SOE Celebrates Solar Eclipse

The staff of the Rosauer Center took a break to observe a near-total solar eclipse this morning. Eclipse glasses and traditional pinhole viewing methods were deployed to observe the once-in-a-lifetime experience. The peak eclipse occurred just before noon, when the sky darkened and the temperature dropped several degrees. What an amazing way to close an exciting summer for the School of Education!

Dr. Diane Tunnell gazes to the sky

Gina Cooper and Jenna White enthralled by the celestial fireworks

Staff gather around Shannan Palomba to track the progress of the eclipse

Staff watching the sky together

  

Alumni Spotlight: Robert Wall, Leadership & Administration, ’94

  1. Tell us about yourself:  My name is Robert Wall.  I earned an MA of Arts in Administration, Curriculum and Instruction in 1994.
  2. What are you doing now?: ? I am retired from teaching. This was after 36 years in in the classroom and for 22 of those years I was a Vice-Principal.  After that I was seminar leader and student teacher supervisor for eight more years at UVic (University of Victoria).  I presently work on set construction for a theatre group, Peninsula Player, in Victoria, BC, and playing with my two grandsons.
  3. Why did you choose a program in the School of Education at Gonzaga? My neighbour, Dr. Joe Kess, head of the Linguistics Department at UVic, recommended it highly. Kess was a graduate of Georgetown University and knew that Gonzaga had a positive affiliation with it.  He felt that there would be very positive and supportive feel to Gonzaga’s Education program as well.
  4. What influenced you the most during your time at Gonzaga? This is a difficult question. I believe I model the personal qualities that a school community should expect from an individual.   I always wished that I could do more and always strived for that. The following people offered realistic and innovative new teaching models and ideas that I was able to merge right away as the MA program progressed as well as after the program was completed: Matt Cadman, Dr. Jon Evavold, Dr. Monica Schmidt, Dr. Dick Sovde and Dr. Deborah Nieding.  They were all great role models!
  5. What was your greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga? I had been called an “Educator,” “Master Teacher,” and “Idea Man” by Principal reports in the nine schools I had worked. Gonzaga gave me the feeling from, ‘I think I can’ to a definite ‘Yes, I can improve my teaching and administration skills for my school communities.’
  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field? Most challenging? I was always a ‘Sunday night pacer’ as I planned for the next week to come. I always found that if you planned well you could almost always bring fun, new ideas and enjoyment for the students, staff and school community.   Sometimes that required change or a new way of doing something.   So, for me change was always the ‘challenge.’  That was one of the reasons I asked for nine school transfers so that I could challenge myself.   Each school was like starting teaching all over only in a different school environment.
  7. What critical issues do you see that need to be addressed in your field? ? I like being with kids and find a school ghost-like when the hallways are empty without them there.  Like Victoria, many cities do not have a large percentage of students by population.  I think it is extremely important to promote stronger understanding of the amazing talent younger people in schools are to the general public, sometimes the school’s parent communities, business, the press and government at all levels.
  8. What advice do you have for future education professionals? To best answer this question I am going to use some quotes from my farewell retirement speech. “To me a school, my definition, has always been an ‘Information, Intergenerational, Transfer, Environment’.   Or, I would say, a school is a building of four walls, with tomorrow inside.  A school is more of a spirit than a physical structure…  Young hope walks its corridors.   Young dreams climb its stairways.  Young ambitions fill its classrooms.   It’s youngest building in the world.   It’s a school my favourite place.” So, being an educator is hard work, challenging, and you need to work as hard as you can every year for your students.   And if you do, you will find teaching to be one of the most rewarding, enjoyable and important jobs in the world.  As Cicero wrote, “What noble employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of instructing the younger generation.”  

