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Plymouth School District and UW-Green Bay celebrate decade-long continuing education partnership

UW-Green Bay and the Plymouth School District marked a milestone in May 2018 — a unique, mutually beneficial relationship that has supported educators for nearly a decade.
At a time when many teachers reach into their own pockets for materials to enhance the learning for their students, and districts are looking to stretch or trim operating budgets, the Plymouth Joint School District continues to promote and fully fund tuition and textbooks for its teachers who participate in UW-Green Bay’s master’s program for Applied Leadership in Teaching and Learning.

Rare collaborative opportunity

“It’s extremely rare for a school district to be so supportive of a program like this,” said Tim Kaufman, chair of the UW-Green Bay graduate program in Education. “Everyone in the Plymouth district, from administration to the school board has been committed to this from the beginning. It’s only grown stronger over the years.”

“We believe strongly in collaboration,” said Dan Mella, assistant superintendent for the district. “This arrangement allows us to bring the rigor of a master’s-level program to our campus and tailor it to the needs of our educators.” Open to pre-K to grade 12 teachers, registration is limited to a cohort of 20 students with six-hour classes on Saturdays, over a two-year period. “The educators meet the credit-hour requirements of the University’s graduate program; and we’re able to deliver it in a convenient and collaborative way,” Mella says.

That collaborative attitude carries into the structure of the classroom itself, where classes are co-taught by faculty from UW-Green Bay and Plymouth.

“In many settings, whether it’s a classroom or a boardroom, you would anticipate the environment to be a bit chilled by the presence of ‘the top brass,’” said Kaufman. “In this case, the culture is so collaborative, so empowering of frontline employees, that there’s no chilling effect at all.”

Win-win for Plymouth schools and UW-Green Bay

Don’t think for a minute that the district’s commitment stems from pure altruism. Mella says it gets at least as much as it gives. “Educators work in teams. We don’t direct them, but we ask that their work benefit the children in our district. We share it so it becomes part of the broader curriculum. That makes us all better teachers. And that produces better students.” The program, Mella says, is also used as a selling point to new candidates and is a “major plus in climate studies.”

“The most valuable thing to me was working with fellow Plymouth instructors to create something that was valuable to my own teaching as well as to our district,” said Beau Biller, technology education instructor. He was one of three teammates to research and develop a new technology-focused math course aimed at students not headed for four-year universities.

“There are excellent math course offerings at Plymouth for students who plan to enter a four-year university,” explained Darren Munson, a math instructor. “We felt there weren’t adequate math courses to meet the needs of students who would be pursuing career, military or technical college options.”

“And this was another collaboration,” added Jack Daniels, a math and computer sciences instructor at Plymouth and the third member of the team. “Through the process of implementing the new courses, we were able to collaborate with Lakeshore Technical College to offer these new courses for technical college math credit.”

Language Arts teachers Sarah Paff and Keely Mey, have had similar experiences with the program.

“Keely and I have both benefited personally and in our careers from the process of reflection,” Paff says. “As partners in the program, we wondered if reflection would help our students to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to learn from their experiences in and out of school. We did some research and found there was little out there about student reflection at the fifth-grade level,” said Mey. “We developed a journal-based, self-reflection program based on teacher-led questions around student motivation, student-teacher relationships, future focus, healthy lifestyle, social skills, self-worth, self-knowledge, relationships and academics.”

“Now we have teachers at multiple grade levels incorporating reflective practices into their classrooms,” said Paff. “It looks different from classroom to classroom, but we have many students in our district developing critical thinking skills through reflection.”

Room for replication

Kaufman said the Plymouth model could be replicated in other districts. In fact, some districts use part of the curriculum, but no one has the level of commitment that Plymouth has. “This program develops leadership within the teachers,” he said. “That plays out in the classroom and elsewhere. Some administrations would feel threatened by that, but Plymouth embraces it. They’re secure enough to empower teachers to take risks. So far, they feel that’s paying off.”

“And for me,” Kaufmann reflects, “it’s my best experience as an educator.”

See photos of the UW-Green Bay and Plymouth School District 10-year partnership celebration.

This story by Jim Streed ‘05 originally appear in the Spring/Summer issue of Inside Magazine

Brooke Soto (middle) has little trouble convincing her class in Berlin, Germany to pose for a photo.

