Rebecca Bolante By Maia Farris

Rebecca Bolante: Director of Threat AssessmentWhen trying to prevent a tragedy, OSU alumna and Director of Threat Assessment, Rebecca Bolante, says threat assessment is “not about finding someone who would do something bad, it is the opposite — it is about creating a supportive plan so their situation changes.”

Rebecca Bolante is a stellar graduate from the Oregon State University College of Education who was studying in the PhD in Counseling program when the Virginia Tech shooting occurred. This event sparked her interest in threat assessment, and she changed her research focus to answer the question, “How can we prevent something like this happening in Higher Education?”

In 2014, Bolante graduated from Oregon State University with a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. Bolante continues her work as the Director of Threat Assessment Management programs at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon. Along with her Ph.D., her education background includes a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and a Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Western Oregon University.

Bolante was first introduced to the counseling program here at OSU when one of her professors spoke highly of the program. The flexible, hybrid program including both online and on-campus classes was perfect for her needs. Working full time and as a mother made finishing a degree more challenging, but her passion of caring for others, education, and research propelled her to earn her degree.

With her research on threat assessment, she learned the best tactics to prevent violence and continues to share these techniques with various professionals like counselors, law enforcement, human resources, and legal counsels . “The key to threat assessment”, she says, “is a team approach”. Overall her research created the Threat Management Resources program at Chemeketa. This program focuses on three parts: prevention (threat assessment), what to do during an event, and disaster behavioral health recovery, and can result in a certificate.

Currently, Bolante’s work at CCC is filling the need to provide the support, education, and training in Threat Management for working professionals. The program has even expanded to places outside of the state to provide the training where it is needed. Bolante’s work doesn’t just engage with the national conversation about mental health and safety nationwide, she contributes to it.

At the beginning of her research she thought that all campuses had threat assessment teams, given they are highly recommended by the Secret Service, FBI, and the U.S. Department of Education. In reality, most colleges and communities do not have someone like Bolante to help facilitate the aftermath of traumatizing events; however, she hopes that her workshops on how to set up a response room, to-go box, and other trainings will help see an increase. She believes campuses should all have threat assessment teams because “there is a need and it continues to grow”. Fortunately, here at Oregon State we have our own Threat Assessment Team with Oregon State Police lieutenant, Eric Judah, co-founder of the team, who also assists Bolante with various training.

After learning about the College of Education’s new Master of Counseling in Clinical Mental Health program, Bolante expressed interest in the online aspect. She shared that her last part of her academics was online and although she originally questioned how it would work out, she stated that “the online experience went very well…[because] it is very efficient to handle the details. I can see how it would benefit counselors in training”.

Some improvements that Bolante hopes for the future is more work in counselor education involving threat assessment and disaster behavioral health. Bolante admits that she “made an assumption that counselors have training [in disaster response], and although there is more now, it is a different skill set with emphasis on psychological aid.” She also emphasizes the importance in education about spirituality and belief systems because they play a significant part of responding to disasters since “people’s belief systems oftentimes get confused and unsure during these times”.

One thing she loves about her job is seeing people “get off the pathway to violence and receiving positive support”. Bolante shares that “if we could learn more about the warning signs and report them prior to an incident we could reduce mass violence.” With work keeping her busy and oftentimes dealing with dark topics, she knows how important self care is and enjoys gardening, music and family time.

Bolante is fortunate to have her hard work and determination supported by her family, husband, and children. Another person who is a continuing supporter of Bolante’s education and work is Dr. Cass Dykeman, a faculty member in OSU’s Counselor Education program. Bolante says that he has “been a champion for these initiatives” and together, they have created recent publications; including one this year.

screen-shot-2014-07-03-at-3-22-05-pmFirst Lady Michelle Obama addressed the critical role of school counselors in helping students successfully complete high school and pursue post-secondary options recently when she was made an honorary school counselor at the annual American School Counselor Association conference

“College is for everyone,” according to Mrs. Obama.  “Every student in this country needs some higher education, whether that’s a two-year degree, a four-year degree, or professional training of some sort.”

Unfortunately, with one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation, Oregon’s students will certainly struggle to achieve this goal, which is part of both the White House’s College Opportunity Agenda and Oregon’s 40-40-20 legislative mandate.

Research continues to show that the leadership and collaboration provided by school counselors not only increases student achievement and post-secondary matriculation through college and career readiness planning, but is instrumental in creating environments that help students overcome obstacles which are affecting their ability to learn.

In a recent letter to chief state school officers, Arne Duncan echoed Mrs. Obama’s call to action when he asked leaders to find “systemic and sustainable” support for school counselors.

School counselors are more important than ever to Oregon students, families, and school staff members with forty percent of our state’s children identified as being exposed “to the social-economic, physical, or relational risk factors that adversely impair their ability to develop the foundations of school success.” (Oregon Learns: Executive Summary-OEIB Report to the Legislature, December 2011.)

