skip to content

Faculty News Archive


Dr. Susanne Weil and colleague edit anthology on "women and work"

Susanne WeilDr. Susanne Weil, associate professor English and Humanities at Centralia College, and Christine Leiren Mower, adjunct professor of English and Women Studies at Seattle University, have teamed to compile an anthology of essays on how women's work has fared under the pens of novelists.

The volume, Women and Work: the Labors of Self-Fashioning, began when the two were contacted by Cambridge Scholars' Publishing, asking them for a proposal for expanding the press's holdings in women's studies. Two and one-half years and 400 pages later, their anthology has been published. Read more »»»


Steve Norton and Ken Rakoz named Exceptional Faculty Award recipients

5/13/10 — Two members of the Centralia College faculty have been tapped to receive the prestigious "Exceptional Faculty Award" for the 2009-10 college year. The award honors instructors who bring an uncommon level of commitment and excellence and innovation in the teaching environment and display high levels of service to the college and the community.

Dr. Steve Norton, an assistant professor in the sciences, academic transfer pathway, and Ken Rakoz, assistant professor in the Workforce Education Diesel Technology program, were selected for this year's honor.

"Through this award we show faculty members just how important they are and that we recognize their contributions to our students, our college, and our community," said Dr. Jim Walton, college president. "This college's faculty has a long tradition of excellence and students have benefited greatly from this quality. The selections this year reflect the high standard we have among the teaching ranks."

Steve Norton Dr. Steve Norton teaches eight different classes at the college, involving eight different sets of labs. His responsibilities range from teaching the largest lecture and lab class on campus (Human Anatomy and Physiology) to a summer stint teaching environmental classes such as watershed studies.

Pre-professional students, including those pursing careers in medicine dominate several of Norton's courses. "These courses would be challenging enough," Norton explains, "just based on the volume of the material and the intricate details of the processes, but their importance to the career aspirations of the students adds a measure of stress. I need to be demanding and supporting," he continued, "challenging and approachable."

Norton may be the leading beneficiary of the college's Science Center where his classes and labs take place. "We can now have dedicated labs for specific courses," Norton points out. "This has been a boon for scheduling. For Anatomy and Physiology, for example, I can organize open lab opportunities, allowing students to review histological slides and anatomical models from previous weeks. As many as 40 students a week may take advantage of this opportunity." Still, the students are the impetus for Norton's continuing concentration on excellence. "The pinning ceremony for nursing students who have persevered in their LPN or RN programs," he beams, "is one of the true highlights of my year."

Ken Rakoz Ken Rakoz — Two personal attributes probably played a huge part in the nomination and selection of Rakoz to Exceptional Faculty honors. First is his unyielding work ethic, which he is able to effectively communicate to his students. He spends a great percentage of his spare time on matters related to his classes and his students, helping them with problems at any time, even after they've joined the workforce.

"I'm still a dairy kid inside," Rakoz grins, "who just works 'till it's finished for the day and then comes back to do it again tomorrow."

The other element of his extraordinary student-teacher relationship is his willingness to volunteer large blocks of time to student success. He does program fund-raising, built a diesel dragster that promotes the program and the college, and travelled to Malawi to teach diesel technology at one of Centralia College's sister colleges in Africa. During his stay he also worked extensively to help build the infrastructure so additional portions of the community could have running water and flush toilets. Rakoz even raised money to bring a Malawi student to Centralia College so that student could learn and return to teach diesel technology in that emerging nation.

The high placement rate of diesel graduates into top jobs and the reputation of Centralia College in the diesel industry are factors of which Rakoz is understandably proud. His greatest source of personal satisfaction, however, remains with the students.

"I am especially proud," he explains, "that two of my former students have chosen to teach diesel technology and share what they learned with others. There are many, many former students who continue to impress me with their accomplishments, and I know that their solid foundations at Centralia College played a role."

The two were given the award following their selection from a list of student, staff and peer nominations. Since 1992, when the Exceptional Faculty award was initiated and funded by the Washington state Legislature and the Centralia College Foundation, 39 Centralia College faculty members have received the award. The recognition includes $2000 for each recipient, proceeds from the Centralia College Foundation Exceptional Faculty endowment.