Student Teaching with a Side of Culture

When the grade point average is met and the coursework is complete, there is one last step an Education major needs to take before earning a teaching license: practical teaching experience. Some might choose to stay around Northeast Wisconsin. Some return to their hometowns. But UW-Green Bay’s Professional Program in Education encourages its students to reach further and student teach internationally. Program leaders believe students who immerse themselves into other cultures are much more culturally competent and comfortable, an important attribute for new teachers stepping into classrooms that are constantly diversifying.

It’s not always the most direct path for Education majors.

“Our program is tied to the Wisconsin DPI (Department of Public Instruction) requirements,” says Jamie Froh-Tyrrell, advisor and student teaching coordinator for Education at UW-Green Bay. “Because our students are busy fulfilling the state requirements through coursework, they don’t get the opportunity to study abroad like other students. Student teaching abroad offers them the opportunity to gain international experience for the very first time, as well as fulfill their state student teaching requirement.”

Getting there from here

UW-Green Bay students interested in student teaching internationally can follow one of two tracks. The first is to Cuernavaca, Mexico, via a January-term travel class, where they spend three weeks immersing themselves in the culture and then can return to complete nine or 18 weeks of student teaching there. The second option is through a partnership with the Office of International Education and the Educators Abroad program, which offers students the opportunity to student teach in more than 70 countries. Students can choose 10- or 18-week placements. They simply need to express where they want to teach and the partners work together to make it happen.

In either track, there is no need to know a second language. According to Froh-Tyrrell, “In most areas, English is the second language…so students can get by just fine.” “However,” she continues, “host families usually don’t speak English, so students are immersed in the native language from the moment they get there. Often times they come back fluent — an unexpected perk that can make a difference when applying for teaching roles back in the states.”

Bringing the experience of diversity home

Education students who teach internationally bring back much more than a fluency in a second language. They return with cultural stories and experiences to share, and that makes an impact personally and professionally – in their own lives and others’ lives.

Brooke Soto (middle) has little  trouble convincing her class in  Berlin, Germany to pose for a photo.
Brooke Soto (middle) with her class in Berlin, Germany.

Froh-Tyrrell explains, “Green Bay has historically been, and still mostly is, a monocultural, homogenous community. When students bring back stories and experiences they’ve had with global diversity, it helps close the culture gap. They bring back a message of understanding.” Froh-Tyrrell continues, “Plus, they’ve been immersed in a culture where they are the different ones, so they can now have true empathy for, and a connection with, someone who may be from a different culture in their classroom.”

Brooke Soto ’18, who student taught in Berlin, Germany, agrees. “I have gained such a humbling respect for different cultures, and I look forward to modeling that respect for my students.” And with 14 different languages spoken at her school in Berlin, she also had to learn to communicate without words. “Different cultures not only speak differently, but express emotion differently,” she says. “That is something I’ve become keenly aware of, too.”

In fall 2017, six UW-Green Bay student teachers went abroad: Four to Cuernavaca, Mexico; one to Jamaica; and another to Germany. Riley Garbe ’17, who went to Cuernavaca, has a job waiting for him upon his return from abroad: as a Spanish teacher. “Spanish is my second language. I studied it in high school and got real-world experience in college when I worked with Latino immigrant families in Green Bay.” The English major (with an Education minor) wanted to student teach in Mexico, not just to practice his Spanish, but experience Mexican life. “I wanted to immerse myself in a totally different environment and be part of authentic Mexican culture,” Garbe says. The Mexican holiday, “Day of the Dead” provided such an experience. He joined his host family members as they walked to various houses and churches to pay respect to dead loved ones. “There were thousands and thousands of other people from the village, all visiting the homes of people they don’t even know to express their love, respect and solidarity with their fellow Mexican people,” Garbe said.

For Soto, connecting with German culture meant connecting with its storied history. “To place your fingers into the bullet holes that still remain in some of the buildings, to walk the streets soldiers marched and fought on…nothing can replace being there and experiencing that. It’s extremely impactful, profoundly moving,” she says.

International student teaching definitely makes an impact on a resume. Andrew Mullroy, Principal at St. John the Baptist School, GRACE, in Howard, Wis (and Riley Garbe’s new employer) says that international experience speaks volumes. “It shows they are willing to adapt and adjust; that they are learners and willing to seek out opportunities; that they strive for understanding.” Mullroy adds, “There is a huge difference between learning the culture and living the culture.” Students who student teach in a foreign country, with a foreign language, with a foreign culture, come back as different people… prepared to step into a classroom, teach diverse students and connect with them in meaningful, personal ways. They also come back excited to share their newfound understanding and respect for others. They are, in a sense, beacons for unity.

“It’s been life changing,” says Soto.

