Front of the Class

Tackling the Teacher Shortage

In high school, Mark Bibian’s literature teacher, Mrs. Johnston, inspired him to consider a career in teaching.

Bibian recalls reading Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” a novel from 1818.

“She encouraged us to view the world differently and relate it to events that were current,” says the Cal State Fullerton junior. “I want to show my students what makes literature timeless and relevant, just as Mrs. Johnston did for me in my adolescence. Her passion for literature was reflected in the way she taught it to her students.”

In his sophomore year of college, Bibian became an English major and committed to becoming a high school English teacher. Today, he is on an academic pathway to earn his bachelor’s degree, while also taking the prerequisites for the University’s single subject credential program in English. Completing the prerequisite courses will enable Bibian to gain competency in the subject matter and transition into the one-year teacher preparation program after he graduates.

By becoming a teacher, Bibian also will help address the shortage of teachers needed for California’s classrooms. The state — and nation — are facing a teacher shortage, mainly due to the recession, severe school district budget cuts, teacher layoffs and retirements.

School districts statewide projected the need to hire more than 22,000 teachers in 2016-17, yet only about 15,000 new teaching credentials were issued, according to the California Department of Education.

“At Cal State Fullerton, we’re taking the approach of not just filling the need for more teachers,” says Lisa Kirtman, dean of the College of Education. “We want to make sure these teaching positions are filled with strong, qualified teachers — educators who are prepared to be excellent teachers, who believe in just, equitable and inclusive education, and who are skilled in integrating technology in the classroom.”

Addressing the Shortage

To tackle this workforce gap and recruit and prepare quality pre-K through 12th-grade teachers, the College of Education is deploying a range of strategies and innovative programs. These include strengthening recruitment efforts to high school and undergraduate students; promoting a clear academic path to teacher preparation programs; offering professional development workshops to boost teacher retention; providing student-teacher mentorship opportunities; and increasing the number of underrepresented students in the teaching profession.

“We’re trying to identify students earlier in the pipeline — even before they come to Cal State Fullerton — to remove barriers to becoming a teacher,” says Aimee Nelson, director of the Center for Careers in Teaching. “The pathway to the teaching profession is unique in California, so we must connect students early with support and guidance.” Typically, teacher candidates in California must first earn a bachelor’s degree and then enter a postbaccalaureate teacher preparation program — often a five- to seven-year process — to teach at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.

To address the challenges facing teacher recruitment and retention, the Center for Careers in Teaching conducts routine outreach and recruitment efforts at local high schools and community college campuses. “This approach gives students a more detailed picture of the teaching profession and the time to make decisions about their future career path,” Nelson says.

It also provides incoming freshmen and undergraduates with information about prerequisites they need to complete for a seamless transition into one of the University’s teacher preparation programs. A new mentorship program also pairs undergraduates across all majors with local veteran educators so students can gain insight and exposure to classroom teaching before entering a credential program.

Finding ways to help students prepare and pay for the state tests required to enter a teaching credential program and offering financial aid options also are some of the solutions the college is exploring to help recruit future teachers, notes Kirtman. Additionally, the dean has started her own personal recruitment efforts by giving informal presentations to campus student clubs and organizations.

“I want undergraduates to know about the great rewards in teaching,” she explains.

Diversity in the Classroom

Another pressing issue facing education is the lack of diversity in the profession, Kirtman adds. Cal State Fullerton is one of 10 U.S. institutions participating in the Black & Hispanic/Latino Male Teachers Initiative, part of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s “Networked Improvement Community” aimed at improving the nation’s schools. The center’s goal is to recruit 25 percent more black and Hispanic men in the University’s teacher credential programs by fall 2017.

“With the number of students of color in California and Orange County schools continuing to grow, we need to focus on recruiting and preparing a diverse teaching force,” says Nelson. “This, in turn, can inspire and draw more underrepresented students into teaching careers.”

Through this effort, underrepresented students like Bibian are receiving mentorship from black and Hispanic teachers in local classrooms to foster professional networks in school communities, as well as deepen their commitment to enter the teaching workforce.

