvududu, Dean

School of Education


Michael Clark

Michael Clark, a candidate in our doctoral program, is the principal at Norman Rockwell Elementary. Rockwell is one of three schools in the Lake Washington School district working with OSPI, the University of Washington Haring Center for Inclusive Education, and the University of Minnesota TIES Center to promote inclusive practices and experiences for students receiving specially designed instruction.

Part of this effort includes a new Inclusion room, which has been serving nine students in-person throughout the school year (in two shifts). While students are working in the classroom, teachers and paraeducators are working with the learners to access their classroom meetings to coordinate learning activities that parallel the core instructional experiences of their grade-level peers. If their classmates are writing a poem in the style of William Carlos Williams or mapping out the parts of a salmon, so are they, right alongside their peers.

The entire staff has engaged in professional learning around inclusive practices and universal design for learning, led by both the administration and teacher leaders. The team has an equity focus, and most recently engaged in work centered on student-first language. The “Inclusion Help Desk” provides essential weekly question and answer sessions during which individuals and teams share resources and ask experts for guidance and recommendations on how to create access and inclusive practices related to their work with students.

Norman Rockwell Elementary is also piloting the TIES 5c planning process. This work involves bringing together general educators, special educators, administrators, and parents to review a student's learning goals and IEP, then working together to bring the plan to reality. The home/school collaboration focuses on bringing parents on as partners with the teachers in this process.

Brian King

Meet Brian King, a U.S. Army veteran currently employed as a paraeducator for the Marysville School District and enrolled in the SOE MAT program. Brian is making a difference in the lives of students by promoting a message of resilience and having a positive mindset.

Back in his early military years, Brian found himself plagued by doubt. Importantly, a fellow soldier helped Brian reflect on why he was feeling this way, at that particular moment. With his friend’s help, Brian was able to find a way forward, that day and the next. This experience ignited a new sense of resilience, and a growing understanding of the role a positive mindset can play.

Brian has brought his message to schools, giving Veterans Day presentations for three of Marysville’s high schools. Given the switch to online instruction this year due to the pandemic, Brian crafted a PowerPoint video presentation. Regardless of the format, Brian shares the benefits of maintaining a positive mindset and the significance of building resilience to become successful.

Throughout his speech Brian shares his personal experiences in the military, from basic training to the challenges he faced in overseas deployments. He explains how his self-doubt led him to think about quitting the military, but with the help of skilled leaders and strong support, he developed effective coping mechanisms to navigate challenging times. They constantly challenged Brian to think of different ways of taking control of situations, instead of giving up (which is not an option in the Army). Grateful for these experiences, Brian is paying it forward by becoming an educator in the public school system, where he utilizes his mentorship skills to support students.

Are military skills transferrable to teaching? Brian considers every soldier a teacher, and each leader a mentor. He contends that each soldier has a unique story relatable to students regarding overcoming barriers. “Everyone is fighting a war no one knows about,” he said. “I tell students that you are your biggest obstacle to your success.”

What type of change does Brian see contributing as a teacher? Brian wants to raise more voices for veterans, as they have a unique story to share. According to Brian, veterans come with a range of experiences, including a lot of travel. Most soldiers bring back with them different perspectives and ideas. Each story contains a message with the potential to reach struggling students. Brian’s final words to his students are, “The greatest tragedy one can do is fail because they convinced themselves they weren’t good enough. Sometimes all that a student might need is just that one moment of hope.”

Kim Fry

Kim Fry (Superintendent certification, 2009) was chosen for the Leadership Award for the 2019–20 school year. Kim serves as the Rochester School District superintendent. With this award, the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) acknowledges the chosen leader for their outstanding contribution to education. A graduate of the SPU superintendent certification program, Kim has served as district superintendent for the past 11 years. Way to go, Kim!

Andre Stout

Principal Andre Stout (Principal certification, 2016) and his team work hard to make a difference in students’ lives. The story about Truman Middle School and its work to become more equitable is nothing short of inspirational. (Watch it here.) Andre is a candidate in our doctoral program.

Have a professional success to share? Send it to On Point at for publication in the “Alumni and Current Students Highlights” section of our next issue.


Faculty Recognition

Dan Bishop

Dan Bishop, assistant professor and chair of MEd in Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, along with Andrew Lumpe, former SPU professor, began work last October on a $3 million Early Childhood STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Education grant. This three-year project is a collaborative effort with the University of Toledo and Georgia State University and is one of only 12 projects out of 185 funded by the National Defense Education Program.

The goal of the project is to investigate the impact of three intervention strategies upon student interest and achievement in STEM. (The strategies are inquiry-focused teacher professional development, family engagement on preschool to third-grade learning, and community outreach.) Additionally, this important work can increase our understanding of how the educational community can better serve and support our military-connected families for whom transition between schools is a common challenge.

Jennie Warmouth

Jennie Warmouth, adjunct professor in the Literacy, Language, and Equity program and second grade teacher, has designed a project in which her second graders build enrichment items for baby bears. This is a STEAM-framed task. Students will only be able to use natural resources (approved by the vets) and their designs must have functional purpose (to teach the bears something they need to know). The students are currently in the research phase of this work, learning what skills the babies need to learn prior to their spring release back into the wild. Once they construct and submit items for vet approval, they will get to watch video footage of the babies interacting with the “toys” they build.

