SONELI Archives

ieSonoma annual event to feature Emily Pilloton, Dan Pallotta, and Adam Braun: June 7-8

By Pamela Van Halsema on May 12, 2015 2:20 PM


A young woman whose first crush, MacGyver, sparked her love of constrained problem-solving and tinkering and led her to found Project H Design, a nonprofit teaching youth to design and build their future with heart, hands, and hammers.

A Harvard graduate who invented the multi-day charitable event industry with the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days, events that altered the landscape of options for ordinary individuals seeking to make an extraordinary difference.

A college student backpacking across the globe who asked a small boy begging on the streets of India what he wanted most in the world and whose answer would lead him to found an organization that has built over 300 schools serving over 30,000 students around the world.

What do these three remarkable individuals have in common? Aside from being called to action through their personal life experiences, these innovative leaders will be the featured speakers at an important community event taking place in Sonoma County on June 7 and 8, 2015. The third annual ieSonoma: innovate | educate event is scheduled for Sunday, June 7 at Sonoma Country Day School in Santa Rosa and on Monday, June 8 in Weill Hall at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center in Rohnert Park. Participants may choose to attend one or both days.

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ieSonoma events are intended to provoke attendees' thinking and challenge previously held beliefs about teaching and learning in the 21st century. Over the past two years, some of the best thinkers in the world have shared their ideas for innovation in education at ieSonoma: Sir Ken Robinson and Dale Dougherty in 2013, followed by Sugata Mitra and Nirvan Mullick in 2014.


This year, three dynamic speakers will take the stage: Emily Pilloton, Dan Pallotta, and Adam Braun. Each brings a unique story about how they have made a difference in their respective industry sectors by embracing innovation and challenging the status quo:

Emily Pilloton is an educator, architect, and humanitarian activist who believes that design and building can excite learning and citizenship. She developed and is now teaching a design-build curriculum called Studio H that engages the minds and bodies of high school students through real-world, built projects. Originally launched in rural Bertie County, North Carolina, Studio H is now based at REALM Charter School in Berkeley, California. Emily will be one of the keynotes for the Monday morning event.

  • dan_pallotta.jpgDan Pallotta is an entrepreneur, author, and humanitarian activist who is changing the way the public thinks about charity and change. He is best known for creating the multi-day charitable event industry, and a new generation of philanthropists, with the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Day events. His 2013 TED Talk, viewed by 3.5 million people, argued that "the way we think about charity is dead wrong." Dan will be the keynote for the Sunday evening event, and will also be one of the keynotes for the Monday morning event.
  • braun.jpegAdam Braun is a best-selling author, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder of Pencils of Promise, a non-profit organization that builds schools and increases access to education for children in the developing world. His book, The Promise of a Pencil, describes how an ordinary person can create extraordinary change. Adam will be one of three keynote speakers at the Monday morning ieSonoma event.
  • With the three speakers' stories in mind, ieSonoma is adopting "A Call to Action" as its theme this year. ieSonoma 2015 promises to be an important public gathering of education and community leaders who are interested in transforming education and rethinking the way we view the institutions and organizations that play a role in preparing students for success in the 21st century.

    Additional details on the speakers can be found at A sell-out crowd of 750 on Sunday and 1000 people on Monday is expected for the event.

    About ieSonoma

    ieSonoma is a partnership of educational institutions and the larger community dedicated to exploring the research, theory, and practice of preparing young people for success in a rapidly changing world. In 2013, the Sonoma County Office of Education joined with Sonoma Country Day School and Sonoma State University to spark innovation and collaboration in the local education community. More than 25 other organizations are also supporting ieSonoma through sponsorship of this year's annual event, including:


    John Jordan Foundation


    Alexander Valley Vineyards, Community First Credit Union, Lake County Office of Education, Petaluma City Schools, Piner-Olivet Union School District, Quattrocchi Kwok Architects Inc., Santa Rosa City Schools, Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma Academy


    Bellwether Farms, Bergin Glass Impressions, CalStateTEACH, Career Technical Education Foundation Sonoma County, Community Foundation Sonoma County, First 5 Sonoma County, Girard & Edwards, Jardesca, Mendocino County Office of Education, North Bay Leadership Council, North Coast Beginning Teacher Program, Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Whole Foods

