Hey golfers! Come play in the 28th annual W. Shelburne Brown Golf Classic

on Monday, March 21 at Sycuan Resort.  Tee time is 1 p.m. for the 18-hole,

four-person scramble format.  The cost is $195 per golfer and includes a steak sandwich

lunch, banquet dinner, awards, and tee prizes. Join us to support PLNU athletics!

For more information, visit, or call (619) 849-2265!



Office of Community & Government Relations

Bill Jager is the principal of Columbia Elementary School in Bakersfield. Before he was a principal, he taught the first autism class in Kern County, where the number of students with autism has grown by 500 percent in the last 10 years.

Bill knows all about the need to give children with autism a great education. He and his wife, Carrie, also teach an autism class at PLNU’s regional center in Bakersfield.

At Bill’s school, where Carrie is also the special education director, students with ASDs have opportunities to get help with struggles like language and social skills. For example, Columbia holds a “film festival” once a week where students watch clips of unusual social situations from TV shows and discuss what people in the scene must be thinking. For students with ASDs, “theory of mind,” or the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, is difficult, so getting perspective on what others are thinking is necessary to develop social skills.

Columbia’s resident speech and language therapist also accompanies children with ASDs on the playground. When a difficult social situation arises, he walks through the process with students.

Bill also helps students with autism individually. One of his students is terrified of fire drills, so Bill created a “social story,” a short story about a particular child that helps put a challenging situation into visual perspective. The story simply states that there are fire drills, gives reasons why they are important, and outlines what the ideal response to them would be. Bill meets with the student the day before each fire drill.

It’s no surprise that parents of students with ASDs are often referred to Columbia.

“I see our staff as detectives asking ‘what are these children trying to tell us?’” said Bill.

Bill says it’s the greatest reward when together they discover the ways they can communicate.


Sarah (Wilson) (07) Reed, who earned her bachelor’s in liberal studies and master’s in education from PLNU, teaches 11 students from Kindergarten to third grade in her moderate/severe special education class. Four of those students have diagnosed autism. For those four students, finding balance is key.

“Most of my students with autism have sensory integration disorder… their bodies need help achieving balance. Without balance, it’s difficult for them to focus,” said Reed.

Reed will help these students receive the sensory input they need by squeezing their arms, legs, or fingers so they can concentrate. She uses a special brush to achieve the same integration. Other students need more sensory input, so they will push on a wall or carry heavy objects. One of her students wears headphones throughout the day to help minimize anxiety and sensory overload. Reed also uses the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).

“Students use icons to describe what they want, which will eventually and hopefully lead to speaking,” she explained.

Even with recent budget cuts and the dissolving of the autism team at her school, Reed says her students continue to get a “fabulous education in a positive environment.”

“My students have access to a myriad of resources onsite, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, and speech therapists who are on call if I ever need help,” said Reed.

Reed has a heart for her work, passion that is key to the success of her students.

“The greatest joy [of teaching] is finding out what my students enjoy… Seeing a child with autism when they know we ‘get’ even a piece of them makes all the schedules, tantrums, and diapers worthwhile.”



The Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC), under the direction of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), provides a learning environment for both children and university students on PLNU’s campus, a dynamic that Susan Rogers, director of the ECLC, calls a “classroom within a classroom.”

PLNU students taking a class in the development of the special needs child give one-on-one support to children with autism in the ECLC. Since children with autism tend to cling to organization and order, they may have individualized schedule boards or cards that have pictures or words lining up the day’s activities.

A poster board on the wall of the ECLC is covered with pictures of the different activities in the classroom. As a way of augmented communication, a student with autism can point to the various pictures to indicate where he or she would like to play. One boy in the class has a plastic keychain attached to his schedule that bends and swivels – a coping mechanism for sensory integration.

In Tamara Heinz’s 3-year-old class, she has a “sensory box,” a play table filled with objects of different textures that help sooth and perhaps ground the children to take in different stimuli.

“Giving a child with autism something tactile is just a calming tool,” said Heinz. “Giving children tools for transitions helps since change can be hard for them.”

Children can also jump on the trampoline or run through the trees outside the classroom if they need to move. These are just a few examples of the different avenues the ECLC provides for children to feel more comfortable and to listen and participate more on their own terms.

Children in the ECLC are not the only ones being impacted by a rich learning environment. FCS students get 100 hours of classroom time at the ECLC, giving them priceless field experience for their future careers.

“Many of our students have been inspired to become special education teachers,” said Kay Wilder, Ph.D., chair of the FCS department. “Many others now have the knowledge to identify a child with a learning disorder, which is helpful in many different situations.”

“It’s a real ministry,” said Rogers. “Our students will be helping children and families for the rest of their lives.”



 The Point Loma Singers (PLS) took a nine-day, 2,000-mile trip through Western Canada, Idaho, and Washington over spring break, March 6-13. “We sang in many churches and at Ambrose University College (the Nazarene school in Canada), including my hometown of Red Deer,” said director Keith Pedersen, D.M.A.“We also sang for my 102-year-old grandmother. We saw deer, elk, mountain sheep, and a moose, and we had a snowball fight in the Canadian Rockies.”

An unexpected adventure happened while they were on their way to Banff, Alberta. The choir’s vans got stuck at the bottom of a hill due to snowy roads, and they were stranded for three hours in sub-zero degree temperatures.

PLS members stayed positive, and a farmer was eventually able to clear the road for them, making departure possible. With a good sense of adventure and hearts brimming with positivity and praise, the PLS tour was full of “marvelous experiences,” said Pedersen.

Music, Worship Ministries

San Diego leaders received actionable economic analysis recommendation on how to move forward in an ever-changing economy at the 2011 Fermanian Business & Economic Institute's (FBEI) annual economic outlook forum, "Sustaining the Expansion." Dr. Lynn Reaser, FBEI's chief economist, presented her economic forecast for the national, state, and regional economy. 

In addition, George Chamberlin, executive editor of the San Diego Daily Transcript, chaired a panel discussion of industry leaders, including Cyrus Mirsaidi, CEO of Molecular Response; Mary Lewis, CFO of the City of San Diego; and Tom Wetherald, director of business development & strategic planning for General Dynamics NASSCO. They each gave an analysis of their organizations and industries, particularly relating to the San Diego economy.


According to the outlook, 2011 will be a year in which...

  • The U.S. economy gains momentum, with the private sector seizing the growth baton.
  • Job growth will be double the pace of 2010, although the drop in the unemployment rate will be slow.
  • High commodity prices will affect both consumers and businesses, but overall inflation will remain in check.
  • Interest rates will move higher and stocks will outperform bonds. 
  • California will parallel the nation with better economic performance in 2011. 
  • San Diego will see moderate, but broad-based, gains.

But we also believe that...

  • All levels of government—federal, state, and local—must address budget deficits in order to achieve a sustainable economic expansion.



To read an electronic version of the entire economic outlook publication, click here.

To learn more about FBEI events, click here.