For a list of past award recipients, see Recipients of the Exceptional Faculty Award, 1992-2010 (PDF).

Pat Pringle's Roadside recognized as Geoscience's Best Guidebook

Pat Pringle booksigning 12/10/09 — Centralia College's Earth Sciences associate professor Patrick T. Pringle's most recent book, Roadside Geology of Mount Rainier National Park and Vicinity, garnered the Geoscience Information Society Best Guidebook Award. Pringle received the award during the Society's 2009 meeting held in Portland, Oregon, in October.

Roadside Geology is an up-to-date book on volcanic processes past and present in the Pacific Northwest, illustrating both the beauty and the hazards of our state's largest volcano. The book covers the volcanic zone from about I-5 to the west, SR 410 to the north, Yakima on the east, and SR 12 to the south.

Pringle's research into age-dating the most recent catastrophic mudflows, or "lahars" at Mount Rainier have given scientists new insights into the destructive forces that could threaten much of the development between the mountain and Seattle if another lahar event occurs.

Numerous color and historical photos and an easy-to-follow layout with clearly identified location stops distinguish the 191-page guide. The award subcommittee noted that of all of this year's nominees, Pringle's book best met the criteria established by the GSIS "Guidelines for Authors, Editors, and Publishers of Geologic Field Trip Guidebooks."

The publication joins Pringle's Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens, published earlier.

The Geoscience Information Society is an international professional organization devoted to improving the exchange of information in the earth sciences. The membership consists of librarians, editors, cartographers, educators, and information professionals. Information about the Society may be found at its website,

International Programs director runs in Vegas

Laju NankaniLaju Nankani12/10/09 — When she's not running after international students for Centralia College, you might find Laju Nankani running the streets of various cities throughout the country or abroad. Most recently she ran the Dec. 6 Las Vegas Rock 'n Roll marathon, marking another in a tradition she began in 1991 of running one marathon and a half-marathon each year.

This year, running with a pack of Elvis Presley impersonators, she clocked the 26.2 miles in just over five hours. "This is the first time that I decided to run a marathon with my camera so I could take pictures of interesting sights along the way," she said. She still finished nearly 25 minutes faster than her previous marathon run in Long Beach, CA.

One interesting stop along her marathon route was Paris (casino resort), where at a wedding run-through ceremony (Las Vegas style), fifty runners paused to exchange vows during the run. Also, "There were bands stationed every couple of miles along the route playing a lot of rock 'n roll music. It helped make the arduous 26.2 miles run less boring," she said.

Nankani was one of 28,000 runners in this event, about 3,000 more take part in the annual Boston Marathon, which she also has run. Since 1991, Nankani has run a marathon or half-marathon in more than a dozen places in the U.S and abroad.

Science and Business lead Exceptional Faculty choices

A pair of extraordinary faculty veterans, greatly respected by colleagues and students alike, has captured the 2009 awards for Exceptional Faculty at Centralia College. John Fasler, Associate Professor of Business, and Patrick Pringle, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, have captured the college's most prestigious faculty recognition for this year.

John FaslerJohn Fasler—In his tenure at Centralia College, Fasler has expanded the business program from just four advisees to a current level of over 70. To serve his large student base, Fasler has worked extensively on curriculum development and met with representatives of several four-year institutions to develop programs consistent with baccalaureate transfer requirements. To insure continuance of useful program objectives, Fasler independently recruited an advisory team consisting of CPAs and financial professionals from the local community to discuss program and industry needs. Most of all, Fasler has developed a strong connection and rapport with students from diverse academic, cultural, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, and all levels of ability and expertise. He has taken the time and effort to tailor individual programs of study, schedules, and work plans that will meet their individual needs—and will work for them.

"I've always tried to instill the benefits of developing good study habits and constructive work skills," Fasler said. "Those are the habits that will assist them as they enter the working world." Individual students have individual needs, Fasler concludes, and he provides that. "I schedule extra time into my advising sessions," Fasler added, "to ensure my students have full opportunity to discuss their needs and learn to move ahead with proper course scheduling."