Before outlining the newest federal funds available to support, hire, and train school counselors; Mrs. Obama stated that school counseling “is a necessity to ensure that all our young people get the education they need to succeed in today’s economy.”

Only eight states have a worse counselor-to-student ratio than Oregon, and Mrs. Obama called the national average, “outrageous.”   Making matters worse, Oregon has never established staffing or funding mandates for school counselors.  While the importance of equitable student access to professional school counselors is at the forefront of a national conversation, Oregon’s educational leaders and politicians should take the necessary steps to ensure that its students are better prepared for academic success, social-emotional well-being, and college and career readiness through the resources and support provided by school counselors.

For more on this topic, please see a previous post: Where Are The School Counselors?.

Gene Eakin has a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Oregon and worked in the public school for over 30 years, including 23 years in the Lebanon School District.  He is the School Counseling Program Lead in Oregon State University’s College of Education and advocacy chair for the Oregon School Counselor Association (OSCA).   Dr. Gene Eakin can be reached at gene.eakin@oregonstate.edu .

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Oregon State University College of Education professor, Kathryn Ciechanowski was interviewed by OPB about bilingual education and the interview aired this morning.  Here’s a short excerpt:

Oregon has 70 schools with dual-language programs, with more on the way. Demand is booming for two reasons: research shows that dual-language programs work better for foreign-language speaking students than English-only programs.

But Esperanza de le Vega, the coordinator of Portland State University’s bilingual teacher pathway program, says there’s another big driver. “There is an educated population of sometimes bilingual, sometimes monolingual parents, who want this for their children. I think it’s great, because we have more allies,” she says.

But as programs mulitply and expand into middle and high schools, it gets harder for districts to find teachers who are both qualified in the necessary subject area, and who have the language ability.

Oregon State University language professor, Kathryn Ciechanowski, says school districts pursue candidates who are still in college.

“Our bilingual candidates are very often offered jobs before they even finish their programs,” she says, and adds, “we often advise students to think carefully about what they would like to have in their teaching positions, because there typically will be multiple districts trying to hire them — because of the need for bilingual educators.”

Read more on the OPB website: http://www.opb.org/news/article/bilingual-education/

The TRY-Athlon is a team-building fundraiser that brings faculty, staff, and students together to compete for the title of TRY-Athlon Champion in both the event and fundraising categories. While there is a competition portion of the event, the main focus on the event is getting people moving and raising funds for the Faculty and Staff Fitness program to be used towards endowing a Coordinator Position.

It is a combined number of laps for 3 events; running, walking and swimming. Each team has 6 members who run, walk or swim, passing the baton and continuing for 20 minutes. The College of Education won first place due to having the most combined laps (see results below).

This year our swimmers were Eric Weber, Allyson Dorko and Catherine Law. Our walkers were Nell O’Malley, Sue Helback, Sue Ann Bottoms, Shelley Dubkin-Lee, Paul Thomas, Ken Winograd and Melinda Winograd. We needed an extra because of an injury. Our runners were Tom Scheuermann, Deb Rubel, Kevin Schrier and Jen Humphreys.

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Congratulation to all of the participants for leading the College of Education to first place and thanks to Lynda Thomas for being Team Captain!

Via Press Release

College of Education logo(Corvallis, OR)- The Chief Education Office will be co-hosting a Quality Teaching and Learning Summer Institute at Oregon State University (OSU) from June 23-27. The inaugural institute will focus on the development of teacher candidate skills that will prepare them to support students on meeting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The five- day institute will engage educator teams in rethinking approaches to most effectively support teacher preparation. Cohosts include the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Core to College grant.

Institutional teams representing major Oregon universities offering educator certification programs will be attending including: Eastern Oregon University, George Fox University, Oregon State University, Pacific University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon and University of Portland. Together these institutions prepared 44% of new Oregon teachers during the 2012-13 year.

“Charged with improving outcomes for students from birth to college and career, the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) knows that the single-greatest in-school factor for student success is an educator” said Chief Education Officer, Nancy Golden. “The Summer Institute will create a focused and dynamic opportunity for the Network for Quality Teaching and Learning to bring educators together to reflect on, and refine their approach to preparing new teachers to effectively support student success.”

The Network for Quality Teaching and Learning was created by HB 3233 to strengthen recruitment, preparation, induction-year support, and ongoing professional development for Oregon’s educators. The Network empowers educators to help implement curriculum needed to support students‘ success, document the impacts on results and infuse current preparation programs with in-the-field practices that are working for Oregon’s students.

The institute will feature morning sessions in which arts and science faculty, educator preparation faculty, and K-12 school partners will observe and participate in lessons with middle school students.

