On Point e-Newsletter: Fall 2020

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Message From the Dean: Are we there yet?

Road Image

Do you remember those long family road trips? I loved those trips when I was a kid. My mom would lay out blankets in the back of the station wagon to make a comfortable nap area so we could get some sleep if we needed it (this was before seatbelt laws!). At lay-byes (rest stops in the U.S.), we would enjoy the meals my mom would pack, and even though they were similar to what she made at home, it always tasted better on the road. We had lively sing-alongs and family road games (“I spy . . .”), and when we got tired of the games (and each other) we took naps. I also remember that we counted the windmills we saw in the fields along the way. I’m not sure why — there was no goal or contest to win. The point is the journey “there” was just as much fun as reaching the destination. I guess it depends on what you do along the way.

Are we there yet? No, we are not because we continue to deal with the effects of a pandemic, racial tension, fires, and so on. Things changed so much since last winter, and they have continued to change with breathtaking rapidity, making it difficult just to keep up. In the midst of all this change and uncertainty our goal remains to provide for our students in a way that leads to a quality education for them. We do not overlook the fact that the frantic pace of disrupting changes can take an emotional toll on all of us, leading to anger, fear, sadness, and worry. However, we rest in the knowledge that the God in the light is the same God in the dark.

With that assurance, we move forward in hope, and by focusing on what we have to offer we can bring hope to others. For example, through our Center for Professional Education (CPE) we are offering a self-paced course to help K–12 teachers prepare for online teaching. Educators enrolled in the course are introduced to various teaching tips and strategies to consider when preparing for online instruction. Furthermore, we have launched our Micro-Credential in Online Counseling (MCOC). 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.

In this issue you will read about some of the accomplishments of our faculty, our staff, and our students in the last few months. This is just a sampling; there are many additional accomplishments that are not included. I am proud of the work the faculty and staff continue to do to care for our students and the creative ways in which they are navigating the current landscape. I am grateful for the ways they take care of each other. I am encouraged by the contributions our students are making in K–12 schools to alleviate some of the challenges of online teaching. I am cognizant of the toll the current environment is taking on all of us.

When you are waiting for something to happen and it seems to be taking forever, it can make you feel physically and emotionally ill. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). In this yearning, the heart and body can feel so burdened that you feel sick. This is because you are not in control of the outcome no matter how much you push for it. When you come to that place where you know that there is nothing you can do to quicken the process, all you can do is wait, and this waiting can weigh you down. Yet in hope we wait for the answer to come. May God refresh you and give you peace during this period of waiting. May God’s presence be so evident that even as you wait your strength may be renewed and your spirit lifted up.

Are we there yet? No, but we are here now, and we can be very intentional about creating a new normal that continues to bring to the world our best selves. I know you are doing the same where you are. Please share your stories with us and let us know how we can make this newsletter more meaningful to you.

Blessings to you,

Nyaradzo MvududuNyaradzo Mvududu, Dean

School of Education


Adam Swinyard

Adam Swinyard, EdD, was named the new superintendent of the Spokane School District (SPS) in the summer of 2020. He previously served in the same district as associate superintendent for teaching and learning services. Dr. Swinyard first joined the SPS as an assistant principal at Garry Middle School in 2009. After serving as assistant principal in the Cheney School District for two years, he returned to SPS in 2013 as principal of Sacajawea Middle School. His next role was director of secondary schools before becoming associate superintendent in 2017.

He received a BA from Northwest University, and his MEd and EdD in Executive Leadership from Seattle Pacific University. The focus of his scholarly work has been educational leadership and organizational learning in complex systems.

Alice Lau, one of our doctoral students and graduate assistants, recently published an article about InsertLearning, a technology tool that allows teachers to transform web pages into instructional content and interactive learning activities. You can find her article in the WAESOL Educator (by Washington Association for the Education of Speakers of Other Languages (p. 43/50) here:

Shannon Thissen, another doctoral student, had her first Washington state publication on Guidance on Teaching Computer Science in Washington State K–12 Public Schools. Karen Hickenbottom, also a doctoral student, was an integral part of the team putting the publication together. Contact Shannon ( if you are interested in accessing her publication.

Ryan Holmes is an intern at Meadowdale Elementary School with veteran teacher Rani Kettel serving as his mentor. They have had 100% attendance since school started in the fall, and they present lessons together over Zoom from the classroom at Meadowdale. Ryan shared his mentor’s observation that this year it seems that parent engagement is at its highest while student engagement is at its lowest as they are trying to reach them through the screen. They have said that their biggest challenges are getting students to keep their cameras on and stay on task in group breakout rooms amid technical glitches and language barriers. While many students are seemingly thriving in this online environment (completing all work and actively engaging in live meetings), many are disconnected and not overly responsive, with missing work piling up behind them. (They are working to alleviate this stressor for many by closing older assignments on their Learning Management Systems.) This challenging time is not without smiles and positivity though. Their highlights so far this year include warm openings to the day and engaging games (like I Spy) to start the morning meeting as students enter Zoom. They often have intensive support students and other special needs students coming in to join the fun! They have also discovered the magic of independent work time in individual breakout rooms. They are able to connect with students on a deeper level, work to minimize the inevitable distractions of the main room and help students better understand their assignments as they can share their screen and ask questions. Ryan shared that he is absolutely enjoying his internship experience and is hopeful for a chance at in-person learning later this year.

