April 2012 Archives

School of Education Presents Elliott Scholarship Awards

By Katherine Russo on April 30, 2012 2:58 PM

towner.jpgOn April 25, 2012 the School of Education made a public presentation to 2011's Elliott Scholars: Christina Towner, Linsey Gannon, and Chris Berg. The presentation was part of the annual School of Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony. Recipients were selected for their scholarship and success in the classroom.

The F. George Elliott Scholarship Fund is an endowment of over $250,000 to the Sonoma State University School of Education. The endowment each year awards two scholarships for graduate study at Sonoma State University; one for an outstanding student teacher, and the other for a Santa Rosa City School District middle school, junior high, or high school teacher. Recipients of these scholarships will be known as Elliott Scholars.

Christina Towner is a student who came to the Special Education Credential Program at Sonoma State University in the Fall 2009 term, and she completed her Education Specialist Credential from Sonoma State in 2011. She is an outstanding student, praised for maintaining her strong academic record at Sonoma State while also holding a full-time teaching position as a Special Education Intern. Currently, Christina teaches a Special Day Class comprised of students who have mild to moderate disabilities at Altamira Middle School in Sonoma, CA. According to her University Support Provider, Barbara (Bobbie) Russell, Christina has created an exemplary positive learning environment for all of her students. As an Intern, Christina quickly adopted many of the core practices necessary to become an effective special educator. With recommendations from faculty, her dedication, preparation and passion make Christina Towner the perfect recipient of the Elliott Exemplary Student Teaching Scholarship this year.

Professor George Elliott taught Education at Sonoma State University from 1968-1992.  He worked for many years supervising student teachers in middle schools and junior and senior high schools in the Santa Rosa City School District. He was dedicated to quality teacher education, and worked closely with many master teachers and school administrators in Santa Rosa schools to achieve that end. This scholarship is his legacy to the middle level, junior high, and senior high teachers of the Santa Rosa City School District.

The Elliott Fellowship for Professional Renewal is an award open to all Santa Rosa City School District middle school, junior high, and senior high teachers who have completed from three to nine years teaching in the Santa Rosa City School District. It provides the recipient a two-semester scholarship in the amount of part- or full-time enrollment fees plus an additional twenty percent toward fees for books and supplies. For the award year 2011, two recipients were chosen to receive the Elliott Fellowship for Professional Renewal. The first award goes to Chris Berg, a physics teacher at Montgomery High School. And the second recipient for The Elliott Fellowship for Professional Renewal is Linsey Gannon, Assistant Principal at Lawrence Cook Middle School. Linsey is also now enrolled in the Master's Degree program of Educational Leadership at the Sonoma State University School of Education.

Mary Gail Stablein Named "Friend of the Program"

By Pamela Van Halsema on April 27, 2012 4:03 PM

stablein.jpgThis week, Mary Gail Stablein received the 2012 Circle of Excellence Award in the category "Friend of the Program", having been selected by the Single Subject Credential Program faculty for this honor.  The annual award recognizes the contributions of a local educator for their contributions to and in support of the Single Subject Program which prepares beginning teachers to teach in a California public high school.

Stablein is an alumna of the Educational Leadership program at SSU, and many of the teachers on her faculty at Elsie Allen are graduates of the SSU Single Subject Program. The school continues to be a training ground for many candidates during their field experience semester.  In the award ceremony, SSU lecturer and retired Elsie Allen teacher Kirsten Searby noted that many single subject candidates appreciate how helpful Principal Stablein has been to them as they prepare for their first teaching job, offering concrete advice about job interviews as well as a candid introduction to the realities of the impact of standardized testing data, NCLB legislation, and how that legislation relates to their classroom teaching. 
Stablein is a dynamic and creative leader, qualities that serve her in her role as Principal of Elsie Allen High School.  Elsie Allen serves a highly diverse population of 1150 students in the southwest part of Santa Rosa. Instead of viewing the diversity of the student body as an obstacle, the school embraces the diverse population as something to be celebrated and a opportunity for learning.  The school's foyer is adorned with flags of fifty nations, each representing a home country of students at the school.  When she is hiring teachers, Principal Stablein carefully selects candidates that are skillful in teaching populations of English Learners, and teachers who are passionate in their role to help every child achieve and have a positive high school experience, equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in college and careers.

High school students who excel in academics have an opportunity to participate in the University Center, which is a collaboration between SSU and Elsie Allen, upholding rigorous academic standards and an opportunity to take classes at the college level while still in high school.  After graduating from the University Center program, students are guaranteed admission to SSU, although some go to colleges far away from home, including Harvard, University of Chicago, and the University of California. 

