2007 Spring Newsletter
GSE Professor Chairs Statewide Children’s Advocacy Group
One might describe Dr. Samuel Henry as an academic, a teacher, learner, father, husband, or a civil servant. While each of these might represent a part of the man, a more encompassing title might be Advocate. For 30 years, Dr. Henry has worked to further education and inclusion, including 15 years in the Graduate School of Education.
In addition, Dr. Henry currently serves as chairperson for the Oregon Commission on Children and Families (OCCF). The OCCF facilitates and supports local coordinated comprehensive planning for all children and families, promotes system integration, and provides leadership for local and state efforts focused on early childhood.
The OCCF, created in 1993, is the largest umbrella advocacy group for children and families in Oregon. According to their website, the commission “is responsible for statewide planning, standards setting and policy development, and provides communities with research-based best practices on which to base local programs for children and families. Some of the programs supported by or affiliated with the group include Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Child Care and Development Fund, Great Start, and Healthy Start Family Support Services. Henry is well-equipped to lead such an organization.
Upon initial meeting, one is immediately drawn to Dr. Henry’s warm conversation and broad smile. For all his professional accomplishments, he is most proud of and eager to talk about his family and his recent travels. He is humble and interesting; inquisitive and gracious. His youthful energy and easy laughter at first betray his many years in a strenuous field. Dr. Henry brings to his students, colleagues, and community a deep pool of knowledge and experiences that truly make him an asset to PSU. Though he won’t brag about his many successes, we certainly will.
Samuel Henry was raised in Washington, DC in the turbulent 1950s. His mother, a scientist and a teacher, and his father, a preacher in the Black Pentecostal church, instilled a deep sense of social service in their son. With his family, and as part of the broader congregation, Henry volunteered alongside his parents from a very young age, and in many capacities. It is not surprising then that after high school he enrolled in the DC Teachers College to study English and History. At the same time, Dr. Henry served in the US Army National Guard and Army Reserves. During his military years, he was called up 17 times for riot duty, most memorably in April 1968 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior.
Dr. Henry taught secondary school for 4 years in DC and Binghamton, New York before returning to graduate school. At Columbia University, he earned a Master’s degree in Curriculum Development and a Doctorate in Urban Education. His areas of research and expertise include: race and desegregation, equitable discipline and control, affirmative action, urban education, gender bias, and migration studies.
In 1992, Dr. Henry joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Education and also of the School of Urban Studies and Public Affairs at Portland State University. Most often find Dr. Henry teaching Multicultural and Urban Education (CI 514). To learn more about Dr. Henry’s research or experiences, contact him at henrys@ pdx.edu.
GSE takes the lead in preparing Math and Science Teachers
The Oregon University System (OUS) reports that there is a national shortage of math and science teachers and that the draught hits our state especially hard. The Graduate School of Education is taking aggressive steps to feed the pipeline for early learning in math/science—preparing new teachers for those disciplines.
Under the leadership of Associate Professor Ron Narode, the Graduate School of Education established a dedicated math/science teacher preparation program six years ago to address these teacher shortages. This program targets and attracts highly qualified math and science degreed candidates who wish to become middle school and/or high school math and science teachers. They are recruited mainly through math and science department faculty advisors responsible for evaluating student academic histories. About one-third of the students come directly from undergraduate coursework into the graduate program. The remaining two-thirds are mid-career changers—mostly from research positions in industry. Key to the success of the dedicated program is that students take their coursework together and gain synergy from going through the four quarter intensive program together.
The program is also committed to educating graduates prepared to work with all learners, including those in high needs schools. Through partnerships with math and science departments, several National Science Foundation (NSF) grants have partially supported the program. Currently the Noyce NSF Program supports preservice teachers who wish to achieve both the teaching license for mathematics or science and a master’s degree in mathematics or science. In partnership with local school districts, students are teamed with mentor teachers with whom they take shared workshops and courses. The Noyce Scholars must teach for at least two years in a high-need school upon graduation.
Another source of support is a new Carnegie Corporation grant for the redesign of teacher preparation so that new teachers incorporate literacy into their instruction. This grant has a special emphasis on math/science. Since 2002, one hundred eighty-nine students have received licenses to teach math or science. Several early math/science program graduates have won awards and been recognized for their teaching and are now used as consultants and models for current students. Districts are eager to hire program graduates and many times try to recruit students in mid program.
New math/science cohorts begin each August. For more information on the program, please contact the Graduate School of Education directly or Ron Narode at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Native Student Finds Her Voice in the GSE
A Nez Perce creation story recounts a great monster swallowing all the life near Idaho’s Clearwater River. Coyote devises a plan to save his people by being swallowed himself and destroying the beast from within. At last, Coyote carves out the heart of the beast and throws it to the ground; from that place springs up the Nez Perce Tribe.
