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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

ImageThe consistent focus throughout my career as a HS Science teacher, principal, and professor has been a passion for helping develop environments for improved learning. As a teacher, I strove to attract the struggling science student and develop  experiences and classroom systems to give under-represented children a better chance at success. As a principal, I tried to transform culture to create effective building environments. As a professor, I’ve continued that passion to help reform districts and governance systems.

District Reform

I’ve pursued the passion of helping students with my current National Science Foundation funded grant project entitled STEM Teams: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) career interest, skills, and knowledge through Strategic Teaming. This initiative allows me to partner in districts with 97% African American and impoverished communities to improve the district. This is accomplished by creating teams of teachers, and school and district leaders and working to improve the implementation and sustainability of innovative curriculum and programs in the district. The current program is based in the middle school and purposes to increase the number of students of color and poverty to pursue STEM careers. This work has been presented recently at the 2012 UCEA conference and to be at the 2013 AERA meeting.  The process of district wide teaming was published in the following book chapter:

Alsbury, T. L. (2008). Promoting sustainable leadership within the reform system. In B. Hand (Ed.), Science inquiry, argument and language: A case for the science writing heuristic [177-194]. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense.

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School Board Governance

Another passion has been my interest in the efficacy of local control of schools through school boards. The increased centralization of schooling is evident in national movement to standardize assessment and content, and now the policy agenda seems to be focused on removing the control of schools from local community boards to a state or national level. I am currently engaged in studies of school governance in Taiwan, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Germany, and India, to name a few. I also speak around the country debating the question, “Are school boards still relevant today?” Most recently I debated this issue the ex-secretary for the office of Civil Rights before 700 school board members, members of Congress, and USDE Secretary of Education. Reactions to the debate can be found at this link: http://schoolboardnews.nsba.org/2013/01/panel-discusses-research-and-relevancy-of-school-boards/

Some of my most recent and significant writings on the school board governance include the following:

Alsbury, T. L. (In Press, 2013). Hitting a moving target: How politics determines the changing roles of superintendents and school boards . In  B.  S. Cooper, J.  G. Cibulka, & L. D. Fusarelli (Eds.)  Handbook of education politics and policy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mountford, M.  E., & Alsbury, T.  L. (2012). School boards: Nobody does it better. UCEA Review, 52(3), 11-13.

Alsbury, T.  L. (2011). Should the K-12 organizational structure of schools in the U.S. be changed dramatically? In Russo, C. [Ed.] Debating issues in American education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Alsbury, T. L.(Ed.). (2008). The future of school board governance: Relevancy and revelation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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Dr. Alsbury has been a Professor in the School of Education at SPU since 2011. He teaches educational leadership courses and mentors many doctoral students. He is a recognized national expert in school board research and received the 2008 UCEA Culbertson award for influential researcher in educational leadership.

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By Dr. Gail Stewart

Over the last fifteen years, I have developed and maintained an interest in equity, retention and social justice in higher education, especially among historically disadvantaged/marginalized social groups attending colleges and universities (such as students of color, for example). In addition, my experiences as a doctoral student at Seattle Pacific University have sparked an interest in sociolinguistics and assessment; specifically, the relationship between language attitudes, racial identity and the quality of classroom experiences.  The aforementioned influences, along with consistent questions from colleagues regarding classroom engagement among African American males attending community colleges, served as the motivation for my recently completed dissertation Racial Identity, Language Attitudes and Educational Experiences: The Voices of African American College Students.

This study provided an opportunity for me to develop a new research instrument that measures language attitudes and racial identity- The Language Attitudes Questionnaire (LAQ).  The results of my research also indicate several issues for consideration: 1) the power of language dictates to a large extent, the language one speaks, and is intimately tied to one’s sense of identity, 3) understanding of students’ home language or dialect has a major influence on classroom performance, especially among African American students, 3) in a classroom setting, the way students are evaluated and labeled by teachers may have a major lifelong impact on their educational trajectory and 4) language attitudes may serve as a retention issue that has a profound impact on students of color.

