Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ecology Field Trip May 10-21, 2009

What a glorious adventure! A ten-day trip from Mt. St. Helens, WA down the coast of Oregon to the Redwoods and back to Portland. The three professors from Concordias in Portland and Austin: Meissner, Polozov and Kunert are brilliant experts in biology, ecology, ornithology and more! The fourteen students were delightful and fun to be with! I couldn't keep up with all the long hikes, but enjoyed the conversations on the van and the diverse lectures on the flora and fauna of the region! The most dramatic highlight was the Multonomah Falls!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Krista Farmer & Powell's!

So, its off to Portland OR to connect with my long-time friend from Austin, TX! Krista and I ate Cuban, Italian and Indian food and walked all over this beautiful city of Bridges! Fortunately it was a remarkable weekend, the sun and most of the city were out enjoying this first weekend in May. The remarkable part of Portland, is, of course, Powell's--the huge bookstore with old and new books that you can't live without! My car was already overpacked and I bought so many books that Krista had to plan to mail them to me in June!

You can never have too many friends or too many books, Right?

The Remarkable Amy Keiper

One of the special treats at Whitworth was getting to know Amy Keiper, the granddaughter of my friend and colleague at Concordia Texas, Gert Keiper. Here we at in front of the Spokane Falls before lunch at Clinkerdaggers--our favorite restaurant! She'll be a unique and wonderful teacher like her parents in Linden, WA and Grandmother are! Miss you, girl!

What a Class Act!

So, I finally had to say goodbye to my Whitworth life and get ready for my May adventures! This photo is of my Democracy, Leadership and Schooling class I taught throughout the semester! They had a final School Reform Project (simulation) with both a written and oral component and (of course) Aced it all! Can you tell we had a good time? Thanks, one and all--especially Randy Michaelis and Dennis Sterner who made it happen!
I had a really tough time saying goodbye without weeping and everyone was so kind! I know I'll be back somehow!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Key Words

I think the 'magic' of Whitworth is becoming more clear! Its not just that the students are top-notch--its because they can articulate their reason for being here! "We're relational," they say, "so its important that we work well together and respect each other." The integrity of each member of the staff is part of the culture; there are no 'pledges' to sign--everyone is expected to do their best and fulfill the Mission! There is no problem getting any work done,--each member of the staff and faculty just do it with pleasure. The place is a well-oiled machine: presentations, paychecks, technical assistance, resources, meetings--all work together to make the teaching and learning (what we're about, after all) efficient and effective. And because of Whitworth's reputation, only those who are willing to go 'over and above' come here, work here, play here.

Their values and mine overlap. Being able to articulate the Whitworth values of being relational and demonstrating integrity means the students get it! Their confidence underscores my faith in the transformational power of "Modeling the Way."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring! Or Not??

Truly, yesterday's snowfall (April 14th, 2009!) wasn't funny or appreciated! Fortunately I had planned to do the laundry from the grandkid's visit anyway and by the time I was ready to head out most of it was gone! Downtown Spokane didn't get any--it was special for us folk on the hill!

But that was yesterday and its to be 70 degrees for the weekend!

I've had an absolutely perfect time here. The living situation is delightful! Did I tell you the Yoders have strong connections with Africa, adopted two African kids--now wonderful adults living somewhere in Spokane, and the entire house is decorated with African art and artifacts? Tim, Christi and the kids made it over for Easter weekend and they loved the kid-friendly house! Zachary especially appreciated the drums--one for him, one for me!! And the playhouse outside was wonderful the one day it was warm and sunny. The cat, Sophie, appreciated the attention (mostly) and there were plenty of sleeping areas.

Tomorrow the chaplain for Nelson Mendela may stay in the extra bedroom where Tim and Christi slept. Apparently the Yoders host lots of guests from around the world. John is a Political Science Professor and Director of Peace Studies here at Whitworth; Janet will return from Lithuania soon where she's been teaching an English class. Pretty cool folk, huh?

Tonight, one of our Education Professors will be speaking on What Works in Autism Treatment; I'll be taking lots of notes!

I have just 3 more weeks here, then to Portland for the 10 day Science Field trip down the coast of Oregon with science Profs from Concordias in both Austin and Portland. Then up to Washington to see the Seattle families, returning on Memorial Day to pack the car and get ready for Thelma and Louise's Adventure with a Happier Ending!!!

I'm having too much fun, so write soon and remind me that I have a rich and rewarding life in Texas!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Whitworth--a University with Soul!

Whitworth University is a University with a soul—they know who they are and what they want to be. Their President, Bill Robinson (or “B-Rob” to the students) says in his book, Leading from the Middle, Whitworth was endowed “with a fierce embrace of both Christian conviction and intellectual curiosity;” this ‘rare alchemy of conviction and curiosity’ left him the task of transforming ‘the way Whitworth College thought about itself, its mission and its potential.’ Because of this clarity of vision by the President and his efforts, the University has an almost palpable sense of its value!

The School of Education (SOE) has a Conceptual Framework that is the foundation of the School. They are [to be] Scholars, Community Members, Effective Practitioners, Visionary Leaders, and Guardians. The students are screened upon entry into the program, at the end of the initial ‘block’ set of courses and prior to student teaching and included or excluded at each of those times from the teacher education program. Each student must demonstrate their fulfillment of the Conceptual Framework as well as maintaining a 3.0 GPA, -so they know they’re good!!! Competence and confidence in equal measures! (After each class, there were 2 students that stayed after class to fill me in on ‘the way things are here.’) The students want everything to be clear so they can do their very best at all times. I was told that the students expect to make ‘A’s’—no slackers. So teaching is both complicated and simplified by the dialogue regarding my expectations and theirs.

I learned to take long lunches in the SOE faculty lounge just to chat with whoever was there or passing through. I felt like a sponge, soaking up everything I could. The informal communications were indicative of the high level of decision-making and leadership development that guaranteed continuous improvement. They discussed their Accreditation reports and feedback from students; they discussed their areas of expertise: Gifted & Talented, Autism, Adult Learners. (The one critique I will share with them is their overdone work-ethic! I had to tell one Director that there was no law to prevent him from eating while sitting down!)