Patrick Pringle Patrick Pringle—Pringle brought over 26 years of geology-related professional experience to his classrooms, providing him a great deal of on-site practical knowledge. He is able to use humor and even drama in the classroom with a narration style that includes stories and lots of rhetorical questions. The strategy works very well for Pringle. "I believe students get pulled in by a story or more closely connected if they feel a sense of relevance about the subject matter," Pringle explained, and then smiled. "I've also found there is a wonderfully edgy sense of expectation and alertness in the classroom if the audience never knows quite what to expect next!"

Pringle combines labs and fieldwork to achieve lab science outcomes such as developing quantitative and spatial reasoning skills. "That technique has been especially successful in the Weather and Climate class." Pringle explained. "Field trips have been key learning situations in my Natural Hazards and Catastrophes and Geology of the Pacific Northwest classes." Pringle believes field trips are critical if students are to adequately learn spatial reasoning skills in the earth sciences. In the natural laboratory they can see geologic features and deposits in context. His students love it—and they learn the material beyond all expectations. "Some of my students have proven to be real achievers," Pringle beamed. "One just graduated Cumma Cum Laude from Central Washington University and is entering a master's program in Geological Sciences." Pringle tells his students that every study is like a trip down the river. "I may have rowed down this stretch a few times," he laughs, "but the rapids and hydraulics have changed since the last time. So I explain I'm not taking them on a scenic tour on this academic float trip; each has a paddle and are expected to use it!" The metaphor applies directly to each student contributing to the forward momentum of the classroom—and the results are almost magic for this Exceptional Faculty award-winner.

Centralia College Board Grants Tenure

Steve NortonThe Centralia College Board of Trustees has granted tenure to Stephen Norton, a member of the Centralia College science faculty. Norton is satisfactorily completing his three-year probationary contract and has earned tenured faculty status beginning with the fall quarter 2009. Fourteen first- and second-year probationary faculty were each granted continuance in the tenure-track process. The favorable decisions were made by the board at its March 19 meeting.

The continued faculty members include: First-year: Tadd Belden, Criminal Justice; Jacob Fay, Diesel; Ine Van Dam, Foreign Languages; Gloria Price, Early Childhood Education; Atara MacNamara, Psychology; Kerry Tretheway, Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Sue Sheldon, ABE at the Garrett Heyns Education Center at the Washington State Corrections Center in Shelton (GHEC); and Lance Wrzensinski, Business.

Second-year probationary faculty members include: Ann Alves and Jacob Lund, Civil Engineering; Ken Cotton, Welding; Barret Havens, Library; Joan Fredrickson, Basic Skills (GHEC); and Chris Werner, Farm Management.

Faculty candidates are selected for tenure or continuance by a committee of senior faculty and administrators based on their performance during each year of probation. They must be "passed" by the trustees each year in the three-year tenure track process. "These faculty members represent some of the best educators in the Northwest," said Dr. Jim Walton, college president. "Each has brought exceptional credentials, conviction, and a passion to teach. They will help maintain the tradition of faculty excellence we so highly prize at Centralia College."


Ine-Marie van Dam, Foreign Languages

Ine-Marie van DamNew to the foreign language department this year is Ine-Marie van Dam, who brings an impressive skill set and an exciting background to Centralia College. Born in The Netherlands, her family moved to the Dutch Antilles when she was two. Thus Ine-Marie uses and prefers the European pronunciation of her name, EE'na, rather than the Anglicized EYE'na.

During her middle school years the family moved to Seattle and van Dam found herself in public school. "I was kind of left to fend for myself," she recalled, her quick humor rising to the surface. "I could speak several languages, but English may not have been my best." You wouldn't guess that today. Early in her high school years she went to Mexico as an exchange student and quickly excelled in Spanish. "I had already taken it in school," van Dam explained. "In fact, I think I took every language course available to me. I seemed to be good at languages, and I enjoyed them."

By the age of 19 van Dam had returned to Europe and enrolled in college, taking French at Strousbourg. Later college courses would include a deep immersion in German. For the next few years van Dam leapfrogged the Atlantic, earning a BA from the University of Washington in French and Political Science and then returning to Europe to notch her MA from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. For several years van Dam worked for the European Common Market as an interpreter. She also worked privately as an interpreter and negotiator for several clients during multilingual contract or market matters. "The common market, I think, was as much politically as financially driven," she said. "It was an exciting place to be." Nonetheless, van Dam returned to the US and for the next several years served on the faculty of the prestigious Monterey Institute for International Studies. There, while packing for a vacation trip to Mexico, van Dam got a call from her sister in Olympia. "She told me of an opening at Centralia College for someone to teach French, German, and Spanish," she laughed. "It sounded right up my alley!" So she flew up, was interviewed, and then went on vacation.

