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News, honors and awards

Link to: Crystal Apple Award program of the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation


Select students brought into scholastic honor society

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: Ensur

ing 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.


Special educator and former graduate student dies awaiting transplant

November 2011 - Tamara (York) Condit died Nov. 16 of acute liver failure while awaiting a transplant at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. She entered the Special Educator Program in fall 2009 and in June 2011 earned a Student-of-the-Year Award for academic excellence and outstanding performance in the three required field experiences. Twice named a Ford Scholar, she completed her bachelor's degree at Southern Oregon University in 2007. In September she was hired as a special education teacher at Central High School in Independence and she was hospitalized in mid October. Associate Professor of Special Education Dr. Robert Brownbridge said, "We extend our sincere condolences to Tamara's immediate and extended family members. Tamara was a truly gifted special educator and a passionate, kind and generous woman who will be missed by all who knew and loved her."


Schools, community give Eli an iPad

Eli Ulm, age 6 - photo courtesy of Corvallis Gazette-TimesOctober 2011 - Alsea, Ore. - Rozeanne Steckler, WOU alumna and science teacher at Alsea School, had an idea: 6-year-old Eli Ulm might want to experiment with her personal Apple iPad. Ulm, who was born with Down syndrome, began to navigate through apps with ease. "I wasn't sure if he'd like it, but after 20 minutes, he wouldn't let go of it," she said. "Eli is more receptive than expressive and using the iPad has helped him express himself and communicate easier," said Rozeanne. Word spread about the difference it was making for Eli and within days, thanks to other Alsea students and the community, he got his own iPad to use both at school and home. The effort went over the top, so Alsea School District Superintendent Marc Thielman said leftover money will help purchase technology for other special needs students. Read more from the Corvallis Gazette-Times.


Rozeanne completed her Initial Special Educator K-12 teaching license at WOU in June 2009 and was a Student of the Year recipient for the 2007-2009 cohort. She also holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical Chemistry from University of Minnesota (1986).


WOU's top female student award goes to interpreting major

Marcella Flores at President's Club dinner/photo by Kelly J. JamesMay 2011 - Marcella Flores is this year’s recipient of WOU's prestigious Julia McCulloch Smith Award. She grew up in Edmonds, Wash., and is a senior in the ASL/English Interpreting Program. She worked in Service Learning and Career Development on campus since she was a freshman, coordinating the Alternative Break trips this year and co-coordinating the Orientation PLUS Team last year. She completed part of her internships at the Central Interpreting Referral Service in Baltimore, Md., and is now completing her internship at Washington School for the Deaf.


The faculty share that Marcella is able to work in a variety of internship settings because she has both the necessary dispositions and skills. She has provided positive leadership while in the program. Her development as a leader at WOU makes her the kind of person who can work well with consumers from every walk of life, whether Deaf or hearing. Next fall she plans to attend Oregon State University for a Master’s of Education degree in College Student Services and Administration.


WOU connections shine in Shamrock Run
WOU runners and walkers
March 13, 2011 - Division of Special Education faculty, staff and alumni were among 30,000 who took part in the annual Shamrock Run in Portland, which benefitted Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Elisa Maroney, Hank Bersani, Lynda Bersani and Edwin Cancel participated in the 5K stride, while ASL studies instructor Katie Heise ran the 8K. Pamela Cancel and CM Hall of the interpreting program ran the 5K along with WOU alumni Brent Redpath and Tyler Reisnaur (both '10).

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.


Interpreter education center receives major funding

September 2010 - The Western Region Interpreter Education Center (WRIEC) at the Regional Resource Center on Deafness (RRCD) was awarded $1.5 million over five years. According to Cheryl Davis, RRCD director, the project is a collaboration between WOU and El Camino College in Torrance, CA. WRIEC is one of five regional and one national centers making up the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC). NCIEC's overall end purpose is to significantly increase the number of qualified and credentialed interpreters and educators in the field. NCIEC's mission: excellence and effective practices in sign language interpreter education. Its goal: maximize resources and reduce unnecessary repetition and expense while promoting innovation, strong partner networks and multiculturalism. NCIEC works to forge collaborative links and facilitate practice and product sharing among interpreter education service providers, practitioners, educators, and consumers nationwide. Under this collaborative structure, products and services have been developed as national endeavors. This project has been housed in the RRCD for 20 years and was previously known as the Region X Interpreter Education Center.



Autism expert named to Governor's new commission

Top 10 special educator list
September 2010 - Dr. Mickey Pardew is among the Top 10 Most Influential Special Education Professors listed on TeachTechTopia, a teaching and technology focused blog site. Read more

Dr. Mickey PardewJuly 2009 - Dr. Mickey Pardew, professor of Special Education and noted regional expert on autism, was named to the newly created Oregon Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The 13 member group, which works to improve services to individuals and families experiencing ASD in Oregon, was appointed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski. In making selections, he focused on individuals who combined a proven record of leadership with a high level of experience working on pertinent issues and demonstrated passion to produce meaningful results for Oregonians. Read more



Christa BrandenburgVeterans 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.