Alumni Spotlight: Dara Zurfluh, Principal Certification, ’17

  1. Tell us about yourself: Dara Zurfluh, Principal Certification, 2017
  2. What are you doing now?: Assistant Principal, Sumner School District
  3. Why did you choose a program in the School of Education at Gonzaga? I chose Gonzaga because of the high recommendation that the program was given by past graduates.  I valued the beliefs of the institution and the incorporation of the student as a whole. 
  4. What influenced you the most during your time at Gonzaga? Dr. Cynthia Johnson influenced me the most.  She is a spit fire that will go to bat for her beliefs, and if she believes in you, you will have a forever ally.  She has high standards that she brings everyone up to, and instills a belief in each and every student.  She answers all questions at any given time of day or night, any day of the week.  I am so thankful to have been influenced by her!
  5. What was your greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga?  My greatest lesson is that adequacy is not enough.  I can do so much more than be average.  Gonzaga and Dr. Johnson believed in me to push myself that much more.
  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field? Most challenging? The most rewarding aspect of being in education is being able to influence students.  They are the core, and seeing their growth is a reward like no other.  The most challenging is the bureaucracy in education; the hoops and laws that administrators have to maneuver through.  
  7. What critical issues do you see that need to be addressed in your field? Funding is the most obvious issue right now.  In addition, something I am passionate about and have learned a great deal about from Dr. Johnson, is the regional teacher shortage and the other mediocre institutions out there awarding certificates to students that do not fully understand the teaching pedagogy.  It is frightening that so many people are earning quick endorsements to try and capitalize on the teaching shortage. 
  8. What advice do you have for future education professionals? Follow your heart, learn as much as you can, be open minded, and always continue to learn yourself!

Alumni Spotlight: Kelsi Rugo, Counselor Education, ’13 & ’15

  1. Tell us about yourself: Kelsi Rugo, MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Undergraduate ’13, Graduate ’15
  2. What are you doing now?: I am a PhD student working in the National Center for Veterans Studies at The University of Utah. Here, I do both research and clinical work (psychotherapy) with suicidal veterans and service members.
  3. Why did you choose a program in the School of Education at Gonzaga? I did my undergraduate degree at Gonzaga and knew that a Zag education would far surpass what competing universities could offer me. The holistic education and growth-oriented community at Gonzaga is unique, and quite rare.
  4. What influenced you the most during your time at Gonzaga? Dr. Lisa Bennett was my faculty advisor during my master’s program at Gonzaga and was a major catalyst in the transformational growth I underwent during the program. She perfectly embodies the Jesuit idea of holistic education by pushing for her students’ intellectual, spiritual, cultural, physical, and emotional growth, which laid the foundation for me to continue this work outside of Gonzaga.
  5. What was your greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga? The greatest lesson I learned at Gonzaga was to embrace challenging and often painful growth. This never feels easy, but has changed my life in revolutionary ways and continues to shed light on the path forward from here.
  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field? Most challenging? The most rewarding part of the work I do is watching veterans and service members get better and live meaningful, fulfilling lives. The most challenging part is learning to take care of myself and reconcile the things I hear in my office with my beliefs about the world, as trauma and suicide work can be very depleting at times.
  7. What critical issues do you see that need to be addressed in your field? One issue that I’m particularly passionate about (and do research on) is clinician competency. In order to provide ethical care and help people get better, we need clinicians who are healthy, well trained, and prepared to competently deliver evidence-based interventions. However, several barriers stifle access to quality training (financial cost, training status limitations, inadequate mentoring) and eventually impact the quality of care that patients receive from these clinicians down the road.
  8. What advice do you have for future education professionals? Do the personal work that needs to be done. Heal from your past hurts, explore who you are, connect with an empowering community, and learn to gracefully digest hard feedback from others. This kind of personal work will not only serve you well personally, it will also enhance the professional work you do with others.

