On Point e-Newsletter: Autumn Quarter 2019

Message From the Dean: Walking the Talk

As we begin this year, I want us to refocus on doing what we say we are about. “The School of Education aims to positively influence the region, the nation, and the world …"

Picture concentric circles where the inner circle is the School of Education (SOE), and the outer circle is the world. As we build on previous work, let us strive to engage with the greater education community in more viable, creative ways. Those in the SOE have heard me talk about partnering and collaborating with fellow educators to positively impact K–12 learning, and this piece serves as an update, as well as an invitation.

“The School of Education values the richness that diversity brings to the learning community at SPU …” and to that end we should focus on the “inner circle” with a goal of deepening our commitment to creating an environment where every single person who walks through our door can thrive. As an SOE community we have started creating a plan to facilitate the necessary cultural shift in our understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In keeping with the goal to be “… fully engaged in the community at the local, regional, national, and international levels,” we have built structure for SOE faculty to have a systematic and supported extended opportunity to engage in schools. This externship opportunity allows faculty to stay current with challenges faced by practitioners in the field, thus closing the loop so we can incorporate what we learn into how we train. This is part of our ongoing effort to remain relevant and effective.


The School of Education was also very pleased to co-host an event with the Washington State Association of Supervision, Curriculum, and Design called “Ensuring Equity and Access to Complex Tasks and Rigorous Learning,” with Dr. Norm Webb. SPU faculty joined participants for a “Lunch and Learn” as an opportunity for mutually beneficial conversations about equity, teaching, and learning. This conversation was an important start to understanding the link between access and opportunity gaps.

Shea Wicks

Going beyond our local community, we have made significant strides in building international partnerships. In July, Drs. Shea and Wicks, associate professors in the School of Education, developed and facilitated multiple teacher development workshops for over 300 teachers in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Jakarta on student-centered learning, digital education, action research, work-life balance, and subjective well-being. Learn more here.

Shia Wicks 2

I continue to be humbled by the incredible team we have in the SOE and the wonderfully talented individuals I get to work with. Speaking of incredible talent, I want to extend a warm welcome to our new On Point editor, Sophia Ross. Sophia serves as the field placement and professional partnership assistant. She also happens to have extensive editorial experience working on e-newsletters, and we are excited to be beneficiaries of this experience as she takes on this new responsibility.

I am excited to see what this year brings as we continue walking the talk and striving to be Micah 6:8 people more and more. What does it look like when we are seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God?

As always, we love hearing from you. Make sure to reach out to Sophia with any items you would like included in the newsletter.

Blessings to you,

Nyaradzo MvududuNyaradzo Mvududu, Dean

School of Education


SOE Welcomes New Staff Members


Boma Andrew-Jaja is the new certification specialist for administrator and ESA programs. Her responsibilities include developing and maintaining systems to support certification programs, as well as applying policies, procedures and requirements for administrators and ESA certification. She works with administrator and ESA students from application to completion of their certificates and/or degrees.

Prior to moving to Seattle, Boma worked in the oil and gas industry for several years, then decided to steer her career in a different direction. She graduated from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, with a master’s degree in international community development, where she focused on the importance and advantages of supporting low-income parents in order to prevent possible negative impacts on their children/wards. She is passionate about global education for all children, especially those from underserved communities.

Boma has lived in Seattle for a little over two years. She loves to travel around the world. Her hobbies include swimming, reading, dancing salsa, playing tennis, and sailing competitively (when weather permits).

Mayra Villalobos

Mayra Villalobos is the SOE’s new field placement coordinator, and also new to the Seattle area. Mayra comes with experience in the same field at Gonzaga University in Spokane. She worked there shortly after graduating with her MA in 2014 in Latin American history at Eastern Washington University. Mayra is committed to working in a higher education environment where she can utilize her skills and passion for education to contribute to the success of SPU students.

Mayra is the middle child of five from immigrant parents who worked in the agricultural field in the Skagit Valley. She is proud of her Mexican-American heritage, and is always willing to teach anyone Spanish. Mayra is also the first in her family to graduate from high school, the first to graduate with her bachelor’s degree, and the only one in her family to have a master’s degree. She loves to read, write personal and historical fiction narratives, run, weight lift, and box. She lives in the Sand Point area with her two young boys.

