On Point e-Newsletter: Spring 2018

Elementary students in a classroom

Final Reflections: “One size fits all” no longer applies in teacher education

After nine years as dean of Seattle Pacific's School of Education, I will be stepping down at the end of this school year and returning to the graduate faculty in the fall. As is typical for such transitions, I have reflected on the trends and changes that we have made as a department during this period. Among other things, SOE has added two new master’s level programs, an MEd in Teacher Leadership and an MEd in Digital Education Leadership. We’ve revamped our doctoral studies to include a PhD in Teacher Education and a PhD in Counselor Education, in addition to an EdD in Educational Leadership. We’ve obtained national accreditation (CACREP) for our excellent school counseling program. Over the course of this period, we have maintained strong enrollment in all of our programs and we continue to train outstanding teachers, counselors, and school administrators.

Of particular note are the significant changes which have occurred in teacher education. During the last 10 years, the need for excellent teachers has shifted from a surplus of educators in most areas to a shortage of them in all areas. The surplus affected teachers in all fields, except for special education and STEM.

However, due to retirements and changing demographics, many school districts are struggling to fill teacher vacancies across the board. SOE has responded to these changes by increasing its capacity and the number of different pathways into the profession.

When I first arrived as a faculty member in 2001, the central pathway to becoming a teacher at SPU was through our undergraduate program, with a handful of students completing initial certification as post-baccalaureate students or through the fledgling graduate teacher education program (MAT). Today, while the number of students completing teacher licensure as undergraduates has remained relatively stable, the number completing initial teacher licensure at the graduate level has grown exponentially and now outnumbers undergraduate completion four-to-one. Graduate pathways include a traditional two-year MAT program and various one-year Alternative Route to Certification (ARC) programs, which include a program designed for current school employees (most are para-professional), as well as an online program. SOE has received more than $500,000 in grants from the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB), which provides financial support for students in one of our ARC programs.

As a result of these changes, SOE continues to prepare a large number of teachers who are well-equipped to make a difference in the lives of learners, families, and communities.

Rick Eigenbrood Rick Eigenbrood, Dean
School of Education

Faculty highlights

SOE welcomes new faculty members

Four new faculty members have joined SOE for the 2017–18 school year.

Lara Cole

Lara Cole

Clinical Instructor, School of Education
BA, Central Washington University (1992); MA, Central Washington University; PhD, Seattle Pacific University

Lara's service in school settings spans a variety of age groups, populations, and administrative roles, each of which has helped prepare her for doctoral level studies and her position at SPU. Lara's teaching experience includes elementary and alternative high school students, while her administrative background includes positions such as intervention specialist, assistant principal, and executive director of student services. The choice to maintain experiences in both general and special education has served Lara well, enabling her to maintain a focus on improved instruction and learning for all students.

Lara is excited to be part of SPU's community and looks forward to working with faculty and learning from others. Although Lara embraces the Catholic tradition, she draws inspiration from the ecumenical spirit of SPU. She attends St. Aidan's parish in her community and relies upon aspects of Ignatian spirituality to guide her in decision-making and seeing God's presence in the world. Lara loves to read and is familiar with writings from a variety of Christian authors at SPU. These heroes and saints energize Lara and her students in their service.

Lara is also a doctoral student and looks forward to graduating in June. Her daughter, Danika, is graduating from high school with an AA degree (through Running Start) and will attend SPU this fall. Depending on how the dissertation process goes, both Lara and Danika might be students at SPU at the same time!

Lara Cole and her daughter

“This picture was taken at one of the prospective student orientation sessions. Danika decided she wanted to come to SPU right after the session. We bought the sweatshirt and she took this selfie in front of one of the big trees at Tiffany Loop. This was a great day for us. Danika will benefit from the ecumenical, rigorous academic culture, just as I have.”

Jennifer Norton

Jennifer Norton

Teacher Education Instructor, School of Education

BA, University of Washington (1999); MEd, University of Washington (2003); post-master’s program administrative certification, Seattle University (2007); PhD, Seattle Pacific University

Jennifer joined the School of Education in Autumn 2017 after two years of adjunct work in SPU’s teacher certification program. She is currently teaching EDU 2100 Foundational Issues in Education, as well as special education courses.