Alumni Spotlight: Sharleen Jackson, Leadership & Administration, ’89

  1. Tell us about yourself: My name is Sharleen Jackson and I graduated with a B.Ed. degree from the University of Calgary in 1982. Additionally, I earned an MA degree in Administration and Curriculum from Gonzaga University, which I graduated with in 1989.
  2. What are you doing now?: Currently I am a volunteer at both a hospital and within my community. I’ve had a very rewarding career in education that includes teaching, writing and editing educational curriculum, and providing educational services to adult students with disabilities.
  3. Why did you choose a program in the School of Education at Gonzaga? I initially chose the MA program at the School of Education at Gonzaga for a unique reason. My mother, Frances Kapp, was very interested in taking the program and asked if I would like to join her in doing so. Besides being best friends, my mother and I had very similar careers as we were both teachers. The thought of taking a two year MA degree program with my mother seemed both very educational and fun. Also, I had colleagues who had enjoyed attending Gonzaga. I felt that by taking the MA program I could apply what I learned to my role as a teacher and in future opportunities.
  4. What influenced you the most during your time at Gonzaga? Gonzaga had a wonderful community of tremendous educators, and I am grateful to have been taught by them. I was very influenced by Dr. Bob Bialozor, who taught courses in administration and curriculum development. He was very inspiring and enthusiastic, had a super sense of humor, and taught very innovative ideas. You could see that he had a great love for education and a keen interest in the success of all his students. My mother and I also took a course on critical and creative thinking skills that Dr. Bialozor taught in Hawaii. It was a great learning experience, and the skills taught we applied in our teaching.
  5. What was your greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga? My greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga is that learning is infinite and a lifetime journey. Take time along the way to really enjoy the work that you do and the studies that you complete. Be of help to others and do not hesitate to ask for help yourself if need be.
  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field? Most challenging? The most rewarding aspect of working in my field was in working together with students and colleagues to help students to try and achieve their personal best. When I would see students enthused with work that they had accomplished or projects that they had created I found it very rewarding. Schools, for students of all ages, are communities of learning, and I really liked that sense of community in helping students to learn. It was a privilege for me to have been a part of that.
  7. What critical issues do you see that need to be addressed in your field? I find that some critical issues in education today are similar to those in the past. Funding and appropriate class size are both issues in education that need to be ensured.
  8. What advice do you have for future education professionals? My advice for future education professionals is that education is a wonderful career choice to pursue. Have faith in your abilities and those of others. Work hard, be kind, and laugh often. Both your dedication to and service in education will be deeply appreciated.

Alumni Spotlight: Clare Sykora, Special Education, ’08, ’11

  1. Tell us about yourself: My name is Clare Sykora (Alexander). I completed my Bachelor of Education in Special Education (’08) and Master of Education in Special Education – Functional Analysis (’11).
  2. What are you doing now?: I am finishing up my 9th year of teaching self-contained classes in public schools and will begin to teach at the Spokane Guilds School in July.
  3. Why did you choose a program in the School of Education at Gonzaga? I chose GU for my undergrad degree to be able to earn both my elementary and special education certifications within four years. I chose to return to GU for my masters degree because of the concise nature of the FA program (1 1/2 years) and the flexibility of the classes when I was still working during the days. Also, it was great to be able to work with my former professors and obtain my early childhood special education certification at the same time.
  4. What influenced you the most during your time at Gonzaga? Dr. Anjali Barretto was immensely integral to my choice of occupation. I took her Psychology of the Exceptional Child class and the service-learning component changed how I viewed the world. I volunteered at L’Arche and quickly learned how special it was to participate in helping individuals learn skills. The joy that each successful step brings me is my motivation to continue to serve those with disabilities. Dr. Barretto’s direction and support from that point forward shaped both the way I learn and the educator I am today.
  5. What was your greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga? The most important lesson I learned while at GU was that it doesn’t matter if each moment is perfect, it is the ultimate outcome that results in how impactful one’s work is.
  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field? Most challenging? Working in the Special Education field takes patience, love, and consistency. My largest rewards come when a student achieves their goals and teaching them to be proud of those achievements. Smiles. Smiles and laughter keep me working in the field. The most challenging component of working with individuals with special needs is lack of education from those surrounding us. It takes a lot of understanding and acceptance for people to support the work we do with students and the more we can educate them on how influential our work is, the better.
  7. What critical issues do you see that need to be addressed in your field? In my opinion, a critical issue that needs to be addressed in the field of Special Education is the need for funding to address early intervention. Although IDEA Part C partially funds early intervention, the more attention and therapies we can provide for at an earlier age, the better chance of individuals not needing interventions later in life; or for as long of a time span.
  8. What advice do you have for future education professionals? Chocolate. There will be times, situations, and issues that will make you want to cry and moments that will make you question your choice of profession. When those moments arise, open your always stocked drawer and pop a chocolate in your mouth. Savor the flavor and laugh. Laugh because it will make you feel better and embrace the moment. It will happen again and you will always learn to keep more chocolate on hand 🙂

