Before the start of every school year, teachers from across the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau are invited to the annual Catholic schools’ in-service to hone current skills and learn new ones. This year, two Gonzaga University professors were invited to help archdiocesan faculty better connect and understand their students for the 2022-23 school year.
On Tuesday, Aug. 16, local Catholic school teachers were introduced to Dr. Vincent Alfonso and Dr. Addy Wissel, professors at Gonzaga’s school of education, after morning Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Anchorage.
“We are so happy to have Dr. Vincent Alfonso and Dr. Addy Wissel,” said Liz Loeffler, director of Catholic schools and faith formation for the archdiocese.
Dr. Alfonso earned a doctorate in clinical and school psychology from Hofstra University. He most recently served as interim dean of the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University. He is a past president of Division 16 (School Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA), and a Fellow of Divisions 16, 5, and 43 of the APA. He is also a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. In February 2014, he received the “Outstanding Contributions to Training” award from the Trainers of School Psychologists; and in August 2017, he received the “Jack Bardon Distinguished Service Award” from Division 16 of the APA.
Dr. Addy Wissel acquired a doctorate in counselor education and supervision from Idaho State University. She has published multiple articles in the American Counseling Association’s “VISTAS,” a collection of peer-reviewed articles authored by counselors; and submitted reviews to the “Mental Measurements Yearbook,” a publication series that offers consumer-oriented test reviews, which is run by the Buros Center for Testing of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The in-service kicked off with a large, interactive group session in the Cathedral’s Lunny Center. The professors then split faculty into two groups – elementary school teachers and older-grade teachers — to learn current strategies that could improve student engagement in their respective grades this year.
Faculty members then split into smaller group sessions to further discuss strategies and real-world examples they faced throughout their teaching careers.
“Teachers of middle and high school students, specifically, came away with both a deeper understanding of the challenges that face students and strategies for opening and guiding discussions regarding social media benefits and downfalls,” Loeffler said. “Several teachers said that Dr. Alfonso’s emphasis on working as teams and collegial support was ‘just what I needed today.’”