Prior to moving to higher education, Jennifer enjoyed her work in the K–12 system as a school psychologist, followed by six years as the executive director of special programs for the Snohomish School District. This work fueled her interest in understanding issues of equity in education and her drive to contribute to the preparation of teachers and principals in their work with marginalized populations. Her research examines the role of the principal in leading effective special education programs.

Jennifer lives in Woodinville with Tom, her husband of 33 years. They feel very fortunate to live close to their two grown children and their families. The majority of their free time is spent with their two grandchildren, Henry and Georgie.

Alumni highlights

Nicole O’Brien

SPU alumna appointed principal in Renton

Nicole O’Brien is a Wisconsin native who started her career in education in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After earning her teaching certificate, she migrated to the Pacific Northwest and taught at the elementary level in Enumclaw for 12 years before becoming assistant principal in the Renton School District, while developing a passion for education. O’Brien started classes at SPU because she was inspired by her principal, also an SPU graduate. She is a mother of two and a passionate educator.

Her current role as principal of Kennydale Elementary School inspires her because it opens her eyes to the possibilities inherent not only in her young students, whose minds are pushed toward daily growth, but also in her own staff. She says, “I see my role as not only the lead teacher of the building but also as the one who gets to corral all of the light that hundreds of people bring into the building each day.”

The challenges of education aren’t going anywhere but O’Brien believes you must be willing to confront and use times of great demand to your advantage. Obstacles can become opportunities, she believes. And though her plate is full, O’Brien is inspired every day by her role. “When I see teachers who are satisfied with their work and feel empowered, I am fed.”

Learn more about SPU’s educational leadership programs.

Deborah Rumbaugh

Q&A with Dr. Deborah Rumbaugh

SPU alumna Deborah Rumbaugh’s devotion to public service is inspired by a vibrant family life. Dr. Rumbaugh currently serves as instructional leadership executive director for Highline Public Schools, having finished a term there as the executive director of human resources. She earned her professional administrator and superintendent certificates, as well as her EdD, in SPU’s executive leadership program.

Rumbaugh says she is driven by an ambition to “serve and achieve, to lead and learn, to empathize and care,” which underscores the vision she has of her own success as seen through the accomplishments and triumphs of her students. This vision, she believes, outweighs any personal goals. And student success, Rumbaugh says, “is anchored to high quality education.” Rumbaugh wants to support students and communities with the goal that no children should be without confidence and belief in their own success. This is vital. But she admits it’s a challenge, and she understands that an educator must be selfless, vigilant, and generous with guidance and support.

“I learned to engage often and deeply with students and families, support teachers in holding high expectations for students, and build school-wide structures to meet this expectation,” she says. Rumbaugh understands this challenge firsthand, being a mother of nine. Education is a core value of her personal life. Her husband is also an educator and the goals they share shape their lives as teachers and as parents.

How did your path at SPU bring you to your current position with the Highline School District?
I was fortunate to collaborate with colleagues while in the doctoral program at SPU that opened an opportunity for me in Highline. Since that time, it has been difficult for me to envision working anywhere else. The networking and professional relationships that I developed at SPU have continued to this day and will always be a source of support, inspiration, and connection. SPU’s doctoral program is designed to support the development of professional connections during the program and beyond.

You previously worked as a principal of Pacific Middle School and assistant principal of Kentwood High School. How would you compare the experiences, and how did each change your perspective?
The transition from assistant principal to principal was made successful by the support I received while in the Kent School District. My principal at the time had high expectations for me, as did the Kent School District. These expectations were partnered with mentoring and opportunities to lead and learn. In the Kent School District, I learned the fundamentals of school leadership. I was afforded the opportunity to engage in many facets of building-based leadership from the technical to the adaptive. I learned to engage often and deeply with students and families, support teachers in holding high expectations for students, and build school-wide structures to meet this expectation. I learned my own areas of strength and was challenged to be aware of my areas of growth.

Likewise, Highline Public Schools has high expectations for its leaders. Our charge is to ensure “every student in Highline is known by name, strength, and need, and graduates prepared for the future they choose.” This promise for our students is core to not only the work I do in Highline, but serves as a moral guide as we serve our students and community more broadly. Highline has afforded me the opportunity to more deeply understand district leadership. My superintendent has permitted me the opportunity to grow professionally and to continuously consider how my leadership impacts the learning for each student. My impact on student learning has shifted as I have taken on new roles and responsibilities in Highline, but what has remained constant is the obligation to ensure each student experiences a rigorous education free from bias and rich in opportunity.