–Story by Kim Viduski ’92

Governor proposes lifetime teacher certification

As schools across the state face a critical teaching shortage, some say a proposal in Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal, unveiled last week, could help the problem. The governor is suggesting offering a lifetime teaching license, eliminating continuing education requirements for teachers. “Now we’re in an area or a time when there’s getting to be a teacher shortage,” said Scott Ashmann, UW-Green Bay College of Health, Education, and Social Welfare Associate Dean. Educators said there’s about a 25 percent decrease in the number of students that are becoming teachers throughout the UW-system. WBAY has the story.

Register for Lambeau Lectures: An Evening with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the Green Bay Packers

One-night event provides glimpse into UW-Green Bay experience

GREEN BAY – “Lambeau Lectures: An Evening with UW-Green Bay and the Green Bay Packers,” a free event designed to help prospective students and parents experience the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28 in the Lambeau Field Atrium (1265 Lombardi Avenue).  This is the second year UW-Green Bay has hosted this event at Lambeau Field. Last year was a huge success with more than 500 attendees.

Award-winning faculty from UW-Green Bay’s top majors including professors Rebecca Meacham, Scott Ashmann, Gaurav Bansal and Ryan Currier will discuss some of their newest and most exciting research in a “TED Talks” style format. Additional presenters include UW-Green Bay alumna and Green Bay Packers Game and Fan Development Manager, Kandi Goltz, and Green Bay Packers starting offensive guard, Lane Taylor.

UW-Green Bay is a Higher Education Partner of the Green Bay Packers. President and chief executive officer of the Green Bay Packers, Mark Murphy, says he is excited about the second year of the Lambeau Lectures program.

“It has been really great to work with UW-Green Bay on this event,” said Murphy. “We are really appreciative of all that UW-Green Bay does in our community. We both strive for Excellence. The Packers strive for excellence on the field and winning championships while UW-Green Bay strives for excellence in the classroom. Lambeau Lectures introduces students and parents to the University’s commitment to high-quality education.”

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for registration and the UW-Green Bay Information Fair. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by a reception and hors d’oeuvres at 8 p.m. The event includes admissions and information tables as well as prizes from UW-Green Bay and the Green Bay Packers. Seating is limited. Register before Friday, Feb. 26, 2017. For more information and to register, visit http://www.uwgb.edu/packers/ or call 920-465-2577.

Mini-lectures:

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
You, Reading This, Be Ready: The Invitation of Writing
Rebecca Meacham, Ph.D.
Professor of English, Creative Writing and Humanistic Studies

College of Health, Education and Social Welfare
Eco-K: A Nature-Based Preschool Partnership
by Scott Ashmann, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Education

Austin E. Cofrin School of Business
Data Visualization in the Age of Big Data
by Gaurav Bansal, Ph.D.
Professor of Management Information Systems

College of Science and Technology
Plumbing Systems of Volcanoes: Lessons from Antarctica
by Ryan Currier, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences

About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,700 students. The University transforms lives and communities through exceptional and award-winning teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities and a problem-solving approach to education. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.

 

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Faculty note: Ashmann receives National Science Foundation grant

UWGB Associate Prof. Scott Ashmann (Education) is a co-principle investigator (PI) on a new conference award from the National Science Foundation for $134,400, for a project titled “Environmental Education Workshop for Wisconsin Institutions of Higher Education.” Ashmann will be working alongside Michael Beeth (UW-Oshkosh), Rebecca Franzen (UW-Stevens Point) and Clayton Russell (Northland College) for this four-day environmental education workshop. The goal of the project is to provide the time and space to allow faculty to discuss improving environmental education in teacher preparation at each institution.

UWGB education grads are golden

Congratulations to the Golden Apple Winners of Northeast Wisconsin. The annual awards recognize the region’s most outstanding teachers are well represented by UW-Green Bay graduates. Ashley Post, a 2013 graduate who teaches kindergarten at Wrightstown Elementary school, will receive the Golden Apple. Among the educators named teachers of distinction are Kevin Flogel ’92, Kim Hess ‘82, Mary Hurst ’09, Jill King ’90, Marie Kubichek ’02 Kimberly Schofield ’09 and Danielle Schreiner ’11. And members of teams: Vickie Quinn ‘06, Amy Heusterberg-Richards ’15 and Riley Woldt ’97. That’s quite the representation from UWGB. The Golden Apple 2016 Awards Program will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 20. More here.

