College of Education Newsletter
Volume Two, Issue Three
In This Issue:
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
I recently returned from a visit to Ramallah, Palestine with two of my School of Education Colleagues, Keelan Lofaro and Lynnette Elwyn, who teach in our Master of Arts program. We spent time at the Ramallah Friends School working with the Palestinian educators on the development of their curriculum and instruction related to implementation of new accreditation requirements.
It was a productive time, and the three of us were very busy interacting with staff and students each day we were there, working hard to gain their trust and build relationships as well as exchanging information and ideas. I would say the visit was an overall success and tremendously rewarding, both personally and professionally. But while there, we also gained first-hand knowledge of the realities of providing education in places where political and religious strife is rampant, and especially in Palestine, where in many ways the social and physical environments are very difficult.
As hard as some aspects of the trip were, such as standing in the shadow of the enormous separation wall between Israeli and Palestinian territory, they revealed a perspective that many of us back in the United States (including myself) don’t often consider. We often complain about the state of education in America, and how challenging it can be to be a teacher in American classrooms with budget cuts, outdated facilities, and insufficient pay. Even here at George Fox, there is grumbling about lack of parking and on occasion, a feeling as if we are being expected to “do more with less.” While these things are true to some degree, most of them pale in comparison to what educators at the Ramallah Friends School encounter as they work very hard to provide their students with one of the few things that bring them hope – the prospect of becoming well-educated and empowered to contribute to the social and political solutions necessary for their survival. Truly, a very large and important order!
Having to put oneself in another person’s shoes can be an enlightening experience. You may not get the opportunity to travel and work internationally anytime soon, however, each day you have the opportunity to learn about how students, parents, colleagues and neighbors view the world, and those views may be quite a bit different than yours. You also have the opportunity to reach out with care and commitment to ensure that those you teach and lead and those you work with can become all that God created them to be. This is the gift and challenge of being an educator, accept the challenge as a gift and do what you can today.
Every student, whether attending a public or private school, brings with them a unique perspective, one that has been shaped by both their personal and academic experiences. Some of those experiences are good, and some of those are not-so-good, and some can be traumatic. Well-trained school counselors are able to help those students successfully navigate the occasionally rocky road that each one must follow to graduate.
Sabrina Sommer, a spring 2014 graduate from the Graduate School of Counseling at George Fox, brings a wealth of her own experience of adverse situations to the table for her students at David Douglas High School in Portland, OR, where she has served as a counselor for two years.
Initially an immigrant from Latin America, she spent time in inner-city Los Angeles and eventually found herself in Oregon with a young family. Her own struggles to succeed within a system often bereft of the resources needed to help minority populations informed her desire to engage this same system to help others. This desire led her to get her master’s degree at George Fox, earning her school counselor credentials, knowing that it was college that helped her out of poverty and gave her access to the “world of middle-class America.”
At David Douglas, she is helping pilot a peer remediation program that is currently in the initial stages of development. She is also working to help create a Latino student union. Working with a diverse student population in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Portland, she uses the tools developed during her graduate program and throughout her life to help her students.
“The work, at once heart-wrenching and unbelievably meaningful, opens my eyes to our world through the stories and experiences of our most vulnerable youth,” she says. “I can help build a road in some rough terrain, where pain and future hope can intersect.”
Stories of the humanitarian crisis stemming from Syria seem to have faded from the news lately. However, a George Fox DPS elementary education student recently worked to educate the children under her tutelage at her student teaching site about this crisis, and Muslim culture in general.
Ruqyya Jarat, who just graduated from George Fox with a BS in Elementary Education, completed her student teaching at the Metropolitan Learning Center in Portland, OR. She worked with her cooperating teacher, 1st and 2nd grade teacher Cami Touloukian, on a project called “Love for Syria”. The project covered topics such as geography, writing, social studies, humanities and political science from a Muslim perspective and experience, discussing what it means to be a refugee and to be tolerant of other cultures and religions.
Originally from Palestine, Ruqyya knows firsthand about many of the themes discussed in the course of the project. She and her family escaped to Jordan and lived there for most of her childhood. She then attended college and studied English literature in Cairo, and after earning her degree there, moved to Saudi Arabia where she worked for 24 years as a teacher and an administrative assistant in a private K-12 school. It was her experience in Saudi Arabia that “taught her the importance of advocating for students from different cultures and backgrounds.”
Ruqyya hopes to take the “Love for Syria” project and utilize it in her future classroom to spread awareness about the serious refugee issue, as she understands on a personal level “the need for students to develop a robust worldview through empathy.” She doesn’t yet have a full-time teaching position lined up, but she hopes to eventually work in a school with a diverse population that will utilize her talents to empower her students. “I see myself taking on new and exciting challenges by working with students from different cultures and backgrounds,” she states. “My goal will be to create an environment that is safe and creative for all students, and especially students of color.”
Lori DeKruyf (GSC) co-presented at the Innovations in School Counselor Preparation Conference in Athens, GA in late February. Along with school counseling alumna Catherine Davis and current school counseling student Jill Williams, she presented “Key Field Experiences that Prepare School Counseling Students to Be Known as both Educational Leaders and Mental Health Professionals.” Also at that same conference, Lori co-presented “Fostering a Balanced Professional Identity for an Agile Response to Equity Issues” with Dr. Diana Gruman from Western Washington University and Dr. Laurie Carlson from Colorado State University.
Michelle Shelton (DPS) joined Paul Shelton (DBA) and a colleague from another university to present “Group Potency and Virtual Teams” at the 2016 Academy of Business Research Conference in New Orleans in late March. They were awarded “Best Paper” in their session at the conference.
Terry Huffman (EdD) has been notified that his new book Tribal Strengths and American Indian Education: Voices from the Reservation has been accepted for publication by the University of Massachusetts Press. Release is currently anticipated for XXX
Nicole Enzinger (UGTE), along with only 30 other higher education faculty nationwide, has been selected as a STaR Fellow for 2016-17 by the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. The Fellowship, initiated through a grant from the National Science Foundation, serves as an induction program for early-career math educators in higher education.
Derek Brown, a spring 2016 graduate of the Doctor of Education program, has been selected as the recipient of the Greg and Judy Aldred Award for the Outstanding Dissertation in Educational Leadership for 2016. Derek’s dissertation, titled Exploring the Relationship Between High School Diploma Requirements in Mathematics and College Remediation Rates, is a “study examining the relationship between the essential skill of math and college remediation rates” using data from recent high school graduates attending 4-year universities in Oregon.
If you have any news items or information suitable for future issues of this newsletter, please contact Julie Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.