“As a child, I noticed there weren’t very many males in the field of teaching — and in particular, there were not many Latino males,” adds Bibian, who is of Mexican descent. “It felt almost like an obligation for me to step up and enter the profession so students will actually have a teacher who looks like them.”

Equally as important, Bibian adds, “As a teacher, I want to have the same positive impact in the lives of my students as my teachers did on mine.”

Originally published by Titan Magazine:

Fulbright Scholar to Study Return of Student Migrants to Mexico

To further his research on immigrant students, Julián Jefferies, assistant professor of literacy and reading education, has been selected as a Fulbright Scholar. Jefferies will conduct research in Guadalajara, Mexico, focusing on the experiences of adolescent migrants who have returned to Mexico, their reintegration into school, and teacher perceptions of these students.

“I hope to learn more about what these adolescents are experiencing in schools and how they’re adapting to a new life in Mexico,” said Jefferies. “It has been a lifelong goal to be able to collaborate with researchers from Mexico on this topic.”

Jefferies will spend six months collaborating with scholars at the Universidad de Guadalajara, beginning in January 2018. His research also will seek to better understand the consequences of immigration policies in the U.S. and implications for public policy regarding how teacher education can better serve these students in Mexico and the U.S. He also will create curricula, lesson plans and resources that high school teachers in Mexico can use in order to better serve these students.

While in Mexico, Jefferies also plans to strengthen relationships with Universidad de Guadalajara for CSUF’s Guadalajara Transnational Migration Program, which he directs. This study abroad program at the Mexican university offers CSUF students the opportunity to engage in service-learning related to Latino/a immigration issues to the U.S.

Jefferies arrived in the United States as an undocumented student from Argentina, became a permanent resident in 2010, and three years later, a U.S. citizen. His work as a Fulbright Scholar is relevant to the immigration issues at the forefront of today’s national discussions.

“This is an important time for a scientific study of immigration,” said Jefferies, who earned his doctorate in education from Boston College. “We need a more humane and rational description of why immigrants move and how U.S. policy affects their labor and human rights.”

Originally published by CSUF News Service:

Titan Voice Lisa Kirtman: Building Partnerships to Close the Opportunity Gap

I grew up believing that education makes all things possible — that through education all students have an equal opportunity to learn about art, science, music, math and the world around them. My teachers taught me how to be an independent critical thinker. I learned from my mother, a teacher herself, that teachers also teach their students about working hard, being self-confident, and believing in their abilities to succeed in whatever path they choose to take. As a result, I’ve always believed education to be the great equalizer, giving me as much of an opportunity to succeed as any other student.

But things changed for me when I began to teach sixth grade in Southern California. The inequalities that I saw at the schools where I worked, juxtaposed against the bright eyes, smiling faces, and eager minds of my students made me want more for them and made me want to fight for them. Serving as a teacher of primarily low-income students of color made me realize that all educational opportunities are not equal.

Since my first year as a teacher I, like many others, have tried to figure out ways to fix the inequities. These inequalities still exist and still drive what I do every day. As I finish my 16th year at Cal State Fullerton and my first year as the dean of the College of Education, I know we have and will continue to address these issues. One way that we strive to close the opportunity gap is through the continual pursuit of a wide array of partnerships.

Together, with our community partners, we are helping to close the opportunity gap in schools.

Here are a few:

The CSUF College of Education partners with the university’s Division of Information Technology and the Placenta-Yorba Linda Unified School District to present the iSTEM program. This program brings science, engineering and technology through the use of iPads to students who would not normally have these opportunities. Since its launch, the science scores of the fifth-grade students participating have nearly doubled.

The iSTEM program also has led to the creation of a STEM Club with more than 75 district students participating, as well as 925 students in various grades spending time each week learning how to write code for computer programs.

The college’s SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Center for Creativity and Critical Thinking, in partnership with the Sergerstrom Center for the Arts and numerous districts in Orange County, have helped to ensure the arts are offered in our county’s elementary school classrooms. To this end, we have worked with over 400 teachers and more than 400 future teachers in these areas.

