Profs. Ray Hutchison (Sociology and Urban and Regional Studies) and Pao Lor (Education) have received word that their paper “Educational Achievement of Hmong College Students has been accepted for presentation at the Hmong Studies Conference sponsored by the Hmong Studies Consortium (Southeast Asian Studies Center) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison April 10-11. Hutchison (who serves as Director of the Hmong Studies Center at UW-Green Bay) has published research on marriage patterns, educational achievement, and language use of the Hmong in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and Lor has written extensively about educational issues in the Hmong community. And to make this line-up even more interesting, as an undergraduate before earning his Ph.D., Lor worked on the original Acculturation in the Hmong Community study that was part of a research grant Hutchison received from the UW Institute on Race and Ethnicity shortly after he arrived at UW-Green Bay.
The old saying goes, “If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it’s yours.” This sums up the love affair between a growing number of UW-Green Bay alumni and their alma mater. What’s with the sappy sentiment? It’s nearly Valentine’s Day!
UW-Green Bay has seen an increasing number of alums who loved their campus so much, they returned for a second degree. The Advancement Office database shows 454 people with dual degrees from UWGB. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to share a few tales of love, devotion and hard work in pursuit of their happily ever after.
Marian Shaffer (above and at left) joined this love-struck group when she returned to UW-Green Bay to work on her M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy — a decision fueled by her love of studying the natural world. Her passion was awakened in her first undergraduate ecology course with Prof. Amy Wolf.
“Dr. Wolf was a fantastic mentor. She made me realize what really excites me and lit a flame within me, providing opportunities that forever changed my life and opened my eyes to the most amazing and rewarding career,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer works as an appointed research graduate assistant in the Natural and Applied Sciences department at UW-Green Bay. She feels fortunate that her appointment is in conjunction with and supported by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, where she has been working as a biological science technician since 2013.
Not only did UW-Green Bay open doors for Shaffer professionally, but romantically too. She says she met the love of her life while working on her master’s degree.
“He is one of the best things to ever come into my life,” she says. “Not only were we lucky enough to study and grow together during our time at UWGB, we were blessed to get jobs at the same conservation agency. Together, we are working to protect and conserve the habitat and animals in our beautiful Great Lakes.
Barbara Feeney is a two-time UW-Green Bay alum who left a piece of her heart on campus as an undergraduate and returned to capture the love she felt the first time around. Feeney earned her B.S. in Human Development and Urban Studies and returned to work on her Master’s in Administrative Science-Policy and Planning. She started at UW-Green Bay when the campus was transitioning from being a two-year college to a four-year college. Feeney was attracted by the unique identity the University was claiming for itself.
“At the time I started my master’s degree, I was living in Sturgeon Bay, and had two young children. So for me UW-Green Bay was the most practical choice,” Feeney said. Feeney ended up adoring the interdisciplinary education she received from UW-Green Bay, each time.
“I had so many great professors and classes,” she says. “Looking back from the vantage point of 40 years, I am grateful for the single classes I took in art history, pottery and poetry. I knew at the time that I was not going to major in those areas and took the classes out of interest, but exposure to those disciplines has enriched my life.”
And now she is thankful.
“I am so grateful for my education,” she says. “It allowed me to have a career that was interesting and challenging. Most days, I woke up looking forward to the day’s work ahead of me. When you think about it that is really kind of amazing.”
Ben Markowski also became a member of the beloved two-timers club. Markowski chose the University for his undergraduate and master’s studies because of the beautiful campus and the distinguished Education program.
“I loved the Education program and its faculty. Tim Kaufman, Steve Kimball, and James Coates were professors who really stuck out to me, they showed me the educational light,” Markowski said.
Markowski has a soft place in his heart for UW-Green Bay. He admits that during his time on campus, he learned to be himself, an important lesson that has served him well. His studies at UW-Green Bay gave him valuable work experience in the classroom. When he started teaching as a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Danz Elementary in Green Bay, he was well prepared.
“I am definitely living my happily ever after thanks to UWGB,” Markowski said.
So the old adage rings true, “Do what you love and never work a day in your life,” especially for these lucky in love UW-Green Bay alums!
— Story by Daniele Frechette.