Before enrolling at Portland State, by all accounts Judy Bluehorse, of the Nez Perce Nation, was leading a fulfilling life. She was a dedicated gardener and botanist committed to natural healing, and for 13 years she worked as a cultural guide in the Indian Education Office for Portland Public Schools.
For nine years, Bluehorse guided the Native youth Leadership Academy. The program, which serves Native American PPS high school students, seeks to increase cultural, social and legal awareness, provide leadership and academic support, and boost student self-esteem. But Bluehorse wasn’t sure the program was accomplishing the stated goals; she was at a political, personal, and educational crossroads. A few years ago, during a long drive through the Columbia River Gorge, Judy felt a strong insight that she needed to do something more.
Bluehorse, who had attended junior college as a young woman, decided to return to school to earn her bachelor’s degree. She chose PSU because she already had ties to the community. For ten years she served as an advisor to the Native American Community Advisory and helped create the Native American Student and Community Center on campus. Over the years, she had also co-taught with GSE Professor Dilafruz Williams as a community partner for the Environmental Education through Native American Lenses capstone course. In winter 2004, Bluehorse enrolled at PSU as an undergraduate. She completed her BA in liberal studies before entering The Graduate School of Education’s Portland International Initiative for Leadership in Ecology, Culture and Learning (PIIECL) as a graduate in 2006.
PIIECL has been a natural fit for Bluehorse. The program has been created to honor the experience of multiple peoples and cultures and to further understanding and tolerance in public education. Bluehorse has been able to combine her love of plants and passion for healing with her dedication to cultural education. “PIIECL speaks and honors indigenous voices,” in a way that she has not experienced in any other traditional classroom, she says. She describes her GSE experience as “enlightening” and “validating,” and a place in which she has found her voice.
“In PIIECL, personal experience is a very valued story. It is my hope to serve as a bridge to invite more Indian students to come into the program. It has opened my eyes to what we all have in common.”
Bluehorse is currently working on her thesis and plans to graduate next winter. Her research, which she describes as “a deepening of experience” has already sparked interest as possibly being developed after graduation into a book. Bluehorse is considering teaching in higher education or a possible career in local politics. Whatever path she chooses, like the Coyote, Judy Bluehorse will be working to influence change from the belly of the beast.
Boeing Corporation Provides Major Grant Support
The Boeing Corporationhas been a major continuing supporter of the dedicated math/science teacher preparation program and also serves as a catalyst for others to offer support. For five years Boeing has granted the Graduate School of Education funds to make student awards toward the building of starter kits or lab boxes—filled with necessary classroom lab equipment for emerging educators. In an era of reduced funding, many new teachers must look to their own wallets to build and support their classroom materials, a particularly expensive process for lab intensive disciplines.
In 2004, The Boeing Company invited the GSE to apply for a new grant supporting K-12 preservice math/science teacher education. PSU was chosen as one of ten schools nation-wide to be supported, and was awarded the maximum of $40,000 and the grant has been renewed for the two succeeding years.
For the grant, Dr. Narode identified the key areas of program enhancement that would have the most lasing effect as: technology equipment and instruction for its classroom use, more intensive contact with master teachers in the field, and bringing the GSE library current with math/science curricula and publications.
Focusing on technology has fostered a partnership with Vernier Software and Technology, a premier Portland company for educational technology. The funds have provided students with technology for use during their student teaching and on into their future teaching careers thus effecting the quality of many young lives for years to come as they learn math and science. Technology has also been added, for GSE checkout, to the Metropolitan Instructional Support Laboratory (MISL) located in the Education Building.
The GSE is also grateful to David and Christine Vernier of Vernier Software and Technology who have given generously to the project. They have offered activities such as mentoring and lectures for emerging educators and many hours of hands-on training to use technology (such as the various probes that feature electronic interface with calculators and computers).
The results of the Boeing grant and Vernier support is that GTEP students emerge from the program excited and ready to use educational technology to promote math and science learning in their classrooms. One student commented “The type of activities and demonstrations than can be done in a math class allow for students to make connections to the outside world and to fund value in what they are learning. I cannot wait to use this equipment in my classroom.”
Boeing’s support has been critical for our success. Preservice teachers have become professionals skilled with instructional technology, confident in their abilities to use it creatively in their teaching, and eager to transform schools where they work.
For more information or to support the GSE math/science teacher ed program, please visit http://www.pdx.edu/education and look for the giving link, or contact Sandy Wiscarson, director of external relations at wiscars@pdx. edu.