Dean’s Fund will move Preschool for All initiative forward

City/county models of culturally responsive preschools: Community-informed equity investments

Assistant Professor of Practice Ingrid Anderson has two goals: make affordable preschool available for all of Multnomah County and ensure that families experience preschools that are free from racism, bias, and discrimination.

In October 2017, Anderson, who supports the work of PSU’s interdisciplinary Early Childhood Council, co-convened stakeholders in an event to discuss interest in supporting affordable preschool for all Multnomah County children, ages 3 to 5 years old. Over 200 attendees participated in the day-long symposium that drew officials from state and county agencies. They were overwhelmingly in favor of moving forward.

The Dean’s Fund for Excellence provided Anderson and GSE partners with key start-up funding to begin exploring the project. She will engage resources in a survey of large cities like Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle that already have universal preschool programs in place. Once data is collected, her team will analyze it to discover common successful patterns, conduct a literature review, and write a white paper focused on city and county models of culturally responsive preschools working to support community-informed equity investments. Continue reading

Dean’s grant supports a study in academic coaching of TCIO students

The art of the possible: Developing new teachers’ pedagogies of possibility for inclusion through think college academic coaching

Can K–12 students in special education programs aspire to go to college? Will their teachers have the skills to support them to do so?

The Dean’s Fund for Excellence has awarded Assistant Professor Molly Siuty a grant to explore academic coaching in the Think College Inclusion Oregon (TCIO), PSU’s groundbreaking program that offers a four-year University experience to 18–21-year-olds with intellectual disabilities (ID).

Siuty is the cohort leader of the Secondary Dual Educator Program (SDEP), a program unique to PSU that offers a dual teaching license in special education and another subject area, with a focus on inclusion. PSU students in SDEP are also coaches in the TCIO program.

TCIO offers students with modified high school diplomas the opportunity to attend college on PSU campus with their peers. It is the only program for students with intellectual disabilities in Oregon and will enroll 35 students over the five-year term of the TCIO grant. Continue reading

Counseling research project will assess experiences of women of color in medical treatment settings

Investigating the experiences of women with invisible illnesses in medical settings: A comparison of intersectional identities

Assistant Professor Rana Yaghmaian will expand her work in rehabilitation counseling with this new grant from the Dean’s Funds for Excellence.

It was the experience of a close family member that sent Yaghmaian’s career on this trajectory. This person lived nearly three decades with an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, consistently being told by medical personnel that her symptoms were psychosomatic in nature.

Yaghmaian’s work focuses on women with chronic, ambiguous, and invisible illnesses. She states that there is very compelling evidence that women with chronic illnesses must constantly adapt to, negotiate, and interact with the social environment, specifically medical settings, in ways that are intimately connected to the intersection of gender and illness. Studies reveal that women in general are perceived as overly emotional and burdensome in medical settings, and Yaghmaian has stated that this is especially true for women with the types of conditions she studies. According to her research, when medical practitioners fail to diagnose a problem through conventional methods, women are often told legitimate physical symptoms are “all in your head.” As a result, women can feel invalidated and disempowered. This messaging leads to delayed and ineffective care, and could impact the individual’s ability to participate fully in important life roles and achieve good a quality of life. Yaghmaian will continue her line of research around this topic, specifically focusing on ways in which the experiences of women of color compare to those of women with privileged racial identities.

Yaghmaian plans to conduct her research using quantitative and qualitative research methodology, specifically investigating the experiences of women who seek conventional medical care. This grant will give Yaghmaian the opportunity to design and develop the project over the next year and to nurture University and community partnerships to collaborate and expand the work. Her ultimate goal is to organize a research team that can move the project forward for possible federal funding. This could provide opportunities for PSU students to work on an important project that is relevant to the community, and at the same time reflects the GSE’s and the University’s emphasis on diversity and social justice.

“The overarching purpose of this project, and the reason I’m so interested in this line of research, is that I want to use this work as part of my commitment to advocacy for women and women of color with chronic illness and disability,” said Yaghmaian. “I want to explore intersections of gender, race, and illness to ultimately improve quality of life for these women.”

Yaghmaian is the coordinator of the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program in the Counselor Education Department.

This is one of a 4-part series of projects funded by the 2018 Dean’s Fund for Excellence. For more information or to contribute to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence, or any other GSE fund, please contact Scott Shlaes,, or call 503-725-4789.

