Vision, Mission, and Conceptual Framework

Western New Mexico University

College of Education

Conceptual Framework Narrative

The Conceptual Framework is the underlying philosophical structure for the Western New Mexico University School of Education.  WNMU is a state supported, regional co-educational university offering academic programs in career and technical, liberal arts, and professional areas to meet the post-secondary educational needs of the people of New Mexico as well as other regions. The regions served by WNMU are culturally and linguistically diverse and continue to have a high percentage of people who share common ancestral, cultural, and historical genesis.


Our framework is based on research and philosophical tenets that drive our practices and our work to effectively prepare our students to create innovations that will contribute to 21st century communities.  The following narrative articulates the rationale for teaching and learning across programs.  The Conceptual Framework is knowledge-based, committed to actively address tensions between our overall vision and current practices in public education promoted by national and state policies.

The Conceptual Framework sets forth a shared vision for all the programs included in our unit:  the teacher education program, educational leadership, counseling, and School Psychology (Not accepting students into this program at this time).  We believe that teaching, educational leadership, counseling, and School Psychology (Not accepting students into this program at this time) are intellectual efforts; this provides the direction for our programs, courses, candidate performance, scholarship, service, and unit accountability.  We seek to prepare professionals who value different ways of knowing and appreciate the diversities among learners.  These ideas are based on our understanding of the multifaceted nature of knowledge.  The five major philosophic tenants that support our conceptual framework include:

            1.   Diversity—Recognize, accept, value, and promote diverse ideas, languages, and cultures.

            2.   Quality—Stress quality programs aligned with professional, state, and national standards

                  that produce exemplary results.

            3.   Application—Integrate theoretical knowledge into the world of practice through field-based

                  experience and active reflection.   

            4.   Collaboration—Demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to effectively

                   collaborate with students, parents, other professionals and other community stakeholders.

            5.   Advocacy—Review and critique theories and policies, advocating for equitable access,

                   resources, technologies and policies that are consistent with researched practices.

The School of Education strives to involve all stakeholders in the development of effective policies, procedures, and curricula founded on these tenets. Integrated throughout the following five philosophy statements are the vital concepts of learning and assessment.

Educators recognize, accept, value and promote diverse ideas, languages, and cultures.

The College of Education actively recruits, hires, and retains a multicultural faculty that reflects the diverse population of its service area(s) and/or student population. All approved programs within the SOE reflect bicultural, multicultural, anti-racist, pro-justice, critical, participatory, and cognitive grounded curricula. Also, the College of Education’s mission is to prepare its students to become critical thinkers capable of and responsible for creating change that values diversity through action in their own lives and in the broader society (Freire, 1970; McLaren & Kincheloe, 2007; Sue & Sue, 2008).

Educators stress quality programs that are aligned with professional and state standards that produce exemplary results. Programs that set rigorous standards and communicate those expectations obtain greater performance assessments than programs that set and communicate low standards (Brophy, 1981; Remley & Herlihy, 2007).

Educators integrate theoretical knowledge into the world of practice through field-based experiences and active reflection. When knowledge and experience are combined with reflection, change and growth occur (Dewey, 1933; Berman, 2010).

Educators possess the skills and knowledge to effectively collaborate with students, parents, other professionals and community stakeholders. When professionals possess the interpersonal skills necessary for collaboration and utilize these skills both within the school setting and when working with outside agency providers and families, there is a greater likelihood that services will be individualized and appropriately reflect the needs, strengths, and goals of all stakeholders involved i.e., students, professionals, and families (Bruner, 1991; Faulkner-Schofield & Amodeo, 1999; Goldman, 1998; González & Moll, 2005; Lewis, Lewis, Daniels & D’Andrea, 2011 ).

Educators review and critique theories and policies, advocating for equitable access, resources, technologies and policies that are consistent with researched practices. With equitable access to both human and material technology resources and thoughtful, effective, integrated use of technology, the learning of all students is facilitated in order to become informed, responsible, caring contributing citizens in a diverse, democratic society (Butler-Pascoe & Wiburg, 2003; Cooper, 1993; Cummins, Brown & Sayers, 2006; Cummins & Sayers, 1997).