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


SOE welcomes new faculty and staff members


Jordan Shannon joins us as an assistant professor of counselor education. He serves as a full-time faculty member in the School Counseling program. Jordan comes to SPU at the end of his doctoral program in counseling and counselor education at Syracuse University. During the past three years, he has served as a university supervisor and instructor of graduate counseling coursework. He has taught and supervised masters level students in both school and clinical mental health counseling programs. He has also served as an academic support counselor in the School of Information (iSchool) Studies at Syracuse University, where he worked with students at risk for academic probation and remediation.

In his doctoral studies in counselor education, Jordan has focused on understanding how mental health stigma affects the help-seeking behaviors of Black males. His interests are to understand how much stigma negatively influences one’s desire to seek counseling. Additionally, he has explored whether one’s understanding of mental health could positively influence help-seeking behavior. His goal is to ultimately design programs to help destigmatize counseling and improve help-seeking behaviors of Black males.

In his teaching, Jordan believes in tapping into all motivational and aspirational goals of students. Through individual and collaborative efforts, he intentionally designs spaces so students can feel a sense of belonging in the school counseling profession and greater educational field at large. He cites positive mentorship as a critical piece to his desire to be in the professoriate.

He recently moved to Seattle from New York with his wife. They enjoy hiking, football, traveling, and all kinds of cuisine.

Morgan Amelia

Amelia Morgan is the new certification specialist for Graduate Teacher Education. Her role includes helping aspiring teachers earn their state certification. Prior to her role as the certification specialist, Amelia worked at SPU for three years in Student Academic Services and in the Alumni Office. Amelia is passionate about helping students find their best paths in life and helping them achieve their goals. Amelia graduated from SPU with a bachelor’s in English in June 2020. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Amelia moved to Seattle in 2017. She is an avid reader and likes to hike.

Emily and Husband

Emily Nelson-Lewis is the new budget assistant. Her responsibilities include coordinating and creating instructor contracts, managing payroll, and creating budget analysis, reconciliation, and summary reports. Prior to her role at SPU, Emily was the program director for an organization called Brehm Cascadia, which hosts residency programs and live conferences for the Seattle arts and faith community. Her involvement in the nonprofit sector began after a move to Seattle to begin a degree in music education in 2011. Emily is set to earn a graduate degree through the MBA program at SPU.

Emily and her husband are both passionate about pouring into the intersections of faith and social justice work in the Seattle community. One of her favorite hobbies includes her role as the Seattle chapter head of an organization called Make America Dinner Again, where participants from opposite sides of the political spectrum come together to share a meal and an intentional time of guided conversation. Other hobbies include dinner parties, thrifting, cooking, making music with friends, and visual arts. Emily is a self-proclaimed foodie. Along with her husband, she has kept a digital list of all their favorite restaurants in Seattle over the past nine years, and “loves sharing it with anyone who is interested!”

Jenn Brown

We welcome Jenn Brown as she begins serving as CPE’s new program manager. Jenn has been at SPU for over five years, previously working in the Faculty Life Office, helping the faculty at SPU with professional development and grants. Jenn holds a master’s degree in leadership and student development from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in higher education administration with a focus in leadership from Liberty University, entering her dissertation phase in the new year. Jenn recently got married and enjoys spending time with her husband, traveling, and enjoying new adventures. She is also an avid runner and loves to find new coffee shops. We are very excited to have her join the SOE community.

Omar Michel

Omar Harb Michel is the new graduate program specialist for the SOE. His responsibilities include welcoming students to the SOE and supporting them through to graduation. Omar’s duties will include updating and tracking records and assisting with registration, while offering logistical support for events and processes. Omar is not unfamiliar with higher education. Prior to his role at SPU, he worked as an international student advisor at Western Washington University, and prior to that worked as the resident director at Santa Clara University and Xavier University. Omar earned a degree in political science and Spanish from Seattle University in 2008. Further, Omar has earned a MEd in education administration and an MA in social justice and community development.

Omar grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was born in Mexico. As a Mexican Lebanese-American, one of his favorite pastimes is eating delicious foods and enjoying traditions with his family. Omar is an adventurer at heart. Since graduation he has lived in Spain, New York City, Chicago, Cincinnati, and most recently Santa Clara, Calif. His hobbies include hiking, playing basketball, road trips, and teasing/making fun of his two brothers.