Working with the Anaheim Union High School District, we provide a Summer Language Academy to newcomers. Last summer, we provided language instruction to 73 ninth- and 10th-graders. In addition, high school sophomores from across the district participated in a four-week program to assist them in succeeding in school. These students speak 12 languages from 15 different countries. During the end of the program event, students spoke of finally feeling connected at schools and believing that they would graduate from high school because not only do they have a better grasp of English, but they now have friends. This summer, the effort will be expanded to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District to involve even more students.

In addition, CSUF’s Center for Autism — housed in the university’s College of Education and College of and Health and Human Development — partners with Chapman University, UC Irvine and the Family Autism Network to provide an annual social event for adults with autism and their caregivers. One parent commented that this event was the first time she had ever seen her adult son dance. The social offered a day where her son had fun in a community while she was able to network and connect with others. The free event welcomed more than 250 participants last year.

There are many more partnerships that I have not mentioned, and I know that we still have a lot of work to do, yet we are making strides together to make a difference. There have been moments throughout my journey that have made me pause, made me hesitate, made me doubt, but they have not stopped me from taking the next step because of the foundation I received in school. Through our ongoing partnerships with the Orange County community, my hope is that we will close the opportunity gap for students so that all students have an opportunity to succeed.

Lisa Kirtman became dean of Cal State Fullerton’s College of Education in 2016, having served three years as the college’s associate dean, as well as chair of the Elementary and Bilingual Education Department and acting chair of Literary and Reading Education. She taught in elementary and middle school before joining the CSUF faculty in 2000, the same year she earned her doctorate in educational policy from UC Berkeley. She also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCLA.

Originally published in the Orange County Register, please click here to view original posting.

The Emma E. Holmes Faculty Fellowship

The Emma E. Holmes Faculty Fellowship provides a mechanism for renewing faculty engagement in the field, by supporting a 3-unit course release that enables tenured professors to spend time working side-by-side with educators in local p-12 schools, community colleges, or other community agencies. The Fellowship aims to strengthen the College’s commitment to faculty professional development and to our community partnerships by providing an opportunity to collaborate and share expertise that will inform and improve our practices. Priority will be given to work that aligns with college priorities and that is completed in high need schools and communities.

Click here for more information and to view the past recipients.

Extraordinary’ Educator Honored With Wang Excellence Award

Ruth Yopp-Edwards
2017 Wang Family Excellence Award

Ruth Yopp-Edwards is the 12th CSUF faculty member to receive the prestigious CSU award. Her accomplishments include:

  • Collaborating with local K-12 district partners on such efforts as Project CREATE and preparing experienced teachers to mentor new teachers to ensure successful first years in the classroom;
  • Developing CSUF elementary and bilingual education programs and courses;
  • Co-leading CSUF’s $2.5 million National Science Foundation project to advance the teaching of mathematics in underserved schools;
  • Helping to revise the California Standards for the Teaching Profession;
  • Contributing to the CSU Preparing a New Generation of Educators for California Initiative to support the transformation of teacher preparation programs across the system to meet the demands of new math and science standards, and the CSU Transitional Kindergarten Project.

For Ruth H. Yopp-Edwards, teaching has been at the core of her being throughout her 40-year career as an educator.

The Cal State Fullerton education professor and former elementary school teacher is a role model and mentor to scores of students, as well as future and veteran teachers. Her passion is creating and transforming learning experiences to prepare California’s teachers to meet the needs of all students.

“Teaching is rewarding, it’s meaningful, it deepens my understanding of and appreciation for the human experience in all its diversity,” said the CSUF alumna. “It allows me to learn every single day and to share that adventure with others.”

Because of her dedication and contributions to her academic discipline, Yopp-Edwards has been selected to receive California State University’s 2017 Wang Family Excellence Award. She is one of five recipients from the CSU’s 23-campus system — four faculty members and one administrator — who will be recognized at the Jan. 31 CSU Board of Trustees meeting.

