Washington Center Staff
Emily Lardner Ph.D, Director
The power of learning communities, to me, is that they are places where educators can synthesize what’s known about helping students become more engaged and successful learners, across all types of institutions and educational pathways. Learning community classrooms are places where students develop the habits of mind and the integrative and interdisciplinary thinking skills they need to tackle new and complex problems. Faculty and staff teaching in learning communities learn together how to practice powerful pedagogical strategies with a shared focus on student success. Similarly, learning community programs offer cross-sector campus teams a “practice space” for learning how to implement a project together that is focused on providing rich and supportive learning experiences at key points in students’ educational paths.
Many a campus has begun its journey towards transformation with the launching of a learning community program as an efficient laboratory for serious explorations of teaching and learning. I am deeply interested in how we use learning communities to transform our institutions. We have lots of research to build on—high impact practices, effective wrap-around support services, habits of mind and productive persistence, educational pathways and curriculum maps. We have new work to do, learning together how to use revised and reprised forms of learning communities as a strategy for institutional change and educational reform that leads to more students completing high quality degrees and certificates.
I’m honored to serve as the director of the Washington Center, and to have the privilege to work with hundreds of faculty, staff and administrators across the country who are deeply committed to providing engaging learning experiences and robust educational pathways for all of our students.
Brenda Orzino, Program Coordinator
In my current position as the Program Coordinator at the Washington Center for Improving Undergraduate Education, I coordinate the Center’s activities and projects. Over the course of the year about half my time is dedicated coordinating the National Summer Institute. I manage the Online Survey of Student Engagement, and provide support to regional and state-wide learning community networks. I’m also in charge of our website. I support the Center’s director, colleagues, and staff. I am an alumna of The Evergreen State College, graduating in June 2012 with a focus in Leadership, Management, and Systems Theory.
Before coming to The Evergreen State College, I attended Grays Harbor College and graduated with both an Associate of Arts degree and an Associate in Applied Science – Business Management and was honored as a President’s Scholar. I am a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. My prior work includes Hospitality Management and Accounting.
Rachel Homchick, Office Assistant 3
I am an adventurer. I love exploring the world through traveling, backpacking, river rafting, reading, researching, and writing.
In my role at the Washington Center for Improving Undergraduate Education, I provide support for both the planning and the execution of Center events, including the National Summer Institute on Learning Communities and the Teaching and Learning National Institute. I’m also the editorial assistant for the online journal, Learning Communities Research and Practice, and I provide ongoing support for the daily operations of the Center, including the administration of our website and database.
As a graduate of the Evergreen State College, I am keenly aware of the importance of Learning Communities and just how powerful they can be when done well. I am very proud to be a part of a team that is furthering this pedagogical practice.
Abby Lynch, Clerical Aide
As a student staff member at the Washington Center, I do my best to make sure things around the office run smoothly. I work closely with the other members of the Washington Center Staff, and complete various database and clerical tasks.
I am fascinated with Evergreen’s interdisciplinary programs, and began attending in September 2014. I hope to channel my love of nature, science, art and writing into books for children.
Curriculum for the Bioregion Project
Jean MacGregor, Director
I direct Curriculum for the Bioregion, a faculty- and curriculum-development initiative whose mission is to prepare students to live in a world where questions of sustainability—the complex issues of environmental quality, community health and wellbeing, and environmental justice—are paramount. Begun in 2005, Curriculum for the Bioregion supports faculty members, primarily from colleges and universities in Washington State, as they integrate sustainability content into a broad array of courses and disciplines and as they situate learning experiences in the places where we actually live. I also am an adjunct faculty member in the Graduate Program on the Environment at Evergreen. Both these roles bring together my longstanding interests in place-based learning, civic engagement, and the creation of academic communities for students.
National Summer Institute on Learning Communities Planning Team
Joining the Washington Center team for this project are:
Rachel Singer, Senior Fellow – Achieving the Dream, Inc.
Currently, I am a Senior Fellow with Achieving the Dream, Inc. (ATD), a non- profit educational reform network consisting of nearly 200 community colleges from across the country. In this role, I help to promote the adoption of evidence-based reforms to improve college effectiveness and student success. I also work with colleagues to design the content of ATD’s annual learning institute DREAM, which convenes close to 2,000 practitioners, policymakers, and thought-leaders from across the higher education reform field to unveil cutting-edge research and create opportunities for deeper learning and real-time information sharing to promote action and foster progress in higher education.
Previously, I spent 25 years at Kingsborough Community College, working in various roles, where I coordinated and oversaw several successful learning community initiatives.
Joye Hardiman, Professor Emeritus–Arts and Humanities
I am an educator, teacher, global traveler, and storyteller.
I began my academic career at the Undergraduate Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. Subsequently, I earned a B.A. in Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a Ph.D. in Applied Literary Studies and Urban Education from the Union Institute and a Certificate of Completion from Harvard University’s Management Development Program.
Learning Communities Research and Practice E-Journal Team
Joining Emily Lardner, Editor on the LCRP E-Journal are:
Sara Huntington, Associate Editor (The Evergreen State College)
Expertise: writing, research, and information systems
Interests: library science, library research methods, librarianship, English and satirical literature, rhetorical, professional, technical, and scientific writing (and any combination of these writing disciplines), cultural studies of science, information systems
Lynn Dunlap, Copy Editor (Skagit Valley College)
As an associate of the Washington Center, I frequently serve as one of the resource faculty for the summer institutes on Learning Communities. I am also a member of the editorial board and copyeditor for Learning Communities Research and Practice.
My own long-standing research and teaching focus has been the quality of learning and teaching and, in particular, integrative learning. Currently, I mentor new faculty at Skagit Valley College, where, prior to retirement, I taught composition and film studies for 34 years.