Teaching & Administration (K-12)

Robert Abelsett ’65 earned his M.A. in History at ASU, where, he writes, “I was at the top of my class due to the tutelage of Professors Coulter and Thomas.  Their preparation and personal demands of students gave me an edge up on other students from around the country. I had really learned how to write!” He went on to teach history and economics at high schools in Riverside, CA and Medford, OR.  After retiring in 2001, Robert writes, “my wife and I travel when we can. We’ve taken several trips to Europe and the Caribbean.  We also have a large 5th-wheel and have visited all the National Parks west of the Mississippi and many along the East Coast. I can’t get away from that history.”

Jeff Chamberlin ’92 attended the MAT program at UPS and became a middle school teacher in South Tacoma. He writes, “I taught History, Social Studies and other subjects for nearly 10 years and then became a school administrator for the Tacoma School District.  Four years later I became Principal of a large junior high in University Place in 2006.  I am now serving as Deputy Superintendent in the University Place School District, and continue to enjoy making education the central focus of my life and work.  Helping to create and maintain educational environments that allow students to thrive is very rewarding.”  He remembers that his Hstory coursework at UPS “was rigorous and required lots of reading and writing,” and the excellent writing skills he gained in college have been invaluable in his career.  Jeff wants History majors interested in pursuing careers in education to know that “more recent requirements to be highly qualified in specific areas are important factors in employability for teachers.  Prospective teachers should take courses in several other departments such as English to ensure that they have coursework that will allow them to be highly qualified in multiple subjects.”

Anna (Davenport) Herron ’96 came to college knowing she wanted to work with children, and since graduation has worked as an educator in Tacoma.  After college, she helped create the first Metro Parks summer program for children, then worked as a substitute in Tacoma public schools before getting her MAT from the University of Washington-Tacoma.  Then, Anna writes, “my husband and I created our own afterschool tutoring program known as the 7th St. Learning Center for kids in our Hilltop neighborhood who needed extra support.  This program served children from Bryant Elementary and Jason Lee Middle School.  I directed this program for five years until 2003, receiving funding through private donors and a Vision Youth grant from World Vision and becoming a program of the non-profit Northwest Leadership Foundation.”  After dedicating herself to raising her two children for a few years, Anna returned to work as a co-op preschool teacher and gained Montessori certification for her current role as a pre-K/Kindergarten teacher at Bryant Montessori.  Anna often uses the skills learned in her History classes “to think, write, glean information quickly and communicate well,” and says,  “I still enjoy history a great deal. I consider myself a historian and love to read it and watch documentaries, and reflect on the world today and how it has been shaped by the past.”  

After graduation, Mike Moeller ’97 completed the MAT program at UPS and immediately got a job at Eatonville High School, where he has been working ever since, “still using much of what I learned in college to teach the high school students of today.”  Mike teaches History, Government, and Contemporary World Problems at Eatonville, where is he also the History department chair, senior advisor, head baseball coach and assistant football coach. He writes that the History major “is a great start for lifelong learning,” and reflects that for those who go on to careers in education, “Studying history, researching, and learning never ends.”

Cherilyn Inouye ’03 also earned her MAT at UPS, then returned home to Hawaii where she taught middle school Social Studies and Language Arts, and worked in the AVID program in Oahu from 2005-2010.  Next, Cherilyn began working on her doctorate in Educational Policy at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, where she worked as a graduate assistant, as well as for the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum and the non-profit Kanu Hawaii, before finding her current position as Vice Principal at Waimanolo Elementary and Intermediate School. Cherilyn continues to work on her doctorate, with a new focus on Educational Foundations. She writes, “I absolutely love my job as an administrator because I get to work with students on a daily basis and help them be more successful; I get to mentor teachers to improve student learning and achievement; and I get to influence policy at a school level to improve our school for our students, parents, and community.” Cherilyn’s undergraduate studies, including her experience studying abroad in Australia, informed her commitment as a teacher to showing students multiple historical perspectives. “My dissertation also has a historical component,” she writes, “and is focused on the history and culture of the community I work in, and how the community perceives the school, which represents a colonial structure that marginalized the Native Hawaiian/indigenous people in the community.”  For students considering a career in education, Cherilyn advises enrolling in a strong teacher preparation program.  “In my experience,” she writes, “teachers who lack strong preparation are less successful in the classroom early on, as they may only have the content and not the pedagogy to effectively prepare their students for success.  Teaching is harder than ever in this era of high stakes testing and accountability, and though history is not a ‘tested’ subject, it is our responsibility as educators to prepare our students for 21st century learning and citizenship.”

