Doctoral Program Student Profiles
Get to Know Some of Our Students
Velma Rose Christmas Johnson, Ed.D. ’07
Teachable Moments LLC, President (Education and Management Consultant Services)
Dissertation: “Development and Evaluation of a Culturally Responsive Teaching Professional Development Program: A Neighborhood Treasure Hunt”
Leadership and social justice must go hand-in-hand to change the story of education in our country. They are critical building blocks needed in our changing global and “democratic” society to achieve democracy in the classroom. Thus, our schools can become more effective in closing the achievement gap and educating all children to maximize their potential. Social justice provides access and opportunity to the disenfranchised and marginalized populations. Leadership is about having a vision, a plan to attain that vision and holding people accountable for their roles and responsibilities in accomplishing that vision. Leadership paves the roadway to success.
I am the president and co-founder of Teachable Moments, LLC, an educational and management consulting business. We work with school districts, government agencies, and private businesses to provide professional development and guidance in developing culturally responsive practices and programs. Our focus includes work with the achievement gap, diversity, equity, problem-solving, relationship-building, and conflict-management.
We often share our personal story with students and discuss the ongoing struggle for equity and social justice. We help students understand the important roles and responsibilities they have in building the future of our country. We demonstrate how success in school and in life is within their reach. Through Teachable Moments we pursue projects and opportunities that will enhance the educational experience, open new doors, foster new hope and create new realities for all participants, with an emphasis on students of color and socio-economic disadvantage.
One example of this work was a neighborhood treasure hunt, leading faculty to areas in the school neighborhood that were familiar to students but not to their teachers. They experienced neighborhood culture, the people, and places of importance to their students. The goal was to improve teacher-student relationships, equity and social justice for all children and families in my middle school. Afterward, I recognized a significant positive change in the relationship between students, teachers and parents; a phenomenon that ultimately became the focus of my doctoral study.
Paula Heariold-Kinney, Ed.D. ’09
Director, Park Academy
Dissertation: “Black Students’ Voices: Experiences and Perspectives around Attending an Affluent Majority White Suburban High School”
Park Academy is a school that primarily serves students with dyslexia. Our students come to us scarred by not being served well in a traditional setting. In most cases, these students have not experienced success in school. Leaders set the tone of the environment and culture. If an effective leader promotes and mandates policies and practices that ensure social justice, generally the environment and culture will mirror those expectations.The doctoral program provided me with effective tools to communicate the needs of our students and it helped me understand how polices and practices can be the factors which inhibit student success in school and prevents students from developing socially and emotionally. I also used the cohort model in building an effective Professional Learning Team so teachers were empowered to develop collegial interchange and actions.
I am able to use my dissertation study, “Black Students’ Voices: Experiences and Perceptions Around Attending an Affluent Majority White Suburban School,” as a resource as well as an opportunity for opening constructive dialog in helping college boards (I sit on two) and faculty understand the importance of student voice for understanding the perceptions and experiences of minority students. I am also expanding my study to include adult minorities whose voices need to be heard in regard to their experiences and perceptions at their workplace.
Michèle DeShaw, Ed.D. ’09
Principal, Legacy High School
Dissertation: “Intersection of Trust, Collegiality, and Community”
My childhood is a story of obstacles overcome because the right people cared about me and guided me in better directions. Doing what helps others overcome their obstacles and barriers, and being a leader for students like me, is my way to honor those who helped me. By improving my skills and abilities as an educational leader, I am better able to serve the teachers and staff members who work directly with students. The doctoral program allowed me to explore with others a wide range of leadership topics directly relevant to education.
I work in a small school where the staff wants to become a true professional learning community (PLC) with the emphasis on community. In the PLC literature we read, there is frequent mention of “trust” without discussion of how leaders can help staff become trusting. I decided to pay attention to that part of community-building.
My research has been about the role of trust in small schools. A review of the literature on trust, schools as community, and leadership revealed trust as an essential element of strong professional relationships. Using a graphic representation that I constructed of the characteristics of personal professional relationships that define community and collegiality, I have been able to focus the attention of our staff on those characteristics and associated behaviors, including trust. As a result, we are making continuous progress in becoming a community of adults. This community serves as a good model for the students and strengthens our efforts to help them be part of our community.
Glendale School District - Superintendent
The success of any organization is built upon the quality of leaders in the system, and education is no different. Most of my experience is working in small rural schools that do not have much diversity in terms of race, so my equity experiences have focused on the socio-economic status of the students. I am fortunate to be part of a community that reaches out to provide services to our students Many community members take the extra time to make sure the needs of our families are met. Caring about the success of each student is important, but what is also important is knowing how to focus our love for the students into meaningful ways to provide the highest quality school experience we can for them.
My dissertation will focus on how people become successful leaders in education. Research can mostly agree on the qualities of good leadership, and many of us can identify people who we think are good leaders. Where there is a gap in the research is exploring what experiences need to occur in order for a person to become a more successful leader. Based off the work of Burns, Bass, Irby and Brown, I intend on interviewing superintendents in Oregon from a variety of school districts with varying size and location that are considered to be successful in their field. These interviews will focus on their past experiences and current roles in an attempt to find insights on what experiences have been the most influencial in their success as school superintendents. By comparing these leaders, I am hoping to find a pattern or pathway to better understanding how people can improve their skills to become better leaders.
