Suzan Porter

Lecturer, Mathematics

M.i.T., The Evergreen State College; B.A. The Evergreen State College; B.A. St. John's College

Ernsdorff Center 137
5000 Abbey Way SE
Lacey, WA 98503


All guests who arrive should be received as Christ, for he himself will say, 'I was a stranger and you took me in'. (The Rule of St. Benedict, 53.1)

I am a fourth-generation Californian from the Central Coast region, on my mother’s side. As my father pursued higher education, after his service in the Navy, he transported our little family far from our California environment to live near our paternal grandparents in central Mississippi and then south Louisiana. I spent my teen years at and graduated from West Jefferson High School, just across the river from New Orleans.

Thinking at first that college was optional and wanting to go into business, I moved back to the Santa Barbara area and worked my way up in retail accounting. In my late twenties, I dropped that career to enroll in St. John’s College in northern New Mexico, famous for a rigorous, non-optional, Great Books curriculum where every year students tackle math, literature, science, philosophy, music, history and the arts.

I earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in 1978 from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM, and an additional Bachelor of Arts in Francophone Studies in 1996, from The Evergreen State College (TESC) in Olympia, WA.­­. My graduate Master’s in Teaching degree was also earned at TESC, after which I qualified for Washington State secondary endorsements in Science (Physics), Math, English and French in the K-12 system.

After graduate school, I taught math and science at middle- and high-schools in the South Puget Sound, from Lakewood to Centralia. I eventually left full-time secondary education to research how to transfer the insights I had gained in K-12 education, to teaching math to adult learners. Just when I thought I might return to the K-12 classroom, the ELD of Saint Martin's University recruited me to help in building and teaching Air Force unit classes at JBLM/McChord Field.

I am currently a part of Saint Martin’s Extended Learning Division (ELD), a member of the ELD online education team, and I’m an avid practitioner of SMU’s online Moodle course- management system. I am lucky to work as I do, helping like-minded individuals realize their next challenge in higher education and in their lives: the further development of their personal and academic goals within a community of learners.

Select publications

"Learning Science through Process Writing", (published Master's Thesis, TESC)


Distinguished Faculty Award, JBLM, Academic Year 2014.

Areas of interest

  1. Applying what I know about emotions and cognition to develop a pedagogical approach to help adult students build confidence and resilience in their academic endeavors.
  2. Integrating our urban garden harvest with kitchen crafts to healthfully sustain our family through the seasons and nurture our guests.
  3. The history, culture and science (especially lichens) of our Pacific NW region, most certainly Mt. Rainier.