“I am surrounded by dedicated colleagues who contribute greatly to student learning, to the betterment of society and to the advancement of their disciplines,” said Yopp-Edwards, who will receive a $20,000 cash award, established through a gift from CSU Trustee Emeritus Stanley T. Wang. “I am grateful to collaborate with them, proud to work beside them and surprised to be honored with this award.”

In her nomination of Yopp-Edwards for the prestigious systemwide honor, Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García emphasized the professor’s “sustained record of the highest levels of achievement in teaching, scholarship and service. Her impact on students, the University, the profession, and the local and broader community has been nothing short of extraordinary.”

Lisa Kirtman, dean of the College of Education, offered additional words of praise, calling Yopp-Edwards a leader, scholar and colleague who is deeply committed to the education of young learners.

“She has mentored, equipped and empowered CSUF students to become successful teachers and educational leaders, who, in turn, have touched the lives of thousands of preschool- to 12th-grade students.”

Yopp-Edwards, professor of elementary and bilingual education, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology followed by a master’s degree in education-curriculum and instruction at CSUF. She began teaching upper elementary grades in the Brea-Olinda Unified School District in 1977 and was selected as a 1985 Orange County Teacher of the Year. She earned her doctorate in education from UC Riverside, joined CSUF in 1986 as a full-time lecturer, and the next year, she became a tenure-track faculty member. Over the past three decades, Yopp-Edwards has played a significant role in advancing teacher education at CSUF and across the CSU system.

“Dr. Yopp-Edwards has partnered with, and guided campus, community and CSU colleagues in this high calling, and her scholarship has helped to shape education policy and practice throughout California,” noted Kimberly A. Norman, chair and professor of elementary and bilingual education.

During her tenure, Yopp-Edwards has received external grant awards and contracts totaling about $10 million, in addition to about $2 million from the Chancellor’s Office for CSUF’s Teacher Recruitment Project. She has co-authored six books, authored or co-authored 41 articles and presented more than 100 papers or workshops at professional conferences. She also serves on several national and international editorial advisory boards for professional journals. In addition, she has received numerous accolades, including inductee to the California Reading Association Hall of Fame and CSUF’s Jewel Plummer Cobb Diversity in Education Award, and is a former chair of CSUF’s Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education.

Her research centers on literacy development, which she points out is fundamental to success in school, to lifelong learning and to thoughtful civic participation: “It’s crucial that we understand how best to support children’s development as readers, writers and language users. Opportunities to explore powerful literature that reflects diverse perspectives and experiences are key to promoting readers’ motivation, engagement and success with text, as well as their understanding of the world.”

One accomplishment she is most proud of is research she conducted on the use of nonfiction books in early childhood classrooms with her identical twin sister, Hallie Yopp Slowik, CSUF professor of elementary and bilingual education and a 2002 Wang Family Excellence Award recipient. They contributed to a growing body of evidence that young children’s opportunities with this type of text were very few, both in schools and at home.

“I am pleased our work helped bring attention to this important component of early literacy instruction and to a shift in literacy education in the last decade,” she said.


See original story at


Teachers to be Honored for Making a Difference Inside the Classroom

Cal State Fullerton’s College of Education hosts its annual “Honor an Educator” event Sunday, March 5, to recognize local K-12 teachers and other educators who have made a difference in the lives of their students and communities.

The 6-8 p.m. dinner and ceremony is open to the public and raises scholarship funds for the College of Education’s teacher preparation and graduate students. In addition to the educators honored, the college recognizes its partners in education.

