Faculty Profiles

School of Education Faculty

Faculty in the School of Education at the University of Puget Sound have extensive professional experience as well as an in-depth commitment to their particular disciplines in education and counseling. High quality teaching is a hallmark of our program and the university, and several of our faculty have received teaching awards. Below are brief profiles of the faculty you’ll work with in the School of Education.


Terry Beck, Professor

I taught for four years in a Federal Way, Washington elementary school before moving to Kykotsmovi, Arizona to teach middle school students on the Hopi Indian Reservation.  From Arizona, I returned to Federal Way where I team-taught in a 6th grade classroom, taught 3rd – 6th grade students in a gifted and talented program, and coordinated what was then called the District’s computer program.  I managed all that before accepting my first principalship.  When I was appointed to start a new school in the Federal Way School District, I also entered a doctoral program at the University of Washington.

In my doctoral work, I focused on a core issue I was experiencing as a practitioner—how to invite our diverse citizenry in to the democratic project of public schooling.  I centered my graduate work on educating people for democratic citizenship, particularly in the public school classroom.  Working productively with people who are amazingly different from me and from each another is what I continue to study and to think about today.

My masters degree is from the University of Puget Sound, so when a position came available in the teacher education program, I jumped at the chance to work here.  I knew from first-hand experience that Puget Sound offers a learning environment where professors come to know students well in order to both support and challenge them.  At Puget Sound I’m continually developing greater expertise in my field while remaining in close contact with amazing students—students who are changing the world for the better.


Mary Boer, Clinical Instructor

My role as clinical instructor allows me to focus on our MAT teacher candidates both in their K-12 classroom experiences and during courses on campus. I love that this program is intentionally designed to have one cohort of teacher candidates each year. As a result, I get to know everyone in the cohort well and am able to foster deep connections that extend beyond the program and into candidates’ future classrooms.

I believe deeply in working alongside our teacher candidates to support them as they

  • Develop their individual teacher identities.
  • Explore the wonderful and varied complexities of learning and teaching.
  • Build connections with students, mentors, and communities.
  • Work to complete and pass the edTPA (state teacher certification assessment).
  • Apply for jobs.
  • Begin their first year of teaching in their own classroom.


  • M.A.T., University of Puget Sound, School of Education, 1998
  • B.A., University of Puget Sound, English Literature, 1996

K–12 Teaching Experience

  • 2000–2011, Point Defiance Elementary, Tacoma, WA

Fourth & Fifth grade teacher

  • 1998–2000, Conifer High School, Conifer, CO

English Teacher

Related Experience

  • 2011–2014, Seattle Study Club, Kirkland, WA

Director of Education


Betsy Gast, Instructor

My path to teaching counseling at the University of Puget Sound has been a circuitous and lucky one.  I received a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Oregon and began my career in education in Northern California as a teaching assistant and then teacher of three to six year olds with speech and language disabilities. After moving to Washington State, I substitute taught in special education, grades K-12, and secondary education in Tacoma and Bethel School Districts.  Recognizing that I was primarily interested in the emotional lives of my students and how that impacted their well-being, I enrolled in the Masters in Counseling Program at Puget Sound.  I was fortunate to be a graduate assistant for the program and had the opportunity to assist in teaching.  

My clinical experience includes working for Catholic Community Services as a family therapist providing in-home counseling with high-risk, high-need families in Pierce County.  Though I had planned initially to go into school counseling, working for CCS as a family therapist and supervisor was pivotal in my career development.  Entering the homes of families in crisis was humbling and expansive; I learned to respect each family member’s life experience and perspective, a stance that is foundational to my counseling practice and teaching philosophy.  After two years, I returned to the K-12 setting as a junior high counselor in South Kitsap School District.  I began a small private practice in 1983 which continues today. 

I think of myself as a practitioner and find teaching in the counseling program at Puget Sound requires that I continually develop creative ways to translate theory into practice.  Watching as each student develops his or her own unique way of practicing counseling is extremely rewarding. 