What is the most important part of your current role?
The most important part of my current role is the work I do to support outcomes for students by helping principals advance teacher practice and instructional quality in their schools. As principals increase the instructional leadership capacity in themselves, they can, in turn, lead teachers to use the most effective practices in the classroom. Additionally, my role keeps me connected with the work done “on the ground” in schools. I am inspired by the power of young people as I walk the halls of a school, observe teacher practices, and engage with students.

Julieta Altamirano

Alumni spotlight: Julieta Altamirano

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby is becoming a remarkable figure in the educational community. Committed to serving others, the responsibility she feels for her work strikes many who have been fortunate enough to work alongside her.

Born in Mexico, Altamirano-Crosby received her bachelor’s degree at the Autonomous University of Guerrero-Mexico in Chilpancingo. With her sights on Cuba and the expansion of her scholastic palette, Altamirano-Crosby earned her master’s at the Complutense University of Madrid in Madrid, Spain, and her PhD from the University of Havana in Havana, Cuba, before coming to SPU and throwing herself once more into her studies.

“Not very many people who have a PhD come back to get a master’s to expand their expertise and knowledge regarding public schools’ leadership in the United States,” a colleague was quick to say when asked what they thought of Altamirano-Crosby’s work ethic. Altamirano-Crosby will complete that second master’s degree from SPU this year.

Over years of struggle, she has much to be thankful for. She is confident that everything that has come to her has arrived with the grace of the Lord. Altamirano-Crosby’s faith was vital throughout her youth. “I never lost hope. I always knew it was something that would be there for me. God was always there to give me the answers I needed and help me through the challenging periods of my life.” Her beliefs propelled her forward. “When you feel tired and frustrated with all of the barriers in life, you come back to the Word of God. I know his Word put me in the place to be able to help students and communicate with them.”

Altamirano-Crosby also believes being bilingual makes it easier for her to relate to her students, especially the ones who share her cultural background. “Being immigrants, we identify with each other immediately. Because we’ve all passed through similar barriers, we connect and we are able to share things we wouldn’t have been able to share otherwise. It feels like we’re related to each other. We’re one culture because we’ve had to work so hard to get to where we are.”

As determined as Altamirano-Crosby is, she also speaks of the struggles of assimilation. “In the beginning,” she says, “coming here was hard. Language was a barrier.” But she used her growing vocabulary and her empathy for the struggles of others to guide her. “I try to walk in another person’s shoes in my community. That makes me feel human. It makes me feel vulnerable. So I commit myself and I don’t forget my roots.”

SPU has been her beacon. “This university is so different,” Altamirano-Crosby says, looking around as she stands near the garden in front of the School of Education. The sun is peeking through a layer of clouds, fighting valiantly just like she has, to break through and brighten all that it touches. Having studied in many places and many countries, Altamirano-Crosby says, “I cannot feel that sense of connection from anywhere else.” She identifies herself as a part of SPU, “because SPU is everything for me — it’s home.”

Altamirano-Crosby was recently recognized by SPIRIT 105.3 as an “unsung hero.” She is also the president of WAGRO, a non-profit organization that recognizes the overwhelming need to combat school dropout rates in the local Latino and Hispanic communities. Altamirano-Crosby was also recently awarded the Snohomish County Human Rights Award for 2017.

News and Events

Chaeweon Seo

Graduate student named 2017–18 Martinez Fellow

The School of Education is pleased to announce the 2017–18 Martinez Fellow, Chaeweon Seo. Born in Yeosu, South Korea, Seo has lived in Seattle since the age of five, and attended SPU as an undergraduate biology student.

Currently, Seo is in the master’s of teaching math and science (MTMS) degree program, with hopes of teaching high school biology. Though she plans to work with older students, Seo has experience teaching English to elementary school students in Honduras and Guatemala through Youth With A Mission (YWAM). “I was able to reflect on my faith,” she says of the experience, “and it gave me a chance to meet people from all over the world. I gained deeper insight and heard many perspectives on different topics.”

