Alumna spotlight:  Jen King, Special Education, a view from rural Oregon

By Sherron Lumley

When Jennifer King began the online master’s program in Early Intervention Special Education, she was 43. What she didn’t realize then, was that having the wisdom of life behind her would be important to the work she does now with families in Hood River, Oregon.

“I went back later in life when my children were middle school and elementary age. I had taught pre-school at a private school and worked with kids of all ages struggling with at-risk behavior. I really enjoyed working with young kids and young families and wanted to help kids who were struggling,” she says.

“It is a two-year program that is all online, and it is very approachable and attainable for a working mom.”

PSU College of Education Alumna jen King, on the online Master’s program for Early Intervention Special education

She began her Master’s of Education program at Portland State University in 2018 while living in White Salmon, Washington. “It is a two-year program that is all online, and it is very approachable and attainable for a working mom,” says King. “At first I didn’t have a strong technology skill set, and that was daunting – how to post and navigate and use the library online – it was a steep learning curve that was empowering.”

Her cohort’s group research involved working virtually with children and families in the country of Georgia, near Turkey and the Black Sea. The group later traveled to meet the children and families in person. “We flew into Istanbul, and it was a great adventure. When we met the people we had been working with, it widened my perspective and made me realize the challenges. It was an amazing opportunity in our program to work with Hollie Hix Small, whose background is in international intervention, in support of young children everywhere.”

King finished her master’s degree doing her student teaching in Hood River, Oregon, a rural town on the Columbia River about an hour east of Portland. The agricultural region is known for producing some of the country’s finest apples, and its natural beauty and high winds inspire world-class windsurfing tourism. The Hood River School District hired her upon graduation from PSU to work in Special Education.

“Our program is in an old elementary school that is a part of the school district, and I work with families that are very vulnerable,” says King. Of the school district’s 3,794 students, 38 percent are English-language learners and 59 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Thirteen percent are students with disabilities.

Pine Grove Elementary School is a hub for Early Intervention and Special Education, and due to the rural location King wears many hats rather than specializing in just one area. She collaborates with occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists, and coaches pre-school teachers, as well as working with families.

“I am able to witness true grace, seeing how much they love their children and want the best for them,” says King. “I’m witnessing a lot of good in the world. You see people rise up.”

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Alumna Spotlight:  Rachel Rowan, a rising star in Early Childhood Education

By Sherron Lumley

College of Education alumni with a master’s degree from the online Early Childhood: Inclusive Education program at Portland State thrive in the profession throughout the world. Rachel Rowan, for example, who graduated in 2019, became the head teacher of fours and fives at the Brooklyn Friends School in New York. She is the recipient of the Friends’ “Spirited Practice and Renewed Courage Award” (SPARC) for her teaching.

Award-winning educator Rachel Rowan is a 2019 alumna of PSU’s College of Education.

“My husband and I moved to Portland and that was where I got my first job teaching children ages three to five. I love that age group. My former co-teacher at the school in Portland really loved the program at PSU and said it worked well with her schedule. That is how I first found out about it. The preschool where I taught in Portland was amazing and inspiring and took risks and tried new things. The program at PSU was like that, too,” says Rowan. “I saw the program change while I was in it. It’s not designed to tell you there is one way to teach.”

Associate Professors John Nimmo and Ingrid Anderson lead students to challenge their assumptions and think critically. The fully online program is ranked top-20 in the U.S. for Best Online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, embracing opportunities of a virtual learning community, bringing people together from around the world.

“The program is designed to help you find your own voice.”

Alumna Rachel Rowan (2019), Master’s in Early Childhood Education, Portland State University

“I loved Learning Designs and Environments, which was a really demanding course. Using a bird’s-eye diorama, we learned to think about the classroom and what impact it has on learning and how children feel, which is often overlooked. Once you’ve designed a classroom, adjusting it for a particular group has a huge impact. Saturating the classroom to make it neutral and inviting, using natural materials and a connection to the home, those are important for first school experiences.”

The Brooklyn Friends School, where Rowan has just finished the 2022 academic school year, was founded in 1867. It is one of the oldest continuously run independent schools in New York and was one of the first to add a kindergarten in 1902. Today it is a culturally diverse school of 900 students divided into four academic levels, including pre-school, which is where Rowan teaches. She describes the school as progressive and inclusive, with semi-annual retreats with other Friends educators that encompass spiritual practices. 