UW-Green Bay honors faculty, staff standouts with 2013 Founders Awards

UW-Green Bay 2013 Founders Awards recipientsThe University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has recognized its top faculty and staff members with 2013 Founders Association Awards for Excellence. The award winners, honored at the annual UW-Green Bay Faculty and Staff Convocation Wednesday morning, Aug. 28, are:

Teaching — Associate Prof. Stefan Hall

Scholarship — Prof. Michael Draney
Community Outreach — Associate Prof. Cristina Ortiz
Institutional Development — Associate Prof. Scott Ashmann

Academic Support — Elaina Koltz

Classified Staff — Jim Fonder

Collaborative Achievement — Environmental Management and Business Institute

Posing in the photo, above, from left, are: Scott Ashmann, Jim Fonder, John Katers (representing EMBI), Cristina Ortiz, Stefan Hall, Elaina Koltz, and Michael Draney.

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Tom Harden, Founders Association President Rob Cera and awards committee chairperson Caroline Boswell, an assistant professor of Humanistic Studies, presented the awards before an audience of about 500 at the annual fall Convocation event, held at the University Union. The Founders Association, a philanthropic organization, began the awards program in 1975.

Hall, the recipient of the Founder’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, is an associate professor of Humanistic Studies who teaches courses in ancient and medieval studies. His award citation praised his ability to inspire student enthusiasm for a subject he himself notes can seem “alien and a bit stuffy.” His students and colleagues say he stresses the relationship between characters to engage his students in thought-provoking discussions, and he is able to make older, foreign styles of literature intensely relevant to current-day students regardless of their major. Knowledgeable in Old Norse and Latin, he has made himself available to lead independent-study courses for advanced students desiring instruction in those languages. In his spare time, Hall has mastered jazz guitar – a skill he shares with students as an adjunct music instructor.

Hall holds a bachelor’s in English from Austin Peay State University, and a master’s and Ph.D. in English from St. Louis University. He joined the UW-Green Bay faculty in 2002.

Draney, recipient of the award for scholarship, or research, is a professor of Natural and Applied Sciences and one of the nation’s foremost experts in the study of arachnids. Known affectionately as UW-Green Bay’s “Spider Man,” Draney has published widely, earned multiple research grants and frequently consulted for professional and community organizations, including Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. He is generally regarded as the “go-to” authority on one of the most diverse spider families, the sheet-web spiders (linyphiidae). He co-authored the first identification key to the 150 or more genera of linyphiid spiders in North America. In 2012 he hosted the annual American Arachnological Society at UW-Green Bay. His award citation praised his commitment to interdisciplinary study and to involving students in high-level research.

A member of the UW-Green Bay faculty since 1999, Draney teaches Biology and Environmental Science courses and is a member of the graduate faculty of the Environmental Science and Policy program. Since 2007, he has conducted spider research in Panama and Costa Rica, and has led field biology travel courses there. He received his bachelor’s in biology from New Mexico State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Georgia.

Ortiz, recipient of the Founders’ Award for Community Outreach, was honored for “the countless outreach programs and learning experiences she has created … for our campus, the surrounding area and beyond … for entrepreneurs, public schools, and cultural organizations in Northeast Wisconsin.” Ortiz is founder and director of the successful community-oriented Spanish in the Professions program at UW-Green Bay, and she helped develop the Spanish Immersion Camp for high school students. She frequently leads public discussions of literature, film, and Spanish or Latina culture at education and cultural events across the region. Her award citation also mentioned her efforts to build partnerships and connect campus and community to people and institutions in Guatemala, Spain, Mexico and, most recently, Chile.

Ortiz is an associate professor of Spanish in the Humanistic Studies academic unit. She joined the UW-Green Bay faculty in 1993. She completed her undergraduate studies in her native Spain and came to the United States in 1987 to further her education with master’s and doctoral degrees in Latin American and Spanish Literature from the University of Cincinnati.

The citation honoring Ashmann for excellence in institutional development noted his commitment to his department, the University, the community and his profession. He earned compliments for his leadership contributions to his unit, the Professional Program in Education, including integral curricular changes that have enhanced UW-Green Bay’s well-regarded teacher preparation program. To advance the importance of his research and expertise in the area of science education, he has promoted initiatives including the Einstein Project, continuing education for K-12 science teachers, and the environmentally driven kindergarten to be located at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.

An associate professor of Education, Ashmann joined the UW-Green Bay faculty in 2003. He earned a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in curriculum, teaching and educational policy with an emphasis in science education. His bachelor’s degree is from UW-Green Bay, where he majored in Chemistry and Education with a minor in Science and Environmental Change.

