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News, honors and awards


Link to: Distinguished alumni | Crystal Apple Award program of the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation | Archived news briefs


Dantas-Whitney named 2012 outstanding university teacher

Dr. Maria Dantas-Whitney April 2012 - Recipient of a prestigious annual WOU faculty award is Maria Dantas-Whitney, pictured left, associate professor of Teacher Education and ESOL program coordinator. She received the Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Teaching during a campus ceremony on May 3 and gave a presentation titled Countering Deficit Ideologies in the Education of English Language Learners. She joined the faculty of the College of Education in 2004. Among her many professional accomplishments are that she was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Mexico and she is Director for Project SPELL (Sustainable Practices for English Language Learners), a federally-sponsored partnership between WOU and two large Oregon public school districts. Project SPELL offers professional development for teachers such as coursework, mentoring, and guidance on classroom-based research. The annual Pastega faculty awards for both teaching and scholarship are the result of a collegial nomination and review process.


A third of new Phi Kappa Phi members represent College of Education

Left to right: Robert Hautala, Hilda Rosselli, Tracy Smiles, Maria Dantas-Whitney, Christina Reagle of Teaching Research Institute, and Provost Kent Neely
Faculty and administrators, l. to r.: Robert Hautala, Dean Hilda Rosselli, Tracy Smiles, Maria Dantas-Whitney, Christina Reagle of Teaching Research Institute, and Provost Kent Neely

April 2012 - A select group of WOU students and faculty in the College of Education will join the local chapter of Phi Kappa Phi honor society in an April 18 ceremony. The COE group comprises 32 percent of inductees this year, which includes 28 juniors, 19 seniors, eight graduate students, and four faculty members. The chapter, founded in 1979 as WOU's only interdisciplinary honor society, advocates for scholarship and recognizes academic excellence. Faculty inductees include Maria Dantas-Whitney and Tracy Smiles, both associate professors of Teacher Education; as well as Robert Hautala, associate professor of Health and Physical Education.


This is the first year that graduate students have been inducted into the chapter and inductees include Alexandria Majors and Gaynelle L. O'Neil of Rehabilitation Counseling; and Kim Ellen Daniels, Kimberly Hartman and Mercedes Rochelle Strowbridge of Teacher Education. Undergraduate inductees include Amber O'Hara, American Sign Language; Angela Haslam, ESL Teacher Education; Tara A. Carn, Curriculum/Instruction; Trish Dowell and Colin Michael Albi of Public Health; and Teacher Education majors Amy Keithley, Jessie C. Harden, Jill Turner Whitney, Kaitlin L. Hodgin, Samalta Maree Badzik, Sheryl Mae Schiefelbein and Stephanie Jane Adams.


Bersani killed while bicycling near Monmouth; scholarship established

Dr. Hank BersaniMarch 2012 - Hank Bersani, 61, professor of Special Education and WOU faculty member since 1999, died as a result of injuries sustained in a traffic accident along Highway 99W on March 31. Funeral services and a celebration of life were held the following week. More information and a growing collection of personal reflections are available here. In his memory, the Hank Bersani Student Scholarship Fund has been set up to provide tuition for students seeking to complete a teacher preparation program in special education at WOU and contributions are welcomed. June 2012 update - A $50,000 anonymous gift to the Hank Bersani Student Scholarship Fund will allow the first scholarship to be awarded this fall.