I look forward to conducting follow-up studies on language and racial identity among diverse racial-ethnic populations attending colleges and universities to further develop my research instrument.

I am extremely grateful to the faculty at Seattle Pacific University, especially my dissertation committee, Dr. William Nagy, Dr. Nyarazdo Mvududu and Dr. Cher Edwards. I feel truly blessed to have had such wonderful mentors who provided me with an outstanding quality of education, guidance and support that will have a positive influence on my future professional endeavors and personal growth.

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Gail Stewart successfully defended her doctoral dissertation in April 2012. She earned a master’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. She has taught at the community college level for 11 years. She is a classically trained musician who enjoys anything pertaining to the arts.

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ImageI have always been interested in how children learn words and how vocabulary can best be taught, and over the years I have often tried to synthesize what I know about effective vocabulary instruction.  My most recent publication (Nagy & Townsend, 2012) is the latest such attempt, focusing in particular on the challenges students face in understanding academic language.  I am also interested in how students’ awareness of language contributes to their reading ability.  In particular, I have been investigating morphological awareness – students’ knowledge about morphemes (prefixes, roots, and suffixes).  In my recent work with Dr. Scott Beers, I have also begun dealing with another aspect of literacy, writing.

Everything I know about these topics is going to be needed for my upcoming research.  Dr. Beers and I are now part of the research team led by Dr. Virginia Berninger at the University of Washington in the new Center for the Defining and Treating Specific Learning Disabilities in Written Language.  This center is part of the Learning Disabilities Research Centers Consortium funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).  (For a press release, see http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/011712-learning-disabilities-centers.cfm).  We’ll be part of an interdisciplinary team, including not only educators, but computer scientists, geneticists, and experts in brain imaging.  Our work will range from basic research on the nature of writing disabilities to very applied work on developing interventions to help students who struggle with writing.

Nagy, W.  & Townsend, D. (2012).   Words as tools:  Learning academic vocabulary as language acquisition.  Reading Research Quarterly, 47(1), 91-108.

Dr. Nagy has been a Professor in the School of Education at SPU since 1996. He teaches literacy and research courses and mentors many doctoral students. He was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame for his pioneering work in vocabulary development. 

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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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Since the inception of doctoral programs at SPU, there have been a number of graduates who distinguished themselves professionally. In this post, four of our graduates are highlighted.

Dr. Gary Newbill earned a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) from SPU in 1999. He currently serves Northwest University as Professor of Education and Dean of the School of Education. He previously served Washington school districts in a variety of roles including as teacher, personnel director, assistant superintendent, and superintendent. Gary Newbill joined the graduate faculty of educational leadership at Seattle Pacific University, preparing principal and superintendent candidates for state certification and graduate degrees. He then moved to Northwest University to head its teacher preparation program. http://www.northwestu.edu/faculty/newbill/

Dr. Mary Alice Heuschel earned the Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) degree from SPU in 2004. She currently serves as superintendent of the Renton School District. She was previously Deputy State Superintendent for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for six years. Dr. Heuschel also served as a school principal, assessment specialist, and classroom teacher. Mary Alice was awarded the 2011 Washington Superintendent of the Year.

http://www.rentonschools.us/FILES/DISTRICT/Superintendent/MAH_Bio_updated_1-6-11.pdf

Dr. Duane Baker is the founder and president of Baker Evaluation, Research, and Consulting, Inc (The BERC Group). Dr. Baker served as a classroom teacher, school administrator, and assistant superintendent in K-12 schools. The BERC group is currently working on research and evaluation projects at the national, state, regional, district, school, classroom, and student levels in over 1,000 schools nationally. He earned a doctorate from Seattle Pacific University in 1999.

http://www.bercgroup.com/

Dr. Shannon Harvey is currently the Principal of Cascade Elementary School in the Renton School District, Renton, Washington. She previously served as an elementary school teacher. She earned a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) from SPU in 2000. In 2008, she was given the $25,000 Milken Educator Award.

http://cascade.rentonschools.us/PrincipalsMessage

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