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Posts Tagged ‘Seattle Pacific University’

To teach is to serve God.  I do it with humility, passion and enthusiasm. It is humbling for me to teach, inspire, influence, encourage and love my students.  This past year, I stepped out of my comfort as an educator to high school mathematics students and entereNallined a Ph.D. Program at the Seattle Pacific University.  I was offered the opportunity to share my practical experiences as an educator to university students who have a desire to pursue education as their career.  I was humbled by the prospect to inspire future educators so I gratefully accepted challenge.  It was my mission to provide them with a strong educational foundation that will effectively demonstrate confidence, competence and passion when they are in the instructional environment.                                                                                                               My vocation as a university instructor is certainly a rewarding one, however, I quickly learned the challenge is unique and does not compare to teaching high school students.  As I reflect on my teaching schedule, my knowledge and expertise as an educator are resources I am able to integrate in the classroom.  My students belong to the Alternate Route to Certification (ARC), Masters in Teaching Mathematics and Science (MTMS), and Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs.  Knowledge of their background, endorsement and grade level of teaching helps me to mold my instruction to address best practices specific to their needs.    I especially enjoy learning about the effect of the various instructional strategies and reflective tools they are able to utilize during their internship through reflections and class discussions.  I am grateful to teach students who have a desire to make a difference.  This has become a vital means to my educational goal and has opened up an array of future opportunities to explore.
                                                                                                                          The author, Nalline Baliram, taught high school mathematics for 14 years at a private Christian school in Boca Raton, Florida.   she earned a Bachelor’s in Mathematics at Florida Atlantic University and a Masters of Science in Mathematics Education at Florida State University.   Nalline is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Teacher Preparation at Seattle Pacific University.  She enjoys teaching and influencing students who have a desire to learn.

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Alex JohnLast year I decided to take the leap. I am currently a high school counselor and I was looking for the next thing in my career. At the Washington Education Association (WEA) state conference in 2012 I happened to pass a booth that SPU was at and noticed that there was a PhD program in counselor education. The light bulb went on in my head – I could get a degree in counselor education and work with the next generation of professional school counselors?! Sign me up! After dragging my feet (and brain) to the GRE testing center – I survived yeah!! – I began my journey of becoming a college educator.

The courses that I have taken at SPU have me reflecting on my practice as a counselor, educator and learner. I look forward to continually stretching myself and discovering new topics of interest. Most recently I have been fascinated with Self-Efficacy and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Studying these topics allows me to think about how I can apply them to my school program.

I look forward to working with future and current counselors throughout my PhD program and beyond. Sharing my experiences and learning from new student’s insights will bring another element to my practice and allow me to always be learning!

Alex currently serves as a School Counselor at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, WA. 

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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 Jon Tienhaara

Twelve years in a small, rural school district have provided me a variety of educational experiences.  A native of Naselle (pronounced nay-sell), I have done everything from mowing the grass and fixing computers during my college summers, teaching science and mathematics to elementary, middle and high school students, to my current position of business manager and serving as one of the principals in the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District.

I have always had a passion for technology and its implications for both teaching and learning.  For example, two years ago I wrote a grant which funded a 1:1 iPad initiative for Naselle’s ninth and tenth grade classes.  Today grades 9-12 are 1:1 with iPads.  Students utilize the iPad in most all of their classes and technology is very much integrated into the school.  I also oversee our online Alternative Learning Experience school which has a larger student population than our regular brick and mortar school.  Currently, I am working with Michigan State University to bring online Mandarin Chinese to students across Washington.  

Technology plays an important role in student learning, and principals have great ability and responsibility to influence technology utilization in their schools. This is one of the reasons I am pursuing a doctorate degree at SPU.  My research interests include the role principals and superintendents play in positively and effectively integrating technology into K-12 education.  My future educational goals include a superintendency and/or professorship working in education technology leadership.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two quarters at SPU.  The doctoral program continues to be a great experience.

Follow Jon’s work at http://mrt-naselleschools.blogspot.com/

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by Melike Yucel Koc

In 2008, with three years of teaching experience at a state secondary school and a master’s degree in English Language Teaching, I decided to come to the U. S. to explore the American culture. My journey in the States started as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at Portland State University (PSU), Oregon. After teaching Turkish at PSU for one academic year, I decided to take classes from the Applied Linguistics Department. In 2009, I was accepted to the master’s degree program in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in Applied Linguistics. As a bilingual, my research interest was on bilinguals and their use of emotion language. I completed the degree in TESOL in two years with a thesis topic focused on Emotion Language of Turkish-English Bilinguals.

After completing the master’s program, I started looking for doctoral programs in the Portland and Seattle area. I always wanted to pursue a Ph.D. degree in language education. My master’s degree experience at a university in the U.S. encouraged me to stay in the country and continue my studies. When I couldn’t find Ph.D. Programs in Applied Linguistics in the Pacific Northwest, I started to look for professors with similar research interests and I found Dr. Nagy at SPU! I thought working with him would be a great opportunity for me – and indeed it is!

Since starting the program in 2011, I completed three quarters of coursework and I learned much about research and educational theories in the core courses. Writing a colloquium paper gave me the opportunity to focus on my own research interest which is morphological awareness and academic reading of adult second language learners. Working as a graduate assistant in School of Education at SPU provides me with the opportunity of conducting research. In short, SPU has been a great learning environment for me. Through a teaching practicum that is part of the doctoral program, I was able to teach second year Turkish at the University of Washington in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations. I had 8 students – 7 were American and one Albanian. Preparing the course syllabus and materials, keeping a reflective journal, and being formally observed all contributed to my learning and teaching to a great extent. Furthermore, I gained teaching experience at the university level.

After completing the Ph.D. program at SPU, my long-term goal is to get published and teach at the university level in a TESOL program while training future language teachers.

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Melike is a student in the Ph.D. Program in Education at Seattle Pacific University. She currently serves as a Graduate Assistant at SPU and as an Instructor at the University of Washington’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

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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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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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