"While I was still in Mexico," she smiled, "April (Doolittle) called and told me they would like to offer me the job." When she returned home she began packing for her move to the Northwest. "I had really been impressed with Centralia College on my very first visit," she said. "The campus was beautiful and I appreciated the new growth taking place. Mostly, though," van Dam added, "the faculty and staff made a huge positive impact on me. I'm not sure I've ever experienced this level of helpfulness and friendliness in one place. Besides, the caliber of the faculty was astonishing."

Always a multi-tasker, van Dam is carrying on with business as usual. During the current quarter she is simultaneously teaching French, Spanish, and German classes. A gifted linguist and translator, van Dam is perhaps best qualified as an interpreter, the toughest skill of the lot. If you are hazy on the differences, just ask Ine-Marie!

2008 Exceptional Faculty: Susanne Weil and Randy Johnson

Centralia College has named two associate professors as 2008 Exceptional Faculty award recipients. Dr. Susanne Weil, associate professor of English and Humanities, and Randy Johnson, associate professor of English and Developmental English, have received the prestigious award for teaching excellence and service to the college and community. The two were given the award by the college’s Board of Trustees following their selection from a list of student, staff and peer nominations. Since 1992, when the Exceptional Faculty award was initiated, 34 Centralia College faculty have received the award. The recognition includes $2000 for each recipient, proceeds from the Centralia College Foundation Exceptional Faculty endowment. "Through this award we show faculty just how important they are and that we recognize their contributions to our students, our college, and our community," said Dr. Jim Walton, college president. "This college has a long tradition of excellence among its faculty and students have benefited from this quality. The selections this year reflect the high standard we have among the teaching ranks."

Susanne Weil Dr. Susanne Weil, now in her fourth year at Centralia College joined the Centralia College faculty from Whittier College in California. Weil went to college at Pennsylvania's Swarthmore College with every intention of becoming a clinical psychologist. During her junior year at the University of Keele in Stratfordshire, England, she changed her future dramatically. Already keenly interested in literature, Weil delved into English studies, Chaucer, and Icelandic sagas. By the time she had written a senior thesis on a psychological analysis of Thomas Hardy's novels, her fascination with literature had taken center stage. After graduation Weil enrolled at the University of California in Berkeley for what she called her "huge experiment in post-graduate education." It was at Berkeley she found and fell in love with the writings and the persona of Mark Twain. Weil's teaching philosophy is totally centered on each individual student. She considers it her mandate to help them overcome the obstacles of insecurity, minimum wage jobs, and work that has little meaning to them. "I serve as a personal trainer for the mind for each of my students, she said. Weil works to instill in every student the curiosity and the enthusiasm to make personal improvement an ongoing, permanent quest. Weil serves as chair of the Honors Advisory Council, served on the Diversity Committee, and is active on the college Assessment Committee. Weil is a board member of the Washington Community College Humanities Association and is active in the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA). An ardent student of Mark Twain, Weil has presented and published extensively on events that influenced Twain's writing and career. At home, Weil devotes time to the community food bank, and is a member of the Lewis County Master Gardener's Foundation. "I dearly love sharing the power and beauty of great British and American writers with my students," Weil concluded, "especially my beloved Mark Twain, whose work I manage to weasel in one form or another into virtually everything I teach."

