Alumni College 2016

Elementary Education: the kids, the school, and the community

Bob Slavin

Nancy Madden Jennifer Henderlong Corpus

Lyon Terry

Bob Slavin '72

Nancy Madden '73

Jennifer Henderlong Corpus

Lyon Terry '93

June 8-10, 2016

This year, we have selected the topic of Elementary Education, with some, but not an exclusive, focus on elementary education today in the United States. More Reed graduates have had careers in education—be it elementary, secondary, or tertiary education—than any other field. The majority—but far from all—of us have personal stakes in education because we are parents or grandparents. Elementary education is controversial, with public disagreements about traditional vs. alternative schooling, how to assess achievement and evaluate teachers, centralized vs. decentralized school systems, and the eternal issue of how much funding elementary education requires and how to obtain that funding. Crosscutting those debates are emerging scientific findings about how children learn, how they become motivated to learn, and how schools and their surrounding communities can achieve synergistic effect. We'll delve into these and other issues using Reed faculty and alumni as content experts and participants as engaged interlocutors.

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Alumni College will be built up through three themes: Theme A (Wednesday afternoon) will address motivating children to learn, Theme B (Thursday morning) will look at Reed College’s involvement throughout its history and currently in Portland education, and Theme C will provide diverse perspectives on how to achieve quality in education.

In addition to examining the three themes, we have added time for conference sessions based on participants’ own interests.  We are soliciting topics that interest people who have signed up for Alumni College, and will select, based on what you send us, three to five topics for what we call Special Focus conferences.  There will be two time slots for these conferences, late Thursday morning and during Thursday lunch.  Examples of possible special focus topics (which some participants have already suggested to us) are (1) Montessori/Steiner/other alternative approaches to education, (2) Immersion/dual language education, and (3) The Arts in elementary education.


Don Berg ’12, psychology, has long been interested in the nexus of group and individual choice in motivation, with a particular emphasis on alternative education. He is the author of Every Parent’s Dilemma, addressed to the alternative world of home schooling, democratic schools, and other holistic school models. He will speak on this viewpoint as part of Theme A.

Johanna Colgrove ’92, religion, is currently program coordinator of the MD/PhD program at Oregon Health & Science University.  Having a child attend Portland public schools stimulated her involvement in finding ways to improve school quality for all kids. She has been active in regional PTA, and school district advisory councils. At this point she has more questions than answers. Her experience with union contract bargaining, educational bureaucracy  and conflict coaching influences her approaches to systematic change.  She will lead a discussion within Theme C on “Effective Strategies for Advocating Within the System."

Jennifer Henderlong Corpus, professor of psychology, 2001–present, specializes in developmental psychology, with a research focus on achievement motivation among elementary and middle school children. She will summarize the main strands of her research work as part of Theme A.

Meredith Dickinson, program manager, Students for Education, Empowerment, and Direct Service (SEEDS) at Reed has responsibility for connecting current Reed students to our wider community, for the benefit of the students, the College, and the communities served. She will describe the SEEDS program as part of Theme B.

Kristy Gonyer ’10, biology; administrative coordinator for biology and environmental studies at Reed, teaches and coordinates science, environmental, garden, experiential, and community-based education programming. She was until recently the coordinator for Reed College’s Science Outreach Program, working with Reed student teachers to bring high quality science programming to Portland-area elementary school students. Together with the current coordinator, Shelly Skolfield ’14, she will describe her work with the Science Outreach Program as part of Theme B.

Jim Kahan ’64, psychology, was a policy analyst with the RAND Corporation in the United States and Europe, where he worked on projects in a wide variety of policy areas, including education. Since 2010, he has coordinated the annual Alumni College effort at Reunions. In addition to his administrative duties for Alumni College, he will give a talk, drawing on the Reed Oral History Project and other Reed historical work by John Sheehy ’82, Toinette Menashe ’71 MALS, and others, of Reed’s history of engagement with public education in Portland as part of Theme B.

Greg MacNaughton ’89, religion, is the coordinator of education outreach at the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College, as well as the coordinator of the Reed College Calligraphy Initiative in honor of Lloyd J. Reynolds. He is the principal administrator, curriculum developer, and educator of the Open Gallery Program, the Cooley Gallery's no-cost K-12 education program as well as the director of the Critical Practice Institute, a continuing education program mentoring public school teachers in arts education methodologies. He will talk about Reed’s role in once more making calligraphy part of the public education experience, as part of Theme B.

