Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

Graduate School of Education News

Alumna author multitasks to help babies and Mother Earth at the same time

GSE alumna Joy Hatch MAT'97 is teaching people how to save money, raise babies and save the planet all at the same time. 

She recently published a book entitled "The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet," which caps three years of work with co-author Rebecca Kelley. The book focuses on how to raise a child in an eco-friendly atmosphere without breaking the bank, and making "progress instead of perfection."

After earning her master's at the Graduate School of Education, Hatch taught middle school for 10 years before starting her book project. When she sunk her teeth into the writing, she integrated her queries, book proposals, freelance articles and rejection letters into her classroom - showing students the tumultuous process of publishing.

Hatch and Kelley have kept a lively blog, The Green Baby Guide, throughout the process. They have been featured in Fit Pregnancy magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child magazine, and locally in the Statesman Journal, The Register Guard and Eugene Weekly. They also have a regular column in Oregon Family magazine entitled "Simply Green."

Hatch plans to continue taking her experiences back to classrooms to educate children on the journey of publishing a book.

Alumnus honored for creative teaching techniques in demanding subject

Jason Niedermeyer '01, MAT'05 (left) has stayed involved in research projects with Professor David Craig (right) and current Willamette students.

Jason Niedermeyer '01, MAT '05 recently received the 2010 National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) Evolution Education Award.

Niedermeyer, who majored in biology, has been teaching at South Salem High School since his graduation from the GSE in 2005. He was honored for his unique approach to tackling the subject of evolution in high school classrooms.

The Evolution Education Award is co-sponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), and is awarded in recognition of classroom excellence and stylistic dexterity in the difficult field of teaching evolution.

Niedermeyer's innovative approach leads students on a path of discovery — the curriculum allows students to see evolution from an inquiry-based standpoint and draw conclusions for themselves as opposed to being presented with information they cannot necessarily make evidentiary ties with.

"Instead of telling students that we are going to be studying evolution immediately after genetics — and risk having some students immediately object — I provide students with opportunities to discover natural selection the same way Darwin did by taking them through the same paces," Niedermeyer says.

His enthusiasm and commitment to student understanding are widely lauded, especially by his students.

"The passion and enthusiasm with which he would teach — especially when it came to evolution, which was quite obviously his favorite topic — made it difficult for any student not to feel the same way," says Marika Lou, one of his former students.

Niedermeyer shares his fervor in and out of the classroom. He held a school district-wide seminar on teaching evolution, he spoke on the topic at Willamette University's Darwin Days in 2006, and he published an article touching on the topic in Education Weekly. He has been awarded grants from Intel, Toyota, and M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and was named the South Salem Teacher of the Semester in 2007.

For this award, Niedermeyer earned a $1,000 cash prize and a one-year membership in AIBS. He was honored at the NABT annual professional development conference earlier this month in Minneapolis.