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Don Hones

The following faculty Q&A was submitted by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Faculty Advocacy Committee, a committee of the Faculty Senate. Ava McCall, chair of the department of Curriculum and Instruction, wrote the introduction.

Don Hones, Ph.D., has been an important member of the Curriculum and Instruction department at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh since 1997. Hones, along with Kathryn Henn-Reinke, Ph.D., launched the graduate level English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual alternative program for educators desiring to obtain this license, but who live some distance away from campus. The program has allowed approximately 170 teachers to gain this license, meeting the growing need for ESL and bilingual teachers in schools in the Fox Valley, Green Bay and beyond. Hones also wrote, obtained and co-directed three major federal grants totaling $4.15 million for the preparation of ESL and bilingual teachers and personnel during 2000-2012. These grants give student teachers financial support as they become ESL teachers, bilingual teachers and counselors, and licensed reading teachers.

How did you find your way to UW Oshkosh?

“The job announcement listed in the Chronicle of Higher Education for UW Oshkosh College of Education mentioned that a candidate was sought who would have a background in Spanish as well as familiarity with Hmong culture and language. This was intriguing, as I had just finished a dissertation project working with a Hmong family. One thing I really liked about the University was the friendliness of the chancellor (then John Kerrigan) and the support of my dean and colleagues in the College of Education.”

Why did you choose to go into your field?

“I became a teacher in order to live abroad, teaching English in Spain. Teacher education began to intrigue me when I had the opportunity to work with English teachers through the Fulbright Center in Ecuador.”

What is your favorite thing about UW Oshkosh?

“My students are inspiring. Coming from diverse backgrounds culturally and linguistically, they build a community in which I am honored to be a participant. For example, right now students in my Hmong Language, Culture and Learning class are planning an all-campus event entitled ‘UW Oshkosh Hmong New Year.’ They are preparing to do two short plays, a slideshow, a fashion show, traditional and hip hop dance, traditional games and live music. The students producing and performing in this event are an even mixture of Hmong, Latina and European Americans. They are proud of their own cultures and take a lively interest in that of others.”

What is the professional accomplishment of which you are most proud?

“I am grateful to have written grants that support tuition costs for students who might otherwise not be able to attend college. Since 2000, we have had three, five-year federal grants which have allowed us to provide tuition support to more than 300 students.”

What leadership or service activities are you involved in?

“There are a lot of great people in the community who help keep me informed. My favorite leadership activity has been taking students, community members and professionals on learning adventures. In March 2010, I was able to go with 12 UW Oshkosh students and faculty to the Arizona border to participate in a service learning project involving humanitarian aid to immigrants lost in the desert. In May 2010, I went with a mixture of students, teachers and administrators to visit innovative schools in St. Paul, Minn. Both of these educational experiences were so fantastic that I have to call them learning adventures.”

What is the most common misperception about what you do?

“Many people believe I teach English to people who don’t know the language. Actually, I prepare teachers who will teach those learning the language. There is also the misperception that bilingual education means only teaching Spanish. As indicated by the word ‘bilingual,’ two languages are taught and learned.”

What is the most exciting project you are working on right now?

“I am co-authoring a bilingual play with a friend about the border and undocumented immigration entitled ‘No Culpable/Not Guilty.’ Currently, a youth group affiliated with the Centro Cultural Chicano in Minneapolis is working with the script as well as making great changes to it.”

How does what you research help you to be an effective teacher?

“I have the opportunity to step outside of the classroom and get a perspective from other vantage points. This is fundamental for good teaching.”

Describe some ways your department serves Northeastern Wisconsin.

“We prepare teachers and encourage street-level educational reform.”

Tell us about your family.

“Kathleen is beautiful, multi-talented and currently working on a license in Thai Yoga Massage. Orion, 16, is a virtuoso with music, wants to be in movies and now driving a rainbow-colored van. Ariana, 14, would be my lawyer of choice if I ever needed one, and she is wonderful with kids. Marcel, 11, would make a fantastic adventure guide who could tell the party stories from the Ramayana around the campfire at night.”

What are your hobbies?

“I like to write stories, read, run when my foot will allow it, fiddle around with a fiddle from time to time, and occasionally play chess with a friend at a café.”

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