Carlee Wilson

Carlee Wilson is the new receptionist at the SOE front desk. Other than welcoming students and visitors, her duties consist mainly of scheduling meetings and events throughout Peterson Hall, maintaining order and efficiency of SOE common spaces, and assisting in various projects for faculty and staff. She is a born-and-raised Pacific Northwesterner and loves all the beauty and outdoor activities this corner of Washington provides, especially during fall and winter.

Carlee graduated from SPU this past March with a degree in communication, and she spent the past two years working in the Center for Career and Calling as a peer career advisor. In her newly found, post-grad free time, she is always up for dancing, reading (she’s currently reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Crossing the Unknown Sea), laughing with friends, and decorating any space she finds herself in.

Familiar Faces, New Roles

Robin Henrikson

Robin Henrikson stepped into the role of director of assessment this year. Robin served as the chair of the MEd in Teacher Leadership program for the past five years, and before that as chair of the then-new ARC online program. Prior to transitioning to SPU, she spent five years as a mathematics professional development specialist at the Olympic Educational Service District 114, and before that taught middle level mathematics and special education. At SPU, she wants to use the director of assessment position to build cohesiveness across programs and to strengthen ongoing communication and professional learning practices aligned with our SOE vision.

Robin’s current research interests include analyzing relationships between school boards and superintendents, with an emphasis on school board evaluation practices. She also teaches completely online, so continues to strive to research and utilize best practices for online learning in graduate programs. She is married with three children, two cats, one dog, and about 30 chickens. She and her family live on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula.

Jennifer Norton

In 2017, Jennifer Norton joined the School of Education’s teacher certification program, where she teaches courses in foundational issues in education, elementary methods, and special education. She has recently moved into the position of director of undergraduate teacher education, where she is delighted to work in community with faculty to prepare students for the teaching profession.

Every step in Jennifer’s educational journey has been driven by a curiosity and drive to understand how systems can be improved to benefit students. Starting as a school psychologist and working with individual students of all age and grade levels, she gained insight into the barriers students too often face in our schools. This fueled her interest in addressing issues of equity in education through improved classroom practice and educational programming. 

As executive director of special programs, her work involved many student support programs such as response to intervention, English language learners, early childhood, special education, alternative programs, drug and alcohol programs, school counseling, and health services. This journey fostered a desire to be involved in preparing future teachers and principals for service in our classrooms and schools, with a focus on marginalized student populations.

Jennifer is also a doctoral student at SPU, and her research examines the role of the principal in leading effective special education programs. She hopes to graduate this spring.

Jennifer and her husband, Tom, live in Woodinville and attend Westminster Chapel, a non-denominational church in their community. She is a fan of Henri Nouwen, whose work influences her approach to the very human profession of education. Jennifer and Tom are 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. Please ask to see pictures!

Munyi SheaMunyi Shea, associate professor of counselor education, started her new role as the director of doctoral programs (PhD and EdD) in July 2019. Prior to joining SPU in 2016, she was an associate professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles (a minority serving institution) for seven years.

Munyi received her PhD in counseling psychology from Columbia University. Her research has focused on mental health help-seeking behavior, and cultural and school adjustment issues among immigrant and ethnic minority individuals and families. She has also developed and evaluated culturally responsive school- and community-based intervention programs. She has more than 30 peer-reviewed publications and over 50 conference presentations, many of which were co-authored with her students. She is also the recipient of several early-career research awards, including those from the American Psychological Association (APA), Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA), and American Education Research Association (AERA).

Munyi is passionate about inspiring students to conduct their own research, as well as to understand and identify strategies for redressing educational and mental health disparities. In her new role, she hopes to draw upon her training in psychology to engage with her students and colleagues in an interdisciplinary inquiry and collaboration to studying issues relevant to education.

She and her family attend Quest Church in Ballard and lead a community group in Shoreline. 

