Sybil Kelley and Jean Aguilar-Valdez help make STEM classroom a reality

Sybil KelleyJean Aguilar-Valdez

Two GSE faculty members were recognized by the PSU Foundation for their leadership in acquiring $1.25 million in funding toward the GSE’s new home that opens in fall 2020. Assistant Professor Jean Aguilar-Valdez and Associate Professor Sybil Kelley are leaders in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) instruction. The PSU Foundation presented them with the Philanthropic Leadership Award at this year’s Commencement Ceremony. Aguilar-Valdez and Kelley have played significant roles in developing programming that led to the philanthropic gift to build the Vernier STEM Classroom in the new 4 th and Montgomery building.

Aguilar-Valdez teaches science methods and social justice courses for the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP) in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. This includes working with teachers in the Bilingual Teacher Pathway program and with students to develop community activist approaches to education.

Kelley leads the Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) program in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department. In addition, she teaches the elementary science methods course for GTEP in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and is also the faculty coordinator for the Learning Gardens Laboratory in Southeast Portland that provides garden- based education for public school students, university students, and community members.

GSE Alumna Rachel Stagner selected for national science award


The US Department of Energy and partnering federal agencies have finalized the selections for the 2018–2019 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow (AEF). PSU alumna Rachel Stagner, ’08, ’13, is one of 14 educators named for this prestigious award. She teaches chemistry and forensic science at Madison High School in Portland Public School District. Stagner will take a one-year leave of absence from her school to live and work at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC.

Stagner has two master’s degrees from PSU, an MEd, ’08, and an MST, ’13, and serves on the board of the Oregon Science Teachers Association. In 2017–19 she was named a Murdock Partner in Science, which enables her to spend two summers at Oregon Health and Science University on a neuroscience project with Dr. Henryk Urbanski.

Stagner has taught at Madison since 2009 and serves as co-department head. She has mentored middle and high school minority and at-risk students and developed curriculum for the Oregon MESA project (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement). She is committed to increasing the number of women and minority students in STEM.

“It’s a great honor, and I wanted to say thank you to the GSE,” said Stagner, who credits the late GSE professor Ron Narode as her methods teacher. “I know he would have been proud.”

The AEF program was signed into law in 1994 to provide opportunities for K–12 educators in STEM to serve in a federal agency or US Congressional office. Educators return home with broader knowledge in their fields that can be applied to their classrooms and schools.

GSE’s Sybil Kelley honored with 2018 PSU sustainability award

imgsybilEach year the Institute for Sustainable Solutions honors a faculty member whose teaching inspires students to embrace sustainability both inside and outside the classroom.

Sybil Kelley, PhD, is an associate professor of science education and sustainable systems in the Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) program in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department. In addition, she teaches the elementary science methods courses for the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP) in the Curriculum and Instruction Department and is the faculty coordinator of the Learning Gardens Laboratory.

Rather than rely solely on theories, Kelley incorporates innovative and experiential pedagogies to reinforce the content. This means that students not only learn about sustainability, they experience it in a reflective and integrated way through engaging in-class activities and community-based learning. Beyond teaching individual courses, Kelley helps to grow sustainability educators through the LSE degree program, from which students graduate ready and willing to dig into the work of sustainability in different capacities and forms. She has inspired countless students to become sustainability leaders throughout her time in the program.

Kelly has worked for Portland State since 2001 and holds a PhD in environmental science and an MS in science teaching from Portland State. She is the recipient of the 2017 Fred Fox Distinguished Service to Science Education Award from the Oregon Science Teachers Association.

DePry to join international editorial board


Special Education Professor and Department Chair Randall DePry has been named to the editorial board of the International Journal of Positive Behavioral Support, a peer-reviewed publication of the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) that promotes Positive Behavioral Support (PBS), training, and advocacy to improve outcomes for people with disabilities and/or autism. DePry has an extensive background working in the area of PBS, including past service as an elected member of the Association for Positive Behavior Support board of directors and co-editor of the book Individual Positive Behavior Supports: A Standards-Based Guide to Practices in School and Community Settings (Brown, Anderson, & DePry, 2015).

DePry came to PSU in 2011 to chair the Special Education Department and has since added new courses and programs to the Special Education Department’s robust portfolio. DePry holds a PhD from the University of Oregon and previously served as chair of the Department of Special Education at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. To learn more about the PSU Special Education Department degree, licensure, and certificate programs, please go to the website.

GSE to hold Academic Hooding and Commencement in new Viking Pavilion


Graduate School of Education students completing their programs need only attend a single ceremony this year. Traditionally, the GSE hosts a separate event from the University Commencement, Academic Hooding. For the first time, the school will instead host an official Academic Hooding and Commencement Ceremony, the first of five such events involving academic schools at PSU this spring. On June 15 in the newly renovated Viking Pavilion, the GSE will honor 355 students with master’s and doctoral degree diplomas while also performing the traditional academic hooding to signify advanced degree completion. The new pavilion seats up to 3,500 guests to accommodate graduates’ families and friends. This year, the GSE will also offer free childcare in collaboration with Little Vikings on a drop-in, as-needed basis.

PSU’s newly inaugurated ninth president, Rahmat Shoureshi, will congratulate graduates while Marvin Lynn officiates his first Academic Hooding and Commencement Ceremony as dean.


This year’s guest speaker is Karen Fischer Gray, the current superintendent of the Parkrose School District and the 2018 Oregon Superintendent of the Year. She has led Parkrose since 2007. Gray is the chair of the Oregon Educational Equity Advisory Group, which meets to increase the number of linguistically and racially diverse educators in Oregon. She is a former Spirit of Portland Award winner and served on the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission from 2010 to 2015. Gray has worked in education for 36 years.

Tickets to the 27th Academic Hooding and Commencement Ceremony are obtained through the student graduates, who may contact the PSU Box Office.

PSU Education Dean Marvin Lynn appointed to state Educator Advancement Council

Dean Marvin LynnAuthor: Kurt Bedell, PSU Media and Public Relations

Portland State University Graduate School of Education Dean Marvin Lynn has been appointed as a director of The Educator Advancement Council (EAC), a brand new advisory group representing Oregon educators and community leaders.

Following two years of efforts by the Governor’s Council on Educator Advancement, the EAC was created this year by Oregon Legislature to help the state reach the goal of high-quality, well-supported and culturally responsive educators in every classroom. The Council will establish a system of local educator networks to connect Oregon public educators with professional learning and support so that they can best serve students.

Lynn joined PSU as dean of the Graduate School of Education last fall. He is an internationally recognized expert on race and education and the lead editor of the Handbook of Critical Race Theory in Education published simultaneously in the U.S. and the U.K. with Routledge Press. He serves as an editorial board member of several journals, and has published more than two-dozen research articles and book chapters in reputable outlets.

Lynn works closely with an outstanding and diverse faculty and staff to advance the national profile of high-quality academic programs while further building and strengthening relationships with local schools.

The new EAC has 20 education and philanthropic leaders from across Oregon including superintendents, K-12 teachers, foundation and government leaders. Four members of the council are PSU alumni.