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Frances Kapp, Leadership & Administration, ’89, ’00

  1. Tell us about yourself: My name is Dr. Frances Kapp and I have earned 3 degrees in education. My first degree is a B.Ed. degree that I graduated with in 1961 from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. My second and third degrees were earned at Gonzaga University. They are an MA degree in Administration and Curriculum which I graduated with in 1989, and a Gonzaga Ph.D. in Educational Leadership which I graduated with in 2000. I also received the School of Education award in leadership in 2000.
  2. What are you doing now?: My current role is in writing. I co-authored a book with Dr. Kieran O’Malley called Watch for the Rainbows, True Stories of Educators and Other Caregivers of Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, which was based upon research from my doctoral studies at Gonzaga. My career for many wonderful years was in teaching, and I am a retired elementary science teacher and researcher.
  3. Why did you choose a program in the School of Education at Gonzaga? I chose the MA program at the School of Education at Gonzaga because I wanted to open the door to opportunities to expand my career in education. Some possible areas of interest for myself included curriculum, research, and administration. I also had colleagues who had taken Gonzaga educational programs and they spoke very highly of Gonzaga University and the educational programs and courses offered. I chose the Ph.D. program at Gonzaga University because I had enjoyed the Gonzaga MA program tremendously and also because I wanted to further my university training and education.
  4. What influenced you the most during your time at Gonzaga? I was influenced by and am grateful to many wonderful educators at Gonzaga University. I was greatly influenced by Father Patrick Ford who strongly encouraged me to continue on with my educational studies after completing my MA. Father Ford was the dean of the Graduate School and later the academic vice president during my years at Gonzaga. He was a very kind man, very spiritual, a superb speaker, and really interested in the success of the students that he worked with. He was inspiring and instilled people to help others.
  5. What was your greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga? My greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga was to take time to enjoy your studies, work hard, and pass that knowledge and training on to the students that you work with.
  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field? Most challenging? The most rewarding aspect of working in my field was in being able to help students learn successfully. I took pride in observing students smile and succeed in their efforts.
  7. What critical issues do you see that need to be addressed in your field? A critical issue in education today is funding as this is necessary for successful programming.
  8. What advice do you have for future education professionals? My advice for future education professionals is to put your heart with your work and enjoy what you are doing. Education is a very important field to be in and offers many rewarding career possibilities.