Q & A with SOE Faculty: Kristine Gritter

Kristine GritterThis academic year, Seattle Pacific University, along with Highline College and the King County Library System, will be hosting the NEA Big Read: King County. The Big Read is a community literacy endeavor in which community members are invited to read and discuss a book that matters to their culture in multiple forums, culminating with a visit from the author of the chosen book. This year’s book is When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka, which is set during the Japanese internment in Washington state. 

Our own Kristine Gritter, professor of curriculum and instruction and chair of the MEd in Literacy, serves as the director of this year’s events. Learn more in our Q&A with her below.

How did you get involved in the NEA Big Read? 

I have a friend from my doctoral program at Michigan State University who teaches at Hope College, Dr. Deb VanDuinen, who has been running a Big Read (and a Little Read) in her town for several years. She has turned it into a big event in Holland, Michigan, along with a lot of help, I’m sure. She has turned it into a research interest and has published and presented on how to do community reads. I am the director this year and will apply to be a co-director next year with Karen Fernandez, a librarian at Highline College.

How did the partnership with Highline College come about? 

I asked former SPU professor, Frank Kline, who was then director of teacher education there, if he would like to partner. He connected me with Karen. I think it’s all about asking. People have the right to say no, of course, but others will say yes if they feel they have expertise on a topic or want to learn more about a historical event or culture they think really matters. This year we are reading a book that brings the Japanese-American internment to life and shows it to be a manufactured crisis. Anyone interested in true American history wants the truth of history to be brought to light.

What was shared at the Day of Common Learning event in October? 

Tom Ikeda, executive director of Densho, a local organization which educates about Japanese American history, presented. Professor Lorraine Bannai from the school of law at Seattle University also presented on the Fred Korematsu case that she helped bring to justice when she was two years out of law school. Densho has a plethora of documentary resources for teachers featuring survivors of the incarceration. It is a fabulous resource for teachers teaching on the subject. Many of these survivors have passed away, but we can still hear their voices. Lorraine's story shows how young people can help right wrongs, but how the Supreme Court has not acknowledged what happened to our elders who were falsely incarcerated.

Why do you think When the Emperor Was Divine is especially important for our students, faculty, and the wider SPU and King County communities to engage with? 

It brings emotion and truth to something that actually happened. As you read about the father being tortured in the last chapter, remember not a single Japanese-American was found guilty of espionage in World War II.

What upcoming event associated with the Big Read are you most looking forward to? 

Julie Otsuka's visit to SPU the evening of March 9, 2020. She is the author of When the Emperor was Divine.

What else would you like alumni and current School of Education faculty and students to know about the Big Read? 

We have to constantly educate ourselves about history. It tends to be told by the majority, and that lens leaves out a lot of stories of survivors, heroes, and really good people. This is a good place for education, but constant reading is probably the most important part of becoming educated.

Learn more about the NEA Big Read: King County.

Ten Things You Should Know About Conflict Resolution

Emily HuffIn every issue of the On Point e-newsletter, we share interesting facts that you can use in your work and classroom that are related to our faculty and staff’s expertise. In this issue, Emily Huff, our director of field placements, shares ten things you should know about conflict resolution.

1) Conflict is best defined as an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from the other party in achieving these goals.

2) Conflict is often about processing loss — loss of voice, loss of choice, loss of space, freedom, time with others. It’s not healthy to ignore the losses or pretend they don’t exist.

3) One of the biggest issues of why conflict arises is when we don’t feel seen and heard. When this happens, we perceive a threat, and we jump into fight or flight mode. The amygdala in our brain gets hijacked in a conflict situation. Because passions always win, we must stop and cool off in order to get our heart rates back down to below 100 beats per minute. Laura Kastner has a handy acronym that is widely used in schools to helps students in this process called RULER: Recognize feeling, Understand the causes, Label it appropriately, Express it appropriately, Regulate the emotion. (

4) At this point, if you are the one helping someone else who is dealing with flooded emotions, the worst thing to do is to tell them to calm down. What that person needs is for you to listen and validate their experience. Validation is a powerful tool that can do magic in helping them feel heard and understood, which can then help them calm down. (Read more on the art of validation here.)

