Recent UW-Green Bay alumna quoted in Wisconsin National Guard story

WI NATIONAL GUARD RELEASE: Double duty: Guard members complete degrees while mobilized for COVID-19 response

MADISON, Wis. — More than 1,200 members of the Wisconsin National Guard are serving in support of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are doing so in addition to working to complete their degrees.

This means that Soldiers and Airmen working long days supporting the state’s response to COVID-19 also are resigned to staying up long into the night or working weekends to get homework, tests, and assignments complete. These Guard members, many of whom attend colleges and universities around Wisconsin go the extra mile to find balance between their military and civilian lives.

Guard members have been logging long hours, day and night, and over weekends for nearly three months supporting the state’s response to the pandemic, and for some, their mobilization began in mid-March – a few short months before they were slated to graduate from college, which required them working late nights or weekends to get homework, tests and assignments completed in order to graduate.

Many of the Citizen Soldiers and Airmen serving as part of the response exchanged the thought of walking across the stage in caps and gowns for wearing masks and personal protective equipment as they step up and answer the call for prolonged activation at community-based testing sites, self-isolation facilities, supporting the logistics effort, or serving on a staff. Many have continued with ongoing commitment to service even amidst the unknown.

Putting their personal lives, goals, and ambitions on hold is commonplace for many members of the military, and higher education often takes a backseat to deployments, training, or other military requirements over the course of a military career.

Guard members, especially, usually balance day-to-day school with work, family and life. The dedication that is needed to earn a degree while serving our country is no different, according to some who recently completed their degrees amidst their service to the state for the COVID-19 response.

“One of the hardest things for me at this time, is that I don’t know if I can apply for jobs, even though I’ve graduated because I’m not certain when this mission will end,” said Tech. Sergeant Bridget Cox, a medical technician with the 115th Fighter Wing and the Wisconsin National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), who just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. Cox is currently serving as the noncommissioned officer-in-charge at an isolation facility providing medical monitoring to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“My university was very understanding of my goals and all that is going on in life and they were able to help me get to the finish line,” Cox said. “Serving during this time has been challenging while trying to support my family and finish school. I am also trying to find work, but it’s difficult to communicate with future employers when I don’t know when I will be available to start with them at this time.”

Staff Sgt. Christina Whitney, a medical instructor at the 426th Regional Training Institute, also recently completed her degree.

“My military career has always been a part of my education as I returned to get my Associates Degree in nursing after I joined the military,” she said.

“This semester I was not scheduled for any training to interrupt my schooling and was looking forward to that,” she added. “Covid-19 changed that for me as well, and it was really tough with 14 credits and three kids. It felt really good to finish and overcome all of those barriers as I prioritized and completed my educational goals.”

“My professors were supportive and understood how tough this was for us all,” added Whitney. “I’m glad to be able to serve and glad that I was able to finish the semester of school by working with my teachers and the school to allow me to graduate.”

According to Maj. Joy Staab, the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs Education Services Officer, more than 1,000 Wisconsin Guard members utilize state education benefits each semester on average. Even more use federal education benefits, she said.

“Education benefits are one of the top reasons service members join the Wisconsin National Guard,” Staab said.

Throughout this semester the state education office had a few dozen service members reach out to find out what options they had for withdrawing from or completing their classes, as they got mobilized to support COVID-19 missions. In those cases, the education office referred the service members to the 2019 Wisconsin Act 75, a state law that helps protect service members called to serve on short-term state or federal active duty. Some of the protections include tuition reimbursement, re-enrollment, and opportunities to complete final projects and exams at a later date. The education office also encouraged students to work with their instructors, colleges, and universities to determine their best courses of action.

“I graduated in December 2019, then did a five week temporary duty, passed my nursing board exam and became an emergency room nurse,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Zacharias, a search and extraction medic with the 115th Fighter Wing and the CERFP.  “I was only there (at my new job) for three weeks and then was requested to be a part of the isolation facility mission, and I have been on mission since then. It’s hard to not be home but right now with the world in a time of need, it’s what needs to be done.”

Spc. Emma Anderson ’20 (Education) a public affairs specialist that mobilized in March during her last semester of student teaching, graduated with her bachelor of science in Education with a licensure to work with and instruct students, aged birth to 11.

“To be activated during the COVID-19 pandemic gives me an opportunity that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Anderson said. “I get to show my community and the kindergarteners that I work with through student teaching, that service isn’t about how it positively impacts you as an individual, but how you can positively impact those around you.”

Currently, more than 1,200 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue serving their communities as part of the COVID-19 response. Nearly 1,500 mobilized to state active duty in recent weeks to assist civil authorities in maintaining public safety amidst civil unrest, and more than 2,400 Guard members mobilized in April to serve as poll workers during the state’s spring election. Simultaneously more than 500 remain mobilized in places like Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and Ukraine in support of the Guard’s federal mission as the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force.

