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Every Country Should Have Thanksgiving

Laine Dolan, an elementary education and communications studies student in the College of Education is spending part of her student teaching semester abroad. She is teaching at Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand, and is blogging about her experience. This post originally appeared on Laine’s own blog

p98“Every country should have Thanksgiving” said a random New Zealand lady at a rest stop on the side of the road, and I could not agree more. This woman had started up a conversation with the other American student teachers and me when we stopped for a quick break to take in some views on our drive back from a weekend trip. The friendly woman overheard us talking with our American accents and was quick to ask if we were from the States. She then started to express her love of the idea of Thanksgiving, and wished that she and every other country in the world celebrated it too. It was in this moment that I realized I had never appreciated thanksgiving enough.

Every year, as every other American does, I express what I’m thankful for around Thanksgiving. Usually it’s the typical things like family, friends, food and a house I am thankful for, but this Thanksgiving I am thankful for Thanksgiving. It really is amazing to think an entire country as big as the United States all stops on the last Thursday in November every year to be thankful. Students get off of school. Majority of adults get off of work. People travel home to their families. All to sit down and share a meal with your loved ones and give thanks.

The woman at the rest stop was not the only New Zealand person who mentioned to me that they love the idea of Thanksgiving and wished they celebrated. Multiple people throughout November mentioned to me how much they wish they celebrated. With each person who mentioned something I became more grateful that I am able to celebrate it every year in the States.

During the week of Thanksgiving in the States, I got to teach a lesson to my New Zealand students about Thanksgiving. I read a few Thanksgiving books that they loved, and they wrote about what they were thankful for and what they would do if they were a turkey on Thanksgiving. I of course also had them do the classic activity of creating turkeys using their hands for the feathers and feet for the body. It was so fun teaching kids who knew nothing about our holiday of Thanksgiving. It was also extremely interesting because New Zealand has a similar but different history than the United States. Like in the United States, native people (the Maori) were living in New Zealand before the English came to settle. Although they were different periods in time, the English in the United States and New Zealand were presented with the same situations but had handled it differently. The pilgrims in the United States forced the native Americans out of their land. In New Zealand, the English and the Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi. This treaty ultimately gave the Maori people power to continue to celebrate their culture and traditions. It led to more Maori culture being in the New Zealand curriculum and ultimately taught in every classroom in New Zealand. Although it is said the English people in New Zealand might not have had the best intentions with the treaty, it ultimately was what gave the Maori the power to get Maori culture integrated into New Zealand curriculum.

I enjoyed sharing the American holiday of Thanksgiving with my students in New Zealand this year, however, I think I will need to have a proper Thanksgiving meal when I get back to the states in the Spring. Thanksgiving without a turkey and stuffing is just not the same.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Veronica Mancheno

This spring semester, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Veronica Mancheno, a doctoral student in the Educational Policy and Leadership department.

Triatlón 2019I was born and grew up in Ecuador. I came to the US at the age of 19 with $200 in my pocket and my brother to care for. Like all immigrant stories, mine is filled with hope, disappointments, celebrations and struggles all of which have gotten us (my sons and I) to where we are. My brother is back in Ecuador after 13 surgeries at Shriner’s Hospital in Chicago. He is now married and has his own family. He works in IT. Our immigrant story is a whole story in and of itself!

I moved to Milwaukee in 2007. It was my first year as a single mother living in a completely new city with no relatives nearby and working for the first time as a full-time, public-school teacher. My sons were five and three years old at that time. My parents and my siblings live in Ecuador with their families. And although that is 3,157 miles away, we communicate every day. We generally get to visit them every two years. My sons and I live here. My oldest, Alejandro, is now 17 years old and a senior in high school and my youngest is 15. Sebastián is a sophomore. Both attend Rufus King, a Milwaukee Public high school that we love.

I have been teaching since before my oldest was born! I started working full time in 2007. Right before coming to Marquette, I worked at Highland Community School (Montessori, MPS charter) in many capacities including teacher (in all levels) and administrator. My ultimate favorite thing to do is to teach and to learn, which means that I absolutely love being a teacher. I have taught children from 3 years to 21 years (young people). I have found joy in all ages and stages of development.