Education Chair and Associate Prof. Tim Kaufman lent his expertise recently to a pair of Green Bay Press-Gazette stories on the issue of school report cards and poverty. Kaufman was quoted in Sunday’s (Jan. 25) cover story that found poor and minority students are more likely to attend what are termed “failing” schools than their more affluent courterparts. “These data point at an issue that is outside of schools’ control,” Kaufman said, “… Poverty often trumps good teaching.” Kaufman also was quoted in a Monday follow-up story that looks at the successes of the relatively affluent — and high-performing — Wrightstown Middle School. “For schools with less poverty,” Kaufman said, “the report cards may be a truer indication of teaching and learning.”
The U.S. Department of Education will release a much-anticipated outline of its college ratings system on Friday, according to several sources familiar with the department’s plans. Institution names will be omitted to protect the innocent, but the reveal is expected to show how the feds will go about structuring their system, which President Obama announced in August 2013. For more, see the online news site Inside Higher Ed.
We told you here recently about Assistant Prof. Aurora Cortes’ new “Working and Communicating with Hispanic Parents of Young Children” course, which is making a difference for families (and the Education students they work with) at the Casa Alba resource center in Green Bay. Thursday, WBAY, Channel 2 reporter Kristyn Allen tagged along for the class’ last meeting at Casa Alba this semester, speaking with Cortes, students, the center’s director and a local parent about the impact the course has made. You can check out that story, as well as our UW-Green Bay News feature, by clicking the links:
WBAY, Channel 2
UW-Green Bay News
A great new feature story from Marketing/University Communication intern Katelyn Staaben takes a closer look at a UW-Green Bay class making a difference in our community. New this semester, Assistant Prof. Aurora Cortes’ “Working and Communicating with Hispanic Parents of Young Children” course brings Education students to the Casa Alba resource center to conduct classes with young children and their parents. The students form groups with the mothers and their 1- to 3-year-old children to teach literacy activities while overcoming language and cultural barriers. As one student remarked, “You need to know the background of who you’re working with before you can truly understand what their life is like.” You can read more about the students’ experience.
For most college courses, the goal is to teach students the skills they will need to be successful in the future. But in Assistant Prof. Aurora Cortes’ new class, that aim is coupled with the desire to positively impact the lives of those in the Hispanic community — starting today.
Through the “Working and Communicating with Hispanic Parents of Young Children” course, 13 students have been visiting Casa Alba, a resource center for the Hispanic community, and conducting classes with young children and their parents.
The idea for the course came from a discussion between Cortes and a colleague, Associate Prof. Linda Tabers-Kwak. Tabers-Kwak teaches a course titled “Working and Communicating with Parents of Young Children,” and suggested that Cortes form a similar course focused on the Hispanic community.
Cortes had already begun visiting Casa Alba, which opened in the spring of 2012. She met the founder, Sister Melanie Maczka, and thought the new course could fit in well at the center.
“So I went and I talked to Sister Melanie in the spring of 2014 and I asked her, ‘Would you like me to start this program here at Casa Alba?’ ” Cortes said. “She thought it was fantastic.”
“We’re very proud and honored to be working with UWGB. I think that this partnership is wonderful.”
While visiting the center, students form groups with the mothers and their 1-to 3-year-old children and teach literacy activities. These include reading bilingual books, where the student reads one page in English and the mother repeats the page in Spanish; helping the children create their own little book; and using other learning materials such as play dough, chalk and flash cards. They also have a traveling library where children can check out books to read at home.
The program has one main goal: to overcome language and cultural barriers. Cortes could sense this barrier with her students, especially from those who didn’t speak Spanish. But Cortes believes the language barrier is often not the problem.
“I think we have the same values and they’re universal values and I think the problem is we have them in different orders,” Cortes said, ”We have different priorities and that’s where there’s misunderstandings.”
While experiencing this firsthand, students have come to realize the importance that the Hispanic culture places on family. Several students said that knowing this will help them to manage their own classrooms in the future.
“You need to know the background of who you’re working with before you can truly understand what their life is like,” student Brooke Koltz said.
“We can better understand why they’re not here or reasons behind their choice,” said student Katie Tillmann, “It’s not that they don’t want to but it’s that they have other priorities that are higher than education or coming out in the cold.”
But the class isn’t just a learning opportunity for the students. Cortes hopes it will help the mothers and their children as well.