Tyler Reisnaur, right, interprets for a Seabeck camperSeabeck camp volunteers interpret for Deaf-blind adults

August 2009 - Several WOU students and alumni who are all American Sign Language fluent served for several days at an annual Deaf-blind camp in Seabeck, Wash. They volunteered as support service providers, serving one on one with Deaf-blind adults to facilitate the camp experience. The Deaf-blind retreat is sponsored by Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind. CM Hall of the Division of Special Education organizes this career-building service endeavor each year. She is project coordinator for the Western Region Interpreter Education Center in WOU's Regional Resource Center on Deafness. Read more



National Interpreter Certificate pass rate is strong

All 18 of those who completed WOU's American Sign Language/English Interpreting Program during spring 2009 took a rigorous national exam before they finished the program and three-fourths of them passed. Taking the three-part exam for National Interpreter Certification (NIC) before program completion is unusual, said Elisa Maroney, chair of the Division of Special Education and coordinator of the ASL/English Interpreting Program. "Though many interpreting programs use the NIC knowledge exam as an exit requirement, I know of no other program in the U.S. that asks their students to take the performance and interview exams before graduation," she said.


Woodburn ceremony for top educators features WOU alumna

WOU alumna Charyl Lehecka, a teacher at North Marion Primary School, was a 2008 Crystal Apple award winner in North Marion School District. The award ceremony took place Nov. 6 in Woodburn, coordinated by the Woodburn Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by several area corporations, businesses, and service groups. There were 50 nominations and 22 awardees. At WOU Lehecka earned her master's in special education in 2005 and was chosen a Special Education Student of the Year. Her bachelor's degree (2004) focused on elementary/early childhood education. Licensed to teach early intervention and elementary special education, she teaches in a regional program autism training classroom and was nominated by the parents of three brothers in her classroom. She recently completed coursework for WOU's Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate program.


ASL/English Interpreting receives award of excellence
The Sorenson Video Relay Services (SVRS) Interpreter Education Program Award of Excellence went to WOU's ASL/English Interpreting program at the Conference of Interpreter Trainers held in October. The honor recognizes WOU's ongoing efforts to enhance and broaden communication relating to the deaf community and includes $10,000 to advance curriculum and training. Coordinating WOU's ASL/EI program is Dr. Elisa Maroney, associate professor of Special Education. Upon hearing of the award, Dr. Hilda Rosselli, dean of the College of Education said to Maroney and program faculty, "Thanks to your hard work, WOU's ASL/English Interpreting program is very deserving of this award. We are so happy for you and proud of your efforts to prepare WOU students to assume their role as professionals in the interpreting field." Read more

December 2008 update: WOU learned of more considerations as part of this award: 1.) $2500 credit to be used at Sign Media and 2.) $4000 credit to be used at DawnSignPress. Sorenson Communications donated $2500 to both companies for WOU to use to further improve its interpreter education programs. DawnSignPress donated an additional $1500 to the WOU program.

Graduate invited for intercultural exchange in Japan

Samuel Jordan ('02 MS in Ed: Special Education) of New Jersey (and formerly of Grants Pass, Ore.) was invited to participate in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program for three weeks in October 2008.Read more


Grants to benefit hearing impaired students

WOU received two grants in August 2008 to help finance scholarships and ultimately provide significant help for hearing-impaired students. Read more


Rehabilitation Counseling grant boosts enrollment

This fall a five year grant totalling $750,000 will increase by a third the graduate students enrolled in both the general Rehabilitation Counseling program and the Rehabilitation Counseling: Deafness cohort. The Rehabilitation Long-term Training grant, awarded by Rehabilitation Services Administration, is $150,000 per year. It funds about 75 percent of tuition each term for up to six graduate students. Dr. Julia Smith, who administers the grant, said this funding will increase enrollment from 24 to 36 each year. She added that the division has hired Dr. Chung-Fan (Fran) Ni, a tenure track faculty member who will begin this fall.


Seabeck academic service, summer 2008. Read more


Three graduates nominated for prestigious award

Colleen Post, Jennifer Rowan and Carla Vangriend have much more in common than being Salem-Keizer School District educators. All three are graduates of WOU Special Education programs and each was been nominated to receive a S-K Crystal Apple award at ceremonies in November 2007. Congratulations!


Vocational rehabilitation seminar

Linda Keller welcomes Lilia Araujo (left) and Jaime Silva.

Linda Keller welcomes presenters Lilia Araujo (left) and Jaime Silva.

Flags and artifacts on display.

Flags and artifacts made a colorful display at the event.

Breeze technology was supported by WOU's Nathan Sauer.Breeze, a new distance delivery system, was used for the in-service. Nathan Sauer of WOU's Computing Services unit is shown using video equipment and computer.

In-service focuses on serving Latinos

Serving Latino Consumers in VR is a seminar held at WOU Feb. 15-16, 2007. The seminar, designed for students in Rehabilitation Counselor Education (RCE) as well as vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors, was delivered via "breeze" distance technology through Utah State University.


Presenters were Jaime Silva, M.S. CADC 1, and a WOU RCE graduate; and Lilia Araujo, M.S. Both are Latino and serve Latino clients in Oregon. Participants gathered at WOU and in areas around Oregon. This seminar reflected efforts of Linda Keller, WOU associate professor, with Oregon VR to plan and prepare in-service training for both RCE students and VR counselors on important topics in the field of rehabilitation counseling. For more information e-mail Keller or phone 503-838-8322.


NPR interview

Hank Bersani, professor and chair of the division, was interviewed for a story that was featured on the National Public Radio program All Things Considered Jan. 22, 2007, titled Label Falls Short for Those with Mental Retardation. Read more.

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