Disability issues expert featured at Qatar forum

January 2012 - Hank Bersani, professor of Special Education, participated in an international forum on disability issues in Doha, Qatar, and toured the Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs. The center was established at the behest of Her Highness Skiekah Moza bint Nasser, wife of His Highness the Emir of Qatar, to provide comprehensive services to children with disabilities. Periodically the first lady sponsors international forums on important issues relating to disability. Bersani was among nearly 300 leaders in disability issues from over 30 countries invited to participate in the fifth international forum titled Crisis, Conflict and Disability: Ensuring Equality. Forum sessions reviewed the United Nations Charter on the Rights of People with Disabilities and issues facing people with disabilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti. Under the patronage of Her Highness, invitees met for three days and had a day of cultural experiences in Doha. Much of the forum was directly relevant to Bersani's work in Vietnam with Forgotten People Foundation. He previously visited Doha when invited to the third International Forum on Sport and Disability. Doha and Qatar have been in the news recently, including a segment on 60 Minutes. Doha is home of Al Jazeera Radio and recently agreed to host political headquarters of the Taliban.


A fifth of state's ELL students to be touched by grant to WOU/school districts

October 2011 - Western Oregon University has received a grant of nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Education for Project SPELL (Sustainable Practices for English Language Learners), to support teacher training and improve classroom instruction for English language learners (ELL). This project is a collaboration between WOU and two school districts (Salem-Keizer and Woodburn). The project will reach almost 20 percent of the 65,410 ELL students in Oregon. Read more.


New teacher award goes to graduate

September 2011 - Corvallis, Ore. - Long-time WOU donor Mario Pastega of Corvallis has always supported a Golden Apple award to honor an outstanding local educator. This year he extended that to honor new teachers with the Apple Blossom award. Picked for the first award was Dan Bowdoin, who holds a WOU B.S in Education ('10) with initial teacher licensure and endorsement in basic math. He teaches at Linus Pauling Middle School and received both a plaque and $250 at the award ceremony.


Health educator tapped by governor

August 2011 - Daniel Lopez-Cevallos, assistant professor of health and physical education, was appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber to the Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) Criteria work group. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA), under House Bill 3650 Section 13, establishes a process to inform development of an Oregon integrated and coordinated health care delivery system. The goal is a system where CCOs are accountable for care management that is both integrated and coordinated. The work group provides input on the CCO statement of work and certification criteria that support delivery system innovation and transformation. Read more.


Annual WOU faculty award goes to teacher educator

April 2011 - The 2011 winner of the Mario and Alma Pastega Award for Excellence in Teaching is Dr. Chloe Hughes, associate professor of teacher education. Hughes joined the College of Education in 2005. The 2011 Excellence in Scholarship award goes to Dr. Kimberly Jensen, professor of history. They will both be honored at a campus ceremony on May 12. Read more.


Graduate student argues that paper still has a place in schools

February 2011 - An essay by Elayne Evans, a candidate for the Master of Science in Education: Information Technology degree, appears in the journal Learning and Leading with Technology. She and another education professional wrote point/counterpoint reflections on the question, "Should Schools Go Paperless?" Read more.


Dean links famous flamenco guitarist and local school

January 2011 - Renowned flamenco guitarist Adam Del Monte had unexpected spare time during his recent tour visit to WOU. Thanks to relationships between WOU and area school districts, he was invited to perform and clinic at a Woodburn high school. Dr. Hilda Rosselli, dean of the College of Education, facilitated the classroom event when one of Del Monte's WOU concerts canceled. Read more.


Literacy grant aids collaboration with teachers

January 2011 - Two Teacher Education faculty members are working with five middle and high school teachers who are WOU alumni to form a "Literacy Community as a Global Gateway to Innovation." The $1,000 award from Worlds of Words and the Longview Foundation went to Tracy Smiles and Marie LeJeune, who are collaborating with the teachers through August to explore the use of global literature to build international understanding. Smiles is associate professor and Literacy Program coordinator and LeJeune, assistant professor, coordinates the Master of Science in Education.


Free medical clinic secures significant support

January 2011 - Polk Community Free Medical Clinic is becoming a reality through the efforts of Gail Saxowsky, adjunct instructor of health, and others. The clinic, set to open later this year in space provided by Trinity Lutheran Church in Dallas, recently received $40,000 from Wheat Ridge Ministries, a Lutheran outreach group. The three years of funding will help with start-up efforts; other sources of funding and partnerships have also been secured and more are in the works. The clinic is being designed to serve low income individuals and families without health care coverage and is also slated as a practicum site for students in WOU nursing and community health programs.


