Vashon College offers new courses in ethics and communications

Vashon College is offering two new courses — one about ethical decision-making, the other about effective communication — taught by a former probation officer with a long history of using the courses to help people change their lives.

Donna McDermott, known on the Island for her award-winning Icelandic Sheepdogs, moved to Vashon six years ago. Since then, she’s been flying frequently to Los Angeles and elsewhere in California to offer her courses, teaching them to probation departments and agencies at all levels.

But both courses have relevance to Vashon, she says, and she’s now hoping to play a larger role on the Island by offering classes that she believes can help Islanders make changes in their personal lives as well as in the larger community.

“Both of these classes are pertinent to where we are on Vashon right now. How do we understand each other? How do we make decisions?” McDermott said.

“My hope is that I can give something to the community in terms of tools they can use to deal with some things like the growing drug problems and the miscommunication in some of our committees … so that this community has all the ingredients it needs to move forward,” she added.

“Ethical Decision-Mak-ing: Creating Positive Out-comes,” slated to begin Wednesday, June 6, will ask students to explore how they make decisions in their lives, especially in stressful situations or when immediate action is required. Students will be asked to read the highly acclaimed novel “The Reader,” about a woman in post-war Germany prosecuted for her alleged role in the death of 300 Jewish women during World War II.

The Vashon Theatre will show the film at noon on June 3, with a discussion following, in support of the course, McDermott said.

“Competent Communi-cation & Learning Styles,” which begins Thursday, June 7, explores the different ways people communicate and manage information and is designed to improve interpersonal interactions.

Each course entails four two-hour sessions, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Ethical decision-making is $100; effective communication is $110. Both courses provide continuing education credits for Vashon public school teachers, according to Pamn Aspiri, administrator for Vashon College.

“We’re very excited about them,” she said.

McDermott, for her part, said she’d be happy if she never flew into Los Angeles again. “The longer I live here, the less and less I want to go to California,” she said.

Vashon, she added, “is such an amazing community. … But we have a lot of folks who are conservative when it comes to taking action, and I think it’s because they don’t know a safe way to do it. I can help with that.”


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