Outstanding Graduate Student: Joshua Hodney

Man smiling at the camera

Surrounding himself with amazing people provided Outstanding Graduate Student Joshua Hodney ’20 the additional strength he needed to earn his Master of Arts in Teaching.

“I am confident in my desire and effort to work hard at everything I do, but I know I would not be where I am without such a powerful support system,” Hodney said.

He feels like it was a miracle to graduate with a 4.0 GPA after juggling the drive from teaching and coaching at Milwaukie High School, living in Clackamas and attending school in Monmouth. He and his wife, Kelley, are new parents to Luke, who was born in March.

A man, woman and baby
Joshua and Kelley Hodney with their son, Luke.

“My biggest source of inspiration and energy comes from my family and friends, especially my wife and the arrival of my son,” he said. “I am especially inspired by my wonderful cohort members and the drive they have. They will all be fantastic teachers that my infant son would be lucky to learn from someday.”

WOU’s nationally recognized reputation for providing schools with great teachers is what inspired Hodney to earn his Master of Arts in Teaching.

“I wanted to be part of that legacy,” he said.  “I applied only to WOU because I did not want to go to another program.”

His research is on developing and sustaining a student-centered classroom. The idea is to gradually release responsibility to have student ownership of the content.

“Even as an adult, it can be hard to sit and watch someone lecture and point to a PowerPoint slideshow for an hour or more, no matter how wonderful the instructor is and the material they are sharing,” he said. “I want my students to be active participants who play a central role in their own learning.”

After a year of going non-stop, he looks forward to spending the summer with his wife and new son, and not having any homework. He hopes to continue coaching and teaching in the North Clackamas School District.

A social studies teacher, Hodney told his students that every generation has been changed and challenged by something. His students compared what is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic to other major generational-defining moments in history.

“They know that this is a tough thing for all of us, but that they can rise from this more motivated to become even better versions of who they are,” he said. “COVID-19 has taken some wonderful things and people from us, but it also gives us the opportunity to become more resilient, creative and compassionate people.”

Man holding a baby
WOU Outstanding Graduate Student Joshua Hodney credits his friends, family, wife and newborn son for being his inspiration.

Hodney said he could not have gotten to the finish line without his family, friends, WOU cohort members and the Milwaukie High School community, adding his special thanks go to his mentor teacher Rian Winter, Principal Carmen Gelman, staff, parents, fellow coaches and especially the students.

“I am thankful for the inspiration that WOU has provided for me in the MAT program,” he said. “So many wonderful ideas to make me a better educator than I imagined I could be, phenomenal support and compassion for us as their students.”

Honored and humbled to receive the award, Hodney said without the wisdom and camaraderie he gained from his fellow cohort members and professors, his experience this year would not have been as fulfilling as it has been, especially since he has grown as a leader and found his voice to inspire others.

“My passion is to help others struggling with their voice unlock their potential by having someone else show them how wonderful they truly are,” he said.

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