WOU earns AASCU award for excellence

Dean Hilda Rosselli and Provost Kent Neely (right) at the AASCU award ceremonyNovember 2010 - WOU was recognized with the prestigious 2010 Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The national award recognizes excellence in teacher education programs and advancement in the field of teacher education by identifying promising practices and critical issues related to measuring the impact of programs on teacher candidate knowledge and, in turn, on pupil learning. The Teacher Work Sample and Learning Gains Aggregator, methodology that WOU pioneered, uses at the program level, and continuously researches and improves, were cited as important to the award decision. Dean Hilda Rosselli accepted the award at AASCU'a 2010 annual meeting in Charleston, SC. The award, created in 1987, was named in honor of the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, who died in the 1986 explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle. Read more from AASCU and WOU.


OSSA Teacher of the Year has several WOU connections

November 2010 - Joyce Garland, WOU alumna and social studies teacher at Sheridan High School, was named 2011 Teacher of the Year by the Oregon Small Schools Association. Also an adjunct instructor in the Master of Science in Education program, she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in education at WOU and has served as a mentor teacher.


Deaf school board adds expert from WOU

October 2010 - Cheryl Davis, director of the Regional Resource Center on Deafmess, was named to the Board of Directors of the Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem. The appointment, made by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, starts immediately and continues through June 2014. In September, OSD was site of an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, an Emmy winning reality television program. During the week-long EMHE presence, a new boys' dormitory was built with significant local donations and community support.


Reynolds named top Oregon elementary principal

October 2010 - Bruce E. Reynolds '78 of Bend was named Oregon Elementary Principal of the Year by the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA). He has been principal for more than seven years at R.E. Jewell Elementary School in Bend. He was formally recognized at the COSA annual conference in June. Jewell school is recognized as one of seven K-12 Champion schools in the state for high academic achivement and for making substantial progress in closing achivevement gaps. Video clip. Reynolds was also named a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and traveled to Washington, D.C., in October to accept the award and discuss issues facing education today. Some 62 principals from across the nation and abroad make up the 2010 class of National Distinguished Principals.


Capitol Hill lobbying, lunch with Jill Biden cap breast cancer conference

From left -- Jessica Henderson, Jill Biden and Katrina RothenbergerMay 2010 - Jill Biden, Ed.D., hosted student Katrina Rothenberger and health and physical education Professor Jessica Henderson at her home in Washington, D.C., as part of the annual National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) Advocacy Conference. The duo was invited to the luncheon, said Henderson, because of the formation of the new WOU student organization Wolves Against Breast Cancer, which Rothenberger co-founded and leads, with Henderson as faculty adviser. Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is active in the breast cancer community through her home state of Delaware.


Twenty WOU students attended the conference and also met with the Oregon congressional delegation and their aides to advocate for both access to quality health care and funding of breast cancer research. View slideshow.


The NBCC has a focus on getting young people involved through its "Emerging Leaders" program and Rothenberger was one of four selected for the program from across the country this year. For the past five years, more students from WOU than any other university have participated in this leadership program, Henderson said. With a BS in Community Health Education ('10) from WOU, Rothenberger was voted Outstanding Community Health Education Major by faculty in the Division of Health and Physical Education. This fall she plans to begin the Master’s of Public Health (MPH) program at Oregon State University with a focus on health policy. Added Henderson, "I feel so proud of the passion and professionalism the students have displayed." More than 800 attended the NBCC Advocacy Conference from the U.S. and at least 16 other countries. Most attendees are breast cancer survivors, said Henderson. More information:


International award goes to Cardinal as adviser

May 2010 - Professor of health and physical education Dr. Marita Cardinal received the 2010 Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Certificate of Merit form the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). The director of WOU's Academic Advising and Learning Center was also singled out for honor by the group. Read more.


