Alumni Update: Hannah Widmer ’14

Hannah Widmer found her calling soon after graduation from Colorado College with a minor in Education Studies and a major in English. As an Education Advocate Specialist with The Arc of the Pikes Peak Region, she assists parents, teachers, and administrators designing special education plans (IEPs) for students struggling to succeed in general education classrooms. Hannah says of her new career, “I meet inspirational students and their parents who passionately care for their educational experience. There is an impressive number of teachers, therapist, health care workers and support staff that make up the services for those with I/DD. It has been a pleasure getting to network with people who share the same compassion and vision for acceptance of all people. There are many opportunities in Colorado Spring to get involved in the lives of children or supporting those in need.”

Hannah Widmer '14

Hannah Widmer ’14

In addition to providing IEP design support, Hannah plans events for both school age children and for adults with disabilities. She now teaches a workshop entitled “Facilitating Friendships,” based on her education capstone about supporting student with special needs. Hannah credits her time volunteering in Colorado Springs area schools as an undergraduate, which subsequently allowed her to establish relationships with the same teachers and schools when she became an advocate.


Introducing TREE: Teaching and Research in Environmental Education

Catamount Center and the Colorado College Education Department are proud to announce a new stage in their partnership: the TREE Semester.

TREE SemesterTeaching & Research in Environmental Education is a 16-week residential semester program that mirrors the traditional study abroad experience. During blocks 1 through 4 (August through December) in the fall of 2015, undergraduate students will live and learn in community at the Catamount Center near Woodland Park, CO.

The TREE Semester is for students interested in exploring both environmental and educational fields, to become inspired and to in turn inspire their students’ environmental stewardship and love for the natural world.


Photos courtesy of Catamount Center:

Where the block or traditional semester program provides only limited interaction time, the TREE Semester allows undergraduates to monitor their K-12 students’ development through almost 100 hours of experiential teaching.  In keeping with the learner-centered model driving the CC Education Department’s curriculum redesign, undergraduate students will learn about learning by simultaneously teaching and researching how K-12 students learn.

TREE participants working with 5th grade students

TREE participants working with 5th grade students

Along with opportunities for current undergraduates, the Catamount Center is also looking to hire recent alums and other qualified individuals with a Bachelor’s degree for a four-month residential TREE Fellowship Program. TREE Fellows will provide support to  undergraduate students enrolled in the TREE Semester and play a vital role in the sustainable TREE Community. TREE Fellows should have experience and enthusiasm for environmental science and outdoor education. As part of the fellowship, TREE Fellows will work towards certification as a Colorado Environmental Educator (pending CAEE portfolio completion). Applications for the TREE Fellowship are due no later than March 31. Fellows will be selected by April 15.

For more information on the TREE program, please contact Jared Mazurek, Catamount Center Program Director:

Student Research on Visual Literacy to be Presented at International Science Education Conference

Education Department Chair Mike Taber is excited to be presenting a research paper he co-authored with two education majors, Elizabeth Benedict and Elizabeth Waterman.

Dr. Taber will present “The Cognitive Development of Visual Literacy for Scientific Symbolic Problem Solving” at the New Perspectives in Science Education Conference in Florence, Italy in March, 2015.

The paper examines the extent to which novice scientists (i.e. students just learning science) are able to holistically interpret data. Where is the science learner’s level of visual literacy in terms of spatial thinking, recreating visual representations of information in visual format(s), and communication of complex patterns?

The preliminary study examined how well participants employed visual literacy skills in solving a symbolically driven problem.  Results showed that participants who possessed greater linguistic skills as well as spatial observation and reasoning skills were more likely to correctly identify all seven elements on the unknown cube face.

Elizabeth Benedict

Elizabeth Benedict

Liz Waterman

Liz Waterman









Congratulations, Elizabeth and Liz!

Tina Valtierra Joins Education Department

The Colorado College Education Department extends a warm welcome to Dr. Kristina (Tina) Valtierra.

Tina Valtierra, Assistant Professor in Literacy Development

Tina Valtierra, Assistant Professor in Literacy Development

Dr. Valtierra came to the CC Education Department in the fall of 2014 as a visiting assistant professor. More recently, she was hired into the tenure track position of Assistant Professor of Education.

A graduate of the University of Denver’s Morgridge College of Education, Valtierra’s doctoral dissertation is entitled “Beyond Survival to Thrival: A Narrative Study of One Teacher’s Career Journey.” Her research explored the characteristics that distinguished an outstanding and thriving middle school teacher from her peers across numerous school districts in the Denver area.

In a new topics course entitled Critical Perspectives in Public School Innovation, Valtierra introduced education students to innovative schools in the Denver area. The class examined public school innovation through a critical socio-cultural lens of income, gender and race.

As part of the Education Department curriculum redesign, Valtierra will teach three new education courses in 2015-16: ED425 Innovations & Social Justice in Public Education, ED477 Culturally Responsive Teaching and Disciplinary Literacy Methods, and ED478 Advanced Methods: Critical Pedagogies in Literacy, Curriculum and Instruction.

School Leaders Tool Box

School Leaders Tool Box is a new online resource from The New Teacher Project (TNTP).  Collected from the nation’s top charter schools and informed by more than 1,000 teachers and school leaders, the Toolbox offers proven tools and innovative strategies for managing teacher workforces to high performance.  The tool box contains resources and tools on recruitment and hiring, evaluation, retaining high performers, performance accountability, and building a professional culture.