Vision Statement

The purpose of the College of Education at Western New Mexico University is to ignite and nurture a spirit of learning for both educator and student. Western New Mexico University is committed to preparing professional educators, counselors, psychologists and school leaders who are committed to excellence in education.  We nurture and sustain a community of learners who understand and engage all students in the conceptualization of inquisitive and creative processes supporting progressive notions of space and time.  Our approach is shaped by our commitment to improving the process of teaching and learning and our fundamental commitment to social justice and diversity.

This vision statement has been translated into the languages represented by many of our students:

“Encender y alimentar un espiritu de aprendizaje

entre alumnus y maestros: (Spanish)

"Ba'ólta'í dóó ólta'í jilíígo ó'hoo'aah bii'iistiin jidil tli'go
naasgóó halled bee baa 'áhwijiilyáa dooleel." (Navajo)

"Tsit nah wah she oh nah…yah nit kay ah
Tsit nah yah nit kay no nah…Tsit nah washe ah" (Zuni)

Grounded in the definition of “learning” proposed by Katz (1985, 2000) as the acquired knowledge, the understanding of skills, tendencies toward dispositions, and the emotional state during these processes, the College of Education promotes the acquisition of appropriate educator dispositions. Katz goes on to discuss dispositions as habits of mind or tendencies to respond to certain situations in certain ways. The accomplished teacher education candidate incorporates both academic and emotional intelligence into all educational experiences.

The School of Education faculty recognizes the central purpose of assessment in teacher education. Monitoring the progress of the relevant knowledge, skills, and dispositions of each educator candidate through various assessment strategies is the foundation of the unit’s assessment plan. Assessment may contain paper-and-pencil tests, portfolios of artifacts displaying student learning, videotapes, web-enhanced productions, CD technologies, exhibits, observations, and reflective logs.

Mission Statement

The faculty of the College of Education is committed to providing an educational experience that provides our students with measurable knowledge, skills, and dispositions to advance the learning of the students they will encounter in the classroom. The prospective teacher, counselor and/or administrator at WNMU acquire a specific knowledge base. The knowledge base for all professional education programs at WNMU is guided by two key principles: All SOE programs 1) maximize opportunities for student thinking and achievement and 2) facilitate active, participatory decision making. Each candidate possesses a richness of the emotional and cultural connection to learning. Therefore, in a complex, diverse society the educator and student have to learn from each other (Freire, 1970).

Maximizing Opportunities for Student Thinking and Achievement

All students construct meaning of the world in which they live (Brooks and Brooks, 1993). Accepting this proposition calls for a redesign of schools based upon a new definition of learning. Learning is maximized in classrooms where students 1) adapt their environment to actively pursue solutions to real problems, 2) construct knowledge by building upon prior understandings, and 3) work in harmony with differing cultures (Kosta & Kallick, 2000; Noddings, 1990). Administrators structure school climates that reflect efficient routines and lack of disruption yet tolerate spontaneity and novelty (Brooks & Brooks, 1993). It is in this type of learning environment where the opportunity for student achievement is maximized and students are allowed to become independent thinkers who construct knowledge by synthesizing relevant information.

Teacher Education Program

The Western New Mexico University teacher education program (TEP) has selected specific teaching/learning outcomes that maximize opportunities for student thinking and achievement. The program calls for teachers who:

1)    have a knowledge of content/field;

2)    develop and implement curriculum;

3)    can assess and evaluate learners and self;

4)    effectively manage classroom and learning environment;

5)    utilize technology;

6)    implement appropriate inclusion;

7)    demonstrate knowledge of the teaching profession.

Through these outcomes, each successful candidate will be able to transform content knowledge into learning experiences that are pedagogically powerful and yet adapt to variations in the background and/or ability of the learner (Moll &Amot-Hopffer, 2005; Nieto, 2005a; Oakes & Lipton, 2000). As Shulman (1987) states, the method in which meaning is communicated conveys to students what is essential about a subject and what is peripheral and the teacher must have a flexible and multifaceted comprehension, adequate to impart alternative explanations of the same concepts or principles.

Facilitating Active, Participatory Decision Making

The variety and complexity of the tasks performed by institutions of higher education produce an inescapable interdependence among governing board, administration, faculty, students, and others. All of these participants also contribute unique characteristics of our diverse society. The relationship calls for adequate communication among these components and full opportunity for appropriate joint planning and effort.