Attendees will then use reflective discourse to determine core practices identified to successfully engage students and further learning.

The institute is designed around the tenet that teachers improve their instructional skill by engaging in the work of teaching. To facilitate that opportunity, more than 30 youth from the Lane Equity Achievement Project (LEAP) program will actively participate in portions of the institute. LEAP’s mission is to ensure that each child in Lane County has opportunities for intellectual growth and success regardless of their location or need. While on the OSU campus the attending LEAP students have a host of opportunities to explore the college and future careers.

“The Lane middle school students will have opportunities to experience some of the best that OSU campuses have to offer, said Nell O’Malley, Director of Education Licensure at OSU. “In addition to being part of the institute, students will participate in hands-on STEM activities such as robotics, tsunami and wave exploration, and computer animation. They will spend time at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center for remotely operation vehicles development and estuary investigations. Throughout the week students will be chaperoned by STEM students at OSU and campus leaders creating multiple opportunities to explore career pathways. ”

Each afternoon, scheduled sessions will be open to the public. Sessions will address recruitment and retention of culturally and linguistically diverse educators, the new performance assessment (edTPA) adopted by Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, recent results from statewide surveys of educators, and even a demonstration that uses avatars to help future educators practice classroom management skills. Materials will also be available online after the institute has concluded. For a full schedule of events and additional information on the institute, click here.

The Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) is chaired by Governor John Kitzhaber, and led by the Chief Education Officer. It was created in 2011 to oversee an effort to build a seamless, unified system for investing in and delivering public education from birth to college & career. OEIB is dedicated to building a student-centric system that links all segments of the educational experience together to ensure each student is poised for a promising future. 

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This summer we are offering several courses for ESOL and ESOL/bilingual endorsement candidates. See http://summer.oregonstate.edu or http://catalog.oregonstate.edu for specific course registration information.

  • TCE 522 Racial and Cultural Harmony in the K-12 Classroom will be taught online June 23-August 15.
  • TCE 472/572 Foundations of ESOL/Bilingual Education will be taught 3 times: in Corvallis August 25-September 26, online (TCE 572 only) june 23-August 15, and in Bend July 2-25 (TCE 572 only).
  • TCE 573 Instructional Approaches for ESOL/Bilingual Education will be taught online June 23-August 15.
  • TCE 576 Partnerships and Ideologies in ESOL/Bilingual Education will be taught twice: online June 23-August 15 and in Bend July 2-18.

We are also offering 2 special topic electives focused on dual language education:

  • TCE 499/599 Biliteracy in the Schools taught in Corvallis August 4-8 with additional online coursework due by September 5.
  • TCE 499/599 Spanish in the Community taught in Corvallis August 11-15 with additional online coursework due by September 5.

For additional information about the Biliteracy in the Schools and Spanish in the Community courses, please visit http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/duallanguage.

The College of Education hosted a storytime and STEM activities for this year’s Bring Your Kids to Campus Day.

For the storytime in the morning, we read Salina Yoon’s children’s book “Penguin and Pinecone.” The College of Forestry sent over an ambassador with a pile of pinecones (some giant-sized!) and talked about pine cones. Afterwards, each child got to create their very own pine cone friend to take home with them.

For the afternoon, we had some fun STEM activities demonstrating the science of flight. Kids had the opportunity to create paper helicopters and plastic parachutes they could drop off the 4th Floor of Furman Hall’s atrium.

If you can’t tell from the photos, we had a lot of fun!

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Karen Thompson teaching

Assistant Professor, Karen Thompson, was awarded the AERA Bilingual Education Research Special Interest Group 2014 Outstanding Dissertation Award at the AERA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on Sunday, April 4.

The Outstanding Dissertation award is part of a competition open for recent and in-progress graduates, who earned or will earn a PhD or EdD degree between January 2012 and December 2013. The topic of the dissertation should be related to the area of bilingual education research, including work with any language-minority population and either qualitative or quantitative research methodology. The Dissertation Competition Committee will be comprised of researchers representing the broad areas of expertise within bilingual education research, and who are members in good standing of the Bilingual Education Research SIG. The criteria used for evaluating the applications submitted will center on the quality of the dissertation (rigor of methodology and theoretical and educationally applied contribution to the field), as well as the innovations generated by the research work.

Thompson’s dissertation is entitled “Are We There Yet? Exploring English Learners’ Journey to Reclassification and Beyond.”

Here’s a brief one-sentence summary of her dissertation below:

I use nine years of longitudinal, student-level data from the Los Angeles Unified School District, combined with interviews and observations from a cohort of San Francisco Bay Area students initially classified as English learners, to explore the time that English learners (ELs) take to acquire English proficiency, the factors that are related to students’ English acquisition trajectories, and the relationship between reclassification as proficient in English and later academic outcomes.

Congratulations to Karen Thompson on this outstanding achievement!