As a student… I loved my first couple years of schooling. However, I hated high school. Once I moved to the US, I began to study in a Technical College. I was already married by then and so my education very much depended on my husband’s job (I’m no longer married). I ended up transferring to Carthage College when my husband came to work in Kenosha Unified School District. I received my undergrad with a major in Spanish and a minor in Education in 2007 from Carthage. Then, I moved to Milwaukee and worked for a couple of years before I started my master’s degree at Alverno. I loved my experience at Alverno because there were no grades. I had never experienced the academic rigor that a ‘no grade’ evaluation system brings. I focused on Administrative Leadership and on Curriculum and Instruction, and I graduated in 2012. In 2014, I begun to study for the AMI Montessori Elementary certification. This took 3 years of studies in total. During all these years, I worked full time and studied part time plus being a mom. That was a whole lot of work!

Now, I’m here at Marquette. I teach one undergrad class, I’m the research assistant for two professors (Drs. Ventura and Gibson) and I’m a full-time doctoral student (and I’m still a single mom! Sometimes I wonder how in the world things get done in my life?). What I have loved about my experience at Marquette is the support I have received from the professors at the College of Ed. Their knowledge coupled with their experience and compassion has guided me from the very beginning.

I met with all the local universities that had a doctoral program in education. I was explicitly looking for:

  1. A doctoral program that could support and guide me in my research regarding students and teachers of color.
  2. A program that understood the complexities of the education of ethnic minorities and low-income families. I was particularly focused on how the representatives of the university talked about race and class to me (an immigrant, Latina, bilingual and single mother). I was truly looking for something beyond the skin-deep type of discourse regarding ‘diversity’ and ‘how good it is’ for education.
  3. A doctoral program that had a scholarship or work/study type of funds because I did not want to work and study part time. I wanted to give myself the gift of studying full time. Something that I have never had the opportunity to do.

Needless to say, Marquette’s College of Education met all three. I will never forget the first meeting with Cynthia Elwood and Sharon Chubbuck. The way they had a conversation with me about race, class and education was distinctly different than the way the conversation had unraveled with the other local universities. They listened to me. That was striking and I talked for a long time, and they listened the whole time! I remember coming out of that meeting thinking: this is it! I will be at Marquette! – even though I hadn’t applied yet! I had the certainty in my heart of knowing I had found where I was meant to do my doctoral program.

I have always been keenly aware of injustices. As a young child, the rights of animals and nature were very important to me. As I got a little older, I recognized the injustice done to children who had to work and couldn’t go to school. I was also aware of the division of social classes and the inequitable structures in society. As an adolescent, I opposed any claim, ideology, or group of people that thought themselves better than others or that created laws that maintain inequalities. As an 18-year-old, I remember wanting to become the ministers of education of my country (what would be the secretary of education in the US). I felt that education can pull us all out of poverty. As I have gotten older and have become more aware of the complexities of human society, I have zoomed into the education of children who come from low income backgrounds as well as ethnic minorities. I believe that an equitable education is not provided with the objective of creating a generation of good workers or professionals. An equitable education is provided as a matter of human development and the dignity of the communities that have been historically oppressed. This I am passionate about!

Who inspires me? Children, the children and young people that have sat in my classrooms. My sons and my parents are the strength that keeps me going.

I have little time left after study/work and home. If there are no impending responsibilities, my favorite thing to do is to be with my sons out in nature. We also love going to back home to Ecuador and spending time with our family there. Of course, we are not able to do these things often enough.

To keep my sanity and also because I love it, I swim, run and bike. Although, in the last two years it has been more of swim and bike due to a back injury. I like to participate in the Iron Girl sprint triathlon.

