GSE hosts a conversation with distinguished educator Geneva Gay

G_GayThe Graduate School of Education presented a talk by Dr. Geneva Gay from the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Gay teaches multicultural education and general curriculum theory. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award, presented by the Committee on the Role and Status of Minorities in Educational Research and Development of the American Educational Research Association; the first Multicultural Educator Award presented by the National Association of Multicultural Education; the 2004 W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Lecturer Award presented by the Special Interest Group on Research Focus on Black Education of the American Educational Research Association; and the 2006 Mary Anne Raywid Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Field of Education, presented by the Society of Professors of Education.

Dr. Gay is nationally and internationally known for her scholarship in multicultural education, particularly as it relates to curriculum design, staff development, classroom instruction, and intersections of culture, race, ethnicity, teaching, and learning.

Dr. Gay is an advisor to the GSE’s Culturally Responsive Elementary Mathematics Education project. For more information on the project, contact Dr. Swapna Mukhopadhyay in the Curriculum and Instruction Department,

The event was recorded and is available here:

GSE students write Oregon African American History curriculum

Black historyIn 1844, Oregonians declared slavery illegal yet simultaneously enacted the infamous “Lash Law” requiring that “Blacks in Oregon, whether free or slave, be whipped at least twice a year until they quit the territory.” Four years later, Oregon’s provisional governor passed the first Exclusion Law making it unlawful for African Americans or people of mixed heritage to reside in Oregon Territory.1 African Americans were prohibited from living, travelling, or owning property in Oregon. Despite the fact that many of these laws were repealed in the early 20th century, discrimination against African Americans and other culturally diverse people continued unabated as they were refused service in restaurants, had limited access to businesses, jobs, and housing, and were prohibited from voting. Oregon was considered one of the worst places for African Americans outside of the South,2 and in the 1920s boasted an active Klu Klux Klan membership of 35,000.3 Does this surprise you? If so, you are not alone. The history of the African American population and other important people of color in Oregon is difficult to find in any mainstream textbooks.

Today, issues of diversity and inclusiveness are paramount in education. Because of this, a new project, conceived by Professors Patricia Schechter (HST) and Gayle Thieman (CI), was launched to provide new resources for K-12 educators related to the history of African Americans in Oregon. Dr. Schechter teaches in the PSU History Department and is an oral historian who co-authored an oral memoir of the first African American woman to be elected to the Oregon State Senate, the Honorable Avel Gordly. Dr. Schechter was also instrumental in getting an important African American history collection donated to the PSU library that is specifically focused on Portland. Dr. Thieman, a nationally recognized social studies professor, is a PSU Curriculum and Instruction faculty member who teaches in the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP). Together they collaborated to offer a class for K-12 teachers that would provide them with a methodology for researching local history and also supply them with the tools necessary to create curricular materials with a local context for their classrooms.

Nine local teachers participated in the class, Using Archives to Teach Oregon African American History, which was held in a one-week intensive summer format. The curricular materials they develop will be available soon on a website created by the group. These important curricular materials and lessons are an invaluable resource that will provide history lessons never before available to K-12 teachers. Continue reading

New project focuses on technology instruction for nonverbal students

SamSennottsDaughterWiPad (2)Nearly one percent of the general student population has some kind of severe disability, such as autism, cerebral palsy, or a physical disorder, that makes verbal communication difficult. These children can be very bright and motivated, but because of communication difficulties, become frustrated and are at very high risk of falling behind or failing in school.

A new project in the GSE was conceived to help educators learn best practices in working with nonverbal children. The 3T Accessibility Project (Teaching, Technology and Theory) will connect PK-12 students with autism and other developmental disabilities to unique technology that will help them communicate, and ultimately, advance in school. The 3T Project is driven by research-based theory of technology integration. An emphasis will be placed on serving students who have disabilities that impact their ability to speak. Students will have new access to communication, which will improve academics, social and arts experiences, and in the future, vocational pursuits.

While significant advances in special education have occurred, too often individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities still lack access to this technology. This is due in part to cost, but also to teachers and other support team members’ limited knowledge of available options and how to best integrate rapidly advancing new technologies with quality teaching practices. With the advent of computers and mobile devices, even more tools are now available at a lower cost than ever before. The 3T Project will assist in helping teachers identify new tools and teaching techniques, while the project team collects data that will inform best practices, next steps, and future work.