Randy JohnsonAfter graduation from college at Columbia University, Randy Johnson got involved in developing an alternative middle/high school in Olympia. It was an accredited, non-profit experimental school for students who had failed to adapt to regular schools. During this period Johnson realized that many students were either too poorly equipped academically or socially to enter college after high school. "Breaking that trend," he explained, "could constitute a major breakthrough in development for hundreds of young people." Johnson began working in a small but promising Adult Basic Education and high school completion program at Centralia College. Twenty-seven years, a master's degree in English learning, and thousands of students later, Johnson is still helping make these critical adult betterment programs among the best in the Northwest. Johnson was the college's first Diversity Coordinator, serving a decade in that post while he recruited students and promoted the diversity concept throughout the region. Johnson interacts on a personal level with most of his students. "I ask students to write about themselves and their experiences, and they do," Johnson explained. "But it's more than that. I talk with them. I try to find out what they like, how they think, and what moves them." His teaching style is effective and immensely popular with his students. "I try to make the classroom alive," Johnson declared. "I try to teach each person first as a person of value, then as a student, then as a member of his or her own community." Johnson brought his passion for preparing underserved people and populations for personal growth and independence through college education. "I consider it my job to help empower every student I meet," Johnson said, "especially those who for some reason have not benefited from the resources of the community. I'm proud I have played a part in helping build critical programs that didn't always get the respect they deserve."

Wade Fisher, Professor, Media Studies

Wade FisherWade Fisher was born at Ft. Ord, California, and spent his early years moving around to various military bases before finally settling in the Tacoma area. His father made his career in the army. Fisher graduated from high school at Clover Park and enrolled at Pierce Community College, where he was student body president. He moved on to the University of Washington, where he earned a BA in communications. Later, Fisher would receive an MBA from City University.

"When I graduated from the UW," Fisher said, "I knew the theories and curriculum aspects of radio and television communications, but I didn't have any practical experience." He enrolled in a broadcasting course at Bates Technical Institute in Tacoma to learn the hands-on elements of broadcasting. "I thought at the time," he recalled, "that I would like to teach a broadcasting course that provided both the academic and the practical aspects of radio." Several years would pass before the notion resurfaced.

Fisher entered the commercial broadcast field as a part-time personality at KGHO in Aberdeen, and soon found fulltime employment at nearby KBKW, also in that Grays Harbor city. He also spent ten years working in radio in the Seattle Market at stations KBSG, KLSY, KRPM and KHIT. "I really had set out to spend my working life in radio broadcasting," Fisher reported, "but just a few years after I started, the industry changed." He cited examples of large corporate takeovers of small, independent radio outlets that created uncertainty and mass turnovers of personnel at many broadcast operations. "I had really appreciated the community-service character of most stations in the early days," he admitted, "and the new, tightly formatted station operations kind of took the fun out of it."

Fisher left commercial broadcasting and went back to Bates Tech, this time as an instructor. He enjoyed working there and adding his own elements to the program to provide the combination of practical and theoretical teaching he had earlier envisioned. He also served as the operations director of the schools NPR affiliate. "I finally heard of an opening here at Centralia College, and I applied for it," he said. "I was hired in 1991, and it was even better than I had anticipated. The administration said they hired me because I knew what I was doing and let me design the curriculum for the radio-TV program." Fisher was finally able to incorporate all the practical pieces he found missing from similar programs elsewhere. "The best part of teaching at Centralia College," Fisher said, "is that we can bring both radio and television techniques into the classroom and the studio. It's the kind of diversity that can only be found when strong theory and up-to-date practical instruction are included in our coursework."

Fisher received an "Exceptional Faculty" award in 1998. When he's not in the classroom or studio, Fisher enjoys sports, music, and painting. "I like playing guitar," he smiled, "and sometimes the students and I get together and write a few songs we can play on the college station." His painting is mostly watercolor of animals and landscapes. "I do a few pieces that have people in them, but I don't do portraits." Fisher and his wife also enjoy a "house full" of pets.

Brian Tyrrell, Drama Instructor

Brian TyrrellBrian Tyrrell got his BA at Washington State and earned his MA and MFA from Purdue University before setting out on a career on the stage. For the next seven years Tyrrell earned a living as a Shakespearean actor, first with the touring company of the National Shakespeare Co.; then at the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon; at the Montgomery Shakespeare Festival in Alabama; and finally doing Shakespeare in Chicago.

"When acting is going good, it's very good," Tyrrell explained, "but when it's bad, you spend a lot of time waiting tables. It's a tough way to raise a family."