NEXT: Two ground-breaking GSE programs collaborate on “what’s possible?”

GSE 2017–18 Dean’s Fund for Excellence supports promising new research projects

The Dean’s Fund for Excellence allows the GSE to invest in opportune and beneficial projects that improve our school, our community, and the education profession. With these grants, GSE faculty members are able to initiate new projects that accelerate their scholarly agenda and can move them forward to seek greater funding sources.

“This is a significant investment in research for the GSE,” said Moti Hara, who is the new GSE Director of Research. “We are grateful for the dean’s leadership in making research a priority for our school.”

This year’s grant recipients address issues of diversity in a myriad of ways. Rana Yaghmaian wants to learn more about how women of color are perceived by traditional medical professionals. Amanda Sugimoto and Torrey Kulow are developing curriculum to help classroom teachers instigate math discussions with diverse K–12 students. Molly Siuty is leading a coaching project in the Secondary Dual Educator Program (SDEP) that will support students in the new Think College Inclusion Oregon project. Ingrid Anderson is at the cusp of a transformative project that will bring culturally responsive preschools to all of Multnomah County. Each of these projects reinforces the GSE’s mission to prepare our students for diverse learning environments.

Thanks to the hard work of this year’s grant review committee: Hanoch Livneh, faculty emeritus in Counselor Education; Ann Fullerton, professor in Special Education; Moti Hara, GSE Director of Research.

Read about each of these projects as they are posted on the GSE blog over the next week.

For more information or to contribute to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence, or any other GSE fund, please contact Scott Shlaes,, or call 503-725-4789.

New early childhood book published by Will Parnell

Professor Will Parnell, chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Department (CI), has published a new early childhood education book, Meaning Making in Early Childhood Research, a collection of 11 essays by 17 international early childhood teacher education researchers, professors, and teacher-researchers. He is co-author and editor of the book with Jeanne Marie Iorio, a senior lecturer in early childhood education at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.

Meaning Making in Early Childhood Research (Routledge) asks readers to rethink research in early childhood education through qualitative research practices reflective of arts-based pedagogies. This collection explores how educators and researchers can move toward practices of meaning making in early childhood education. The text’s narrative style provides an intimate portrait of engaging in research that challenges assumptions and thinking in a variety of international contexts, and each chapter offers a way to engage in meaning making based on the experiences of young children, their families, and educators. Continue reading

Coloring book helps African children with grief

Susan Halverson bookImages of grieving orphans in Third World countries are common on the television, and while they may tug at our hearts, it’s difficult to find an appropriate response or know how to help. But the GSE’s Susan Halverson-Westerberg did just that.

In 2013, Halverson-Westerberg visited Kenya, where she met with Reverend David Chuchu, director of the Diakonia Compassionate Ministry in Kisumu, which provides support for children who have lost their parents due to conflict, famine, or illness. Halverson-Westerberg’s local church, Zion Lutheran of Portland, Oregon, supports this mission, and she and her husband Jim traveled there to see the newly built Rescue Center.

Susan Halvorson-WesterbergHalverson-Westerberg had another reason for her trip. As a faculty member in the Counselor Education Department, she researches the impact of grief and dying on children and families. She wanted to use this trip as an opportunity to better understand how another culture deals with grief and to gain insight to develop supports and curriculum for students and children in her work locally.

“When I visited Kenya in 2013, I was very taken with the many beautiful orphans who had lost one or both parents due to illness and accidents. If there are no other family members left to help, even losing one parent can land a child in an orphanage or rescue center since that one parent cannot work and care for the child,” Halverson-Westerberg said. “I felt there was a need to give something to these children to help them feel they are still part of a larger family, since family is so important in Africa.”

Halverson-Westerberg decided to write a book that could be used as a tool to develop dialog with children who have lost one or both parents. Her book, Margaret’s Family Tree: A Story of Hope and Belonging (2016), is a coloring book designed to help children work through their grief in a constructive way and to help them acknowledge feelings about their lost loved ones. The book is written in both English and Swahili. It is illustrated in black and white by Oregon artist Edna M. Kennel. Halvorson-Westerberg is offering it free for duplication to anyone working with children, especially in African countries. A second version in color is planned for release soon.

Halverson-Westerberg is an associate professor and coordinator of the Marital, Couple, and Family Counseling specialization. She has a PhD in counselor education from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and has taught at PSU since 1999.