Ashley (Merwin) Wilwayco ’03 is another alum of Puget Sound’s MAT program. She fell in love with history in high school, thanks to an inspirational teacher who eschewed exams for close readings of primary sources, and prompted students to consider the “hows” and “whys” of history.  “Every history class I took at UPS was taught in the same constructivist way,” Ashley writes, “and I decided that was the type of teacher I wanted to be, a teacher who asked students to think and construct meaning.” She is now a National Board Certified Teacher who has taught Math, Science, and Reading for the Clover Park School District, as well as third grade for the Department of Defense, and currently teaches fifth grade at an IB Dual Language School in Texas. Ashley enjoys using interactive historical timelines to show that “History isn't isolated:  Important events happen in every field.  Patterns and varying perspectives occur in every field, and the ability to make connections and construct meaning is what ties everything together.  Those are the skills I learned as a History major, and the skills I give my students opportunities to practice every day.”    

Ashley Wearly ’06 began the Master’s program in History at Portland State with the intention of going for a Ph.D., but after some soul-searching decided to shift gears and do an MAT back at Puget Sound.  She writes, “During that year, I became a certified English and History teacher and met the man who is now my husband. A win-win! We moved to Seattle and taught in the area for 5 years (my husband is a chemistry teacher). I have taught 7th and 8th grade my whole career; I never imagined teaching that age group but absolutely fell in love it.” Last year, “ready for another adventure,” Ashley and her husband moved to Quito, Ecuador to teach at an international school, and are enjoying their time abroad. Ashley reflects that studying History as an undergraduate prepared her to handle a heavy professional workload, and gave her the strong communications skills needed to teach writing-heavy subjects. “Finally,” she says, “it fostered a lifelong interest in history that I do my best to pass on to the younger generation. How many people can say they get paid to spend their days talking about what they love? Even after 7 years of teaching, I continue to feel grateful that I stumbled upon a profession where I feel challenged, intellectually stimulated, and needed.”  She writes that students who are thinking of going for a doctorate in History should also consider K-12 teaching. As she writes, “teaching middle school I'm not able ‘do history’ at the advanced level I did in college, but instead pass on the more basic and practical knowledge of history, economics, and politics that is sorely lacking in our society.” 

Another alum who received his MAT from Puget Sound, David Tanaka ’06 has taught elementary and middle school Math, Reading, and English on the island of Maui since 2007.  He’s excited to be returning to his roots as a Social Studies teacher this year!  “The best part about being a teacher,” he writes, “is the impact you can have on a kid's life.  The academic and life skills they learn from you have a profound impact on their lives.  It's a daunting task, but also very rewarding.”  David remembers that during his undergraduate years he “went from being a kind of ‘slacker’ to a motivated, independent learner.” Professors like Doug Sackman motivated him to improve his work ethic and hone his writing skills.  “When I taught English,” David writes, “I focused on teaching my students how to write as historians and to develop arguments and back them up with evidence.” He wants would-be teachers to know that they shouldn’t expect to be able to focus on a single subject: “To be a successful teacher you have to know more than just history, or math, or science.  You have to know how to connect with students, how to empathize with them, and how to care about kids who don't care about your class.” 

Daryl Wythe ’08 originally planned to go to medical school and studied history thinking that would look good on med school applications. After realizing that medicine wasn’t the right path for him, he concentrated on preparing for a teaching career. Daryl earned his MAT at Puget Sound, after which he worked as a substitute in the Tacoma and Clover Park School Districts before joining the ‘Twilight’ Program at Lakes High School.  Daryl spent two years working with students who were at risk of dropping out, “teaching them valuable social skills, how to manage money when they got a job, helping them earn back credit they had not received through credit retrieval classes, and working to get them into Northwest Career and Technical High School.”  In 2014, Daryl added an endorsement to teach English to his Social Studies qualifications, and moved to Lochburn Middle School where he has been teaching English and Social Studies, and enjoying revisiting some material he studied in U.S and European history classes at UPS.  He writes that he enjoys “teaching younger generations the skills they will need to be successful in life and be prepared for college,” and passing on the research and writing skills he learned as an undergraduate.