At the end of a year in Chicago, Tyrrell's family had grown from two to four, and he decided he needed to find something more dependable. Returning to the northwest, he accepted a position at Tumwater High School teaching drama. It was there that he learned of a staff opening in the theatre department at Centralia College. He joined the faculty in 1991 and began developing the theatre department in the old Corbet Theatre. "It was a small space and didn't have a lot of technical assets," he admitted. "But you play the hand you are dealt, and the old Corbet was a comfortable hand. We had to produce according to the size of the house, and we relied on performance standards rather than technical support."

Tyrrell believes the new Corbet Theatre will give students and the community a great range of learning and entertainment. "The new theatre has all the bells and whistles," he said, "and we are expecting more--holding ourselves to a higher standard." He said the program has about the same kind of schedule as in the past, including a musical, a comedy, and some dramatic pieces, but he expects them to be better in the new Corbet Theatre. For example, an audition for the musical, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," brought out 58 hopefuls. "Half of those were new to Donna (Dr. Donna Huffman) and me," Tyrrell noted. "We padded the cast by 11 because of the quality of singers and dancers that showed up." He contends that such a turnout from the student body and the community is one way to build the theatre program at the college.

Tyrrell said the transition from the old theatre to the new Corbet facility is much more than just a superior physical plant. "When I first came here," he smiled, "I was nave enough to think maybe Centralia College was just a stopping-off point for me. But the longer I stayed the more I saw how great I had it on this small campus, especially compared with my colleagues in much larger departments." Tyrrell believes the turning point in his career--and in the performance arts programs at Centralia College--came when the old theatre was condemned. "As the new facility was being planned," he explained, "we would find out just how important the theatre, music, radio-TV, and journalism programs were to the college. When the administration came to Wade (Fisher), T. R. (Gratz), Donna Huffman, and me for our input we felt our work had really been validated. The new facility met or exceeded our fondest dreams."

Tyrrell took a one-quarter sabbatical to do some further study at the University of Washington. He said there were some very special faculty there, and he wanted to work with them and bring back new ideas to the Centralia College program. He then joined his colleague Bryan Willis to found and guide the Northwest Playwright's Alliance. Based out of Olympia but presenting all around Southwest Washington, the Alliance is bringing fresh ideas and exceptional performances to audiences eager for new stage experiences.

When not teaching, Tyrrell spends most of his time with his kids. "My life is pretty much centered around my family," he admitted. "One is in college and the other will be soon, and I want to spend as much time with them now as possible. On the other hand," he laughed, "I'll have a chance to get to know my wife again."


Ron Hall, Business Instructor

Ron HallBusiness instructor Ron Hall is a native of Southwest Washington who brings a rich experience to his business classes. His family moved from Longview to Centralia in the late 1950s when Hall's father built a small pharmacy on South Tower. The store would eventually become Hall's Drug Centers, the most enduring independent pharmacy in the area.

His father's example was Ron Hall's motivation to enter the world of business, but that wasn't his only career interest. Hall loved radio broadcasting, and still keeps his hand in the trade. After graduating from Centralia High School, Hall came to Centralia College and worked part-time in local radio stations. "I really enjoyed being a radio personality," Hall laughed, "but the industry was already changing when I started. TV was drawing most of the attention, and a few people were realizing the information and entertainment potential of computers." Hall recognized a future in radio broadcasting could be risky, and he was already involved in the business community while taking business and accounting courses at Centralia College. "I knew I'd better pursue a business education," he said, "but I also knew I'd work in broadcasting when I could."

After two years at CC, Hall transferred to the University of Washington to earn his degree in accounting and business. After college, Hall moved to the Tacoma area and enthusiastically entered the business community. There was some temporary radio fill-in work, but Hall soon expanded into several businesses. "Some I owned," he recalled, "and some I worked for, but they all were interesting and rewarding." He was an accounting manager at First Manufacturing, Shepard Ambulance, and other firms, while starting a ski shop, entering the cellular phone industry, and consulting in the realty and securities fields.

Hall moved his family back to Centralia to pursue business interests here, and soon joined the Centralia College family as an adjunct instructor. "I liked the idea of sharing my business experience with students," he explained. "Business is so complex and varied that I think students need to learn from a lot of diverse sources. Besides," he smiled, "the students always keep you on your toes. They're pretty smart."

