GSE alumna receives national award for research in Kenya


Recent GSE doctoral graduate Staci B. Martin, ’18, is the recipient of the 2018 Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) Dissertation in Practice of the Year Award for her work entitled Co-Creating Spaces of Critical Hope Through the Use of a Psychosocial Peace Building Education course in Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Context: Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.

Martin holds an EdD in the Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction. She is an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Portland State University and a scholar of critical hope and critical despair. She is a community-based action researcher working with vulnerable populations, in particular, refugee youth. She has lived and worked alongside communities in over 15 countries. Her experiences vary from designing to implementing to evaluating sustainable psychosocial peace-building education programs in four countries: South Africa, Dieplsoot Informal Settlement (nthabiseng project, 2001); Nepal, Vishwa Shanti Vihara Vishwa Monastery (Khelera Sikou Project, 2012); Jamaica (Irie Project, 2010); and Kenya, Kakuma Refugee Camp (Pambazuka, 2017). She has presented in over 20 conferences and authored five papers on this work.

Martin’s research and teaching interests include critical hope and despair, pedagogy of hope, refugee education, psychosocial, peace-building, participants as co-researchers, and community-based action approach.

“Staci is indeed a remarkable young scholar,” said her dissertation chair, Professor Emerita Dannelle D. Stevens. “She is humble, focused, articulate, and persistent in accomplishing her goal of conducting rigorous research. By doing so, she empowers individuals to create better outcomes for themselves and others. It has been my honor to work with and learn from her over these last five years.”

Her dissertation committee includes Micki Caskey, doctoral program coordinator, Samuel Henry, emeritus faculty in Curriculum and Instruction and Matt Carlson, Graduate Office representative.

Martin will attend the CPED Consortium Convening in Phoenix, Arizona, in October to receive a monetary award and plaque, and she will present her work at their luncheon.

The Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate is the knowledge forum on the EdD with a membership of over 100 schools of education in the US, Canada, and New Zealand, working collaboratively to improve professional preparation in education at the highest level.

TriMet hosts Orientation and Mobility students in summer intensive


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GSE students are learning how to ride TriMet’s public transportation system blindfolded this summer.

When the Visually Impaired Learner (VIL) and the Orientation and Mobility (O&M) cohorts began this term, students came to campus for their initial three-week summer intensive course. Except for this session, these classes are delivered entirely online. Because these are regional programs, some of the VIL and O&M students are from as far away as Alaska and Maryland.

Amy Parker, O&M coordinator and new GSE faculty member, contacted TriMet’s training division to see if there was interest in working with PSU O&M students. TriMet personnel graciously responded and hosted 11 students and 4 instructors at TriMet facilities in Portland. TriMet provided bus passes, safety vests, classroom space, and seasoned TriMet trainers who collaborated with faculty for hands-on lessons.

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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

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!

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GSE Early Intervention students study in the country of Georgia

Georgia[March 2018] Students in Hollie Hix-Small’s Early Intervention (EI) special education licensure program traveled to the country of Georgia this spring to study emerging EI efforts there. PSU EI students are: Danitza Galvan, Vanessa Hernandez, Jennifer King, Shaya Mooney, Michelle Rodriguez, and Stephanie Wills.

The trip included visits to a Tbilisi Maternity Hospital, Mental Health Centre, preschools supported by the Kutaisi Kindergarten Union and Ilia State University, Habilitation & Development Centre, First Step Georgia, Bridge for Social Inclusion, and a workshop hosted by Akaki Tsereteli State University.

Georgia is one of the first countries in the former Soviet Union to recognize and develop early intervention services and programs for its communities. Since 2011, Hix-Small has worked with Open Society Foundations to build EI services in Georgia for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Hix-Small may periodically offer this or similar exchanges to countries she partners with in Eastern Europe for early intervention students and related fields. For more information about the Early Intervention Special Education program at Portland State University, go to the website or contact

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.