Veterans served by outstanding graduate student

May 2010 - A student in the Rehabilitation Counseling program, Christa Brandenburg was named 2010 Outstanding Graduate Student at the annual WOU student leadership awards event. She has developed expertise in providing services to returning vets and has worked in the university's counseling center. "We applaud Christa and join her RCE/RCD faculty in celebrating another great honor for the College of Education," said Dean Hilda Rosselli.


Alumna is Oregon Middle School Principal of the Year

Cathy CarnahanJune 2010 - Congratulations to Cathy Carnahan, principal of Duniway Middle School in McMinnville School District, on receiving the honor of Oregon Middle School Principal of the Year. She earned her Master of Science in Education from Western Oregon University in 1998. The three overriding principles at Duniway are valuing relationships, engaging students and pursuing excellence. This year, Carnahan chose the theme "Whatever it Takes" for the school, complementing these three principles. This theme mirrors the fundamental focus of Duniway's teachers and administration, as they dedicate their time to meeting the academic and social needs of each student. Carnahan's leadership at Duniway is a vital uniting force, as she serves the students as well as the staff. She will be recognized, along with other state winners, at a fall ceremony in Washington, D.C. (From Oregon Department of Education Superintendent's Update #325, 6/17/2010)


Dr. Mark GirodExcellence in Scholarship award
Dr. Mark Girod, associate professor and division chair
Dr. Karie MizeExcellence in Teaching award
Dr. Karie Mize, assistant professor and Bilingual Teacher Initiative coordinator

Teacher Education faculty sweep 2010 awards

May 2010 - Both winners of 2010 Mario and Alma Pastega faculty awards teach in the Division of Teacher Education. Read more. Award nominations are solicited each year from WOU faculty and selections are made by the Pastega Awards Committee. In 2009 College of Education faculty won both awards, too.


First Sweet scholarship winner is named

Alexa HallerApril 2010 - The College of Education awarded the first Dan Sweet Kindness Scholarship to Alexa Haller, a Health/PE major. The scholarship will be used spring term and is in honor of the late Dan Sweet, long-time adjunct faculty member and public school teacher.


Elementary library gains from student teachers' service

April 14, 2010 - Ash Creek Elementary School in Independence was recently converted from an intermediate school but, due to district budget woes, stocking books for younger readers had to wait. Three WOU student teachers are spearheading efforts to upgrade the library. Read more.


Ableism in children's literature is uncovered

From left, Dr. Hank Bersani, Jerrie Parpart of Hamersly Library, and Dr. Chloe HughesApril 14, 2010 - Two faculty from seemingly disparate disciplines--Reading and Special Education--pursued a unique research interest together and their findings have been published in an educational journal. Dr. Chloe Hughes of the Division of Teacher Education and Dr. Hank Bersani of the Division of Special Education researched ableism in children's literature, a term defined as prejudice by able-bodied and able-minded people toward people with disabilities. An exhibit of Bersani's and Hughes' findings opened today at Hamersly Library. It sheds new light on the "lack of credible heroes with disabilities among 72 Caldecott medal winners," according to exhibited materials. Two of their papers appear in the winter 2008-2009 issue of Rethinking Schools: Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Children's Books for Ableism (pp. 52-54) and Beyond the Medal, Representations of disability in Caldecott winners (pp. 27-31).


The Oregonian features successes of WOU Bilingual Fellows
April 4, 2010 - The broad support for Latino students at WOU--and resulting high graduation rate--is the subject of an article that features two Bilingual Fellows, a WOU program that offers opportunities to undergraduate pre-education majors who have an enhanced language background. "Nearly 49 percent of the Latino students at Western graduate within six years, compared with 45 percent of white classmates, according to a study last month by the American Enterprise Institute," reads the article. Learn more.


Link to archived news briefs


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