“We are really interested in learning how to make this process work,” says Dr. Samuel Sennott, project director. “It’s about planning, goal setting, implementation, and using best practices.” Continue reading

New faces in the GSE

Welcome new hires to the GSE.

jean-aguilar-valdezJean Rockford Aguilar-Valdez is a new tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction working with the GTEP and BTP programs. She is originally from Miami, Florida, but most recently from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, where she was an assistant professor and member of the Education, Latin American Studies, and Race and Ethnic Studies faculties. She received her PhD in teacher education in 2013 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where her emphasis was science education and equity in education. Dr. Aguilar-Valdez’s research interests include Decolonizing STEM Education, Critical Race Theory in STEM, Critical Pedagogy, and Chicana Feminism in STEM.

erin-bray-smallErin Bray, accounting support, Office of the Dean, provides accounting and administrative support for financial and grant-related functions. She holds a BS from Portland State and has worked for the university in the development department for the Graduate School of Education and School of Social Work since 2012.



tara-cooper-3Tara Cooper is the Teacher Diversity Support Services Coordinator for the GSE. Ms. Cooper runs the new Teacher Pathways Program that will solidify GSE connections to minority undergraduates. She earned her master’s degree in intercultural relations with an emphasis in higher education, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English and ethnic studies. Her areas of expertise include mentoring and supporting underrepresented students. Before coming to Portland in 2013, she had over 15 years of experience in higher education recruitment and student support, including a position as a matriculation specialist in the California community college system where she participated in statewide efforts to improve student learning outcomes and vocational training programs.

hollieHollie Hix-Small, Special Education Department, is the new program coordinator for the Early Intervention/Special Education (EI/SE) program in the Department of in Special Education. She received her PhD from the University of Oregon. Most recently, she has worked with the Open Society Foundation in London, England, where she managed the organization’s early childhood intervention and early childhood care work in Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Peru.


Holly LawsonHolly Lawson, Special Education Department, is the new coordinator of the Visually Impaired Learner (VIL) program. Since 1994, she has worked in the VIL field, beginning as a residential instructor for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and then in the Peace Corps in Morocco. Her master’s and PhD are from the University of Arizona where she held several positions in teaching and research. Most recently, she was an assistant professor and the coordinator for the Virginia Consortium of Teacher Preparation in Vision Impairment at George Mason University.

emily-scripter-smallEmily McNulty Scripter is the GSE development coordinator, providing project coordination and administrative support for GSE development efforts, including annual giving, major and special gifts, alumni relations, special events, and communications. She holds a BFA in painting from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Ms. McNulty Scripter is a Portland native and has worked in nonprofit administration and fundraising at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Craft, and Bitch Media. 

andi-pearson-smallAndria (Andi) Pearson is the new Field Placement Coordinator for Special Education and School Counseling. She is responsible for coordinating and securing all of the practicum and student teaching field experiences for special education, counseling, and speech and hearing. She will contribute to the partnership efforts the GSE is working on with local school districts. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education and early childhood teaching from Concordia University and a BS in speech communication from PSU. Prior to PSU, she coordinated mental health and disability services for Head Start of Lincoln County, taught third grade inclusive special education in Hawaii, and worked for the Reynolds School District.

Lauren SlyhLauren Slyh, Educational Leadership and Policy, provides coordination and administrative support. She is currently working toward her undergraduate degree at PSU. Ms. Slyh has worked in Oregon public education since 2010, most recently as the executive assistant to the Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Oregon Department of Education.


Lisa ToddLisa Todd is the Licensure Programs Administrator for the GSE. As the liaison to Oregon’s educator licensure agency—Teacher Standards and Practices—Ms. Todd reviews students’ programs of study and recommends those that meet PSU program requirements. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Drexel University and a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences from Linfield College. Previously, she assisted with accreditation and assessment at Lewis & Clark College’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling, and managed Education Northwest’s research library.

PSU graduate Lyon Terry named 2014 Washington Teacher of the Year

Lyon Terry

Washington Teacher of the Year, Lyon Terry snaps a “selfie” with other TOY finalists.

Lyon Terry, the 2014 Washington Teacher of the Year (TOY), is a graduate of the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP). Lyon Terry was selected from nine finalists across the State of Washington. He has a bachelor’s degree from Reed College, a master of education from PSU, and is National Board Certified.

Mr. Terry is a fourth grade teacher at Lawton Elementary School in Seattle and has taught second through fourth grades there for the last 10 years. He previously worked in the Highline School District and in New York City. He is a favorite among students and staff, starting each day in his classroom with his guitar. His approach to instruction is experiential and collaborative. Students in his classes receive extra emphasis on reading and writing. During his time at Lawton Elementary, he has increased fourth grade reading scores at the school by 10 percent. Continue reading

PSU awarded $1.2 million for American Indian education

AITPThe Graduate School of Education (GSE) has just been awarded a grant in the amount of $1.2 million from the US Department of Education Office of Indian Education (OIE) to recruit and prepare American Indian students to become teachers (obtaining a teaching license and master’s degree) over the next four years.

This is the second OIE professional development grant received by Portland State University (PSU) in four years. The first award, received in 2010, established the American Indian Teacher Program (AITP). Continue reading