Joint effort in an academic institution will take a variety of forms. “Although the variety of such approaches may be wide, at least two general conclusions regarding joint effort seem clearly warranted: (1) important areas of action involve at one time or another the initiating capacity and decision-making participation of all the institutional components, and (2) differences in the weight of each voice, from one point to the next, should be determined by reference to the responsibility of each component for the particular matter at hand” (American Association of University Professors, 1966, p. 2).

The culture most nourishing to joint effort is captured by an explanation forwarded by Virginia Cyrus (1993):

Students in college now will live and work in a society that is multicultural and global, and college must prepare them for this world…. [They must have] the opportunity to explore the complexity of American society and its historic, social and economic makeup.... No single ‘norm’ represents the American experience; instead, many points of view and wide varieties of experience exist, and always have existed, in this country…. To wrestle with such questions, students first need to develop an enhanced sense of their own identities and life situations and a positive understanding of the experiences and values of the many different groups that make up contemporary American society. In order to experience differences among groups with understanding with understanding and appreciation, and not with fear and rancor, students need to be encouraged to foster empathy for the perspectives of those who seem different from themselves and to acknowledge the many similarities that are often overlooked. (p. xi)

The teacher education program at Western New Mexico University accepts Cyrus’s concept of cultural pluralism by being sensitive to our own identities as well as caring for the unique characteristics of each segment in our diverse American society. The image that teachers and students have of themselves has great influence on how they see others and construct knowledge. William Glasser, a noted psychiatrist, presents the premise that if teachers and students can identify and satisfy the fundamental needs for survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun in themselves, they can make conscious choices about how to meet them. This recognition results in personal confidence. Teachers and students are then able to have the control of how to interact with information and events that appear oppressive (Adams et al., 2000; Au, 2009; Glasser, 1990).

The College of Education highlights the work of Paulo Freire to reveal its beliefs about cultural pluralism and democratic processes. Freire (1970) speaks about the need for the liberation of the oppressed by using dialogue and reflection as a tool for critically assessing issues that impact the disempowered. Freirean methods lead to a higher consciousness which, if acted upon, may create positive social changes (Darder, 2002; Darder, Baltodano & Torres, 2008). Thus, active participation may lead toward equality for politically and economically disempowered communities. Likewise, by building a community of learners—utilizing inclusive strategies among teachers, students, families, and diverse communities—we enrich culture and language, create positive social change, and promote a sense of ownership which increases the possibilities for academic success in children (McCaleb, 1994; Nieto, 2005b).

The Western New Mexico University teacher education program has selected specific teaching/learning outcomes that represent knowledge and skills that facilitate active, participatory decision-making. The program calls for teachers who:

1)    are focused on student development and advocacy;

2)    support diversity and quality of life; and

3)    have skills necessary for family/school/community interactions and communication.

Certainly, these outcomes represent the views of Alma Flor Ada (1994) and others such as Moll (2001) who advocate working with students, families and community rather than on them therefore encouraging human growth in truly democratic schools.  An equitable, just, and responsible social reality can potentially be created in such an atmosphere. These outcomes highlight the relationship between facilitating active, participatory decision making and the dispositions of successful teacher educators (Nieto, 2005c).

Advanced Programs

Continued professional development needs of educators are the foundation of the graduate programs at Western New Mexico University. The College of Education graduate programs are organized around the same five-part philosophy and two categories of knowledge represented at the undergraduate level.

Developing advanced knowledge in content and pedagogy is only one function of the graduate education programs as they strive to maximize opportunities for student thinking and achievement while participating in active decision-making. The advanced programs place a higher emphasis on action research and expect graduates to take a leadership role in efforts to bridge differences through collaboration among the greater learning community.

While the Master of Arts in Teaching follow the previously mentioned set of outcomes, the Counseling and Educational Leadership, School Psychology (Not accepting students into this program at this time), and Reading programs display a different set of outcomes. The Educational Leadership program outcomes are based on the New Mexico Administrator Competencies and the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards.    The Counseling program outcomes are based upon the New Mexico Public Education Department’s competencies for school counselors, K-12.  The School Psychology (Not accepting students into this program at this time) program outcomes are based upon the New Mexico Public Education Department’s competencies for school psychologists, K-12.  The Reading program outcomes are based upon the New Mexico Public Education Department’s competencies for entry-level reading teachers.