“I would not be here now if not for the Early Childhood Education program at PSU. The online program was engaging and rigorous. Cost was a factor, and they work very hard to keep it reasonable. I made it work for me while still at my job. It became tricky sometimes and the action research project was very demanding. This is a lot of work, but all the professors were so supportive. There is a lot of communication from the program even now, three years beyond graduation. I get emails all the time about career opportunities. I would recommend this program to any early childhood educator,” she says.

“Going forward, I’m going to be leaving the classroom. This is an interesting time in the expansion of pre-kindergarten and I want to delve into school improvement and educational policy, eventually nationally. It was John [Nimmo] who planted the seed to apply for the doctoral program in the fall.  My voice could contribute to the expansion of education in a misunderstood field and time.”

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Graduate spotlight: Kathleen Mahurin shares the joy of overcoming at 2022 COE Commencement

By Sherron Lumley

This Saturday soon-to-be graduates, faculty, friends, and family will gather at Providence Park for the first in-person commencement of the College of Education since 2019. Kathleen Mahurin, a graduate student in the Visually Impaired Learner (VIL) master’s program, will deliver the COE’s student speech, and it promises to be inspiring. 

Kathleen Mahurin is the graduate student speaker for the 2022 College of Education Commencement

“Ableism in our society puts limits on people based on what they can and can’t do. Our culture is embedded with it.  I have always been motivated to help others achieve. Getting the Orientation and Mobility certificate will allow me to serve people of all ages.”

~ Kathleen Mahurin, Master’s in Special Education, Visually Impaired Learner program, Portland State University

“I knew when my youngest was a freshman in high school that I wanted to do more work,” says Mahurin. “I had been teaching music for 30 years and P.E. for 13 years working part-time in a private school in Beaverton. I always thought Special Ed would be great, so I shadowed some teachers I knew.”

She got excited about the Visually Impaired Learner (VIL) master’s program and Orientation and Mobility (O&M) graduate certificate in the COE’s Special Education department, among the best and oldest in the country.

“This is a rare program and one of the most rigorous in the nation. It has the most credits and highest practicum hours, which speaks to the College of Education and PSU making sure people are well-prepared to help those with visual impairments and people with multiple disabilities,” she says. 

The program is almost all online, she notes, with some in-person time required. In June of 2020, Mahurin was in the first everything-online cohort ever, which came about due to the pandemic. For her, this turned out to be a blessing.

“I had two teenage daughters and was going through a divorce that was hard, not making a lot of money. One of my daughters who has medical special needs required special medical attention along with her expensive medical equipment. The federal financial aid really helped us stay afloat, eat, pay rent, have medical supplies, and stay alive. Portland had a food box program and I would get three boxes to share with my neighbors. Many other typical services for low income people were not available at the time,” she recalls. “It was so hard.”

Mahurin has a very unexpected source of inspiration that helped her through some of her darkest days.

“I kept motivated by Dwayne Johnson, a former WWF wrestler, and now a kind of mogul, who speaks about staying true to your goals and values. I’m beginning my commencement speech with a quote from him: ‘When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock, kick [that door] in, smile and introduce yourself.’” 

In addition to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, she thanks the incredibly supportive leadership from faculty members Dr. Holly Lawson (VIL) and Dr. Amy Parker (O&M) for helping her figure it all out. 

Her eyes now sparkle with an inner light. Both of her daughters started college this year, she shares, one in Washington and one in Montana. She beams with pride, adding, “I want to help my daughters, and getting my master’s degree means working at a wage that reflects my earning potential.” 

There is a high need for quality teachers in Special Education trained to work with visually-impaired learners –essential and hard to find in every state. Mahurin reinstated her teaching license in Washington and accepted a new job in Bellingham Public Schools, moving two hours north of Seattle while finishing the VIL program online in the evenings.

“I loved the last place I worked, but after having experienced making poverty-driven choices– and those choices are real—I’m so grateful to be working full time. Bellingham is the place I will stay, constantly transforming. I love the people, the place, and that the school district is focused on helping humans. It is a beautiful space for my students. Some are highly academic, and some are learning to use their eyes to make choices,” she says. 

 “What I love about working in a positive public school environment is the collaboration. I collaborate at least three times a day. Every student has a team of people. I always wanted to help people achieve their goals in a way that is meaningful to them. What I can say is that I didn’t expect to be this happy, to love my professional and personal life as much as I do.”

After graduation, she plans to travel with her children and enjoy time with her family. 

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Lavinia Magliocco, Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling grad, professional dancer, and survivor moves to the groove

By Sherron Lumley

Lavinia Magliocco, (she/they), who teaches dance at Portland State, is earning a Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling from the College of Education. This weekend, the joy of live Commencement returns as graduates cross the stage, gather diplomas, and gambol on toward the rest of their lives. This year, Magliocco, 59, will be among them.

