School of Education Faculty
Faculty in the School of Education at the University of Puget Sound has 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 within the School of Education.
- Terry Beck, Distinguished Professor
- Mary Boer, Clinical Instructor
- Fred Hamel, Professor
- Tina Huynh, Assistant Professor
- Heidi Morton, Assistant Professor
- Molly Pugh, Clinical Instructor
- Kimberlee Ratliff, Clinical Assistant Professor
- Amy Ryken, Dean and Distinguished Professor
Terry Beck, Distinguished 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. I returned to Federal Way from Arizona, 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 into 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 amazingly different people from me and each other is what I continue to study and think about today.
My master's 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 know students well to 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
I began my teaching career as a high school English teacher at Conifer High School in Colorado, and to this day, I cherish the students and faculty who helped me grow as a beginning teacher. After two years of teaching there, I moved back to Tacoma, thrilled at the prospect of continuing to work with high school students. At that time, secondary English positions were scarce, so I accepted a position as a 4th-grade teacher at Pt. Defiance Elementary in Tacoma Public Schools. Unsure of what to expect of nine-year-olds, I welcomed a new class of 4th graders. They were amazing, brilliant, eager to learn, and I was hooked. In time, I added an elementary endorsement to my certification to continue to teach 4th and 5th grade.
After eleven years at Pt, Defiance Elementary, I was allowed to become Director of Education for “Seattle Study Club,” a private, continuing education company that serves dentists who want to further their knowledge to provide excellent care to each patient. During those three years, I helped develop a curriculum and learned from remarkable and creative individuals. From this work, I transitioned into the clinical instructor role in the School of Education at the University of Puget Sound, where I had also earned both my B.A. in English Literature and M.A.T. degrees.
I am thankful for every day that I get to work with the faculty and students of the University of Puget Sound School of Education. I believe deeply in its commitment to reflective learning, supportive and sustained relationships with its students and alumni, and centering social justice, race, and culturally responsive teaching in its curriculum. In my role as Clinical Instructor, I am fortunate to teach courses to our graduate students and supervise our teacher candidates when they are in school-based placements.
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 my teacher's leadership and thoughtfulness and 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, fascinating learning theory, and concrete teaching tools 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 to maintain a strong blend of theory and practice. Throughout this time, my interests have focused on literacy education, how teachers can better understand students as learners, and 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. I especially enjoy the relationships I’ve developed 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.
Tina Huynh, Assistant Professor
I have enjoyed 20 years of teaching experience in public, private, community, and studio settings as a music educator. I began teaching in a private piano studio during my undergraduate studies. After earning my credential, I taught elementary general music, elementary choir, beginning band, and beginning strings, with experiences in solo teaching and co-teaching in San Juan Capistrano School District in Southern California. Opportunities led me to teach at a community music and arts program in Southern California and direct the Vietnamese American Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra. During my graduate studies, I taught in private schools and public schools throughout Los Angeles.
In my doctoral work, I focused on cultural and musical diversity issues in the elementary music classroom and musical culture in the home, specifically the Vietnamese American home. My research in this area has led to anchoring my teaching in culturally responsive practices.
I am invigorated by the supportive, collaborative, and rigorous learning environment in the School of Education at the University of Puget Sound. The open, interactive, and reflective nature of teaching and learning with my colleagues and students enriches our collective experience. I am grateful to be part of the journey that leads students to become teaching professionals.
Heidi Morton, Assistant Professor
My journey to becoming a counselor began early in life. My parents (both proud Puget Sound grads) were career educators, and my father had been a school counselor before I was born. Finding ways to improve people’s lives, both inter-and intrapersonal, has been a constant goal throughout my life. Music has also been a life constant and was part of what brought me to Puget Sound initially as an undergraduate student. I played violin in the university symphony orchestra and completed a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in religion. In part, my experiences teaching violin and guitar, working with students of all ages to overcome challenges and move toward their individual goals, helped motivate me to pursue a career in counseling to help people with their overall life journeys. I graduated from the University of Puget Sound’s counseling program in 1997 after completing both the school and mental health counseling tracks.
I have been a school counselor since 1997, working in rural and urban school districts at the high school and elementary levels. I have had the opportunity to create a comprehensive school counseling program from the ground up, help open a new high school, and participate in and lead high-functioning counseling teams. My commitment to social justice and equity has led me to work on local and national initiatives, particularly those related to the LGBTQIA community and increasing educational equity, access, and support for K-20 students. The desire to contribute to the profession on a broader level led me to pursue and complete my Ph.D. in Counseling through Oregon State University.
Being a two-time Puget Sound graduate, the things that drew me here initially are what I still love and appreciate about Puget Sound today: the rigorous and supportive learning environment, commitment to social justice and the community, the installation of the love of lifelong learning, and the pursuit of unlocking human potential to create better lives and a better world.
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 completing 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 selecting, implementing, and developing the 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 due to 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 my career's best professional development and reinforced the reflective and rigorous practice that I had adopted as a MAT student and educator. 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 School of Education company. 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.”
Kimberlee Ratliff, Clinical Assistant Professor
My journey to becoming a counselor was inspired by early childhood experiences and encouraged by supportive mentors throughout my life. Although my mom was not a counselor or educator, I developed many counselor characteristics, such as empathy, caring, and genuineness, directly. Helping others comes second nature to her, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps.
In 1998, I began my school counseling career working with elementary school students in North Carolina. After September 11th, I provided group counseling to children affiliated with the military full-time to accommodate the overwhelming need for counseling during deployments. A few years later, I moved to Washington, D.C., where I continued my work as an elementary school counselor until I had the opportunity to help build a counseling department at a new middle school in the Northern Virginia suburbs. I fell in love with middle school counseling.
Wanting to continue my professional growth, I pursued my mental health license and completed my doctoral degree in counseling psychology. I researched multiracial identity development and cultural competence in counseling multiracial individuals in my doctoral program, which remains my primary research interest today.
As an emerging counselor educator, my professional identity began to take shape when I taught a practicum course at George Mason University. I discovered my passion for teaching and supervising counselors-in-training, which followed me into my role as program director/professor of school counseling for an online institution. I spent ten years developing a counseling curriculum and supervising students across the United States and internationally. Supervising counselors-in-training in the Republic of Georgia, China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia re-ignited my interest in how culture influences our perspectives and identities. Being a third culture kid during my pre-teen years living in Panama, I enjoy cultural immersion experiences and have a bucket list of travel plans with hopes of continuing my understanding and appreciation of our diverse world.
After 37 years of living as a military child and spouse, Washington State became our permanent home. While teaching part-time at the University of Puget Sound, I observed collegial relationships among faculty, meaningful discussions and engagement with students, and a collaborative community committed to lifelong learning and social justice. I am thrilled and thankful to continue my professional journey surrounded by phenomenal colleagues and students who challenge and inspire me.
Amy E. Ryken, Dean and Distinguished 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. I 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 workplaces. 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 gratifying 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.
Thomas A. Davis Teaching Award
The Thomas A. Davis Teaching Award is given to honor excellence in teaching and is named to honor Thomas A. Davis, who served as dean of the university from 1973 to 1994.
- Mary Boer (2017)
- Fred Hamel (2015)
- Amy Ryken (2004)
President's Excellence in 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, and 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.
- Terry Beck (2018)
- Amy Ryken (2007)