Teachers and other school personnel need to develop a willingness to establish collaborative relationships and discuss professional issues through scholarly activity.  This joint effort propels the transformation of schools at a more efficient rate.  These relationships are central to an effective learning community and education reform (Goodlad, 1991).  Western New Mexico University graduate education programs are committed to making this world a better place for children.  As Alma Flor Ada (1993, pg. viii) proclaims:  “by sharing the joy of learning and discovery with our students we affirm the human capacity, inherent in all of us, to generate knowledge and to transform the world.”

The New Mexico Administrator Competencies and Indicators for Educational Leadership are as follows:

  • Ethical Leadership
  • Visionary Leadership
  • Instructional Leadership
  • Multicultural Leadership
  • Disability Leadership
  • Leadership in Community Relations
  • Political Leadership
  • Legal and Fiscal Leadership
  • Personal and Professional Leadership

In addition, the educational leader demonstrates ISLLC competencies:

  • Facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by all stakeholders
  • Advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth
  • Ensuring management of the organization, operation, and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment
  • Collaborating with faculty and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources
  • Acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner
  • Understanding, responding to, and influencing the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context

The counseling program outcomes for clinical counselors are identified in the Mental Health Clinical Core Curriculum (Required by the New Mexico Counseling Therapy Practice Board) and are as follows:

  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Helping relationships
  • Group work
  • Career and lifestyle development
  • Appraisal
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Professional orientation
  • Specialized clinical studies
  • Supervised practicum (approved 10/05/10)

The counseling program outcomes for school counselors are identified in the New Mexico Public Education Department Competencies for School Counselors.  The counselor will:

  • develop and implement a comprehensive school level guidance program based on the American School Counseling Association National Standards and focused on the physical, social, intellectual, emotional, and vocational growth of each student
  • coordinate activities in the guidance and counseling program
  • provide information and facilitate guidance activities for students, staff, and parents
  • serve as a consultant to the school and community
  • provide individual and group counseling
  • uphold the standards of the counseling profession
  • understand the cultural context of relationships, issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society related to such factors as culture, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental and physical characteristics, education, family values, religious and spiritual beliefs, and socioeconomic status, and unique characteristics of individuals,
  • couples, families, ethnic groups, and communities be able to use technology in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of a comprehensive school counseling  program (approved 10/05/10)

In addition, because the Counseling Program is seeking CACREP accreditation, CACREP standards are also followed:

  • The learning environment:  structure and evaluation
  • Professional identify
  • Professional practice
    • Addiction Counseling
    • Career Counseling
    • Clinical and Mental Health Counseling
    • Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling
    • School Counseling
    • Student Affairs and College Counseling (approved 10/05/10)

The School Psychology (Not accepting students into this program at this time) licensure program provides the educational experience necessary to be licensed as a Level One School Psychologist in New Mexico. As per New Mexico Public Education Department, the entry level School Psychologist competencies are identified as follows:

  1. Personal Characteristics
  2. Knowledge of basic psychological principles
  3. Knowledge of educational foundations
  4. Knowledge & professional expertise to collaborate with families, school, and community professionals to respond to educational & mental health needs of students
  5. Learning and Cognitive setting
  6. Intervention techniques
  7. Prevention, crisis intervention & mental health
  8. Family-community interventions
  9. Statistical & research methodologies
  10. Legal, ethics, and professional practice of School Psychology (Not accepting students into this program at this time)

The WNMU program also follows the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) guidelines for Standards for Training and Field Placement as the model for exit competencies that must be met.

The NASP competencies include the following:

  1. Data-based decision making and accountability
  2. Interpersonal Communication, Consultation and Collaboration
  3. Intervention & Structural Support to develop academic skills
  4. Interventions & Mental Health Services to develop social and life skills
  5. School-wide practice to promote learning
  6. Preventative and responsive services
  7. Family-school-community collaborative services
  8. Foundations of school psychological service delivery diversity in development and learning
  9. Research and program evaluation

10.   Legal, Ethical practice, and professional development

The Reading Program outcomes are aligned with the International Reading Association Standards:

Standard 1:  Foundational Knowledge
Candidates understand the theoretical and evidence-based foundations of reading and writing processes and instruction

Standard 2:  Curriculum and Instruction
Candidates use instructional approaches, materials, and an integrated, comprehensive, balanced curriculum to support student learning in reading and writing.