“Being a more mature student and being aware of the preciousness of time, I had an incredible time in the program, and there was fabulous mentorship and support. I’m vocal, I get engaged, and I get involved,” says Magliocco. “Connection is an intentional thing.”

It was an elective course on conflict resolution, taught by Dr. Dilafruz Williams, she says, that really stood out. “She grooved on my paper about non-maleficence, beneficence, veracity, justice, autonomy, and fidelity –the 6 principles of the American Counseling Association that align with Gandhi’s principles of non-violence or Ahimsa. It made me more in love with the field.” As an undergraduate, Magliocco studied English Literature, and for a time she was a journalist and writer, just one of the lives she’s lived.

“There are no short stories here,” she says, pausing, looking inward. The victories are perhaps easier to share, so she starts there. “I was a dancer for the New York Metropolitan Opera,” she begins. Later she taught dance in New York, the Philippines, and at the Oregon Ballet Theater. She owned a Pilates Studio, one of the first in Portland. She winds back the hands of time, traveling to 1998.

“I took the love train to Portland. Coming from the East Coast, I loved the nature and it is such a beautiful place. At first, Portland was not as culturally and socially diverse, but in the past 20 years it has come a long way, and in terms of social justice, too. I’m Italian, first generation, and my heritage was something I could be proud of in the context of PSU’s social justice and inclusivity values.”

Guarded emotion is at the edge of her words as she turns to more painful memories. “As a child, I was bullied and beat up for being different,” she says. Health obstacles derailed her dancing career for 10 years, and self-education of the body and how it works was important to her surviving Crohn’s disease, cancer, and a double mastectomy.

“In many ways, we live in a culture that places a moral judgment on illness and imperfection. We internalize that and take it as a moral failing if we can’t heal. That is a very heavy burden to bear. It empowers me to help others that I have lived experience. It has been an important factor in my entire journey as a teacher, performer, and student.”

Lavinia Magliocco, MS, Clinical Rehabilition Counseling, 2022

In 2017 when her Pilates studio burned at the same time that she needed back surgery, she says, “I thought the universe was talking to me.” She smiles, “You’re burning out. That’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Enrolling in college as a student after a three-decade absence, the new culture of academia was a surprise. “Spending half an hour determining your pronouns came as a huge shock to me, but understanding intersectionality is crucial, so I stretched over the spiritual conditioning [from practicing Zen Buddhism] to digest it.”

“I’m at the beginning of my journey now, so I’m going to allow things to unfold and respond to the river of life as best I can,” she says.

The erstwhile writer, professional dancer, Pilates studio owner, teacher and child of a psychiatrist felt called to be a clinician. After graduation, Magliocco will be a counselor at Three Firs Counseling in Portland with James Clifford, a PSU Rehabilitation Counseling alumnus. Specialties of the private practice, which accepts Oregon Health Plan for greater accessibility, include chronic illness and disability, trauma, and veterans.

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Hayden Hendersen wins PSU Student Sustainability Award, champions share economy

By Sherron Lumley

Leadership for Sustainability Education master’s student Hayden Hendersen received Portland State University’s Inspiring Student Award for Excellent Work in Sustainability. She works in the Planning and Sustainability Office of PSU, and coordinates the Reuse Room on campus as part of her position and community-based learning.

Hayden Hendersen, PSU 2022 Inspiring Student Award for Excellent Work in Sustainability

“I love my LSE professors and I can’t say enough good things. PSU’s College of Education and the [Leadership for Sustainability Education] program made it a viable professional path to take,” she says.

Hendersen, who is graduating with a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy next week, did her undergraduate studies at Reed College in Portland before coming to PSU for her graduate degree program. Her sustainability work that led to her award at PSU includes campus education, such as how to compost on campus.  

“How we interact with our Earth has taken a backseat. Students are eager to learn and there are opportunities to change lives.”

~Hayden Hendersen, MS, EducationAL Leadership and Policy, 2022

She describes PSU’s Reuse Room that she manages with volunteers in Cramer Hall as a room without a door, open 24/7, full of free stuff for people. “You can find anything that can fit in the room,” she says.  This could include textbooks, office and school supplies, art kits, games, toys, clothing and unusual items such as a 3-D printer. Donated food is usually directed to PSU’s food pantry

She is a big advocate of PSU’s share economy, kept running smoothly by volunteers who organize swaps on campus, free events where people can donate anything or take anything. Upcycling is another passion. “Examples of upcycling are using something for a new purpose that keeps the item out of the landfill. I hope people do that when they find things in the Reuse Room,” she says. “Recycling is often downcycling, but with upcycling, you can keep using it and it has a whole new life.”