In the MTMS program, Seo continues to follow her lifelong dream of becoming an effective educator, building meaningful connections with her students. But this dream might not have materialized had it not been for the encouragement of a supportive high school math teacher who challenged and believed in her. “I consider her my role model,” says Seo.

The Martinez Fellows program is funded by Holli and Edgar Martinez and managed by the Technology Access Foundation, in an effort to support teachers of color through graduate-level scholarships, early career coaching, and ongoing professional development. Of becoming a Fellow, Seo says, “It has been an amazing organization to be a part of. It is empowering to be surrounded by teachers of color who are dedicated to giving the best possible education to students. I am a part of Cohort 9 and I have had the chance to attend seminars covering a diverse range of topics from teacher activism to student empowerment. The annual retreat that was held at Islandwood provided me with the opportunity to reflect on my own philosophy as a teacher and challenged me to be a better educator for all the students I will teach. I am grateful that I am a part of this organization and especially for all the incredible people I have met through it. There is something so powerful about having other teachers of color who can relate to the successes and struggles I have.”

Learn more about the Martinez Fellows program.

Updated ELL endorsement program

Beginning Spring 2018, SPU’s Center for Professional Education (CPE) will offer updated English Language Learners and Bilingual Education endorsement programs to educators.

In December of 2017, The School of Teaching ESL (S-TESL), a long-time SPU partner, closed its doors after 30 years of exceptional instruction and training. Throughout Winter Quarter, S-TESL instructors have worked with SPU to transition and update the ELL Endorsement coursework so that SPU can continue offering this high-quality program to Washington educators. Starting spring 2018, S-TESL’s ELL Endorsement program coursework will be offered through Seattle Pacific University’s Center for Professional Education. SPU has had the unique opportunity to partner with S-TESL for the last four years, and we are honored to carry on this legacy of work.

Recent ELL Endorsement candidate Rebecca Nord shared her experience with the ELL coursework: “Not only do I feel very prepared to go out and teach in a variety of settings, I also have a great beginning network of colleagues. The support of all the personnel at S-TESL is also great. They are not just pushing people through a program but are really there to support you and the field of ESL, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Highly recommended.”

In addition to several endorsement programs, CPE offers more than 150 continuing education courses for educators that are accessible both on campus and online. You can read about upcoming professional opportunities in the current issue of the CPE newsletterVisit the CPE website to browse course offerings and sign up for the quarterly newsletter.

SOE receives $280,000 Alternate Route Block Grant

David Denton, Kirsten Koetje, Jill Heiney-Smith, Lara Cole
Left to right: David Denton, Kirsten Koetje, Jill Heiney-Smith, and Lara Cole

The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) awarded SPU’s School of Education another round of Alternative Route Block Grants (ARBG) for two more cohorts of school employees who desire to earn teacher residency certification. Only nine teacher preparation grant applications were selected from 19 submitted throughout the state. The 2018–20 grant team included Dr. David Denton, assistant professor; Kirsten Koetje, Alternative Routes to Certification for School Employees (ARCSE) coordinator; Jill Heiney-Smith, director of field placements; and Lara Cole, teacher education instructor.

The award of $280,000 is candidate-centric and will help fund SPU’s ARCSE program for the next two years. SPU is eligible for $140,000 for each of two cohorts (2018–19 and 2019–20) with a total of 10 candidates in each cohort. Partners from the field in this grant effort include Northwest ESD 189, Puget Sound ESD, Tacoma Public Schools, and Capital Region ESD 113. Partners commit to helping SPU recruit and develop their current employees into certificated teaching roles. The ARCSE program promotes a “grow your own” model of teacher recruitment. In addition, it prioritizes shortage areas of certification such as special education, science, math, and elementary education in rural areas. Other priorities for the ARCSE program include diversifying the teacher workforce and counting prior life experience and learning toward certification competencies and requirements.

The ARCSE program is currently in its second year at SPU, though it closely aligns with other alternative route programs offered by the SOE. ARCSE is an online program that leads to residency teacher certification for current school employees via Route 2 (typically para-educators) and Route 4 (limited certificate teachers). The program runs four quarters from summer to spring. Selected ARCSE grant recipients can receive $11,000–$13,500 towards their program costs while overlapping their employment with their student teaching internship. The program requires that candidates already have a four-year degree. 

