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
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged California, Catholic school, Christian, community, Doctorate, Education, faculty, innovation, research, rigor, Seattle Pacific University, SPU, Teacher on January 13, 2012 |
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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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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged challenging, Doctorate, Education, faculty, family, Ph.D., Professional development, Seattle Pacific University, statistics, Teacher, United States, Washington on January 4, 2012 |
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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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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Doctor of Education, Doctorate, Education, Elementary school, faculty, leadership, Northwest University, professor, research, Seattle Pacific University, Superintendent, Teacher, Washington on July 21, 2011 |
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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