David Lovelin, Ed.D. ’12
Sam Barlow High School - Principal
Leadership and social justice are often overlooked, misunderstood, and underemphasized within the educational system. As an educational administrator, I must look at our system with a critical lens to ensure the success of each individual student. Although looking through this lens can be difficult, we must learn to evaluate and re-evaluate our current practices and systems within our working environment. We have the most important and influential positions in our society and it is our duty to create environments for inclusivity and equality. I believe equity in education cannot begin until there is a common trust between students, parents, and educators. I work to gain the respect and trust from all of our students and families, allowing difficult conversations to take place.
I am currently evaluating current educational support systems for students with high functioning autism. In my experience, many students with autism are misunderstood, inappropriately supported, and placed in courses lower than their academic level. I currently work closely with our autism specialist when a student has a behavioral issue to create an environment of structure without punitive discipline allowing each student with autism to learn appropriate coping skills for their disability. Our school district is in the second year of a comprehensive support program for students with autism and during my time in the doctoral program I will be investigating appropriate support programs and teaching strategies for students with autism.
I chose to enroll in the doctoral program at Lewis & Clark to challenge myself both professionally and educationally. The structure of Ed.D. program at Lewis & Clark as a cohort model and with the program’s core educational values are in line with my personal views for a doctoral program. Over the past seven years I have taken courses at Lewis & Clark and feel the education I received has prepared me for my current work.
Karmin Williams, Ed.D. ’12
Parkrose High School, P.A.C.E. Director, Science/Mathematics Teacher, Cross Country & Track Coach
I feel very strongly that education is the civil rights issue of our time. At the moment, there are too many people in positions of power making destructive decisions for youth.
I was immediately drawn to the Lewis & Clark doctoral program by the phrase “social justice and equity.” Is there any more important work to be done? I hope to use my experience in the doctoral program to gain a seat at a table, where decisions regarding equity and justice for youth are made.
In the Parkrose community, I have taught and worked as director in the alternative school. We are often students’ last stop before dropping out. Our alternative school provides rich educational experiences, service learning, and life-skills. I have witnessed this program not only provide an equal playing field for marginalized youth, but also place students on a trajectory toward bettering their own lives and family systems. In my program, we create opportunities for our students to work in their communities to resolve issues regarding violence, substance abuse, and poverty.
Currently, I am researching the link between students’ sense of safety and their achievement. Too often the primary obstacle for a student is a lack of personal, emotional, or economic safety or security.
Principal, Gervais Elementary School
During the course of my career in education, which spans over twenty years, I have woken up every day believing that equity-based leadership practice can change the world. In my work I try to address the conditions that prevent students from achieving what is rightfully theirs—an exceptional, culturally relevant learning environment that bridges achievement and opportunity gaps. I tirelessly and unapologetically hold educators accountable for instructional decisions that affect the lives of students. The work is challenging and complex, yet I know that equity-based learning is the way in which we create a more just world.
I was drawn to the Lewis & Clark doctoral program for its unwavering focus on leadership practices based upon social justice and equity and its emphasis on creating leaders capable of embarking upon equity-based solutions. I intend to use the doctoral degree as a platform for serving traditionally underrepresented and/or marginalized student populations.
My work is beginning to take shape around issues of inequity around behavioral assessment of early learners. Specifically, I seek to further understand the racial, social, cultural, and economic contexts which impact teacher perceptions of student behavior, and the ultimate outcomes of such. Though these questions are not new to researchers, the work with early learning assessment is new to many long-term Oregon educators. As a leader, I bring meaning to research by putting theory into action—aimed toward positive outcomes for learners. This is the most exciting part of my work.
Andrea V. Lockard
McNary High School, Instructional Coach
Education reforms have failed time and time again to address root causes of inequities in student success. I am passionate about restructuring our educational system so that my own children will know a more just world.
Currently, I am involved as a participant in the Western Oregon University Latino Advisory Committee, which focuses on empowering our community’s Latino families by building knowledge around college-going expectations and culture. These families then have a mission to help educate other parents in the effort of increasing Latino student enrollment in Oregon’s colleges and universities.
Lewis & Clark’s strong focus on social justice drew me to the doctoral program. In my research, I will be using the theories of organizational learning and memory to illustrate how organizational bias manifests itself through central-office evidence use in a mid-sized urban district.
Franklin High School, Principal
It takes courage to lead change and to examine social justice and equity practices within school buildings. As an educational leader, if you are not compelled to work to eliminate the academic achievement gap, you might as well be part of the problem. I selected Lewis & Clark’s doctoral program based on outreach from professors and this focus on equity and social justice.
In my work at Franklin and in the doctoral program, I want to focus on examining how accelerated courses can be used in place of remediation to close the achievement gap and incorporate culturally competent teaching strategies. This approach calls for precise professional development that explores and challenges teacher belief systems, as well as more research to pinpoint what makes a difference in acceleration.
At Franklin, we have experienced some success as we have set about the challenge of identifying underrepresented students, mentoring them, and giving them academic supports including tools to navigate college preparatory courses. We have increased the number of students of color, special education students, learners of English as a Second Language in our college prep courses, and we hypothesize that it will be possible to lift test scores as well if certain supports and strategies are in place. Yet we have a lot more work to do. I want to continue this work and know that Lewis & Clark will allow me to do just that.