Alumni Spotlight: Adam Membrey, Special Education, ’09

  1. Tell us about yourself: Adam Membrey. I earned a Bachelor of Education in Special Education in 2009.
  2. What are you doing now?: I just finished my 5th year teaching Deaf students with special needs in the Special Needs Department at the Texas School for the Deaf. I have taught Elementary School, Middle School, and will be lead teaching High School-aged kids next year. We really are unlike any other program in the country in the way we serve our kids with the needs they have.
  3. Why did you choose a program in the School of Education at Gonzaga? As a freshmen at Gonzaga, I took a Children with Exceptionalities class with Dr. Barretto. The class covered interesting material, but what stuck to me the most was the atmosphere in the Special Education department. It had a different, slightly funky, but ultimately inviting feel to it. When I found myself in a moment of crisis at the end of my sophomore year and needed to move on from my English Major (Sorry English Department! You guys were great!), I knew I would be entering the right program with Special Education. Everything that happened beyond that only reinforced how great a decision it was.
  4. What influenced you the most during your time at Gonzaga? Randy Williams taught me that you could have fun while being a highly-productive, effective teacher. Tim McLaughlin taught me to always back up my files multiple times, but to also never lose sight of the relationships you build with your students. Kimberly Weber opened my mind, taught me to relax, and to gave me life lessons when I needed it. Anjali Barretto taught me to get on my knees and get at the students’ eye-level (and not just because I was tall and she was, um, not-as-tall). I now realize that everything I learned from my Special Education professors had very little to do with instruction itself – that would be the easy part – but with how to survive in Special Ed and what to not lose sight of. I needed to learn how important the intangibles were, and they each gave me masterful examples of that in their own way.One particular memory that sticks out to me is a time I came into Dr. Barretto’s office. I was actually there to whine about something that had nothing to do with class or teaching, and she simply smiled and asked me, repeatedly, “So what’s the problem?” It didn’t matter what I gave her back, she asked the same thing. I shortly after realized that the answer didn’t matter. She simply wanted me to think about it for myself, take stock of the situation, realize it wasn’t a big deal, and to problem-solve from there.It was a great lesson that I learned in my time at GU.
  5. What was your greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga? My junior year at Gonzaga, I took a fantastic class with Dr. Joe Albert, “Leadership and Storytelling.” Throughout the semester, we each had to tell a story about ourselves – something personal, something about our family, and then something about a greater thing we were a part of, be it a group, a department, or a company. The whole class made me realize not only how important stories are, but how we use them to help us explain the many things we see – both fair and unfair – in our daily lives. Dr. Albert also taught me how you could take any situation, no matter how dire or depressing, and reframe the story into something meaningful and propulsive. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the Special Ed field and a teacher has practically withered as they told me about a student’s heartbreaking situation; I would do my best to help reframe the story so that we had something to build on. I use this storytelling muscle and awareness every single day – with myself, my friends, my family, the world that surrounds me. In my time since graduating Gonzaga, I have been confronted by, and a part of, so many difficult situations, and all of them were made survivable by using storytelling. It truly is one of the greatest tools anyone can learn to use.
  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field? Most challenging? The most rewarding aspect is when you look at your students and realize you have created a special place for them where they not only feel comfortable, but welcome. Where they can be who they are, can communicate the way they want, and they can be silly without fearing judgment. So often the kids we work with in Special Ed are constantly looked down upon by people of all ages and stages in life; they can only thrive from a place of comfort, and that’s what we can provide them.The most challenging aspect of our field is not the paperwork (though it sucks) or the parents (they can be our best ally), but the attitudes of the adults around the students. So often I’ve had to get adults to understand just how much the student is capable of; but also to understand their limits and to work with them. What is most heartbreaking of all is when you’re in an IEP meeting in which lawyers and advocates are involved and you see a whole table full of adults arguing for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with a student and everything to do with their own ego preservation. They are not out for what’s best for the child; they’re trying to one-up everyone else. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen as often as it could, but it still happens far too often.
  7. What critical issues do you see that need to be addressed in your field? In Special Education, there needs to be an adjustment of expectations. There are still way too many programs that expect so little of their students and allow them to become too comfortable at their baselines when they are capable of doing much, much more.In Deaf Education, the situation is so much more complex. There are so many factors that affect progress – both in increasing it and shooting it down – but the primary one, to me, is the politics of it. The fact is that 90% of deaf students have hearing parents, and we are still struggling as a whole to figure out how to serve those students and parents best so that the child has an opportunity to lead the best life they can. I love ASL and teaching with it, but I also recognize it is not the best language for every deaf child and certainly every set of parents. We have to roll up our sleeves and be flexible in how best to give a child a language, and to help the parents support that the best way they can. There is so much exciting progress in the field of Deaf Education, but there is still so far to go.
  8. What advice do you have for future education professionals? Learn to never take it personally and keep yourself in the moment. Starting out as a teacher, the hardest thing is to not feel responsible for a program or a student not doing well as you think they should. It’s even harder when that student directs their anger or frustration or whatever it may be at you – you are simply a target, but it feels personal. And that can be agonizing. So my suggestion to future education professionals is to remove your ego and yourself from the situation as much as possible. Know you will often unfairly be a target or used as a scapegoat for others’ issues, but never, ever lose sight of the fact that you can dictate the atmosphere in your classroom and you have control over the relationships you develop with your students. You can make your job as wonderful and as difficult as you want it to be, and it starts with calming the storm within you so that the seas are smoother for everyone around you.Also: never, ever be afraid to ask for help or say you don’t know. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. Pay attention to what you don’t do and do everything you can to fill that gap on your own. You will feel stupid sometimes, and that’s okay. That’s normal anytime you do something new and complex. But don’t ever stop asking for help or talking to people who know more than you do. And then, after that, it becomes that great Maya Angelou quote: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Rhonda Johnson, 2017 Wardian Award Recipient