Kirsten Koetje

Kirsten Koetje is not new to us — she has been working in the SOE since 2016 — and she is starting in a new role with us! She is the new assistant director for our Graduate Teacher Education program. Kirsten’s previous knowledge and experience as the Alternative Routes to Certification coordinator and strong commitment to our graduate students makes her a great fit for this role.

Faculty Scholarship

Our faculty have continued to engage in scholarly work. Congratulations to the following School of Education faculty members on the following recent publications of their various works:

Munyi Shea (associate professor of counselor education), an author of the Asian American Psychological Association Bullying Awareness Campaign, collaborated with Division 45 of the American Psychological Association Anti-Asian Discrimination Task Force to publish a set of public service announcements, including infographics and short films, for APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans) coping with Covid-19-related discrimination. Asian Americans continue to be blamed for Covid-19 pandemic, and a July 2020 report from the Pew Research Center found that Asian and Black Americans are more likely than other groups to report negative experiences because of their race or ethnicity since the coronavirus outbreak.

The full set of infographics (available in Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Bengali, Urdu, and Hindi) and the accompanying short videos are available on the Division 45 website. Dr. Shea is featured in the “Use Your WITS” video.

Munyi Shea (associate professor of counselor education), David Wicks (associate professor of digital education leadership), Elizabeth Ebersole (doctoral candidate), and Ira Rasikawati (recent graduate of our PhD program, faculty at Krida Wacana Christian University, Indonesia) presented a talk titled “Identifying Promising Practices in Remote/Online Learning During and Following the COVID-19 Pandemic” at the AAC&U (Association of American Colleges & Universities) 2020 Virtual Conference on Global Learning. Identifying what instructors have been doing to help students continue to learn and even achieve desired learning outcomes in a virtual environment is critical and can have major implications for future remote/online instructional designs and pedagogies. If you are interested in their preliminary findings, contact Elizabeth at

June Hyun (associate professor of counselor education) recently published a book chapter on selective mutism. This is a great contribution to the field of school counseling. The citation for the book chapter is here: Hyun, J. H., & Gonzalez, T. (2020). Selective mutism. In A. Shillingford-Butler & T. Gonzalez (Eds). Demystifying the DSM for School Counselors (pp. 221–232).

A paper Jordan Shannon (assistant professor of counselor education) co-authored was accepted for publication. Malott, K. M., Paone, T. R., Barr, J., & Shannon, J. (In press). From Awareness to Commitment and Action: A longitudinal Study of a Race-Based Counseling Course. Journal of Multicultural Counseling & Development.

David Denton (associate professor of teacher education) and Art Ellis (professor emeritus) published their article titled “The effects of reflection on seventh grade social studies student learning and perception,” in the journal Educational Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03055698.2020.1835616.

Staff Recognition

Sophia Ross

The SPU Staff Council has selected Sophia Ross as Staff of the Month for November. Sophia is so deserving of this honor! She is effective, conscientious and collaborative and brings a great spirit to her work in teacher education. There is so much behind the scenes work that she does with such care and grace as she supports our students, supervisors, and placement team. Well done, Sophia!

Charting new territory: Telepresence robots

Robots simulating a classroom

One of the goals of the Digital Education Leadership program is to “live life in beta” by having students experiment with new technologies and provide input of how these technologies might be used in the classroom.

During Autumn Quarter 2020, Drs. David Wicks and Les Foltos, along with second-year digital education leadership students, are exploring an alternative to Zoom for synchronous learning by using telepresence robots for class meetings. A telepresence robot is a remotely controlled device with wheels, a screen, and video camera. Think of an iPad on wheels. Students are able to log into a robot and participate in the same physical classroom.

The original plan before COVID-19 was to have some students attend class in person while others attended as robots. The in-person students would have been paired up with robots to provide assistance where needed. The goal was to explore perceived social presence and student agency when students attend class as robots. Instead, all students are coming to class as robots! Initial challenges include experiencing a lack of peripheral vision, and trouble judging distances and distinguishing voices. Benefits include being able to zoom in and take an up-close picture of something in the room and experimenting with an emerging technology. During class, students frequently share about a new feature they have discovered or a new challenge they are encountering. Digital Education Leadership students are definitely living “life in beta” during Autumn Quarter!