Recruitment occurs with schools and administrators in the field who identify local talent that they want to support towards certificated roles. Along with recruitment, educational partners are exploring ways to support the teacher development aspects of the program, such as identifying qualified mentors for internships and offering coursework for certification requirements. One successful course already established is Puget Sound ESD’s offering of a workshop series, entitled Beyond Compliance, which offers live trainings to special educators on the process of individualized education plans (IEPs).

For more information, or to refer a potential ARCSE candidate, contact Kirsten Koetje, ARCSE coordinator. ARCSE offers a unique program that substantially lowers the cost to certification while allowing candidates to retain school employment.

International conference at SPU, August 22–25

The conference on Education for Excellence, Diversity, and Respect, to be held on SPU's campus in August 2018, is initiated, cosponsored, and organized by the School of Education together with the Korczak Association of the USA. SPU President Dan Martin is a co-chair of the Conference Honorary Committee. Tatyana Tsyrlina-Spady, organizing committee member and SOE adjunct professor, provides the following information about this upcoming event.

For the first time ever in the United States, the legacy of Janusz Korczak (1878–1942), a pediatrician, educator, writer, and fighter for the rights of the child, will be fully explored during an international gathering of educators, academics, school counselors, school principals, and advocates for children’s rights.

The conference pursues the following goals:

  • To share innovative ideas and projects that allow advocating students’ social and academic success in diverse communities
  • To stimulate a creative atmosphere of trust and respect for learning and to brainstorm different innovative ideas, strategies, and interventions
  • To present research-based, practice-oriented, and service-oriented projects from different countries and consider their possible implementation in the United States

America needs Korczak’s ideas and inspiration more than ever in our current political climate of rapidly increasing authoritarianism, and American educators are in constant search for solutions to improve the social-emotional situation in our national schools. Together with the above goals, the conference will also promote peace and awareness of Korczak’s legacy as a historic figure, an author of the first Declaration of Children’s Rights, and an international champion for these rights. Faced with current challenges in the U.S. and, in particular, the growing lack of appreciation for diversity, we need to educate people who are fearful of those they do not understand, and share the symbolism of Korczak advocating peace and respect for the sake of all the children of today and tomorrow.

Conference flyer

Download the Conference flyer

The organizing committee has been working hard to develop a plan of numerous creative activities to make our conference uniquely relevant for practitioners from different helping professions, but mainly for those working with children. We are committed to provide conference participants with multiple experiences of using these ideas in their institutions and settings. This will be done during hands-on workshops on topics, including, but not limited to, creating physically and emotionally safe schools, organizing children’s courts and composing children’s laws of justice, increasing participation in students’ self-management school structures, eliminating bullying and cyberbullying, provoking students’ kindness and respect for diversity, organizing school theatres, and maintaining classroom management based on trust and respect of children’s rights.

In general, we are targeting national and international Korczakians, local and national higher education faculty and K–12 educators, and children’s advocates. We expect the attendance of at least 150 people, including local teachers and members of more than 15 Korczak associations from around the world. Representatives from nine countries are already registered, and their number is growing daily.

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to present your own work and meet with amazing educators, and other professionals from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, to name just a few countries that will be represented.

Visit the website to learn more, register, and prepare your submission. Interested in volunteering during the event? Please contact us!

Falconettes Club

SPU’s Falconettes and the School of Education

Many SOE alumnae may remember their days with the Falconettes Club at SPU. Falconettes is the oldest club on campus, having been active since the 1930s. This service club, historically comprised of women developing their leadership competencies and skills in supporting other women, now has a direct link within the SOE. Our assistant professor of educational leadership, Dr. Julie Antilla, has accepted the role of faculty advisor for the Falconettes. With her experience in, and passion for, missions and community involvement, Dr. Antilla fits in well with the ethos of the Falconettes.

Julie Antilla

Dr. Antilla appreciates the extensive involvement of alumnae in guiding and sustaining the Falconettes through the years. She would love to connect with past or present Falconettes who are affiliated with the SOE. Please feel free to stop by her office in Peterson 408 or send her an email 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!