Her work at PSU encompassed launching the waste section of the Sustainability Dashboard this year that gathers environmental impact data on campus. “A lot of waste is from disposables,” she says, noting the cost of waste management for PSU is at least half a million dollars, not even including universal and specialty waste or labor. One way to reduce waste is to check out the “green party kit,” for events. At no cost, PSU’s Office of Planning and Sustainability provides utensils, plates, cups, and mugs for up to 100 guests. 

Collecting and analyzing PSU’s waste data has led Hendersen to the conclusion that sustainability is not emphasized enough, and it does not have to be expensive; in fact, it is a way to cut costs. “I have saved so much reducing waste,” she says, citing personal examples such as using cloth towels instead of paper and installing a bidet at home (cost: $20).

What comes after graduation next week? Hendersen aspires to work for a sustainability office at a school, naturally. 

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NBCC Minority Fellows head to 2022 Bridging the Gap Symposium in Washington, D.C.

By Sherron Lumley

Five College of Education students, Minority Fellows of the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), will attend the organization’s 2022 national symposium in Washington D.C. next week. “Bridging the Gap, Eliminating Mental Health Disparities” will focus on a theme of elevating families and communities, emphasizing counseling skills, research and resources to help communities experiencing the impact of trauma.

The prestigious and competitive fellowships are granted to just 30 students nationally each year, and Portland State University’s Counselor Education department students are often among the winners. Gary Conachan III, Corrine Nightingale, and Trish Nicholson are concluding their 2021-2022 minority fellowships, overlapping with Megan Mancini and Angie Reyes in the 2022-2023 cohort. Fellows receive $10,000 scholarships, professional development, mentoring, networking, and travel expenses to events, such as the symposium, which will be held June 4-5.

Trish Nicholson

About the NBCC Foundation Minority Fellows

Gary Conachan III, (he/him): After a year of virtual activities, his fellowship cohort will meet face-to-face next week for the first time in Washington, D.C. He described setting goals for personal and professional growth as part of creating his fellowship plan and project. He says receiving a mentor, hearing about his experiences as a counselor, and learning from his wisdom resonated with him, noting they share most if not all of their identities. Conachan’s future work will focus on helping people in the LGBTQ community heal from religious or spiritual trauma. “Religion and spirituality are often left out in counseling,” he says.

This fall, he begins his third year in the COE’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and starts his internship working with immigrants and refugees through Lutheran Community Services Northwest. As to why he decided to pursue counseling, he says, “I am unafraid of difficult conversations,” adding that the counselor’s role is to offer unconditional support in order to help clients heal.

Corrine Nightingale identifies as a biracial Chamoru woman. She is in the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program at the College of Education, which is training her to serve people with disabilities as a counselor. She is interested in digital accessibility in counseling for people with disabilities and hopes to increase digital accessibility awareness in the counseling field.

Previously, she worked as a technology advisor for PSU Student Media, which is an area under the Student Activities and Leadership Program (SALP) at PSU. With the support of her fellowship mentor and her faculty advisor, Nightingale created a digital accessibility guide for counselors that she plans to publish as a free website resource. She will soon begin an internship at Therapy Altered, a BIPOC owned-and-operated group practice that specializes in trauma, including ancestral, systemic, and racial trauma.

Trish Nicholson identifies as a mixed-race tribal person, Mi’kmaw on her mother’s side and Italian and Irish on her father’s side. She began her NBCC Minority Fellowship last summer in the 2021-2022 cohort as well. “I cried when I heard the news, I was so excited for the opportunity,” she recalls. She describes the NBCC Fellowship as “being connected to people who are as passionate as I am, bringing that all together and learning from each other.”

Nicholson was a graduate assistant with Alaskan Natives and American Indian students, including children, adolescents and their families. Previously she worked with Build EXITO in partnership with OHSU’s Northwest Native American Center of Excellence, a diversity initiative funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH). Presently she is working as a school counselor on an emergency license at Oregon City High School. 

Megan Mancini and Angie Reyes, both in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at PSU’s College of Education, will attend the symposium in Washington either virtually or in person as members of the 2022-2023 cohort that is just beginning. All NBCC Foundation Minority Fellows have committed to working with underrepresented communities for two years following their fellowships. The Foundation is the nonprofit arm of the NBCC.

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