In the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration, the instructors travel to each cohort’s city to teach on site. In Williams Lake, British Columbia, the population is made up of 3 First Nations as well as the descendants of European settlers. Rhonda, and others in her cohort, helped the instructors learn and understand the dynamics of the area. From the first day of class, Rhonda advocated for and celebrated the many ways our cohort was diverse – professional role, gender, race, and age. She very graciously responded when others were less gracious and consistently showed the attitude of a learner.  She was committed to learning from everyone and every situation. She was also able to raise the tough questions. Several of her instructors trusted her to facilitate discussion of these questions with the group. In these ways, she was exceptional.

But what really set Rhonda apart was her commitment to support everyone else. She was aware of every candidate’s needs in the group and wanted each person to succeed. Instructors were also on the receiving end of this support. In our program, each candidate completes a 5-chapter capstone which is analogous to a thesis. When I would call to check in on her progress in the capstone, she would ask how I was doing.  So she showed care and commitment in supporting me!

Throughout her personal and professional life, she spends all of her time supporting individuals.  But she also interacts with the larger system, seeking to improve them.  In her Oral Exam, she told me, “I’m done waiting for someone else to do those things!” Congratulations to Rhonda!

-Dr. Elaine Radmer

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Angela Busenius, Leadership & Administration, ’17

  1. Tell us about yourself: Angela Busenius, Masters of Educational Leadership and Administration. I graduated in 2017.
  2. What are you doing now?: Clinical nurse educator for the hemodialysis units in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap area.
  3. Why did you choose a program in the School of Education at Gonzaga? My husband completed the same program just before me. He had an amazing experience with it and I found out they accepted students outside of the education stream. It seemed like a great fit.
  4. What influenced you the most during your time at Gonzaga? My fellow classmates as well as 2 of my instructors, Dan and Joan. All of these individuals have shown me unwavering support and love throughout the program.
  5. What was your greatest lesson learned at Gonzaga? The greatest lesson I have learned is courage. Courage to take chances. Courage to grow and put myself in uncomfortable situations. Courage to express my feelings and support others in their journey.
  6. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in your field? Most challenging? The most rewarding part of my job is my patients. I have the privilege to care for people every day and hear rich stories about their past. I have the opportunity to help people  even when they are in the last moments of their life.The most challenging part of my career is the structure and politics of being in an overstretched public service environment. We want to do so much for our patients and are bound by limited resources and too much demand placed on the system.
  7. What critical issues do you see that need to be addressed in your field? Seniors need to be cared for and given the opportunity to live the last portion of their lives in comfort. Too often our seniors live in poverty, unable to obtain basic necessities such as proper food, medication and secure housing. They often live at risk as the resources aren’t available to keep them safe.
  8. What advice do you have for future education professionals? We do what we do because it is our calling in life. We are privileged to care for our citizens. Stay true to your heart and remember why you entered this amazing field.
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