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Archive for January, 2012

by Amy Vaughn

As a math teacher in California, I was fortunate enough to be hired to teach at a Catholic high school that openly honored the values I felt called to demonstrate.  I immediately felt that I was a part of a unique community and wholly embraced the hallmarks of the school, particularly that of community service.  In the classroom, I felt that I had much more impact on my students’ emotional and spiritual growth because we could openly discuss our shared values.  But beyond this, I believe my students also participated in learning at much deeper levels because of our trust in each other and their willingness to take risks.             

During my time teaching in California, I felt called to continue my education to the doctoral level, and these same principles became part of the criteria in my search for a university.  I searched the nation for a school that I believed would best suit my needs as a student, a professional, and a Christian.  I wanted a school that was small enough to have a family feel, but large enough to have a powerful presence in the education community.  In fact, during my first visit to SPU, I could feel the same sense of community, rigor, and spiritual connectedness that I felt at the Catholic high school where I was teaching.  I genuinely feel fortunate to have found SPU as a fit for my educational, professional, and personal goals.

Now, as a professional pursuing a doctoral degree, I am committed to innovation and change in terms of teacher preparation and support, especially in light of the high attrition rate of new teachers.  This means raising the standards within the profession and teaching teachers as they should teach their own students.  I am committed to producing better teachers by maintaining my own research and modeling the latest instructional techniques. SPU has allowed me to pursue these goals.  Additionally, the faculty members at SPU have always treated me as a respected colleague and I greatly value their expertise.  SPU and the School of Education have far exceeded my expectations and I would recommend this institution to anyone seeking more than an academic degree. 

Amy is a student in the Ph.D. in Education program at SPU. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, post-baccalaureate teacher certification in mathematics at Texas Tech University, and a Master’s of Arts from Notre Dame de Namur University. She taught high school mathematics in Texas and California and currently serves as an Clinical Instructor of Teacher Education at SPU.

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By Robin Henrikson

The coursework at SPU for my doctoral program has been quite fulfilling. To be perfectly honest, I have learned more than I thought I would and have been challenged to grow in many ways, including improvement in my knowledge about my specialization, growth in my writing skills and in my ability to understand statistics. Perhaps most important has been growth in my self-confidence and in my ability to critically examine new research, initiatives and programs to help advise and support educators in making decisions about programs for their schools.

My area of specialization is in professional development and pre-service teacher preparation. I have been able to design a doctoral program that met my needs with a combination of coursework, independent study and hands-on experiences that will enable me to be prepared to work in a variety of positions within my area of expertise once I have completed the program. One of the main reasons I wanted to pursue my Ph.D was to help support leaders in the improvement of their schools and to support pre-service, novice and experienced teachers so they are competent and prepared to be effective teachers.

This program has been challenging and I have had to learn how to be disciplined. Balancing school, part-time work as a math and professional development specialist as well as a wife and mother of three young children is no simple task, not to mention the more than two hour commute one way just to take classes. However, throughout my time in this program so far, I have had support from different professors, each offering me a different way to grow through their unique teaching styles. I have also built great relationships amongst other doctoral students. The flexibility of taking night, weekend and online classes has allowed me to pursue my degree whereas I would not have been able to without that type of coursework design.

I am happy with my experiences at SPU and once I am finished with my program I will be a stronger person in many ways including academically, emotionally and professionally. I thank God for the support He has given me throughout the past two years.

When I am finished with this program my goals are to pursue a career working at a university where I can continue to support teachers, whether they are at the beginning of their career or a veteran. I feel confident that this program has prepared me to do that.

Robin Henrikson is a student in SPU’s Ph.D. in Education program. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Seattle Pacific University. She holds Washington state certification in Special Education K-12, General Education K-8, and Building Principal. Robin served as a middle school special education and mathematics classroom teacher before becoming a teacher leader. She currently works as a Professional Development Specialist for the Olympic Educational Service District 114 in Bremerton, WA. She is married and the mother of three children.

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