It is a great honor to recommend Carissa Gran for a CALE Service Excellence Award. Carissa strives daily to provide service to the Education Department staff, faculty, and students. Her service is extensive as a simple list of committees on which she serves at the state and departmental level including, WACTE, CPEP, CARRT, department Assessment committee, hospitality committee, women in leadership, and many more. She also serves the broader educational community and our many, many district partners across the state.
She works closely with cross-campus partners to address field questions and needs in CALE and beyond. In the period of COVID, our Office of Field Experience (OFE) has found itself without a co-director and a placement coordinator (twice), and experiencing difficulty placing candidates with school-districts who, themselves, are struggling to meet their student’s needs.
Even without a pandemic, her work has become more difficult and, sometimes, contentious, but she has maintained professionalism, courage, and perspective throughout. Given this, she deserves recognition for her service to the teaching profession and the many programs across the institution that rely on the OFE for their majors. However, it is her additional work, beyond these many efforts, that has led me to nominate her for this award.
Director Gran is a servant leader. Her expertise in both instructional coaching and trauma-informed practice has assisted the Department of Education by embedding consistent reflective praxis, aligned to learning standards, throughout field experiences for teacher candidates.
Perhaps as a prescient decision to prepare us for the global trauma of the pandemic, her work in 2019 brought a panel of local experts to campus to help mentor teachers, EWU faculty, and teacher candidates in order to better understand how to engage in trauma informed practice in our area. At this same event, participants viewed the documentaries Paper Tigers and Resilience and this experience shaped conversations for years after.
In addition to preparation for trauma-informed practice, Director Gran has worked to engage in equity pedagogy through Social Emotional Learning (SEL). First, she developed an online canvas-based workshop for faculty and candidates exploring the text by Zaretta Hammond, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain.
Understanding the power of SEL for all humans, Director Gran then re-designed the field experiences in 2020 to allow candidates to participate in SEL as a way to engage in self-awareness, social awareness and positive mental health. This SEL coursework influences candidate interactions with their P-12 students, faculty, and field supervisors by helping them to seek calm in the midst of crisis.
One small, but mighty, example of this is by encouraging a moment of gratefulness in meetings she leads with her team. In 2020-2021, she applied for multiple grant funds to support professional development with Cheney School District school teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, P-12 students and our teacher candidates. She is currently working with the Psychology department to develop a Social Emotional Learning Certificate and to develop the coursework needed to achieve this certificate.
As a learner herself, she has engaged in multiple professional development opportunities across campus and in professional learning communities. In the past year, she has participated in the following book club studies alone: How to be an anti-racist, So you want to talk about race; and, Onward. It is her practice to regularly bring her learning back to the department and work with candidates.
Director Gran lives and breathes inclusive equity, and her modeling of this practice is part of who she is as a person engaged in the world. The merger of her focus on equity pedagogy, culturally responsive practice, and social emotional learning has improved our understanding of the richness of diversity in teaching and interacting with each other. I have personally benefited greatly from her willingness to share her learning and experiences. Her service has shaped my practice.
NOTE: It is important to keep in mind that Director Gran is a lecturer and not required by her contract to engage in scholarship, curricular re-designs, or service. This is work that Director Gran is doing as a part of an academic community of learners. She is inspiring and deserving of this recognition.
Carissa had been leading the supervising team and doing a great job at it. She has streamlined how we do things in Field Experience. We needed someone who had been a field supervisor to take the lead. Carissa stepped up and really has helped to make field experience work better for the students and the supervisors.
Carissa has been supportive with candidate situations. Issues come up where a candidate is about to lose their placement or has through a variety of circumstances. Carissa is one of the first to work with the candidate to resolve the issue and guide them in corrective measures. As a structural member of CARRT, Carissa is invaluable in all she does.
Carissa is amazing in her flexibility and her ability to take on more tasks. Carissa has stepped up and taken on the challenge of placements while having to work with candidates on the edTPA and all her other duties. Carissa is always stepping in and/or filling in when the OFE is understaffed.
No one is more deserving of the CALE Service Excellence Award than Carissa Gran. She goes above and beyond for the candidates and Field Supervisors in the Education Department!
I am extremely proud to nominate Carissa Gran for a CALE Service Excellence Award. Carissa Gran has worn many hats in her various roles within the EWU Education Department, and in each role, she has created and maintained rich, long term relationships with teaching candidates, education department staff and faculty, partners in CALE and throughout the Eastern campus, community partners in districts throughout Washington State, and even partners in statewide education associations.
Carissa’s first few years were spent as a Field Supervisor in our department’s Field Experience Program. From her first day, she has been a joy to work with as a colleague, and she consistently demonstrated a heart to serve her students and her fellow department members. She consistently finds unique ways to support candidates who struggle in their field experiences, while also holding them accountable to the highest standards of the teaching profession. This unique balance of support and firmness earned the respect of many mentor teachers and principals throughout the Spokane region. And these experiences set her up to smoothly take on the double role of Field Experience Director and edTPA Coordinator in 2018.