    Additional support from:

    The Press Democrat, Vintners Inn, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts

    Webinars Explore Making in Schools, Features Panel of Maker-Educators

    By Pamela Van Halsema on December 2, 2014 10:38 AM

    Making in K-12 Schools Webinars: Part 1, Wednesday, December 3 and Part 2, Wednesday, December 10, noon PST

    To join the webinars, go to

    2 webinars december 3 and 10 for Making in K-12 Settings

    Join School of Education Assoc. Professor Jessica Parker, along with several Bay Area maker-educators as they discuss the role of "Making" in schools.  Set up as a forum, these teachers will share stories from their own experiences in the classroom--from elementary up to high school--incorporating making into the curriculum and both creating and maintaining a culture of creativity

    In Part 1 of the two part series, on December 3, the panel will focus on how to set things up to foster hands-on, interdisciplinary maker projects and events which successfully support student learning.

    In Part 2, on December 10, they will discuss the kind of professional development that they themselves need as educators to implement these programs and adopt a 'maker mindset' as a teacher.

    The Maker Movement

    Making emphasizes learning-through-doing In a social environment. Maker culture emphasizes informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfillment. Makers encourage taking risks and experimentation with materials from simple to high tech equipment, they set up opportunities to build and tinker and create. Robotics, woodworking, crafting, 3D printing, and machining are just a few examples of projects used in Maker Spaces all over the world top inspire through project-based learning.

    The notion of tinkering and Making has become popular world-wide and is now truly a movement capturing the imagination of young and old, across cultures and disciplines. Maker Media, based here in Sonoma County, has been the hub and helped build this movement around the world with their publications and their Maker Faire events.

    This global community consists of inventors, artists, engineers, and many other types of people with all kinds of backgrounds. This movement is taking many in the direction of successful independent creativity that is allowing for outside the box thinking and knowledge expansion and growth.

    This kind of thinking is a great fit for project based learning and creative problem solving curriculum in schools, as well as creative and artistic development.

    The Maker Educator Certificate Program

    This webinar is hosted and produced by the National Writing Project's Educator Innovator initiative (, and is affiliated with the Maker Educator Certificate Program offered by The Startup Classroom at Sonoma State University. The certificate program offers a selection of mini courses to help educators of all kinds (not just school teachers) learn how to start and maintain MakerSpaces in their own setting, and become part of a network of Maker Educators.  

    To learn more about the Maker Educator Certificate Program visit 

    Teacher Technology Showcase Highlights New Media for the Classroom

    By Pamela Van Halsema on November 26, 2012 2:33 PM

    techshowcase-poster-web.pngImagine a classroom where middle school students learn geospatial awareness by taking a virtual tour of the moon, or a lesson where special education kids improve their vocabulary with Garage Band.  These are just a couple examples of projects that will be featured at the Teacher Technology Showcase this Thursday at Sonoma State University.  At the Showcase, twenty four pre-service and recently credentialed teachers will demonstrate lessons that they have created to help build student engagement and support student learning. 

    School of Education Assistant Professor Jessica Parker designed the event, which provides beginning teachers the chance to share creative ideas for ways they plan to use new media tools in classroom experiences. Dr. Parker, who teaches educational technology at SSU, notes that the focus of the event is not just on the technological tools the teachers are employing, but also on the content objectives as well; how are they creating a better learning environment for students through technology integration.   At the showcase, presenters will have the opportunity to converse with experienced teachers and administrators from local schools, graduate students and faculty about the lessons they designed. 

    Presentations will include examples of lessons built for mobile devices, the use of web based collaboration tools, video screencasts for flipped classrooms, wikis and more. The presenters come from a range of teaching environments and student age groups, from early education, elementary, secondary, educational leadership and special education, and they will provide examples of for kindergarten through senior year of high school and beyond.

    This is the second year that the SSU School of Education is hosting the Showcase, which this year has support from Google, KQED and Edutopia. The event will take place on Thursday, November 29, 5:00-7:00 PM in the Student Union Multipurpose Room and is free and open to the community.  (Please note that parking on campus is $2.50).