5) "There are some interesting contrasts between the various responses to conflict. First, there is a difference in focus. When I resort to an escape response, I am generally focusing on “me.” I am looking for what is easy, convenient, or non-threatening for myself. When I use an attack response, I am generally focusing on “you,” blaming you and expecting you to give in and solve the problem. When I use a peacemaking response, my focus is on “us.” I am aware of everyone’s interests in the dispute, especially God’s, and I am working toward mutual responsibility in solving a problem.” – Ken Sande (The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, pg. 28).

6) The way you start a conversation predicts how it will turn out in the end. John Gottman, UW marriage researcher and clinician, encourages a soft start-up:

  • Take responsibility. “I share some responsibility for this …”
  • Complain without blame and state a positive need. “Here’s how I feel … about a specific situation and here’s what I need …” (positive need, not what you don’t need)
  • Start with “I” instead of “You.” I statements are less critical and don’t make the listener as defensive as “you” statements.
  • Describe what is happening. Don’t judge or blame. Communicating what you see will help your partner from feeling attacked.
  • Be polite. Use “please” and “I would appreciate it if …”
  • Be appreciative. Recognize what you appreciate in your partner.
  • Don’t let things build up. If you do, it will escalate in your mind until you blow up.

Here is more from John Gottman.

7) John Gottman has gathered decades of data about newlywed couples and their communication patterns. By observing their interactions, he has been able to predict with over 90% accuracy whether the newlyweds will end up divorcing. Here are the four destructive signs he looks for:

  1. Criticism: Attacks on one’s character. 
  2. Defensiveness: A reaction that aims to protect one’s presenting self by denying responsibility. 
  3. Contempt: A contemptuous comment belittles and demeans.
  4. Stonewalling: When one person in a relationship withdraws from the interaction, shutting down dialogue and any chance of resolving the problem in a mutually satisfying way. 

Watch out for these tendencies you might have when you are in a conflict and step back if you find yourself going down one of these paths. 

8) One of my favorite tips in conflict resolution is from William Ury, world-renowned mediator, who talks about the importance of being able to “go to the balcony” when you are in the midst of a conflict. In other words, take time to pull out and consider the other person’s perspective. Empathy is a powerful bridge builder. 

9) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Address conflict early and don’t let things fester. When you talk it out together, follow these simple steps:

  • Stop and cool off.
  • Talk and listen to each other. 
  • Find out what you both need. 
  • Brainstorm solutions. 
  • Choose a solution that works best. 
  • Make a plan and implement it. 

10) In Resolving Everyday Conflict, Ken Sande offers four valuable tools in thinking about conflict that are good to review before you go to the mat: 

  • Glorify God — How can I please and honor God in this situation? 
  • Get the log out of your own eye — How can I show Jesus’ work in me by taking responsibility for my contribution to this conflict? 
  • Gently restore — How can I lovingly serve others by helping them to take responsibility for their contribution to this conflict? 
  • Go and be reconciled — How can I demonstrate the forgiveness of God and encourage a reasonable solution to this conflict? 

Be willing to have tough conversations as they can lead us all to deeper connection and growth where God can transform and heal us and our communities. 


Claudia Ladd

Claudia Ladd ’89 was named one of seven finalists for the Colorado Teacher of the Year competition by the Colorado Department of Education. Claudia has 16 years of teaching experience, and currently serves as a first-grade teacher at McMeen Elementary School in Denver. According to a recent press release from Denver Public Schools, “Ms. Ladd firmly believes early literacy is the gateway to education and that classrooms must be the frontline of equitable opportunity. She’s an exemplary classroom teacher and an advocate for systemic change in education so that all children, regardless of zip code, can receive an equitable, joyful and rigorous education that inspires intellectual curiosity.”

Claudia’s passion for equitable education and working with underserved communities shines through in a recent article she penned on the website for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. In the article, Claudia urges teachers to make literacy a priority in their classrooms and wider community. She writes, “The stakes are high; however, as educators, we are at a unique pivot point. By providing students access to grade-appropriate assignments, strong instruction, deep engagement, and high expectations, we will improve our literacy instruction.” She concludes with a call to action for educators on the “first line” of equitable education to make a difference.