Hall enjoys the working with the faculty and believes teaching is his most rewarding experience yet. "The college is a great asset to the community," he said. "This has been a long-delayed homecoming for me, but I'm happy to be back." He presently teaches accounting and many of the core business classes. When he isn't teaching, Hall enjoys golf, cycling, and playing woodwinds, piano, and guitar. Incidentally, you might hear him fill in occasionally on a local radio station. What else might you have expected?

Jack Bishop receives 2007 Exceptional Faculty Award

Jack BishopThe 2007 Exceptional Faculty award recipient is Jack Bishop, a 32-year veteran of Centralia College assigned to the Garrett Heyns Education Center at the Washington Corrections Center at Shelton. His tenure has been marked by innovation, enormous success with student inmates, and a firm belief in the principles set forth by Garrett Heyns, a pioneer in prison education.

The Exceptional Faculty Award is given to a member of the Centralia College faculty who has demonstrated commitment to his/her primary assignment and has achieved excellence in the individual's area of responsibility. Also considered is participation by the individual in campus activities, civic organizations, community service, and professional organizations.

Beginning his career at Garrett Heyns Educational Center as a counselor, Bishop soon became part of the faculty team that conducted many of the education programs at the center. "For about 20 years I had the privilege of helping thousands of students earn high school diplomas, vocational certificates, and two-year associate degrees," Bishop said. "Knowing that these folks did well in the community and had the lowest recidivism rates is a treasured part of my career." Recidivism is relapse into criminal behavior and the low recidivism rate of those who have taken advantage of educational offerings has been a measure of the Centralia College program.

In 1995 Bishop began teaching the Victim Awareness Education Program. "This is an intense class," he explained, "that has helped offenders begin to understand the impacts their crimes had on victims." Bishop said his most rewarding work at the center was breaking through the resistance and seeing some of the insights that students would develop. Bishop helped develop and write a statewide curriculum for the program so that other institutions may benefit from the singular success the Victim Awareness initiative has enjoyed at the Washington Corrections Center. Early in the program, Bishop observed, "Student self-evaluations consistently indicate this is a pivotal learning experience in the inmate's efforts toward personal change."

Bishop has devoted much of his energy for the past few years to developing and teaching courses in career planning and goal-setting. "The goal is to encourage offenders to make the most of the opportunities for training available to them during their time here, and thus be prepared for their return to the community."

Bishop will retire from the faculty at the end of June and is looking forward to continued activity. "Susan (his wife) and I plan to do some traveling," he noted. "Hawaii is in our summer plans, and we expect to spend more time with our three children and four grandchildren." His schedule, however, appears to remain busy. "I have begun, and plan to continue, part-time work as the administrator for the Olympia Christian Reformed Church," he said, then smiled, "It's an opportunity to transition from one passion to another, you might say." Bishop also enjoys hiking and camping, working on cars, volunteering with the Thurston County Furniture Bank, and reading.

For more than 32 years Jack Bishop has helped keep the original Garrett Heyns concept--that education is the key function of an effective corrections system--operating smoothly. In those years Bishop has substantially aided literally thousands of his students to return to a positive place in society. His energy and innovation have helped keep the Garrett Heyns Education Center a national model of achievement.

Cal Taylor, Associate Professor of Electronics

Cal TaylorCal Taylor was born in Chehalis, but moved at an early age to a small town near Eureka in northern California, where he lived until his teen years. "My parents were concerned when I was about to enter the consolidated high school there," Taylor explained. "There was a lot of drug use in the area at that time, and a big percentage of high school students were involved. Given that issue, they decided to move back to Chehalis, and I think it was a great decision." Taylor graduated from W. F. West High School.

He entered Centralia College right after graduation, but only stayed for one quarter. "I was a pretty enthusiastic music student and had actually become a fairly competent musician," he recalled. "It seemed like fun, and I actually made a good living while playing in a variety of bands for the next eight years." He played country music, rock and roll, big band, swing, jazz, or whatever it took. "The market was tough," Taylor admitted, "but I was able to work full time and make a living."

The music scene--and Taylor's personal goals--began to change in about 1979. Travel got expensive, many of the music contracts were becoming marginal, and he was anxious to move on to a stable, professional life in which music would be a pleasant departure instead of a dire necessity.