Fred Hamel, Professor

My own journey toward teaching has many roots but partly started in a community college English classroom.  I was so impressed by the leadership and thoughtfulness of my teacher, and by the relationships she created with students, that I began to see teaching English as something for me.  After some graduate coursework, I took my first teaching job at a private inner city school in Chicago – without state certification—and only later returned to get my MAT when I realized I needed more knowledge about learning and teaching.  My M.A.T. program at the University of Chicago exposed me to a rich educational community, to fascinating learning theory, and to concrete tools for teaching in my subject area.  My perspective on teaching, learning, and students changed dramatically. 

After my M.A.T., I taught English in secondary schools in the Chicago area, as well as in Washington State, before starting a Ph.D. program in curriculum & instruction at the University of Washington.   I continued teaching high school (I love teaching 10th graders) while completing my degree – trying to maintain a strong blend of theory and practice.  My interests throughout this time have focused on literacy education, how teachers can better understand students as learners, and also how teachers can develop as learners in the profession.  Part of my work in the School of Education is to initiate and maintain strong community-based connections, and I especially enjoy the relationships I’ve been able to develop with local educators and schools since coming to Puget Sound in 2000.

I greatly appreciate the small, collegial atmosphere of the School of Education.  My colleagues are tremendous, they help me grow, and I learn so much from our interactions and shared endeavors. 


Grace Kirchner, Professor

I feel fortunate to have spent most of my professional life teaching in the counseling program at the University of Puget Sound. Prior to my arrival on campus, I obtained a doctorate in clinical psychology that included an internship in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Washington. My clinical experience includes work at Comprehensive Mental Health Center in Tacoma, a sabbatical in the counseling office at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, and working with college-age students at the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center at Puget Sound.

Having received my undergraduate education at a liberal arts college (Oberlin), I was, and continue to be, attracted to the type of education that is available here. Because our program is small, usually limited to 12 new students each year, we get to know each of them very well and remain in touch with many for years, even decades, after graduation.
My greatest satisfaction comes from observing the success of the graduates of our counseling program and from hearing from professionals in schools and mental health settings that our graduates are sought after, particularly in the South Puget Sound area.


Donn Marshall, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Students

I am the Associate Dean of Students at the University of Puget Sound. I earned my doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the Ohio State University in 1988 after completing my pre-doctoral psychology internship at Southern Illinois University. I came to Puget Sound in 1987 as a staff psychologist in Counseling, Health and Wellness Services. I then served as associate director, and then as director and chief psychologist until January 2007 when I was appointed to my current role.

I frequently am invited to present at regional and national conferences on a wide range of issues including sexual assault prevention, men and masculinity, sexual/affective identity, Internet addictions and abuse, suicide prevention, and the clinical assessment of suicidality. I led the development of the model campus suicide prevention program here at Puget Sound. I am a trainer for the American Association of Suicidology and for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. In those roles I lead suicide assessment and management continuing education courses for mental health professionals nationally. For the counselor education program here at Puget Sound I have taught sections of the Introduction to Counseling course and developed the Suicide Prevention, Assessment and Risk Management course.

When not playing the roles of associate dean or adjunct faculty, I am a mediocre mandolin and guitar player, and have recently started frightening neighborhood dogs by trying to learn violin.


Molly Pugh, Clinical Instructor

Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Mary Oliver, poses an important question in her poem, “The Summer Day.” She writes, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” In the years since I graduated from high school in the mid-size town of Twin Falls, ID, my wild and precious life has taken numerous turns, pauses, and jaunts along paths both planned and unplanned. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

After living across portions of the West and Intermountain West, I began my higher education at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. While there I gained a strong foundation in liberal arts, studied abroad in England and, in 1997, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English after completing a senior thesis on Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights

In 2002, I returned to higher education to pursue my Masters of Arts in Teaching here at the University of Puget Sound. Upon completion of my master’s thesis on attitudes and practices around reading at the secondary level, I began my career as an English teacher at Gig Harbor High School. While there, I was charged with creating the first offering of Advanced Placement Literature & Composition as well as teaching a variety of courses from an integrated, team-taught history and literature class, to intensive writing courses like Short Fiction & Poetry and Personal Essay. In addition, much of my time at Gig Harbor was spent working on the selection, implementation and development of core curriculum for the English department. This work was well supported with the school’s shift to a focused Professional Learning Community, which provided weekly opportunities for me to work alongside other English teachers and reflect on student achievement as a result of our current practice and the continued implementation of best practices.