One of the other special programs and career tracks at Elsie Allen include classes in Agricultural Sciences.  The week I visited the campus, and took the photos for this article was the first time teachers were able to use a newly refurbished Ag Building, equipped with science labs and a forklift, welding station and other specialized equipment for students to learn skills for careers in farming and agriculture. 
Offering programs and opportunities for kids to succeed and learn are essential to the program at Elsie Allen.  Mary Gail Stablein exemplifies good administrative leadership because she knows that to be a good principal, she needs to be in touch with and care about the kids, stay in communication and be a support for her teaching staff, and collaborate  effectively with community partners. Kristen Searby commented, "she has been instrumental in promoting the Single Subject program and assisting student teacher candidates to be informative, confident and successful.  She values the work we do here in the school and is a great model for these beginning educators."

Early Childhood Masters Alumna & Peace Educator Margaret Clark honored with Award

By Pamela Van Halsema on April 23, 2012 9:53 AM


This week The School of Education celebrates alumni and local educators with annual Circle of Excellence Awards, and this year's recipient in the field of Early Childhood Education is Master's Degree Program Alumna Margaret Clark. Faculty in the Early Childhood program selected her for her exemplary scholarship.

Associate Professor Chiara Bacigalupa remarked that Clark's rigor and intellectual curiosity was evident from the start.  She noted that "in her very first class in the program, she completed an excellent action research study on children's ideas about peace and then continued to build on that research as she continued her studies." During her time in the program, Clark also served as a research assistant for Dr. Bagigalupa. Clark's Master's thesis, entitled, Making Peace: A Creative Thesis Project defined the ways children are natural at making peace, and explored literature and projects that build on their inclinations to be peace makers, peace builders and peace keepers. As part of the project, Clark wrote a children's book, Making Peace, which she hopes to publish.

Her thesis and the research behind it garnered national attention this year when it was selected as the first place winner of the American Montessori Society's Outstanding Master's Thesis Award, one of two such awards given annually to exemplary graduate studies research in the field of Montessori methods and theory. Clark is now at UC Santa Cruz where she continues her research in peace education in the doctoral program there.

The School of Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 25, 5:00-6:30 pm. in the Cooperage at Sonoma State University and is a free event, open to the public. The Circle of Excellence Awards are generously sponsored by the Alumni Association of Sonoma State University. Click to view the invitation flyer.

School of Education Earns a Stellar Accreditation Site Report

By Pamela Van Halsema on April 4, 2012 5:15 PM

representing-multiple-subject-program.jpgThe School of Education at Sonoma State University successfully completed its national and state accreditation review with a stellar performance that the university president described as "hitting a home run with the bases loaded." The School of Education prepares teachers and principals for the North Bay Region.

"These are a remarkable group of faculty and students," said Gerry Giordano, a professor in education management at the University of North Florida who was the head of the 13 member review panel which said the School had exceeded both state and national standards.

This includes all of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Program Standards for all of its programs and all six National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) Standards.

Giordano said that the School stood out because of "the extraordinary faculty and students that it had recruited," "highly imaginative community-based programs," and a "culture in which candidates and faculty members interacted outside as well as inside university classrooms."


The team specifically commended School programs where social justice permeated every aspect of every program as evidenced by eloquent and inspiring testimonials that local teacher candidates provided.

The re-accreditation was extensive, said Carlos Ayala, interim Dean of the School of Education.

Since the fall of 2011, the expert panel had reviewed the School's website, an exhaustive repository of documentation for all of the teacher, counseling, school administrator and masters programs, sifting through evidence from the last three years of program implementation.

In order to verify the electronic reports and evidence, the expert team then visited campus. While at Sonoma State, they interviewed nearly 473 teachers, faculty, staff, students, mentor teachers, counselors, school principals, superintendents and community members; sifted through budgets, meeting minutes and assessment results; and visited Roseland Elementary School where School of Education prepared teachers, counselors and principals work.

Signficantly, the review panel did not find any "areas of concern" nor did they identify any "areas for improvement" in any of the programs and are proposing that the maximum accreditation period of seven years be awarded.


The panel specifically gave the School of Education four commendations in the following areas: teacher candidates completing programs learn to develop highly creative learning activities, learn to assess student learning, exhibit professional dispositions, and employ pedagogy aligned with state standards.

The review panel will present its findings to their respective governing boards for those boards to take final action in April for state and in October for the national review.

Article written by Jean Wasp, University Affairs