"I came back to Centralia College and finished an ATA in electronics," he said. "There were good employment opportunities available, and I went right to work." He worked initially at McCaw Cable, the local cable television provider at that time, but soon got a good offer from a major calibration and repair facility in Santa Ana, California.

Once again, the local social climate wasn't heading in the direction Taylor and his family wanted. Soon, he and his wife moved back to Chehalis so his daughter could be born and raised in the environment he wanted for his family. For a while he took a mix of electronic jobs locally to make ends meet, and one of those was as an instructor-aide in the electronics technology program at Centralia College.

A permanent position opened in the fall of 1987 and Taylor applied for it. He believes becoming a faculty member at Centralia College was one of the most positive moves of his life. "I've really enjoyed teaching here," he smiled. "I've had great students, great colleagues, and have been able to develop warm relationships with other faculty and staff within the college." He was named to the college's "Exceptional Faculty" roster a few years ago.

When not teaching, Taylor still enjoys music as a part-time activity. He has played with "The Sound of Swing," a quartet, a funk and blues band, and "Jerry Owens' West Coast," a popular country band.

Taylor enjoys reading, especially the history of technology and contemporary music history. A family project about to begin is to retrace stops on the ill-fated Buddy Holly final tour, in which Holly and fellow headliners Richie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash. "Their last date was in Clear Lake, Iowa," Taylor said, "and the club is still there. We will try to visit each of the places they played on that final tour. It's just a bit of music history I find fascinating."

Pat Pringle, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences

Pat PringleAfter a conversation with assistant professor of earth sciences, Pat Pringle, one is apt to come away with two distinct, indelible impressions. One is of unbridled curiosity and the other of undimmed enthusiasm. After more than three decades in his chosen field, Pringle remains as passionate about the workings of the earth as ever.

Pringle was born and raised in the American Midlands, receiving a bachelor's degree in natural science from Akron University. After a stint with the Ohio Environmental Agency and work in offshore oil geology, Pringle returned to Akron University to earn a master's degree in earth sciences.

A period of doctoral study was left unfinished when Pringle came to Washington on a visit to Mt. St. Helens. A specialist in post-eruptive volcanic geology, Pringle was excited about the chance to see some of the effects of a contemporary, major eruption--something that few professional U.S. geologists had ever had an opportunity to observe. When he was offered a job with the U.S. Geologic Survey, he immediately accepted. He would work at the Cascade Volcanic Observatory (CVO) until 1990, chronicling the unexpected but robust recovery processes taking place in the blast zone as the earth healed.

"There was a lot more to it than any of us realized," Pringle explained. "For example, we studied the sediment that held back Spirit Lake. There were layers of volcanic ash as deep as 33 feet in the natural dam, and we knew those layers weren't competent to hold back such an enormous weight of water."

Geologists and engineers devised a plan to dig a trench to hold a huge pipe, which would be used to pump out most of the volume of the lake, eliminating the potential for another catastrophic flood down the Toutle River. Pringle later wrote The Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens and Vicinity, as well as dozens of scientific papers on the effects of the latest eruption of the mountain. He's presently working on a companion book, The Roadside Geology of Mount Rainier.

Pringle joined the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology, in 1990. His interest in radiocarbon dating and tree ring counts to date late stage eruptions in the Cascade Range led him to an active part in the U.N. Mount Rainier Decade Volcano demonstration project. "Throughout all this," Pringle acknowledged, "my interest continued to grow in sharing what I'd learned and helping people understand the incredible power and potential of modern volcanic incidents." He taught basic geology at Clark College and South Puget Sound Community College and continued to write and meet with community groups and local government leaders concerned with the possibility of volcanic impacts to those living in the shadows of the big mountains.

"Eventually," Pringle explained, "the public outreach function became a low priority for the state DNR, and I believed that the best protection people have against natural disaster is knowledge." So he left the state agency and applied for a position at Centralia College. "I was offered a contract on May 18," Pringle laughed, "exactly 25 years to the day after Mount St. Helens blew. And then," he continued, "They asked me to be at the college at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the terms. That was 25 years to the minute after the first major eruption of St. Helens. It all seemed really bizarre."

He considered the odd timing an omen of sorts, either for good or bad. Judging from his delight with Centralia College and the enthusiasm he brings to his students, it's definitely been for the best!