In 2007, I earned my National Board Certification after a year of intense teaching, reflecting, and writing. This proved the best professional development of my career and reinforced the reflective and rigorous practice that I had adopted as a MAT student and educator. Then, in 2010, I formally mentored a MAT candidate from the University of Puget Sound and discovered how much I enjoy and am motivated by working with new teachers. While it was difficult to leave the public school classroom, I was ecstatic to join the company of the School of Education. This small group of highly reflective and collaborative educators prides itself on providing a rich and meaningful experience to its students. I am proud and grateful to have joined such a faculty.

Mary Oliver’s question has followed me from sea to shining sea, abroad and back to the gardens of my back yard. Ever present in my mind, I can only imagine how this next adventure will unfold. Beyond anything I know it will be both “wild and precious.”


Amy E. Ryken, Dean and Professor

I began my teaching career in Berkeley, California.  I taught high school biology, chemistry, and integrated science for seven years.  For another seven years I coordinated a program that connected high school and community college students to internships in the San Francisco Bay Area’s many biotechnology research and manufacturing laboratories.  I enjoyed teaching in the vibrant Berkeley community because of the focus on curriculum innovation, the racially and ethnically diverse community, and sustained teacher collaboration to improve teaching and learning opportunities.

While working as the biotech program coordinator, I completed a doctorate in educational policy because I wanted to link the everyday interactions I engaged in classrooms with larger policy debates about educational reform and educational inequality.  In my teaching and research I’m deeply interested in the life-long journey of becoming the teacher each of us hopes to be.  I study teacher learning and I’m particularly interested in partnerships that foster connections between schools and community resources such as outdoor environments, museums, and work places. I’ve written environmental education and art curriculum guides, presented at regional and national conferences, and have published articles on teacher learning in a range of journals. I work very intentionally in my teaching and research to be one model of a teacher-scholar.

What attracted me to the School of Education at the University of Puget Sound is the commitment to reflective teaching practices, collaboration, and engaging the dilemmas of the profession.  I feel very fortunate to engage daily with students and colleagues who pose challenging questions and are willing to make themselves vulnerable by making their teaching practices public for critique and analysis.  I love working with a cohort of students over a year; I get to know my students well and very much enjoy contributing to, and witnessing, their growth as professionals.  It is very rewarding to learn and grow as an educator in collaborative dialogue.

In addition to my duties as Dean, I teach undergraduate courses focused on classroom teaching, and science and math courses in both the K-8 and secondary M.A.T. programs.


Jerry Smith, Instructor

I have taught courses at the University of Puget Sound since 1991 and am currently an adjunct associate professor for the counselor education program. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and my Master of Education degree in counseling from Puget Sound as well. I have a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett Theological Seminary and served as the Chaplain for the University of Puget Sound from 1971 to 1973. I obtained my Doctorate of the Science of Theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1990.

My specialties are marriage and family therapy from a non-pathological and systems perspective, as well as the psychology of religion. For the past 40 years I have practiced as a pastoral psychotherapist with an emphasis in wellness-based individual, couple and family counseling. I am active in the Washington Pastoral Counselors Association.  I also enjoy recreational fly fishing.



Teaching Awards

Thomas A. Davis Teaching Award

In 2003 the dean's teaching awards were named to honor Thomas A. Davis, who served as dean of the university from 1973 to 1994. Faculty members in the ranks of instructor, assistant professor, and associate professor are eligible for the award.

  • Mary Boer (2017)
  • Fred Hamel (2015)
  • Betsy Gast (2004)
  • Amy Ryken (2004)


President's Teaching Award

The Puget Sound President’s Excellence in Teaching Award was established by former trustee Hal Eastman ’60 and his wife, Jacque ’61. Recipients are selected for their genuine passion for teaching, an ability to inspire students to learn, a capacity to set high expectations and challenge students to meet them, a respect for students as individuals, an enduring intellectual curiosity, and the capacity for growth, change, and vitality in the classroom and beyond.

  • Amy Ryken (2007)