Standard 3: Assessment and Evaluation
Candidates use a variety of assessment tools and practices to plan and evaluate effective reading and writing instruction.

Standard 4: Diversity
Candidates create and engage their students in literacy practices that develop awareness, understanding, respect, and a valuing of differences in our society.

Standard 5: Literate Environment
Candidates create a literate environment that fosters reading and writing by integrating foundational knowledge, instructional practices, approaches and methods, curriculum materials, and the appropriate use of assessments.

Standard 6: Professional Learning and Leadership
Candidates recognize the importance of, demonstrate, and facilitate professional learning and leadership as a career-long effort and responsibility.

Teachers, administrators, and counselors need to develop a willingness to establish collaborative relationships and discuss professional issues through scholarly activity. This joint effort propels the transformation of schools at a more efficient rate. These relationships are central to an effective learning community and educational reform effort (Goodlad, 1991). Western New Mexico University graduate education programs are committed to making this world a better place for children. As Alma Flor Ada (1994, p.viii) proclaims: “by sharing the joy of learning and discovery with our students we affirm the human capacity, inherent in all of us, to generate knowledge and to transform the world.”

Symbolic Representation

The SOE logo is a Classic Mimbres black-on-white geometric bowl from the Eisele Collection of Southwestern Artifacts and Pottery, a permanent collection of Western New Mexico University Museum (Accession Number 1973.8.337). The Mimbres people made the bowl between AD 1000 and 1140 during the Classic Mimbres period. Richard C. Eisele removed this bowl from Coulson archeological site in Grant County, New Mexico.

This particular Classic Mimbres bowl has a shard missing. The well-worn appearance of the interior of the bowl--the spottily missing pieces of design--and the absence of any pigment stains suggest that this particular piece was used either to serve or prepare food.

The design on this bowl provides a compelling visual representation of the conceptual framework as a living document. The intersection of various narrow lines, at the center of the bowl, symbolizes the focus of all efforts, the spirit of learning in every human. These lines create four segments, typical of Mimbres pottery (Brody, 1977), and represent four parts of philosophy that the programs purport: diversity, quality results, application, and proactive leadership. The fifth portion of the philosophy is technology and is represented by the creation of the bowl, a people making use of the technology of their time. The classic black on white characteristic of this Mimbres bowl represents the natural relationship of the dual categories of a knowledge base: 1) maximizing opportunities for student thinking and achievement and 2) facilitating active, participatory decision making. The circular bowl naturally creates an extension outward signifying the nature of community. Similarly, our graduate programs nurture the potential for influence and collaboration among educators. Such collaboration enhances the ability of teachers, administrators and counselors to “ignite and nurture a spirit of learning for both educator and student.”

Process for Revisiting the Conceptual Framework

It is the belief of the College of Education that the conceptual framework is continuously evolving around the on-going critical issues facing American education. At the yearly Faculty Retreat of the College of Education, the Dean conducts discussions on the special meanings of our vision, philosophies, knowledge base, and outcomes. In addition, the New Mexico Public Education Department revises teacher education competencies on a continuous basis for all accreditation efforts.

Through two full-day seminars, one in November 2000 and the other in March 2001, school administrators, teachers, and university faculty came together to explore the currency and relevancy of the entire conceptual framework including the program outcomes. This collaborative effort produced significant input included in the current narrative and outcomes. Individuals from Cobre, Deming, and Silver school districts participated in this joint effort. The sessions were funded and guided by a Goals 2000 Preservice Grant awarded to Deming Public Schools and WNMU in partnership.

At the beginning of the 2001-2002 academic year, a full-day retreat for the College of Education was established to review previous and current recommendations for revisions in the conceptual framework. The focus of this review centered on the themes of diversity, technology, dispositions, and assessment. Thus, through the cooperative efforts of faculty and other members of the professional community, a coherent, united, and visualized framework has been defined.  During the 2009-2010 academic year, the conceptual framework was again reviewed with some minor changes. (Amended 10/05/10) During the 2010-2011 academic year, an ad hoc committee comprised of SOE faculty again reviewed the conceptual framework and made changes.  The faculty will vote to accept these latest changes at the April 5, 2011 faculty meeting.


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WNMU College of Education
PO Box 680 Silver City, NM 88062
Phone: 575-538-6416 Fax: 575-538-6417

Last updated: May 22, 2015