Melanie Dixon-Carldwell, MS ’09, has received the 2013 PSU President’s Diversity Staff Award. She is a graduate of the GSE’s Postsecondary Adult and Continuing Education master’s degree and holds a graduate certificate in Teaching Adult Learners. She is the PSU Assistant Director of Diversity and Multicultural Student Services in Student Affairs, where she works to advocate for minority students on campus. Since earning her master’s in 2009, she has worked for PSU, first as the African American Student Services Coordinator, where she managed over 200 students, and currently as the director of Diversity and Multicultural Student Services. She is distinguished for her accomplishments in promoting PSU diversity goals and social justice initiatives.
Laura LaMarsh is a dedicated PSU Viking. She earned her BS, MS, and Initial Administrator License all at PSU. Laura’s career in special education started when she became as an education assistant at Northwest Regional Educational Service District (NWRESD), working with a student with severe orthopedic needs. One day the director told her that she had been selected to be part of a pilot team working with children with autism. When she asked why she had been selected for this position, Laura was informed that it was because she “had a good record of showing up daily and on time.”
This quiet start has led to a remarkable career in the field. Laura is currently the coordinator of autism services and coordinator of the elementary deaf and hard of hearing program in Hillsboro, a facilitator of the Autism Statewide Leadership Grant through the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), a commissioner on the Oregon Commission for ASD (OCASD), and an adjunct faculty member at PSU. Laura emphasizes that her career is not just a job, but a passion for making a difference in the lives of children.
Roy Huggins has had an interesting path to becoming a counselor. His professional career started when he and a couple of friends tried to start a video game development company, which led to Roy getting involved in web design for various clients. Roy says this experience taught him important lessons about how interacting with people was just as important as writing quality code. After several years as a web developer, Roy decided to follow his passion and make a major career change to become a counselor.
Roy came to the GSE to pursue a master’s in mental health counseling. After completing the program, Roy started his own private practice. However, his experience in IT is not forgotten as Roy currently serves as the webmaster for the Oregon Mental Health Counselors Association (OMHCA), and has led presentations on “digital confidentiality” at their annual meetings. As a consultant and educator, he leads NBCC-Approved continuing education workshops that teach counselors about the ethics of counseling and patient confidentiality on a national level.
To say that Dr. Samek is dedicated to the field of education is an understatement. She has taught students at every level during her career in education, starting as a middle school math teacher before moving to high school and later elementary school. Currently, Dr. Samek serves as Dean of the School of Education at George Fox University where she occasionally teaches an online course, but most enjoys mentoring faculty for future leadership positions and working on accreditation and assessment for the school. Dr. Samek takes pride in working to provide resources and remove barriers for teachers and students alike. One of her recent projects has been fostering peace and establishing a reconciliation curriculum for Quaker high schools in Kenya in collaboration with Kenyan educators. Teaching is not a one-way road—she insists that there is no one from whom you cannot learn a meaningful lesson.
Crystal Ellis is curious about the social and emotional development of children and is intrigued by how children communicate their feelings and experiences. Crystal earned her BA in Liberal Studies and Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University and taught at a private elementary school for ten years. This experience had a profound impact on her, “I saw the amazing potential of the individual child and saw the beauty in reaching one’s potential at one’s own pace.” After teaching, Crystal volunteered in Romania working to help cultivate positive relationships with children that had been traumatized and neglected. These experiences eventually led Crystal to Portland State, where she received a MS in Counselor Education and a graduate certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy.
For the past seven years Crystal has worked for North Clackamas School District, with three of those years spent as an elementary school teacher. Currently, Crystal is in her fourth year as a school counselor and behavior interventionist at Oak Grove Elementary School in Milwaukie. Her work there includes integrating the school’s PBIS and RTI systems, overseeing behavior interventions and small groups, and working with parents to best support struggling students. Crystal was instrumental in bringing a full time mental health intern to Oak Grove to serve their most needy families and works closely with the staff at the two surrounding high schools to bring volunteers and mentors to work with students.
The Oregon Association of School Libraries (OASL) will honor Jenny Takeda, GTEP ’98, MS ’99, LIB ’01, at their annual conference on October 12-13, in Seaside, Oregon. She is OSLA’s District Librarian of the Year and will accept the award with mixed feelings since having her library media position eliminated in last spring’s round of Beaverton School District budget cuts.