Since graduation, Katine Nielsen ’11 has volunteered as a tutor for AmeriCorps and earned her MAT at Saint Joseph’s University, becoming certified to teach middle school and high school social studies in both Pennsylvania and Missouri.  She is currently a substitute teacher at Waynesville R-VI School District in Missouri.  Katrine writes, “ Studying history helped me be a much more perceptive and comprehensive educator.  UPS helped me hone many skills that are essential in the professional world, most significantly my ability to notice and identify seemingly disparate events as parts of much bigger issues.”  She advises students to get some experience teaching before committing to a Master’s program, since “budget cuts have hit schools hard and they usually don't want to pay individuals with no job experience on the average Master's degree scale.”

A double major in History and Classics, Will Roundy ’12 went to work for Google after graduation, where, he writes, “the skills I built as a writer in my history courses served me well.”  Missing academia, Will enrolled in a Master’s program for Latin educators at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.  In grad school, he remembers, “I had lots of writing to do, and my research skills were essential to my success.” After receiving his MAT, he was hired by Amherst Regional Middle School, an ideal position which will enable him to maintain ties with the Umass Amherst Classics Department and eventually mentor students in his former MAT program.  Will says, “I have greatly enjoyed my experiences as a Latin teacher. While many teachers are stuck with state and district-mandated curricula, I have the opportunity to design my own units of study that relate to the history, literature, philosophy, religion, art, architecture, technology, culture and politics of the Ancient Mediterranean.” Will is always looking for opportunities to “teach students to be historians themselves” by examining primary sources.  He suggests, “History majors who are considering a career in teaching ought to start teaching as soon as possible. Teaching is a skill that requires lots of practice. One way to begin practicing would be to apply for a job at the CWLT,” as Will did as an undergrad, or tutoring in the Tacoma community. He also suggests “taking notes on how their professors are teaching them and ask to discuss teaching methods in their office hours.”

Peter Vleck ’13 spent a year after graduation working in private industry before signing on with WorldTeach and moving to American Samoa to teach at Manu’a High School on Ta’u, an island with a population of 750 where most families live on less than $14,000 per year.  Now in his second year at Manu’a, Peter finds his job challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and has enjoyed exploring a part of the world whose history fascinates him.  Peter, whose passion is the Pacific Theater of World War II (the subject of his senior History thesis), has found that his students (75% of whom are in the JROTC) often share his interest in military history, but many lack the resources and support that would allow them to excel in school.  He has been delighted to find that some of his students are incredibly committed to their educations in spite of these obstacles.  As Peter writes, “They will stay for hours after school to get help, even it if means that they have to walk several miles home later on in the afternoon because they missed the bus. These students understand that focusing on their education gives them an opportunity to get off of the island, and out of poverty.”  Peter notes that his research experience, and especially his History 200 project and thesis, gave him vital skills and have impressed potential employers.  He has the following advice to current students: “Keep your eyes open, and be willing to be adventurous. I had 27 days between my first interview and the day that I arrived at Pago Pago International Airport. I landed this gig because I was interested in travelling and teaching, even if it was outside of my specific area, and lucked into this position teaching history and government. I turned a semester-long volunteer position into a potential career, and even though I'm planning on coming back home and going to grad school rather than teaching here long term, I'm gaining a lot of important experience that I wouldn't have been able to get back in the U.S.”

After working as a clinic technician and an administrative assistant, Evan Wimberly ’13, writes, “I realized that I wanted to use my degree to become a teacher. This was a thought I had been toying with since I was a freshman.  Eventually I got an amazing opportunity to teach in Cairo at a Christian School.”  For Evan, “the most rewarding part of the job is just watching the kids learn and grow, and it’s definitely been a blessing and a place for me to grow and learn more, even about myself.” Reflecting on his undergraduate studies, Evan recalls, “I purposefully branched out into different areas of history so I would have a well rounded base of information, and now I use that to teach history to middle- and high- schoolers.” Reconstructing the perspectives of different historical actors, he writes, “has helped me learn to put myself in other's shoes and empathize with them, which has been especially important when working with students from all walks of life.”  Current students considering teaching as a career, Evan suggests, should be sure to get some experience working with kids before committing themselves: “Even if you know all there is to teach, if you don't have the passion for the position, you will be ineffective.”