Koltz, who received the award for academic support, is a student financial aid adviser and veterans benefit coordinator for the University. She certifies benefits for more than 400 veteran students and their dependents — UW-Green Bay is near the top among state universities in its percentage of military veterans — and provides ongoing advice and guidance over the course of their college careers. The citation noted that Koltz is regarded as a key resource by students, her peers, and federal and state veterans officials. G.I. Jobs Magazine places UW-Green Bay among the most veteran-friendly campuses in the nation. Beyond working with veterans, Koltz also assists other students and has helped with financial aid workshops and presentations to prospective students and their families.

Koltz joined the UW-Green Bay Financial Aid Office in February 1999. She had previously served five years in the U.S. Army as a military administrative assistant to the commander in chief of the U.S. Army Europe and the Seventh Army. She earned her bachelor’s in Psychology and Human Development at UW-Green Bay.

The honoree in the category of Classified Staff Support, Fonder, oversees custodial care of what is likely the institution’s busiest building, the University Union, with thousands of visitors per day. Colleagues describe Fonder as a motivated, detail-oriented individual who works well with students, staff and faculty. He also wins praise for his commitment to sustainability and cost-effective service. He researched energy-efficient blow dryers to cut down on paper usage, and pushed for new, more efficient soap dispensers and tissue holders.

Fonder, custodial supervisor for the Union, also assists in general maintenance and repair projects throughout the facility. He joined the UW-Green Bay staff a decade ago after working previously in the office furniture and supply business.

The Environmental Management and Business Institute earned the 2013 Founders Award for Excellence in Collaborative Achievement for embodying the University’s ongoing commitment to its environmental roots. Commonly referred to as EMBI, the program connects campus and community by encouraging thoughtful analysis of environmental problems and solutions that are practical and cost-effective. The program advises businesses and agencies on improving their sustainable practices, which creates opportunities for students to gain insight into business issues while simultaneously exploring best practices in environmental policy. EMBI hosts a major annual conference, “Green Innovations,” held each April during Earth Week.

Faculty and staff members from across campus contribute to the Institute’s success, led by individuals from key academic units including Natural and Applied Sciences, Public and Environmental Affairs, and Business Administration.

ILP announces $41K in Grants to Improve Teaching and Learning

The Institute for Learning Partnership has awarded nearly $41,000 in Grants to Improve Teaching and Learning for the 2013-14 academic year. The grants will support learning in six area school districts, funding a variety of initiatives that promote literacy, target the achievement gap, incorporate technology and more. Recipients are:

  • Bowler Elementary School teacher Stephanie Brown — Improving Science Scores and Interest through Einstein Kits ($1,678.84)
  • Green Bay East High School teachers and staff — Green Bay East Composting Project ($3,000)
  • Howard-Suamico Bay View Middle School teacher Oksana Kobzar-Schweiner — Increasing Academic Vocabulary Among ELL Students ($1,450)
  • Laona Robinson Elementary School teacher Stacey Flannery — Laptops for Laona Learners ($7,500)
  • Laona Robinson Elementary School teachers Sheryl Hendricks, Kathy Krawze and Kelly Crede — iPads for Differentiated Instruction-Part III ($7,500):
  • Manitowoc McKinley Academy teacher Gina Wagner — Healthy Living Soul Sisters ($6,997)
  • Wrightstown Community School District teacher Krista Samb — Content Area Literacy through Technology in Art Room ($6,977.90)
  • UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Scott Ashmann — Integrating iPads into a Nature-Based 4K Program ($5,851)

For more details on these exciting and innovative projects, check out our press release.

In pictures: Education hosts Celebration of Achievement event

The Professional Program in Education honored some of its finest last week during the annual Celebration of Achievement, held at the Weidner Center. The event included the presentation of 2013 Outstanding Alumni Awards, given to seven UW-Green Bay graduates in a variety of categories. Special guest speaker for the evening was Rob Davis, a 2013 Master’s in Education graduate and director of player personnel for the Green Bay Packers. You can check out a list of honorees and some great photos, here.

In the news: UW-Green Bay hosts Nigerian educators

The Institute for Learning Partnership and Professional Program in Education were happily busy all last week, hosting nine Nigerian educators for a week of learning and cultural exchange. The visitors participated in a variety of sessions and programs here at UW-Green Bay and elsewhere in the community, including in the K-12 schools. We’ll have more on their time here soon, but for now, check out a great photo and article that appeared in Saturday’s (May 4) Green Bay Press-Gazette.