I also do enjoy reading non-fiction. If I’m not reading research stuff, I’m reading books on nutrition, health, spirituality and/or memoirs. To develop a habit, there needs to be the initial motivation. Although, that won’t take you very far. There also needs to be a mix of just discipline, of doing it even if you don’t feel like doing it. Raw discipline is what gets you to do something during the tough days. There also needs to be a continual source of inspiration – why do you ultimately do what you do? And this inspiration cannot be a ‘negative’ by that I mean, not based on something ‘bad’ about you that you want to change. But rather the inspiration should come from the positive. And lastly, I believe there needs to be a group of people who inspire you and who like you enjoy the positive trait you are trying to develop. For example: I work out primarily because I love feeling the power that comes from sore muscles. Weight loss – although a natural consequence of exercise and good diet is not the reason. Weight loss is a negative. Feeling powerful, agile, and flexible, these are positives. And feeling those traits when I’m out in nature with my sons is my reward! My sons then are art of the group of people that inspire me and that also enjoy feeling powerful, agile and flexible – more so than me since they are adolescents!

Interested in learning more about graduate programs in the College of Education? Check out our website– or, better yet, come see us in person!



Embracing Maori Culture

Laine Dolan, an elementary education and communications studies student in the College of Education is spending part of her student teaching semester abroad. She is teaching at Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand, and is blogging about her experience. This post originally appeared on Laine’s own blog.

p112Before I even got to New Zealand, I started to experience the immense integration of the Maori culture within New Zealand. I was greeted in multiple emails from the New Zealand faculty saying “Kia Ora.” From the context of the emails I could make the assumption that this was a greeting, however, I didn’t look into what language this greeting was and where it came from exactly. I quickly learned when I got to New Zealand that it was “hello” in the Maori language.

Here is the long story short: the Maori are the native people in New Zealand. In the early 1800’s the English were trying to colonize in New Zealand. They eventually created The Treaty of Waitangi, which was signed in 1840 by numerous Maori chiefs. However, the English translation and the Maori translation have different meanings for the treaty. The English began to take advantage of the Maori, and the agreements of the treaty disappeared for numerous years. Eventually the Maori people were able to fight back and clarify and ratify the treaty with the English. This then led to Maori language being a part of the New Zealand curriculum and taught in every school.

One of the first things I noticed in my classroom at Swanson was the amount of Te Reo (Maori language) posted on the walls. There were translations for the days of the week, the months, the numbers and more. The language was everywhere. In addition, every morning when the teacher takes roll they say “Kia Ora” and then the person’s name. After roll, everyone stands up and we all say the Karakia together. This is a Maori prayer or ritual that we say to start the day. We also say a Karakia to end the day before the students go home. After we say the Karakia we usually sing a Maori song in Te Reo.

After the Karakia and some songs, we usually do mat time where we will go through the days of the week in English and Te Reo. Teachers also frequently ask students to stand up or sit down in Te Reo. Te Reo and Maori culture is part of the New Zealand norm. I see the language frequently written places like on trains and bathroom doors in public. People frequently use Te Reo words while speaking or greeting others. They also refer to Maori culture a lot and many wear Maori necklaces.

One of the greatest parts about all of this is that it is all people that are celebrating the Native New Zealand culture. There are white New Zealand people and brown New Zealand people who all celebrate their country’s native culture. I have learned so much about the Maori culture while being here for this short time and it has had such a positive impact on me.

​I love the way New Zealand celebrates their native Maori culture in everything and every day. I think it would be really amazing in the United States took a page from New Zealand’s book and started incorporating more Native American culture in classrooms. The Native Americans were the first Americans and they deserve to have their culture taught and celebrated in all classrooms.

Here are pictures of Te Reo in our classroom!

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Cat Pitt-Payne

We’ve been getting to know our students for a while, and we’re excited to introduce you to Cat Pitt-Payne, a graduate student pursuing her Masters of Education and teaching licensurethrough the College of Education. Read on to get to know Cat! And, if you missed out on meeting the rest of our featured students, faculty and alumni, you can catch up today


I grew up all over the place. I was born in the England, and have lived in California, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Most of my formative years were spent in Illinois. I’ve now lived in Kenosha for a year and a half. My family is amazing. Supportive. Funny. Big! I am the oldest of six siblings (four sisters and a brother), we all get along great, and we’ve all taken very different paths so far so it’s always cool to get together with everyone and see how they’re doing. My siblings are probably my harshest critics but they’re also my biggest supporters, and it’s all love.