Because she deeply understood the trends, she’d seen in working with our district partners, and with the edTPA, Carissa wasted no time in identifying on-going challenges, proposing possible solutions, and consistently and sincerely welcoming input from the field supervisors regarding important changes.
Even though Carissa has now been our director for three years, she still frequently reiterates that “she is not our boss, she is just a facilitator on our team.” She frequently finds ways to celebrate our individual successes and to support us when we are handling an especially sensitive situation. Over the years, she has also helped to maximize the efficiency of our documentation and meeting processes, and she has established a sense of consistency despite the throughout the numerous employment changes that have happened within our program. Carissa is always willing to pick up
Although her position is a lecturer line, Carissa holds herself to high standards as a liaison between the department and the campus and the surrounding community. She has volunteered for numerous committees and projects, both across campus and across the state; and she dutifully considers all of these stakeholders when proposing ideas or reporting back to our field supervisors. She also pays special attention to the authentic, personal implications of the way that we run our programs.
Several years ago, Carissa coordinated with a few faculty members to provide more explicit instruction in Culturally Responsive Teaching for our candidates, and another book that we read as a field supervision team. Even though our time with these books is now past, they have both had long lasting impacts on the way that we teach our candidates, and on the way that they will someday teach their students. I for one, still frequently refer to insights that I gained while studying “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain” by Zaretta Hammond and “Blindspot” by Banaji and Greenwald.
Similarly, upon the emergency shut down in 2020, Carissa immediately identified the need for supporting our students through Social Emotional Learning, and she quickly identified several resources that we began integrating into our online programs. Because she believes so strongly in the importance of supporting our candidates as individuals, and not just as learners, she even recently wrote a grant for implementing SEL in the Ed program while working with tenure-track faculty from the department of education and psychology.
In my six years at Eastern Washington University, I have been consistently impressed by Carissa’s unique combination of forward-thinking vision and drive to collaborate, especially when considering that these are not necessarily a requirement of a lecturer position.
In the last two quarters, an especially difficult challenge has also shown just how exceptional Carissa is. In January 2021, House Bill 1028 proposed the elimination of the edTPA as a certification requirement, and since then, it has gone through numerous iterations. Every revision presented new questions and new and frustrations and fears for our teaching candidates, and questions among members of our department and cross-campus partners. During this change-filled time, Carissa’s previously established relationships proved especially important.
Carissa spent hours fielding questions from students and faculty regarding the ever-changing language of the bill. And even though, none of the changes were within her control, she graciously listened to every person who wanted to share their concerns with her, and she responded with attention to immediate and long-term implications for our department and for the state as a whole.
She regularly scoured the newly proposed language in each version of the bill, sent email updates to keep candidates informed, and she discussed hypothetical situations and priorities with our department and education leaders across the state.
When the bill was signed into law just two days ago, Carissa had detailed emails already drafted and ready to send out to current students in all stages of their field experience, as well as recent alumni who would be impacted by the change. This change will likely require significant adjustments in the way our department prepares and verifies student achievement for certification, and Carissa has shown that she is ready to help lead us through the next stage of this challenge.
It is no wonder that I continue to hear praises of Carissa from current and past teaching candidates. She has made a tremendous impact on them, and on the students they serve. Carissa has helped us to graduate hundreds of Eagle alumni who have an increased appreciation of the way that teachers can create community relationships and cultural responsiveness in their own schools. Carissa Gran is an exemplary representative for CALE and for the CALE Service Award because she has made a tremendous impact on so many people during her time at EWU.
Thanks to Carissa’s inspiring vision and her genuine leadership, classrooms throughout EWU and across the State of Washington are operating with increased efficiency, resiliency, and compassion.
Eastern Washington University’s motto once was, “Start Something Big.” I’ve always liked that saying. It embraces what we strive to do in education. We want our students to believe in themselves, to excel in those specific dispositions that not only teach but motivate. To not just deliver content, but to add the well-being of students.
The University started something big in creating the Office of Field Experience with the heart of that organization being full time field supervisors. No one knows what it is like to supervise a student for a full year through their practicum and student teaching.
A supervisor’s job requires that you know the field well enough to teach, coach, and advise a student through this experience; navigating students through the stress of mentor relationships, family issues, and a host of individual concerns that increase exponentially with each student added to your roster. Multiply the stress and hours of a supervisor by nine, and you have the responsibilities of Co-Director of Field Experience, Carissa Gran
Carissa, simply put, is one person doing the work of three. I often see emails in my inbox that were crafted near midnight. She is willing to take observations if supervisors are over-scheduled; she constantly advises students in numerous CARRT Committee Meetings, office hour Zoom conferences, Education Department Meetings, and the list goes on.
Eastern Washington University is unique in our region. No other college has full time supervisors that meet the needs of students from the time they enter their practicum until they finish their student teaching.
Lin-Manuel Miranda once said, “You are perfectly cast in your life. I can’t imagine anyone but you in the role. Go play.”
I personally know everyone in the Education Department, and I am not alone in the sentiment that Carissa is “perfectly cast” at this time for her role to lead the Office of Field Experience.