Congratulations on this honor, Claudia, and thank you for sharing your work with our wider community.

Michael Clark

Michael Clark, a current doctoral student in the EdD program at SPU, and principal of Norman Rockwell Elementary School in the Lake Washington School District, was recently honored when his school was chosen as one of three in the nation to receive the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Phoebe Apperson Hearst award for parent and community engagement. This award reflects two years of work and partnership between their PTA, teachers, and administrative team to make their school inclusive and welcoming for all of the students and faculty they serve. According to Michael, they have specifically placed a focus on cultural responsiveness, sharing with parents their rights and responsibilities, translating materials and creating other points of welcoming and access, and inclusiveness in serving their students who are receiving specially designed instruction and who are emerging in their English skills. Learn more about this award and watch the National PTA president announce their award here.


Renn Named Chair for National-level Committee

Pete RennPete Renn, assistant dean for certification programs and director of the Center for Professional Education, was recently named the new chair for the Committee for Academic Standards and Accreditation with the American Educational Studies Association. AESA is a society primarily comprised of college and university professors who teach and research in the field of education, utilizing one or more of the liberal arts disciplines of philosophy, history, politics, sociology, anthropology, or economics as well as comparative/international studies.

Shea and Wicks Work With More Than 300 Educators in Asia

Shea Wick 3

Munyi Shea and David Wicks, associate professors in the School of Education, developed and facilitated multiple teacher development workshops for more than 300 teachers in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Jakarta during summer 2019. These workshops focused on student-centered learning, digital education, action research, work-life balance, and subjective well-being. In addition, they delivered keynote speeches at Krida Wacana Christian University in Jakarta, with whom they signed a memorandum of understanding to establish research and program partnerships on behalf of Seattle Pacific University.

SOE Faculty Win Award for Conference Submission

Antilla Wicks Hyun Shea

The School of Education's Online Learning Task force, comprised of David Wicks, Julie Antilla, June Hyun, and Munyi Shea, submitted a proposal titled “Breaking out to develop creative sustainable online programs” to the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Accelerate conference in November 2019. Their submission received the “Best-in-Track” award in the “Leadership and Institutional Strategies” track.

Hyun Presents on Panel at ACES


June Hyun recently attended the bi-annual conference of Association for Counselor Education and Supervision in Seattle. According to their website, “ACES is the premier organization dedicated to quality education and supervision of counselors in all work settings. ACES members are counselor, supervisors, graduate students, and faculty members who strive to improve the education and supervision of counselors in training and in practice.” With her colleagues, she participated in the panel presentation titled “Shattering the Glass Ceiling in the Ivory Tower: Women of Color in Leadership.” In addition, she led a roundtable discussion based on her qualitative research on the professional identity development process of foreign-born counselor educators.

Jalalian-Chursky Presents at ACSI


Krystle Jalalian-Chursky, assistant professor of special education, recently presented at the Association of Christian Schools International Professional Forum for K–12 teachers. Her presentation was titled “Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners,” and focused on a discussion on learning styles, differentiated instruction, and an overview of special education with adaptations to meet an increasingly diverse student population.

ACSI exists to strengthen Christian schools and equip Christian educators worldwide as they prepare students academically and inspire them to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ. This ACSI event provides an annual opportunity for professional development, inspiration, and collegiality for educators.

SOE Hosts Kianee Lee for “Addressing Inequities in Education”


“Addressing Inequities in Education (K–16),” an event co-hosted in late October by SPU’s School of Education, John Perkins Center, and Future Educators’ Club, welcomed Kianee Lee to lead a conversation around culture, justice, equity, and education. Ms. Lee has worked in education for nine years, and currently serves as assistant principal at Lincoln High School in the Tacoma School District. For the past seven years, she has been leading professional development and workshops in the areas of social justice and equity as well as culturally responsive teaching. Undergraduate and graduate students, K–12 educators, and university partners were given content and activities to reflect on how to better serve and educate historically marginalized students. 


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