Right now I’m working at the front desk in the College of Education’s Educational Policy and Leadership department, and having such a good time with it. I love getting to know the faculty and staff a little better, especially outside of class, and doing things for them. I pretty much feel like I’m being constantly mentored and it’s pretty incredible. Also, I am a huge Swiftie so I love when Dr. Burant plays music in her office!

I’ve had so many wonderful educational experiences. I have really bad impostor syndrome so any time that I am able to rise to a challenge and accomplish more than I thought I could it is always a great experience for me. It keeps me motivated, reminds me of my real potential, and helps me carry that attitude over to the students I teach. I want to encourage my own students in their moments of doubt and insecurity the way that my mentors/professors have encouraged me in my moments of doubt and insecurity.

I am always excited to work on becoming more organized and efficient. I’m not always great at managing my time, but last semester I was able to get into a really great rhythm with my schoolwork and I was so on top of things I rarely had to do homework on the weekends and could simply enjoy them. I even went out of town for concerts on a couple of different weekends, and I came back to school during the week ready to go! So, yeah. Every new semester is an opportunity to find that rhythm so that I can be productive and excel in my coursework but also have fun.

Marquette’s focus on social justice is probably one of the most important – if not the most important – element that drew me here. Since I’ve been here, I can’t imagine being in any other program. The professors have understood me so well and identified my strengths as well as the areas where I can do better and they get what my goals are and really know how to help me achieve them. This is the happiest experience I have ever had in school.

Outside of the classroom I really enjoy getting in touch with my creative side. I enjoy reading, writing, watching movies, listening to music, and cooking. When I lived in California, my favorite thing to do was head to the beach with a book/notebook and music and just get inspired by nature. I also love going on road trips, discovering new places, and talking with friends about pretty much anything. When I go on trips I see the world, and reading/writing is my way of processing the world. I’m constantly learning from other people and I love talking to others about their experiences and finding out what their lives are really like. These hobbies help me connect with other people and also find my own place in a bigger world. One thing I love to do is to put my music on shuffle and just start writing whatever comes to my head. I have found that listening to music can trigger thoughts in me that I didn’t even know I had, and I have made a lot of discoveries about myself.

Carrie Fisher was one of my favorite people. Her great sense of humor, her candor when it came to discussing her life and struggles, her confidence as a woman navigating and aging within a patriarchal society, and her commitment to art through writing, acting, and filmmaking have all inspired me in multiple aspects of my life. I would like to think a lot of that carries over into my teaching style, too. I like developing close relationships with my students so that we can have real, honest, and humorous conversations not only about what we’re reading, but about our human experiences, too. Other than that, I have had a number of incredible mentors throughout my life who have taken me under their wings and many of them I’ve found here at Marquette. I am very blessed in the inspiration department.

I feel really lucky and so happy to be a part of Marquette’s College of Education community, and I’m so glad that I decided to finish my teacher education and get my M.Ed. here! I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.

Why is Cheese in America Orange?

Laine Dolan, an elementary education and communications studies student in the College of Education is spending part of her student teaching semester abroad. She is teaching at Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand, and is blogging about her experience. This post originally appeared on Laine’s own blog.
downloadThink about it… milk is white… why do we have orange cheese in America?! I was mindblown when this idea was brought to my attention here in New Zealand. We were sitting in the staff room during morning tea chatting with a reliever (substitute teacher) when this was brought to my attention. She had lived in the United States for about five years in her teen years when her dad had moved there for work. We were talking about differences between the States and New Zealand. She explained the thing that confused her the most in the States was that we had bright orange cheese. At first I was confused by her comment because I’ve just grown up “knowing” cheese is orange. When you put a slice of cheese on your burger it’s bright orange, when you make Kraft Mac ‘n cheese and most kinds it’s bright orange, and if you buy a cheesehead in Wisconsin it’s bright orange! If someone asked me to draw a slice of cheese I would most likely draw it orange.
However, as I say that, I was perplexed by her comment and put it all together: cows make milk which makes cheese. Cows’ milk is white… so why and how is our cheese orange… Milk is never orange! I was dumbfounded. What are the cheesemakers of America not telling us?! So… I did some research to find the answer to this mystery that I had natural believed my whole life. According to a NPR article, certain breeds of cow had a natural yellow-orange pigment when they were being grass fed. Grass fed = greater quality cheese. Well cheese producers decided to make a little more money by skimming off the cream to make butter separately. However, this took away some of the color of the cheese. So they started to color the cheese to make it seem like it was still quality cheese. Then they started getting even more tricky and coloring it brighter and brighter orange because people believed it was greater quality the more orange. This started in England and was carried over to the States. And that is why our cheese is orange! It is indeed colored with dye! There is my spiel about cheese being orange because I was so rattled by the fact the cheese I had grown up with my whole life was not the same color as milk.

