Acclaimed NSCC Parent Educator Val Donato Dies

Val Donato, full-time faculty and former Parent Education coordinator at the College, passed away at her home on Sunday, April 21, after a courageous battle with cancer. She continued teaching her online parent education class up until a few weeks before her death.

Val was hired as a part-time instructor at North in 1974 when her children attended the cooperative preschool at NSCC, which is still in existence today. She became a full-time, tenure-track faculty member in 1992 and achieved tenure three years later. Marcia Shaw, from Health and Human Services, shared the news of Val’s passing with the College campus, noting that Val touched many lives in the early childhood education/parent education field. “Children and their families were her lifelong passion.”

The announcement of Val’s passing prompted an outpouring of remembrances and appreciations by colleagues on campus and around the state:

Mark Mitsui, NSCC president, wrote: “Val was a moving force and respected professional in the field of parent education. Her dedication to her discipline and her students is well known and admired across the state and nation. She transformed the lives of many students and parents; and, by transforming their lives, she created a brighter future for generations of children and the communities where they grew up. Her influence was such that her legacy will span both time and distance. Our condolences go out to her family, and we also extend our thanks to them for sharing Val with us so generously for so many years.”

“In addition to all the extraordinary dedication that Val gave to the Parent Education program at North, Val was a leader in the statewide organization for parent education (OPEP),” noted Vice President for Instruction Mary Ellen O’Keeffe. “Her colleagues across the state sought out her expertise on policies that governed parent education programs. Val was also a wealth of information on resources to help us, as grandparents, give our children advice that empowered them in their parenting roles. Val was always eager to help. I will miss her honesty and commitment to parent education.”

Mary Margaret Brown, a part-time parent education faculty member, spoke of Val several weeks before she died:  “Her knowledge, experience, patience and ‘true grit’ have helped make the NSCC Parent Ed program the blue ribbon program it is today. I am aware of all the extra time and dedication she has given, not only to our program at NSCC, but to the Parent Education program and the Coop Preschool program at the state level…It was through her patience and guidance that I discovered my own strengths and satisfaction in working with the parents in our preschools.”

“I have known Val for the 19 years that I have been at North and always loved our interactions,” wrote Peter Lortz, dean of Math and Sciences. “I also was a student of hers, as both of my kids went through the NSCC coop system [formally known as the NSCC Cooperative Preschools]. In many ways, Val taught me how to be a father, and for that, I am ever grateful. Val’s sphere of influence in this community is tremendous and can’t ever be truly measured.”

Jack Bautsch, director of Institutional Effectiveness, started working at North in fall 1973, in the Home and Family Education division where Val taught. “From the start, Val was a fierce and tireless worker on behalf of parent education. The field has lost a champion, but her spirit lives on in the countless lives she touched — a reminder and exemplar of how one person with passion can do so much good.”

“I knew Val as member of the Executive Board of the Seattle Community Colleges Federation of Teachers (now AFT Seattle) way back in the mid-1990s,” said Ed Ciok. “As a union officer, Val put quality of education and service to students first. She taught me a lot about what it meant to be in a union.”

Val’s teaching was both face-to-face and online. Tom Braziunas, director of eLearning, remembers her as the first instructor he worked with when he came to the Distance Learning Office in 1997. “Val was a delight to work with – dedicated, tireless and compassionate with a great sense of life balance and humor. I loved her gentle and generous laugh…but it wouldn’t get you ‘off the hook’ if there was something that needed to be done for her students pronto!”

Tom continues, “Together with Betsy Bird and then Sandra Looper, Val taught the fully online Special Topics for Parents of Young Children nearly every quarter for the past 16 years. With about 20 students each quarter, that means Val taught more than 1280 online learners who came from dozens of countries (Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Taiwan, just to name a few) on nearly every continent, as well as all across the U.S. Val touched lives and brought parents and caretakers of young children together, ‘building North’s community’ across the world.”

“I will miss Val and her nudges toward always being active toward better things,” commented physics faculty member Davene Eyres.

In September 2007, the NSCC Health and Human Services Division created the Val Donato Award to recognize dedicated, hardworking, and outstanding parent education faculty members. To make a donation in Val Donato’s memory, please send contributions to the Education Fund via Paypal or visit the Education Fund Web pages.

Posted on: May 9th, 2013 at 14:07:57

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