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Meet Our Faculty
Joni Domanico Brock
As an instructor in both the Evening Teacher Certification program and the Specialty Endorsement in Teaching the Gifted and Talented program, Armstrong served the local community as principal of Dalton Elementary School and the Advanced Learning Program director for the Coeur d’Alene School District. She now is principal at Elrod Elementary School, in the Kalispell School District. She received her master of education in administrative leadership and an endorsement in teaching the gifted from the University of Idaho. Armstrong teaches Differentiated Instruction in the Evening Teacher Certification Program. As part of the Specialty Endorsement Program, she teaches Differentiation for Highly Capable Students.
Brock is a National Board Certified teacher who has been an adjunct professor in the graduate studies department at Whitworth for more than 20 years. Her years of experience as both a teacher of the gifted and a gifted-program coordinator helped her develop expertise on a variety of topics – particularly social and emotional issues -- related to the gifted student. The unique and satisfying opportunity to facilitate small graduate classes drew her to Whitworth; facilitating high-quality interaction and in-depth learning opportunities keeps her here. She also provides on-site professional development as an instructional coach for Spokane Public Schools.
For more than 20 years, Fisher has been an independent educational consultant, providing consultation services to school districts and parent groups on topics related to gifted education. He is currently a consultant, and he teaches for the Evergreen School District, in Vancouver, Wash. His has several years of experience in teaching gifted students through a pull-out gifted program, a full-time gifted-education program, and a self-contained classroom. His experiences also include cluster-grouping responsibility for gifted students and teaching Summer Challenge classes. Fisher coordinates the Children’s Culture Parade, which involves more than 1,200 children in Vancouver. As adjunct faculty member at Whitworth, he teaches Creativity and Analytical Thinking.
Gail Hanninen, Ed.D.
Hanninen’s background includes educational administration and special education, with specializations in learning disabilities, gifted students, and serious behavior disorders. Her doctoral dissertation studied "The Effects of the Hilda Taba Teaching Strategies on Creative and Critical Thinking." She is currently the regional coordinator for school improvement at the University of Idaho School of Education. At Whitworth she has taught courses such as Teaching in the Mixed Ability Classroom, Twice Exceptional Students, and Nature and Needs of the Gifted Learner.
Hess currently serves as director of Highly Capable Programs for the Tacoma, Wash., public schools. She was formerly program supervisor in the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, working in grants management and program reviews of Washington school districts’ Highly Capable services. Hess was a classroom teacher and principal for general education and highly capable students. She also taught classes and workshops for districts and as an adjunct for Pacific Lutheran University. She is an SDB Fellow (Class of 1990) with The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.
Klapp completed doctoral studies in human learning, development and instruction at the University of British Columbia. Since 2003, he has taught the Starburst Program for Gifted and Talented Students from the Post Falls School District. His work experience includes administration of summer teaching-enrichment programs. Klapp teaches classes such as Strategies and Instructional Models for Challenging Bright Students, Educational Psychology, Educational Research, and Milestones in Education.
Mahoney has worked as a middle school classroom teacher for language arts and social studies, as well as for gifted education enrichment programs, for 11 years in both Port Angeles and Cheney, Wash. She spent three years as an instructional coach responsible for the implementation of an inclusion model for elementary highly capable students in the Cheney School District. After obtaining her administrative certification, she served as Cheney’s district assessment and humanities curriculum coordinator. Most recently, she became the principal of Betz Elementary, in Cheney. She earned her undergraduate degree in secondary English education from Eastern Washington University, which also awarded her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in gifted education.
Brandi Maynard, Ed.D.
Driven by her passion for technology and a hunger for learning, Maynard desires to offer the most cutting-edge resources in the area of gifted and talented education and technology integration. In 2002, Maynard built a K-8 virtual gifted program model, the first of its kind in a K12 Virtual Academy. She shares strategies for technology innovation, teaching gifted students, and teaching in an online environment. Maynard has been a gifted teacher since 1997. She says that teaching at Whitworth was like “coming home,” as she completed her MIT in gifted and talented learners here in 2002.
Kathryn Picanco, Ed.D.
Picanco is the director of the Whitworth Center for Gifted Education & Professional Development. She is an experienced classroom teacher, district coordinator, consultant and instructor in the areas of differentiation and gifted education. A Spokane native, Picanco earned her B.A. from Santa Clara University, and her M.Ed. in elementary education and Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from Washington State University. She taught fourth and fifth grade prior to becoming the district differentiation specialist and gifted and talented education coordinator for the Saratoga Union School District, in Saratoga, Calif. Picanco regularly taught coursework in the field of gifted education at the University of Santa Cruz Extension and at Santa Clara University before moving back to the Spokane area and joining the faculty of Whitworth University. Her areas of research interest include differentiated instruction, environmental and sustainability education, and co-teaching in the student-teaching internship. Picanco teaches the New Directions in Gifted Education, Strategies and Models for Challenging Bright Students, Differentiating Instruction for Highly Capable Students, and Exceptional Learners and Differentiated Instruction courses.
Williams co-instructs the Jan Term class New Directions in Gifted Education. She has also taught Teaching the Gifted Underachiever and Developing Curriculum. Prior to that, Williams worked on the Washington state Highly Capable Working Group to make recommendations to the legislature on gifted education in basic education. She earned both her master’s, with an emphasis in gifted, and her specialty endorsement at Whitworth. She spent a number of years teaching in extremely high-achieving private schools in California. She currently works at Mountainside Middle School, in the Mead School District, where she teaches math to eighth graders.