Now transitioning to school… school is still good! I have taken over the first blog which has primarily been reading and math. I have really enjoyed the freedom of planning and teaching here. There is not a strict curriculum so I can choose what I want to do and how I want to do it. My teacher I am working for has been really amazing to work with and has helped me grow a lot. Next week I will fully be taking over the classroom.

Over the weekend we drove up north to the Bay of Islands for a few nights. The beaches were incredible and the view was unbelievable. We went sailing on Saturday and enjoyed 6 hours on the water with the most amazing sights. Sunday we relaxed on the beach and enjoyed some good food. We then made our way home. I successfully drove on the left side of the road the whole way so that’s a win.

It has been the most incredible experience here and I cannot wait to see what else we explore!

Merry Christmas

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Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Michelle Batad

This year, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Michelle, one of our current sophomores!Profile Photo.jpg

I was born in Chicago, Illinois but I spent most of my childhood growing up in the suburbs, West Dundee, Illinois. I started living in Milwaukee once I moved onto campus Freshman year of August 2018. My parents and grandparents were born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States. Growing up, I learned how to speak and understand Tagalog but I do not speak it much anymore. I have one sister who is four years younger than me, and hopefully she will go to Marquette too! I’ve worked as a swim instructor to kids as young as 3 years old. The past two summers I have been a camp counselor at Steve and Kate’s Camp in Chicago. My role in that camp was a Launchpad Camp Counselor in which I primarily spent time with four and five year-olds to help immerse them into camp life. I also helped with planning activities and trying different things  int the studios that our camp offered: bread making, fashion, music, coding and robotics, makers studio, and more. I learned so much from being a camp counselor at Steve and Kate’s. The challenge was making sure all the four and five year old’s needs were being met and how to make sure they were heard and valued when they were crying. I learned how to be patient and praise them when they learned and accomplished something new. When my Launchpadders gained confidence and independence in wanting to roam to studios on their own, I felt like an empty-nester letting their kids go. It was a very rewarding experience working at Steve and Kate’s Camp.

My favorite educational experience is when Dr. Burant had us strut from the front of the classroom to the back of the classroom at the very beginning of the school year. That small gesture helped us own the space of the classroom and be confident in ourselves. We have been filming ourselves teach over the course of the semester and I have seen so much growth in myself.

I was accepted in becoming a Writing Center peer tutor. I am so grateful and excited to embark on this position. I have a strong desire in learning more skills to grow as a writer, student, and bring these skills into my future English classroom.

Outside of the classroom I enjoy journaling, especially in my gratitude journal. Despite how busy our days get, I always find that it is important to find at least 5 minutes in your day for yourself to reflect. Great mental health and self care time. I also enjoy running, yoga, and taking spin classes. It feels good to release some sweat and stress through exercise.

Advice that I would give readers is that even if you have a bad day there is at least one good thing that happened. Write down that one thing on a post it note, date it, and put it in a jar. At the end of the year, you can reflect and read all the good things that happened during the year.

In kindergarten at the age of 5 I knew that I wanted to become a teacher. My grandfather was my inspiration for the love of learning. He always read books to me, brought me to places and asked me questions, and helped me write. Because of him, I love learning new things. It wasn’t until high school that I learned I wanted to pursue English. Majority of my cross country coaches were English teachers. Their wisdom and positive outlook on life made me want to bring that same energy into my future classroom.

Want to learn more about our undergraduate education programs? Head on over to our website for more information– or, even better, come visit us on campus!

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