    Can't make it to the event?  Follow us on Twitter for highlights:  @educationSSU #ssuedtech.

    Jennie Snyder, Superintendent of Piner Olivet Receives Circle of Excellence Award

    By Pamela Van Halsema on May 8, 2012 3:51 PM


    Jennie Snyder, Superintendent of Piner Olivet Union School District has been awarded a Circle of Excellence Award by the School of Education's Educational Leadership faculty. Jennie has served the district as Superintendent for two years. She is an alumna of the CANDEL Ed.D program, a joint doctoral program that Sonoma State offers in collaboration with UC Davis. Dr. Paul Porter, Co-Director of CANDEL describes Jennie as an outstanding educator and thoughtful leader who, since becoming Superintendent has "already begun to change and shape the culture of the district, stressing collaboration, team work, and highest standards."


    At a recent visit to her office I had the opportunity to speak with Superintendent Snyder about her work and her experience in the CANDEL program. As a doctoral candidate, she appreciated the time and space for reflection, and the collaboration with a cohort of fellow students with a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds. In her role at Piner-Olivet she sees tremendous challenges ahead, yet is inspired by the opportunity to collaborate with teachers and administrators in an effort to find creative solutions for her schools and community. In the end she believes that each student in her district is entitled to an education that sparks their natural curiosity, builds on their capacity to learn, inspires their imagination and provides opportunities for them to express their ideas to their fullest. Jennie Snyder is receiving the Circle of Excellence Award because she is an accomplished scholar and gifted administrator. She is the kind of child-centered, collaborative, reflective and thoughtful leader that can make those goals come to fruition.

    School of Education Earns a Stellar Accreditation Site Report

    By Pamela Van Halsema on April 4, 2012 5:15 PM

    representing-multiple-subject-program.jpgThe School of Education at Sonoma State University successfully completed its national and state accreditation review with a stellar performance that the university president described as "hitting a home run with the bases loaded." The School of Education prepares teachers and principals for the North Bay Region.

    "These are a remarkable group of faculty and students," said Gerry Giordano, a professor in education management at the University of North Florida who was the head of the 13 member review panel which said the School had exceeded both state and national standards.

    This includes all of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Program Standards for all of its programs and all six National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) Standards.

    Giordano said that the School stood out because of "the extraordinary faculty and students that it had recruited," "highly imaginative community-based programs," and a "culture in which candidates and faculty members interacted outside as well as inside university classrooms."


    The team specifically commended School programs where social justice permeated every aspect of every program as evidenced by eloquent and inspiring testimonials that local teacher candidates provided.

    The re-accreditation was extensive, said Carlos Ayala, interim Dean of the School of Education.

    Since the fall of 2011, the expert panel had reviewed the School's website, an exhaustive repository of documentation for all of the teacher, counseling, school administrator and masters programs, sifting through evidence from the last three years of program implementation.

    In order to verify the electronic reports and evidence, the expert team then visited campus. While at Sonoma State, they interviewed nearly 473 teachers, faculty, staff, students, mentor teachers, counselors, school principals, superintendents and community members; sifted through budgets, meeting minutes and assessment results; and visited Roseland Elementary School where School of Education prepared teachers, counselors and principals work.

    Signficantly, the review panel did not find any "areas of concern" nor did they identify any "areas for improvement" in any of the programs and are proposing that the maximum accreditation period of seven years be awarded.


    The panel specifically gave the School of Education four commendations in the following areas: teacher candidates completing programs learn to develop highly creative learning activities, learn to assess student learning, exhibit professional dispositions, and employ pedagogy aligned with state standards.

    The review panel will present its findings to their respective governing boards for those boards to take final action in April for state and in October for the national review.

    Article written by Jean Wasp, University Affairs

    Michael Kirst, State Bd of Ed President to Speak at SSU March 22

    By Pamela Van Halsema on March 14, 2012 10:54 AM

    kirst-poster.gifWhat does the President of the California State Board of Education think about the current state of the educational system? Dr. Michael W. Kirst delivers his overarching vision for California to emerge once again as a national leader in education from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 22 in the Cooperage as a part of the Andrea Neves and Barton Evans Social Justice Lecture Series.

    His talk - "California K-12 Education: Challenges And Solutions" - addresses the current state of affairs of a state public school system stretched to the limit but aspiring to greatnesss once again.

    Kirst is serving his second term as President of the State Board of Education and is also Professor Emeritus of Education at Stanford University.

    Kirst's aims to rebuild and re-imagine the public education system through a set of policies that include stabilizing education funding and increase local flexibility,implementing the Common Core Standards, strengthening the teacher workforce, building district and school leadership capacity, supporting innovation, but ensure accountability, facilitating the best uses of technology and ensuring that all students are included.

    "Our goal is to dramatically improve the academic achievement and attainment of all students, regardless of proficiency, but with targeted attention to raising achievement and opportunities low income and minority students," he says.

    A prolific writer, he has authored ten books. As a policy generalist, he has published articles on school finance politics, curriculum politics, intergovernmental relations, as well as education reform policies.

    While his early work focused primarily on k-12 policy and politics, much of his recent work has focused on college preparation and college success at broad access postsecondary institutions that are open enrollment, or accept all qualified applicants.

    The disconnections between k-12 and postsecondary education cause much of the low college completion rates, he says. Kirst's research demonstrates that only K-12 and postsecondary education working together to improve preparation and college readiness will increase college completion.

    Before joining the Stanford faculty in 1969, Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower,
    Employment and Poverty, and Director of Program Planning for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Office of Education.

    He received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. His latest books are "From High School to College" with Andrea Venezia (2004) and "Political Dynamics of American Education" (2009).

    Kirst was appointed in 2011 as the President of the California State Board of Education for the second time. He also was President from 1977 to 1981. He received his bachelor's degree in economics from Dartmouth College, his M.P.A. in government and economics from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard.

    For further information about the event, contact Pam Van Halsema, School of Education, (707) 664-2132,

    1st Class Jails, 2nd Class Schools" with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill Workshop and Lecture Feb. 8

    By Pamela Van Halsema on January 27, 2012 10:13 AM


    Sonoma State Associated Students Productions welcomes political analyst and intellectual Dr. Marc Lamont Hill to Sonoma State University on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. He will be presenting a free workshop at 3PM in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Union and will lecture at 7:30PM in the Cooperage.

    Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is one of the leading hip-hop generation intellectuals in the country. His work, which covers topics such as hip-hop culture, politics, sexuality, education and religion, has appeared in numerous journals, magazines, books, and anthologies. Dr. Hill has lectured widely and provides regular commentary for media outlets like NPR, Washington Post, Essence Magazine, and New York Times and has been a regular guest on CNN, MSNBC, and Larry King Live. He has recently become the host of the nationally syndicated show Our World with Black Enterprise.

    In Fall 2009, he joined the faculty of Columbia University as Associate Professor of Education at Teachers College. He also holds an affiliated faculty appointment in African American Studies at the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University.

    His workshop, "Why Black Fraternities and Sororities Still Matter," will take place at 3PM in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Union. As we enter the 21st century, many people question the role, purpose, and function of Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs). In this lecture, Marc Lamont Hill (a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.) argues that Black fraternities and sororities still play a critical role in the Black community. He takes on some of the key issues and challenges faced by BGLOs such as hazing, political engagement, and institution building. Rather than merely spotlighting problems, Dr. Hill also offers concrete solutions and shares his vision for building and sustaining strong 21st-century Black fraternities and sororities. FREE

    In his lecture, "1st Class Jails, 2nd Class Schools," Dr. Hill will be speaking about the how much financial focus is given to our jail system while our education system is continually on the chopping block.   He will acknowledge the large number of poor and /or minority people currently incarcerated, which he attributes in large part to a War on Drugs going on since 1984.  Dr. Hill believes that democracy needs people to ask tough critical questions in terms of how to get American society on track to educationally balanced country.

    This lecture will take place at 7:30PM in Cooperage. Tickets are free for SSU students and faculty and $10 for general admission. Pick up yours today in the Student Union or order by phone at 664-2382.