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Faculty note: Assistant Prof. Miranda Schornack has article published in international linguistics journal

Miranda Schornack

UW-Green Bay Assistant Prof. Miranda Schornack (Education), was recently published in the international journal, Current Issues in Language Planning. Schornack co-authored the manuscript with University of Minnesota doctoral candidate Ashley Karlsson. The article is titled “(In)visibilization of English learners in Minnesota’s state-approved alternative programs” and reveals the disproportionate enrollment of multilingual students in alternative schools compared to traditional high schools. The researchers/authors juxtapose enrollment data with interview data that reveal school administrator beliefs regarding low enrollment of multilingual learners in alternative programs.

Graduate student (Applied Leadership) receives National Geographic grant

Congratulations to Kelly Koller, graduate student in UW-Green Bay’s Master’s Program for Applied Leadership for Teaching and Learning, and gifted and talented specialist in the Howard Suamico School District, for being awarded a National Geographic Society grant for her project: “Empowering Change through an Explorer Mindset: That’s Geography.”

Working with a team of educators and software developers, she will create an app where learners develop their mindset, launch an inquiry, explore connections and reflect; and use geography to flip the script on traditional learning, while becoming explorers of knowledge, rather than passive receivers.

Prof. Kiehn to lead Institutional Review Board

UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Mark T. Kiehn (Education) has accepted the position as the next chair of UW-Green Bay’s Institutional Review Board. Kiehn is a former two-term IRB member under previous Chair James Marker and current Chair Illene Cupit; he also has extensive personal experience with human subjects research and protocols. Special thanks to the tremendous work of Prof. Cupit, who has been the IRB chair for the past six years and has helped guide the Board through much growth and many positive changes.

Photo of a laptop playing Mary Gichobi drawing on her PowerPoint lesson

Professor Gichobi is teaching aspiring teachers Mathematics in a new way

Students in the Professional Program in Education are fortunate to have Assistant Prof. Mary Gichobi teaching EDUC 281 Conceptual Foundations of Elementary Mathematics. The course teaches aspiring teachers how to teach mathematics concepts common to the curriculum of elementary and middle schools.

Mary Gichobi
Mary Gichobi
Assistant Professor
Education Program

Gichobi covers areas such as the processes of abstraction, symbolic representation and notational manipulation in arithmetic contexts as well as examines topics such as multiplying and dividing fractions, decimals and ratio and proportional reasoning using different strategies”.

“Gichobi has been innovative and unflappable in moving her on-campus courses to alternate delivery,” according to Dean Susan Gallagher-Lepak.

In teaching EDUC 281, she goes through her PowerPoint slides and solves mathematical problems as she explains them, sort of like a narrated PowerPoint, but uses a software called Xodo to write on the PowerPoint. She screen records as she writes and then compresses it to a video using MP4.

Gichobi’s analytical strengths are equally balanced by a student-centered approach to teaching.

Animated gif of Mary Gichobi drawing on her PowerPoint lesson
Animation of Mary Gichobi writing notes on her PowerPoint lesson.

“I always feel that our students deserve support and guidance to go through the challenging terrain of life,” Gichobi said. “They may get stuck and not know who to ask. I feel passionate to help them in little and any ways.”

Students seem to appreciate Gichobi’s efforts. One student communicated this week to Gichobi the below message:

“I would like to thank you for your video of the lesson… It was refreshing to hear you teach the lesson and explain it in detail. It makes this change feel more like being in class. Thank you for all your hard work in making this transition so smooth. I can’t imagine it has been easy for you or the other professors.”

Education professors receive inclusive excellence grant

Associate Prof. Christin DePouw (Education) and Assistant Prof. Miranda Schornack (Education) have been awarded $32,000 through a UW System grant for inclusive excellence. The grant supports professional development for educators at UW-Green Bay and Green Bay Area Public Schools (GBAPS) around culturally responsive pedagogy and equity-minded educators. The professional development seminars will take place during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Watch for UW-Green Bay Education students and faculty serving as VIPs for annual telethon

On Saturday, March 7 at 9:15 p.m., eight UW-Green Bay Education students (EDUC 352) class and instructor Mary Sue Lavin will be participating on a VIP panel for the Annual CP Telethon. The CP Center, located in Green Bay, supports individuals (and their families) with physical, developmental, communication and sensory conditions. The Education class will visit the CP Center on Thursday, March 5 for a tour and to learn about the amazing things CP does. Saturday they will be on air from 9:15-10 p.m. answering the phones and taking donations. “Our students are excited to represent UW-Green Bay and do some good in our community!” said Lavin.

UW-Green Bay offers entire course on Native American issues to aspiring educators | Post Crescent

The way Native American history is taught throughout the state of Wisconsin allows for inconsistencies. The UW-System has a variation in how Native American history is taught to college students, with UW-Green Bay one such University that offers an entire course dedicated to First Nations Studies for future educators. Other colleges offer a 50-minute program. More via Wisconsin law says kids must be taught Native American issues, but teachers say they don’t know how | Post Crescent.

UW-Green Bay alumnus Senator Hansen retiring

UW-Green Bay alumni Senator Dave Hansen (History & Secondary Education) ’71 has announced he is retiring at the end of his current term after almost 20 years in office. Read more via Senator Hansen retiring: ‘It truly has been a privilege’ | wearegreenbay and Hansen retiring at end of Senate term | WHBY.