Nancy Madden ’73, psychology, is President of the Success for All Foundation in Baltimore (which she founded with her spouse Bob Slavin ’72). The Foundation develops and disseminates research-proven educational programs to ensure that all students, from all backgrounds, achieve at the highest academic levels. As part of Theme C, she will talk about effective mainstreaming programs and how they benefit not only disadvantaged, but all children.

Shelly Skolfield ’14, biology; research assistant, Reed College biology department, has recently added the job of coordinator for Reed’s science outreach program. Together with the immediate past coordinator, Kristy Gonyer ’10, she will describe her work with the Science Outreach Program as part of Theme B.

Bob Slavin ’72, psychology is the Co-Director for the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and continues to work at the Success for All Foundation, which he founded with his spouse Nancy Madden ’73. His presentation within Theme A will be on motivating for success. Bob will also be giving a presentation outside of the Alumni College on Thursday evening June 9 to a wider Reunions audience.

Leslie Stevens-Phillips ’80 MAT taught in the public schools in Clackamas County and then was an assessment science and social science specialist for the Oregon Department of Education. She will speak about the role of assessment in assuring quality in public schools as part of Theme C.

Lyon Terry ’93, philosophy is a 4th Grade teacher at Lawton Elementary School in Seattle, and recently won the Best Teacher of the Year award for the State of Washington. As part of Theme C, he will tell us how he does it.

Gabby Wolcott ’17, psychology, is a current student at Reed, working with Jennifer Corpus. She is working with Jim Kahan ’64 to coordinate this year’s Alumni College and will be a conference leader.


Wednesday, June 8, 1–5:30 p.m.
Performing Arts Building, Room 320 and then separate conference rooms

Theme A

1–1:30 p.m. General introduction
1:30–2:15. p.m. Jennifer’s presentation (combination talk and Q&A)
2:15–3 p.m. Bob’s talk
3–3:20 p.m. Recess
3:20–4:05 p.m. Don’s talk
4:05–4:15 p.m. Go from Performing Arts Building, Room 320 to conference rooms
4:15–5 p.m. Conference on motivation

Thursday, June 9, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Performing Arts Building, Room 320 and then separate conference rooms

Theme B

9–9:30 a.m. Jim’s talk
9:30–10 a.m. Meredith’s talk
10–10:20 a.m. Recess
10:20–10:50 a.m. Kristy and Shelly’s talk
10:50–11:20 a.m. Greg’s talk
11:20–11:30 a.m. Go from Performing Arts Building, Room 320 to conference rooms
11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m. Special interest conferences #1
12:30-1:20 p.m. Special interest conferences #2 (same topics as #1, during lunch)

Thursday, June 9, 12:20–1:30: Lunch break

Thursday, June 9, 1:30–5:15 p.m.
Performing Arts Building, Room 320 and then separate conference rooms

Theme C

1:30–2:15 p.m. Nancy’s talk
2:15 –2:45 p.m. Leslie’s talk
2:45–3:05 p.m. Recess
3:05–3:35 p.m. Lyon’s talk
3:35–4:05 p.m. Johanna’s talk
4:05–4:15 p.m. Go from Performing Arts Building, Room 320 to conference rooms
4:15–5:15 p.m. Conference on quality

Thursday, June 9, 7–8:30 p.m.

Vollum Lecture Hall
Bob Slavin’s public talk

Friday, June 10, 9 a.m.–noon
Separate conference rooms and then Performing Arts Building, Room 320

9–10:15 a.m. Parallel conferences synthesizing the three themes.
10:15–10:45 a.m. Recess for all but conference leaders and rapporteurs. Come back to Performing Arts Building, Room 320.
10:45 a.m.–noon. Plenary session discussing results of the parallel conferences. Consensus conclusions.


Jennifer Corpus

Don Berg

Shelly Skolfield & Kristy Gonyer

Nancy Madden

Leslie Phillips


The cost for the 2016 Alumni College is $300. Please register online at: