Thursday, October 25, 2012

An interview with James Thornton, president of the National Athletic Trainers Association and college alumnus

photo of James Thornton
Jim Thornton, an alumnus of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department, became president of the National Athletic Trainers' Association over the summer. He carries out those responsibilities while also working as Clarion University of Pennsylvania’s director of sports medicine and athletic training services.

”I watched the Utah State Athletic Trainers working at a football game and I just knew I wanted to be an athletic trainer,” he said. “That was thirty years ago, and I can’t imagine not doing what I do.”

He’s a busy man, but he took some time to talk to us about his experience at USU, the field of athletic training, and his advice for young athletic trainers preparing to enter the workforce.

Q: Tell me how athletic training has changed over the years.

A: A lot of people have a misperception of what athletic trainers do. The modern athletic trainer is a health care provider, licensed and certified in 49 of the 50 states. We provide health care to people in a vast number of settings. I believe we can access the health care system for those patients and athletes faster than anyone else. As I said athletic trainers provide care in a lot of different places, not just in athletics. There are athletic trainers at NASA taking care of the astronauts, and in the military, and in industries where workers do a lot of heavy lifting and other activities that cause injuries of all kinds.  The job is to prevent injuries, but if they do happen we work at getting our patients and athletes back in the game as soon as it is safe.

My goal as an athletic trainer is that our athletes will never look back and say, “They didn’t take care of me at Clarion and that’s why I have to deal with this now.”

The issue of the public recognizing the problems with traumatic brain injury is one of the things that has put us in the forefront. … People don’t realize that athletic trainers have been managing concussions for more than 60 years. This isn’t new for us. It’s new for the public because we’ve had athletes coming forward saying, “I’ve been having problems.”

It’s a bigger, hotter issue today because we know more about traumatic brain injury. Neurology studies have contributed to that. When somebody does get hurt, we try our very best to make sure it’s managed correctly.

Q: Aside from traumatic brain injury, what’s new in athletic training?

A: At NATA we just released a position statement at our national convention, on sudden death and the causes of sudden death in collegiate athletes. This isn’t new, but the position statement is new on how to manage it. It’s all research based. You can find that position statement and others concerning the health and safety of our patients at

Q: How do you keep up with the changes in your field?

A: I’ve enlarged my toolbox, not only to keep up with the profession but also to make sure the care that I’m giving the athletes is the best care that I can provide. I did my master’s degree in sports medicine at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. I am also certified in Performance Enhancement and Corrective Exercise by the National Academy of Sports medicine. 

I read a lot. We have a very well respected, refereed journal; The Journal of Athletic Training.  I study what comes up in it and read the NATA news. I also keep up with the 38,000 athletic trainers who are members.  Every one of them has an opinion, and they’re not afraid to share it.

Q: What advice would you give a fresh graduate in athletic training?

A: I would say the same thing that my mentor, Utah State University Head Athletic Trainer Dale Mildenberger said to me: “Be involved.”  The NATA and the profession need young people that are fresh, sharp, open minded professionals to take us forward.  We need them to need to make a difference in the future.  I know this sounds like a cliché, but I cannot stress enough the importance of the involvement of our students and young professionals.  Continue to expand your knowledge, and don’t just expand it, employ those things that you learn in the every day management of the health care of your patients.  Let the knowledge that you gather never cease, and when you have it, don’t just do what you used to do. Change!  Be better at what you do today than you were yesterday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Need relationship advice? There's a class for that.

These spots advertising a free healthy relationships course will appear in Utah theaters this week, thanks to USU Cooperative Extension, faculty from the Family, Consumer and Human Development Department and the Federal Office of Family Assistance.

And also through the creativity of a therapist who used to do stand-up comedy.

The spots are funny, but the subject is serious. "In just a few sessions, this research based course can help you with healthy dating relationships and partner selection," the class website says.

Does this sound like information you could use? Check out the Healthy Relationships Utah website and find a free class near you! They're available in Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah, Washington and Weber counties.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dr. Karl White to speak at USU's TEDx event

Karl White holds a baby
Dr. Karl White will be one of the presenters at Utah State University's independently-organized TEDx event on November 7. If you want to register, go to the TEDx page right away--the window closes on Friday, Oct. 19 at 5 p.m.

Attendees to the conference and the overflow rooms will be randomly selected from those who register. Only register once, please--duplicates will be discarded.

Here's some information about Dr. White from USU's Office of Research and Graduate Studies:

Dr. White is a psychology professor at USU and the founding director of the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management. His team was instrumental in establishing universal newborn hearing screening in the United States and has subsequently worked with more than 30 countries to establish early hearing detection and intervention programs. He will discuss how such programs provide a sound foundation for children who are deaf or hard of hearing to excel.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Football Day at Sound Beginnings

A girl catches a football
It's become a tradition at Sound Beginnings: come with your family, wear your Aggie gear, bring a football for student athletes to sign. It looks adorable--and it is--but there's some meaty stuff going on here.

For one thing, children who are deaf or hard of hearing are interacting with people they don't know, taking verbal cues from players as they toss the football around. "The kids are understanding these instructions from the football players," said Kristina Blaiser, director of Sound Beginnings. "That just shows what they have accomplished."

On Friday, Utah State University's football players came to spend part of a day with the families of the Sound Beginnings program. It was their third annual Football Day together.

A student athlete reaches to catch a football
Sound Beginnings provides early education to children with hearing loss whose families want them to learn to listen and talk. It is located within the Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education department here in the college. The program offers the training needed to use a hearing aid or cochlear implant to its fullest potential. The technology provides early access to sound; the training helps the child learn how to use it.

The service providers make sure the work seems more like play. "With preschoolers, you have to make it fun or they won't do it," Blaiser said.

It was an anticipated event--the children counted down the days until the football players arrived. When the time came, the parents of younger children were able to watch the older ones interact. It shows them what they can look forward to, Blaiser said.

The football event allowed everyone in the program to stop, celebrate and enjoy their community.

You can read more about the event in Cache Valley Daily news.

Thanks, student athletes, for spending a cool fall day with us!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We knew the superintendent when...

photo of Martel Menlove
Photo courtesy of the Center for Persons with Disabilities
Earlier this week, the Utah State Board of Education named Martel Menlove as Utah's Superintendent of Public Instruction.

He has a lot of ties to Utah State University and the EEJ College of Education and Human Services. He graduated from here in Elementary Education, then received his Ph.D in Special Education.

While he finished his doctorate, he also worked as a program director for the Utah Assistive Technology Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities, one of the units within the college. You can read more about that on their blog.

Since then he has served as superintendent in the Box Elder and Rich school districts. He has been deputy superintendent at the Utah State Office of Education since 2009.

"I am humbled and excited for the opportunity to serve," he said in a press release from the Utah State Board of Education. "My promise is that we will focus on the students and I will do all that I can to move public education forward."

You can read more in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune .

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What is Plagiarism?

At first, academic integrity seems like a no-brainer: don't pass off somebody else's work as your own. But the nuances of plagiarism can be complicated.

Getting it right is serious business--universities including Utah State have policies and penalties in place for those who plagiarize. But as information is shared freely on the web (re-blog, anyone?), it can be easy to lose academic integrity.

So how much do you know about it? Rutgers University put a quiz together to measure your plagiarism savvy--and it was harder than we expected. Take it and see how you do: it's called The Cite is Right.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Edith Bowen's birthday

A lot of schools are named after somebody--and often the children who go there don't have a clue who their school honored when it took its name.

Not so at Edith Bowen.

children gather around Edith Bowen's headstone

Last week, classes from Edith Bowen Laboratory School visited the grave of the woman their school was named after. She is buried a five-minute walk from the school that bears her name, in the Logan City Cemetery.

She was born on September 29, 1880 in a tiny Idaho town. Her grave is marked by a modest, school-teacher-salary-sized headstone.

We don't know a lot about her. We just know that she started a revolutionary idea in Logan: Kindergarten. The first class began at the Whittier school in 1926. Its first teacher was another recognizable name on campus: Emma Eccles Jones. Emma was persuaded by her former geography teacher, Miss Edith Bowen, to put her new degree from Teachers College at Columbia University to use.

In 1927, Utah State University started a school of education. In 1928 it established a teacher training school, absorbing Whittier into its program. It became a place where student teachers could experience hands-on learning. In 1932 Edith Bowen became its elementary supervisor.

"I always remember her as a dedicated teacher, a loyal friend and a supervisor of great inspiration to those whose lives she touched," Emma wrote later. "I seriously doubt that without her inspiration and assistance, I would have been instrumental in organizing and teaching a Kindergarten in the Whittier School."

Emma’s dedication would later result in enormous support for the College of Education and Human Services, which now bears her name.

The teacher training program moved on campus in 1957, when the Edith Bowen Laboratory School was built.

Kaye Rhees was a teacher through the 1980s and a principal from the 90s through 2007. The school's relationship to the university had benefits for both, she said. "We had access to all the museums, the swimming pool, the tennis courts." 

What's more, the influx of talent enlivened the school.  "It just kept you fresh all the time. It allowed you to work groups of kids into smaller groups… it really blessed the lives of the students, I think."

Educators learned from the children, too. "We did some collaboration with the elementary education professors on the research that they were working on," Rhees said. "Having the lab school on campus added a facet or a component of research."

The Reading for All Learners curriculum is currently used all over the United States. Its early testing happened at Edith Bowen.

The laboratory school’s original one-story building was demolished in the 2000s, with the new Edith Bowen Laboratory School taking shape on the same site. By then Emma Eccles Jones had passed away, but her foundation helped fund the new building at a time when many other laboratory schools were closing due to budget issues. It remains a reason that the EEJ College of Education is the region's leader. 

The school’s supporters agreed Emma would have wanted the new lab school building to keep her former teacher's name.

Thanks to the efforts of Vaughan Larson, a media specialist at Edith Bowen, its students know who their school is named after. They learned about her at the gravesite and sang the school song.

Then they went back to class in her monument.

photo of Edith Bowen Laboratory School