GSE alumna Marilyn DeVault donates winnings to GSE scholarship

Marilyn DeVault displays one of her cakes, with professor emeritus Steve Brannan

Marilyn DeVault displays one of her cakes, with professor emeritus Steve Brannan

Alumna Marilyn DeVault, MS ’71, has parlayed what she learned in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) Special Education program at PSU into a career, “creating desserts that are amazing and that all can enjoy.” This includes her patrons with special dietary needs. And, thanks to her skills and talent, she is able to donate $10,000 toward a scholarship to support students in the Special Education program.

DeVault studied special education under Professor Steve Brannan, one of the founders of the Special Education Department, and received her master’s in 1971. After graduating, she taught students with disabilities for several years. In 1978, she made a career change, opening the Piece of Cake Bakery in Sellwood. Here, she combined her love of baking with her interest in supporting people with special needs. Abundant research exists on the impact of nutrition and learning. Devault’s teaching experience inspired her to address dietary issues, developing formulas that are gluten-free, organic, and vegan. Her bakery offers a wide variety of items that meet the needs of people who are pursuing gluten-free or other food sensitivity–related diets. Continue reading

New GSE grant supports math instruction in Hillsboro

DEMIL_GrantThe Developing Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leaders (DEMIL) project is a new grant that will help develop math skills in elementary students in Hillsboro School District for the 2015–16 school year. The Noyce Grant is from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which sponsors the Master Teacher Fellowship capacity building project. Principal Investigator Nicole Rigelman will lead the grant, which involves, in the first phase, two teacher leaders at each of these schools: Witch Hazel, Lincoln Street, Reedville, L. C. Tobias, Mooberry, W. Verne McKinney, and Ladd Acres Elementary Schools.

The grant, for $75,000, is the foundation of what is anticipated to be a model for developing building-based leaders who support mathematics instructional capacity. It supports professional development for teachers to focus on highly effective mathematics instructional practices. Classroom teachers are supported by teacher leaders. A second phase next year will expand the concept to more teachers and include PSU teacher candidates as well. Teachers who persist will be able to earn an Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leader (EMIL) specialization through PSU. Continue reading

GSE alumna Nancy Sullivan named Oregon Secondary Librarian of the Year

Nancy SullivanNancy Sullivan, MEd ’01, is Oregon’s Secondary Librarian of the Year. She works at Madison High School in Portland Public Schools. She is a graduate of PSU’s Library Media Master’s Degree program.

The Oregon Association of School Libraries (OASL) presents the award annually at their conference. The award is given to school librarians who “demonstrate exceptional performance as a teacher, an instructional consultant, an information specialist, and leader.”

After a dozen years at Madison, she’s learned one important lesson: be flexible. Sullivan is well-known for hosting numerous author events at her school, providing inspiration to her students. Sometimes events go as planned, but if they don’t, Sullivan knows how to smooth things out. Continue reading

New grant provides college access to individuals with intellectual disabilities

Ann Fullerton and Susan Bert

Ann Fullerton and Susan Bert

For the first time in Oregon, individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) will have access to an inclusive university experience. A $2.5 million, five-year grant from the US Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education will create a college program that enrolls students with ID in regular PSU classes and culminates in the certification of skills for eventual employability and adult life. Ann Fullerton and Susan Bert, faculty in the Graduate School of Education, are co-directors of the project. Ruth Falco, Director, Research Center on Inclusive and Effective Educational Practices, was instrumental in bringing partners together for the project and in writing the grant proposal, and will serve as the project evaluator. The Think College Inclusion Oregon (TCIO) project is the first of its kind at a four-year university in Oregon.

“For many young adults, college is a path to independent living and preparation for employment in a chosen career area. Traditionally, individuals with intellectual disabilities have been excluded from the college experience, when college can be a critical step toward their success as adults,” said Fullerton.

PSU faculty and staff will design a program that provides inclusive college coursework, the option to live on campus, and preparation for future employment. The grant also provides academic advising and other academic support to help ensure students with ID are successful in their individualized college experiences. The plan is for 35 TCIO students to participate. The project will start small and focus on building capacity over five years. Continue reading

Majority of GSE 2015 education graduates find jobs

School district representatives travel from as far away as Alaska to recruit PSU’s aspiring teachers and counselors.

School district representatives travel from as far away as Alaska to recruit PSU’s aspiring teachers and counselors.

School districts hiring at an all-time high

This year Portland metro area school districts scrambled to find enough educators to fill the more than 2,300 positions open in schools. In spring 2015, the PSU Graduate School of Education (GSE) produced 392* new licensure graduates who eagerly anticipated their first assignments. Many GSE cohort leaders reported 100 percent employment for their class. Some GSE graduates had multiple offers, and many were offered positions as early as May for the 2015–16 school year.

“All of my students who wanted them found jobs,” said cohort leader Barb Ruben, who teaches in the Secondary Dual Educator Program that generates middle/high school teachers. Ruben noted that one or two students planned to travel or focus on their families before landing their first jobs, so they were not yet searching. Continue reading

New grant addresses Next Generation Science Standards

Learning GardensScience in the Learning Gardens (SciLG): Factors that Support Racial and Ethnic Minority Students’ Success in Low-Income Middle Schools is a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in its second year at PSU that is designed to study the impact of using garden-based education to support Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) among racial- and ethnic-minority students. The $500,000 project, which is a partnership between PSU and Portland Public Schools, serves sixth through eighth graders at Lent and Lane Middle Schools in outer Southeast Portland. Both schools have high numbers of students who are low income and minorities. PSU’s Learning Gardens Laboratory is one of the sites serving Lane. About 200 sixth graders participated in the first year.

The SciLG is led by long-time school garden pioneer and researcher Dilafruz Williams, with Sybil Kelley in Educational Leadership and Policy, Cary Sneider in the PSU Science Education Center, and Ellen Skinner in the PSU Psychology Department in a unique cross-disciplinary approach.

Two important features differentiate the project. First, while most school garden programs exist in lower elementary grades, the SciLG is designed for middle schoolers. By continuing the study with the same group of students over three years, sixth through eighth grades, investigators are collecting unique longitudinal data on engagement and motivation.

Second, the project is aligned with the national Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Oregon is one of the lead states that has adopted the new standards, which had not been updated in 15 years. The new NGSS establish what K–12 students will need to know and be able to do upon graduating from high school. Rapid advances in science and technology in recent years and new information about how students learn prompted the update, along with the goal for American students to graduate and better compete in a global economy. The hope is that by increasing skills and interest at the middle school level, Lane and Lent schools’ culturally diverse students will have better proficiency in STEM classes in high school and beyond.

“We at PSU have seized the opportunity to bring together two significant education movements,” said Williams, principal investigator on the grant. “One is NGSS. And the other is the surge of interest in school gardens across the nation. With tens of thousands of school gardens across the country, research shows that school gardens positively impact student outcomes, especially in science.”

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