Jennie Warmouth

This work is part of a study Jennie designed involving polar bears in the Arctic (global focus) and the human-animal conflicts that are resulting in cub orphans in our own community (local focus). There are currently three orphaned baby black bears receiving lifesaving care/rehab at the local animal shelter (PAWS) just a mile from Jenny’s school. The babies are not siblings but are in care together to learn how to be bears. The vets wear bear costumes when they enter their enclosure.

person holding globe

The Office of Global Engagement has accepted Kris Gritter, professor of curriculum and instruction, and our recent PhD graduate, Ira Rasikawati, into the COIL Fellows Program for 2020–21, furthering our efforts toward partnership with Ukrida University in Indonesia. The COIL Fellows Program at SPU provides support for faculty in creating and applying Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) modules in their existing courses. The COIL Fellows program will provide insights to faculty on designing course modules with an international partner, utilizing group work to support student learning, applying technology tools for collaboration, providing ideas for course assignments, and evaluating various methods and tools to assess your COIL course.

Book and Microphone

From our Staff

We have a staff of avid readers! They have shared some of their book and podcast recommendations for your reading/listening pleasure.

No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury
Severance by Ling Ma
Brene Brown audio books, self narrated
Where the Crawdads Sing, a really beautiful novel set in the ’60s
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Big Little Lies and all the Tana French books
Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons.
The Likeness by Tana French (audiobook) Perfect for rainy walks!
To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue

Poetry Unbound
Unruffled (Janet Lansbury)



(Jennifer Norton, Krystle Jalalian-Chursky, and Scott Beers)

Beginning in the Autumn Quarter of 2021, the School of Education will offer a new major (BA) in Early Childhood Education. This is the first new undergraduate major in the SOE in several decades, and we are excited to begin this new chapter.

Why is early childhood education important?
Early childhood education is a critical factor in helping all students have a strong start to their educational journeys. Not all young children today are well prepared for kindergarten. As of 2019 in Washington state, only 52% of students overall met the criteria for being “kindergarten ready.” However, only 35% of low-income students were considered kindergarten ready, and too few students from underrepresented groups were considered kindergarten ready (44% of Black students, 35% Latino students, 35% Native American students). Kindergarten readiness in areas like literacy and math is significantly associated with meeting third-grade learning standards.

Nationwide there is a growing awareness of the importance of early learning, and in cities like Seattle there are many initiatives focusing upon increasing access to high quality preschools. Early childhood education can help reduce inequities in kindergarten readiness and later school achievement, and we are excited to do our part by preparing highly qualified teachers for young children.

How does early childhood education align with the mission of the School of Education?
The purpose of this new major strongly aligns with the School of Education’s mission to prepare educators who are capable and committed to have a positive impact on the learning of a diverse community of learners through the integration of service, leadership, competence, and character. The School of Education has been preparing teachers for almost 100 years, with a focus on kindergarten through 12th grade. We see this new major as a natural and timely extension of what we have being doing for a century. Excellent preschools require excellent preschool teachers.

What is the general overview of the new major?
Our new bachelor of arts (BA) degree in Early Childhood Education has two different tracks — with (or without) Washington state teacher certification. With teacher certification, students will be eligible to work in Early Childhood Education Assistance programs, the Seattle Preschool Program, WA public schools (Preschool–third grade), and with an additional special education endorsement, in the P–12 public education system, all programs that yield competitive teacher salaries. This program is aligned with The Washington State Core Competencies for Early Care and Education Professionals and the Residency Certification process. The other track will lead to a BA in Early Childhood Education, but will not include certification (for those who do not intend to work in public schools, or who wish to pursue certification later). Students in both tracks will meet SPU graduation requirements (180 total college credits), including the General Education Common Curriculum (90 credits). Transfer students will work with Undergraduate Admissions on transferable credits.

What is the vision for Early Childhood Education looking forward?
We see this as the School of Education’s first step in preparing teachers for early childhood education settings. Our plan is to grow the undergraduate program, with the hopes of developing a similar program at the graduate level in upcoming years. We will be developing partnerships with different early learning organizations (starting with preschools) as we work to prepare and equip teachers who are ready to have a positive impact on the lives of young children. In our dreams, we would love to help develop a high-quality preschool/lab school that could serve the Seattle community, the SPU community, and our students at the same time.


Valerie Margrain

On Jan. 20, 2021, the School of Education hosted an EdTalks series event: An Early Childhood Education Dialogue Exploring Globalization and Interculturality. Professor Valerie Margrain shared findings from three comparative studies that support the importance of globalization and interculturality in early childhood education and research. Valerie Margrain is a professor of educational work at Karlstad University, Sweden, and adjunct professor at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. Her research has focused on early literacy, internationalization, and young gifted children. She has lived in New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden.

Our next EdTalks series event will be focused on research in ELL, second language acquisition, and applied linguistics. The presentations are designed to give a broad understanding of what is involved in working with ELL students. The event is scheduled for April 22, 2021. Keep an eye out for your invitation.

The SOE Diversity Committee (DC) will host a virtual professional development conference titled The Intersection of Anti-Racism and Trauma Informed Practices on March 20, 2021. The keynote speaker will be Kimberly White-Smith, professor and dean of the LaFetra College of Education at the University of La Verne. This conference will be an avenue for Washington educators to discuss the current needs of K–12 schools and learn ways to support K–12 students appropriately in response to the current sociopolitical climate. The keynote presentation will address eradicating the labeling of BIPOC children, and other presenters will share research and/or expertise in trauma-informed practice and cultural humility, transforming public education to close the achievement gap, disrupting racism in family engagement and social-emotional learning, and many other critical topics. Register at

The English Learners Workshop is a program-wide project in the SOE to better support emerging bilingual students. The project includes a series of professional development workshops for faculty on the latest research and standards for supporting the success of our growing population of English learners and emerging bilingual students. The workshops encourage thinking equitably about language acquisition and how language development must be supported in all disciplines.


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 that should be featured in the next issue? Please contact On Point at