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.

GSE faculty member Hollie Hix-Small accepts Fulbright in Myanmar

holliehixsmallAssistant Professor Hollie Hix-Small has been named a Fulbright Scholar to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. She will reside in the Southeast Asian country for four months, from June to September 2019, and will work to support implementation of their 2017–2020 National Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Intervention. Hix-Small, who has expertise in early childhood intervention and is known nationally and internationally for her work, will help to develop the country’s first higher education curriculum for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services. This collaboration among the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief, Relief and Resettlement and seven other ministries with support from UNICEF Myanmar and the Leprosy Mission of Myanmar has laid the groundwork for the opportunity to work with institutions of higher education on the further development of ECI.

Hix-Small will work with professors and other stakeholders in the country to co-develop coursework to support emerging professionals in the field of ECI. Rather than bringing a prescribed curriculum with her, she feels strongly that it will be important to use the perspectives and expertise of local practitioners, parents, professors, and others to jointly generate the content to customize the program to the country and the varied contexts within it. “My challenge is to understand the context and the culture and their learning needs,” said Hix-Small. Continue reading

Torrey Kulow selected for national math fellowship

Torrey KulowThe Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) has named GSE Assistant Professor Torrey Kulow a Mathematics Fellow. The Service, Teaching and Research (STaR) in Mathematics Education Fellowship is an induction program for early-career mathematics educators working at institutions of higher education.

“I am pleased that Dr. Kulow has received this prestigious fellowship,” said GSE Dean Marvin Lynn. “She is an excellent scholar with a deep commitment to mathematics teacher education. The fellowship will allow her to further enrich her already strong research agenda.”

Kulow is completing her first year at PSU where she is a cohort leader in the Graduate Teacher Education Program, specializing in secondary mathematics. Kulow taught middle school mathematics in Massachusetts prior to getting her master’s degree and PhD in curriculum and instruction (in the area of mathematics education) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“Dr. Kulow is a promising young scholar,” said Curriculum and Instruction Department Chair Will Parnell. “She is mindfully building her agenda with passion, energy, and focus.”

AMTE is the largest professional organization devoted to the improvement of mathematics teacher education. It includes over 1,000 members who support preservice education and professional development of preK–16 teachers of mathematics.

The STaR Fellows program includes a summer institute, academic year networking, and a follow-up session in conjunction with the annual AMTE meeting. The program was initiated through a grant from the National Science Foundation. Admission to the program is competitive. Fellows are selected from a broad range of institutions and for their academic objectives. To date, 270 early-career mathematics educators working at institutions of higher education have completed the program as STaR Fellows.

PSU science professor wins national award

Cary Sneider is the recipient

Cary Sneider

We are proud to have Dr. Cary Sneider as our colleague!

of the Robert H. Carleton Award from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

This is the most prestigious award an NSTA member can receive. The Robert H. Carleton Award recognizes one individual who has made outstanding contributions to, and provided leadership in, science education at the national level and to NSTA in particular. It is NSTA’s highest honor. —NSTA

Sneider is a visiting scholar in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department and co-PI on the Science in the Learning Gardens grant. Until last year, he was an associate research professor at PSU’s Center for Science Education, where he taught courses in research methodology in the Master of Science Teaching (MST) degree program.

Sneider has a stellar career in curriculum development, teacher education, and assessment and frequently consults on best practices in both formal and informal science education. He contributed to and was on the writing team for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are rolling out across the United States and so far have been adopted by 19 states and the District of Columbia. Oregon adopted the NGSS as its state science standards in 2014. Sneider is also a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as The Nation’s Report Card.

We are proud to have him as our colleague!

Continue reading

PSU’s Sam Sennott collects assistive technology award

Sam Sennott

Sam Sennott, Special Education Department, is the first recipient of the Dr. Arthur I. Karshmer Award for Assistive Technology Research from the California State University Northridge (CSUN) Assistive Technology Conference. He was honored for his paper entitled SETT Framework, MODELER, and PODD AAC Intervention in Elementary Grades. The award was presented March 22, 2018, at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference in San Diego, California.


Sennott shares the honors with three of his students, Alisha Chavez, Portland Public Schools (pictured), Hannah Goldberg, and Jess Theobald, David Douglas School District, who are working on graduate degrees in special education.

Sennott came to PSU in 2013, where he launched the Universal Design Lab (ULab) to conduct research for assistive technologies. He is the author of a smartphone app called Proloquo2Go, which enables nonverbal individuals to communicate and is a fraction of the cost of previous technologies. His ULab students are also involved in the Go Baby Go project that adapts toy cars for children with severe disabilities.

“This award honors the best of the best,” said Klaus Miesenberger, a professor at Johannes Kepler University Linz who made the announcement. Winners are recognized for an exemplary submission to the CSUN Assistive Technology Journal for excellence in research, and for the advancement of assistive technology.


This is the 33rd CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, which is one of the largest conference in this field, attracting several thousand participants each year from around the globe.