Ten ways to practice anti-racism: Pete Renn

Pete Renn
  1. Don't be afraid to confront racial inequity. Start by asking, "How is racism operating here?"
  2. Understand and identify the various themes of microaggressions. Derald Wing Sue’s work is a great resource.
  3. Practice microresistance by avoiding silence and practice Ganote, Cheung, & Souza’s (2016) Open the Front Door technique:
    1. Observe. Describe what you are seeing.
    2. Think. State what you think about it.
    3. Feel. Express your feelings about the situation.
    4. Desire. Assert what you would like to happen.
  4. Prepare for, and welcome, difficult conversations. Normalize difficulty in the classroom by creating “brave spaces” and allow students to interrogate how racism impacts their lives and society.
  5. Emphasize listening to multiple perspectives and voices of marginalized people. Collect oral histories tied to racial issues.
  6. Examine local residential patterns in relation to historical and contemporary forces. Study maps based on census data to understand patterns of white flight.
  7. Connect students’ experiences to the realities of injustice. Identify and critically reflect on racial segregation within the school and community.
  8. Solicit both cognitive and emotional responses to primary sources. Assign art projects, poetry, short documentaries, and traditional academic essays tied to those sources.
  9. Avoid what Gorski (2018) refers to as “pacing for privilege” in professional development activities to accommodate the feelings and fears of white educators. Refocus the conversation on meeting the needs and advancing equity for students of color.
  10. White educators need to go beyond being an ally and, as Bettina Love describes, serve as a co-conspirator to make lasting change.

Admittedly, I was hesitant to create a list because of the scope and complexities of anti-racist work, so please use this list as a jumping off point for future research. If you are interested in additional resources or want to learn more about this work, please feel free to contact me at

Q & A With Jenn Brown

We sat down with new CPE program manager, Jenn Brown, to learn more about the Center for Professional Education.

Jenn Brown

Can you provide some background on the role of CPE?

The Center for Professional Education serves current educators seeking to expand their knowledge and depth as a professional. We offer many different courses, ranging from in-person classes to book studies, allowing you as an educator to learn about topics of interest and gain Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for your professional development. We also work with educators looking to add an endorsement to their credentials, such as ELL, Special Education, and Library Media. Our mission is to come alongside you in your professional development and help you reach the goals you have as an educator.

As the new program manager, what is your vision for CPE in the coming years?

In the coming years, my vision for the Center for Professional Education is to expand our course offerings and endorsements to meet the needs of today’s educators and students. With how quickly our world has changed in the last year, it is evident that we as professionals need to be willing to adjust our practices while also embracing changes and challenges in the classroom. It is important for CPE to offer courses to enhance professional development and meet the needs of educators, to expand course offerings to allow educators to navigate current challenges in the classroom, and to prepare them for the future of education.

How has CPE modified its program during the pandemic shutdown?

As the shutdown brought challenges to many professions, CPE also faced the need to adjust and modify. Many of our in-person summer institute courses were adjusted to online courses, utilizing both synchronous and asynchronous models. Our partners and CPE staff have been working hard to adjust courses to a model that works for our current online learning needs, seeking to continue to provide educators with quality courses while maintaining the health and safety of everyone. Within our add-on endorsement programs, we are working with educators and supervisors on ways to do field work experiences remotely. We continue to offer distance learning courses, many of which are self-paced and explore many different subject areas. Though we miss the ability to meet and connect in person, we know that this is a season in which we will continue to grow and find innovative ways to continue providing professional education opportunities.

Has CPE developed new courses or programs to assist teachers with remote learning?

CPE has worked with partners and SPU faculty to develop courses to help educators with online and remote learning. For example, EDCT 5800 provides a foundation for online teaching and learning, allowing educators to increase their comfort level with teaching and learning in an online environment. EDTE 5919 provides educators with the skills for effective online teaching, including types of online teaching, concepts and structures of effective lesson creation and online instruction, and how to create and facilitate online communities. EDCT 5803 shares meaningful and effective distance learning, exploring how to adjust to a virtual environment and support students. Visit to explore these and other courses available to assist with remote learning.

If teachers are interested in a course or endorsement program, how should they contact CPE?

If you are interested in a course or endorsement program, I highly encourage you visit our website at Here you will find all our course offerings and endorsement programs. You can also email us at with any questions you have. We are here to help you in any way and look forward to coming alongside you in your continued professional development.


“What’s on your mind?” Conversation with the Dean

We will be introducing a monthly forum titled “What’s on your mind?” for the SOE community to have ongoing conversations about topics that matter to us. These forums will be a place for us to explore big and small topics together. We will discuss topics and issues that impact us as educators, as students, and as citizens and community members (for example, confronting racism, equity and student success, the digital divide, navigating different programs). At our initial gathering we will generate a list of topics to be included in these conversations. It is an opportunity to have healthy conversations and grow together.

Since Time Immemorial

On October 26, several SOE faculty members joined educational leadership students in Dr. Julie Antilla’s Culturally Sustaining Practices course to learn about Since Time Immemorial. Since Time Immemorial is the Washington state tribal history and culture curriculum used to support the teaching of tribal sovereignty, tribal history, and contemporary tribal affairs for students in grades K–12. This two-hour workshop was presented by state leaders from the Office of Native Education (ONE), which is a part of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education (OSPI).


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