The 2017 “Distinguished Honorees” are:

  • Distinguished Education Leadership Award — Joan S. Bissell, director of teacher education and public school programs,
 Office of the Chancellor, California State University;
  • Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award — Heather Bosworth, CSUF alumna, ‘06 ‘09 (B.S. child and adolescent development, M.S. education-reading), principal of Sycamore Elementary School, Orange Unified School District;
  • Distinguished Education Partner Award — Kristin Crellin, CSUF alumna, ’95 (B.A. history), vice president of school and community relations, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union;
  • Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award — Leslie Hiatt, CSUF alumna, ’88, ’89 (multiple subject credential, M.S. education-elementary curriculum and instruction) a fifth grade teacher at Bell Gardens Elementary School, Montebello Unified School District;
  • Distinguished Education Excellence Award — Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District; and
  • Distinguished Education Community Partner Award — Teacher Created Materials, an Orange County company that publishes supplemental educational resources in all areas of the curriculum.

Tickets are $55 each; $125 for two tickets and recognition of one honoree. Tickets and sponsorships for the dinner and ceremony are available until Wednesday, Feb. 1, and can be purchased online. For more information, contact Sandra Chavez or 657-278-7617.

– Originally posted on CSUF News

From Our Home To Yours! COE Webinar Series 2017

Join us for a series of live webinars. Find out more about new, interesting, and engaging education topics. It’s easy to join in.  On the day of the webinar, just click on the link and you’re in. Connect with us and explore doctoral programs, life abroad, new technology websites, strategies to engage all learners, LinkedIn profiles, the CSUF Alumni Association, resumes and teaching in higher education. From our home to yours!


Click here for the webinar series:

Welcome Dianna Lopez, College of Education’s New Assistant Dean

Dianna has served undergraduate and graduate higher education students interested in educational careers for eight and half years. She has served in leadership capacities by directing the student services office for the Liberal Studies teacher preparation program and the Orange County extension campus at Azusa Pacific University. She earned both her B.A. in Human Development with an emphasis in Teaching and an M.A. in Organizational Leadership at Azusa Pacific University. As a first-generation college student, Dianna is passionate about supporting higher education students holistically by developing programs and services that foster their academic and personal success. She enjoys serving as a mentor and advocating for underrepresented populations by expanding educational opportunities and fostering a student thriving environment.

Rick Morris Classroom Management Workshop

Sponsored by the Center for Careers in Teaching

Educator, author, and inventor Rick Morris is a specialist in the field of student management, motivation, and engagement. Rick’s presentation will inspire you to incorporate his exciting, innovative management tools into your own classroom. This was his last workshop at CSUF. If you missed this amazing opportunity, click on the link below to see the highlights!

Click here for video

8th Annual Maywood Education Fair

The graduate students of the Master of Science in Higher Education (MSHE) program at California State University, Fullerton, in coordination with the College of Education and the Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership, hosted the 8th Annual Maywood Education Fair at Saint Rose of Lima School on Saturday, October 15, 2016 with over 600 attendees.

Maywood is a largely Latino, under-served, low-income community. Approximately 48% of students from Maywood and surrounding southeast cities graduate from high school, and of those, only a small percentage continue on to pursue higher education.

The Maywood Education Fair is an opportunity to demonstrate to high school students and their families how obtaining a college degree is possible and awards numerous scholarships to outstanding and deserving high school graduates.  MSHE students raised thousands of dollars for scholarships AT&T donated $15K in scholarship this year.  Over the years, the Maywood Education Fair has gained credibility within the community and provides awareness regarding college admissions, financial aid, and other resources to the residents of Maywood and surrounding cities. One attendee shared, “the Maywood Education Fair encouraged me in my decision [to attend college] because it exposed me to the many opportunities our world has to offer. Although sometimes money can be an issue, there are people who want to help.”

A survey of the participant experience at the fair found that while 83% of respondents reported interest in attending or helping a family member go to college, 73% of respondents worry that the cost of college might make it impossible for them or others in their family to attend. However, through their experience at the fair, 77% of respondents felt they learned about key financial resources they could use to help themselves or their family get to college. For one high school student in particular, the fair encouraged her to “choose different colleges and not keep my options small”.  The Maywood Education Fair allows Titans to encourage other communities to reach higher.

The Maywood Quad-Leads this year were from MSHE Cohort 8: Victor Joseph Atilano, Ebony Freeman, Jennifer Gutierrez, Julia Walker.

Here is a video of the event.

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