“So this experience, I believe, is going to very beneficial for the community,” Cortes said. “And then hopefully those kids have had the right beginning. Once they get into kindergarten they know what it’s all about. They know about books. They’re going to feel comfortable. They’ve done it before and the mothers are realizing the importance of school.”
Maczka added that the experience will provide the opportunity for the children to socialize with other children, something that they often aren’t given the chance to do.
“A lot of time it’s difficult for moms or the caregivers to interact with families,” she said. “They’re stuck at home with the child during the day and children simply know mom and their siblings, and maybe on weekends other family members and friends, but otherwise they don’t interact a lot with other children.”
When conducting similar activities with her own parents of young children group, Tabers-Kwak told Cortes that one way to gauge the success of the program was to look at the participation of the father.
“The minute a father goes, that means it’s very successful,” Cortes said. “What this means is that the mother is talking about the experience at home and the father wants to know. So, last week we had our first father. That was fantastic. And the father was actually reading to his little girl and the little girl was proud that Dad was there, sharing that experience.”
Fall 2014 is the first semester the course has been offered, and already there have been success stories. For one family, the experience has been incredibly important in the development of their daughter. Cortes learned about the situation while talking to the mother.
“Her daughter (was) not talking,” Cortes said, “Anything. Not even a sound, nothing. She’s been going through speech therapy for about a year, and then now, she’s started talking.”
The students working with the family noticed the change as well.
“She’s starting to open up more. Week-by-week she’s talking more,” said student Heather Walden. “(It) may not always be words but you can tell she’s more engaged and more excited.”
After seeing the success of the program after just one semester, everyone is excited to see what this partnership will bring in the future.
“We want kids to feel so good about education and about their capacity that they want to keep growing,” Maczka said. “And who better than the University to do that with.”
– Story by Katelyn Staaben ’15, editorial intern, Office of Marketing and University Communication
Scott Ashmann, associate professor in the Professional Program in Education, has been named Environmental Education Administrator of the Year by the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education. The honor was presented Nov. 8 at the association’s annual awards banquet in Madison. Ashmann was cited for his leadership as chairperson of the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board from 2009-14 and for his research involving the integration of environmental education in teacher preparation. The award citation also mentioned his service on the advisory committee for the nature-based four-year-old kindergarten program at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. Ashmann is a proud graduate of UW-Green Bay, having studied science education en route to earning his Eco U bachelor’s degree in 1988.
Sue Mattison, dean of the College of Professional Studies, sought applications from CPS faculty and academic staff for summer fellowships that she hopes will assist and support research and grant applications. The following faculty members and projects were recently named to receive awards:
• Christin DePouw, assistant professor of Education, “Role of Critical Race Consciousness in Strengthening Students’ of Color Academic and Cultural Identities.”
• Pao Lor, associate professor of Education, and Ray Hutchison, professor of Urban and Regional Studies, “Academic Profile of Hmong-American Students’ Matriculation, Retention, and Graduation at UW-Green Bay.”
• Mary Gichobi, assistant professor, and Scott Ashmann, associate professor, both of Education, “What Influence Does Regularly Using Einstein Project Materials Have on State Standardized Fourth and Eighth Grade Science Test Scores?”
UW-Green Bay faculty members Marcelo Cruz and Aurora Cortes are featured in a new Green Bay Press-Gazette story and video, respectively, on the increasing ethnic diversity in the Green Bay area. In the story, posted Tuesday (Oct. 21) to the Press-Gazette website, Urban and Regional Studies faulty member Cruz said Green Bay is highly segregated — and that redevelopment of the University Avenue corridor could help or hinder the situation, depending on how it is carried out. “It’s a golden opportunity that potentially could be missed by the community,” Cruz said. “Let’s work with them (Hispanics) and make a win-win situation.” In an accompanying video, Education faculty member Cortes discusses her “Working and communicating with Hispanic parents of young children” course, which aims to overcome language and culture barriers between Green Bay teachers and the Hispanic community. “The Hispanic community is growing and there are several elementary schools that are 50, 60 percent Hispanic,” Cortes said. “And the teachers need to be prepared. They need to have this familiarity with our culture. They need to be exposed to our culture.” To read the story and watch the video, click here.