Educator Awarded Fulbright to Study Tibetan Students in India


Nawang B. Phuntsog has received a 2017-18 Fulbright-Nehru Academic & Professional Excellence Award to conduct educational research in Dharamsala, a city in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh — and home to Tibetans living in exile, including the Dalai Lama.

Tibetans have been living in India since the 1950s, when families fled the occupation of Tibet by China. The Indian educational system has allowed the creation of a separate schooling system for Tibetan children to ensure that it is educationally relevant for Tibetan people living outside their homeland, noted Phuntsog, associate professor of elementary and bilingual education. This educational system has grown from serving 50 children in 1960 to around 24,000 students in 73 schools scattered all throughout India.

“This is an astounding achievement for a community that has lived displaced for over six decades,” said Phuntsog, whose host institution is the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.

In school, children learn about Tibet history and culture, and recite the Tibetan national anthem to evoke patriotism and nationalism, Phuntsog added. These teachings and rituals are reenacted to ensure that Tibetan identity is “sustained in the hearts and minds of these school children.”

As a research fellow, he will explore dispositions, skills and attitudes associated with the cultivation of a “compassionate schooling culture,” taught to Tibetan children, and how this may lead to “altruism,” described as the need to embrace others “as more precious than one’s self.”

“This study is based on the premise that when compassion becomes the foundation of socialization, social justice matters are addressed empathetically and responsively — from local to global levels,” Phuntsog explained.

Phuntsog leaves July 1 and will spend about six weeks interviewing teachers, principals and education ministers. The second phase of the study, to be conducted in June 2018, will involve classroom visitations, artifact collection, student interviews and additional teacher interviews.

In 2011-12, Phuntsog received a Fulbright award, where he studied the effects of heritage language on math and science achievements of sixth-grade Tibetan children in India.

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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.


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CSUF Faculty Lead Transitional Kindergarten Project

College of Education faculty members are leading a California State University project to prepare future teachers to teach in transitional kindergarten classrooms. CSUF is receiving a $75,000 award, made possible through funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to the CSU Chancellor’s Office, to develop instructional materials for CSU teacher preparation programs. Elementary and bilingual education faculty involved are Kimberly A. Norman, project coordinator, Lisa D. Kirtman, Hallie Yopp Slowik, Ruth Yopp-Edwards, and Sharon V. Chappell, with Shelia Arnold, Orange County Department of Education. The Kindergarten Readiness Act changed the required birth date for admission to kindergarten and first grade from Dec. 1 to Sept. 1 by 2014-15, and established a transitional kindergarten program.

Welcome to the Elementary and Bilingual Education Department

Equity and Excellence, Community and Social Change, and Knowledge and Wisdom – these are the themes that guide every program and decision at the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education Department.

Our web site features thorough information about all of the programs that we have to offer, as well as information on what you’ll need to join us!

Promoting K-12 Learning Through the Arts


Future teacher and alumnus Carlos Sanchez recently used skills he learned in Cal State Fullerton’s teacher preparation program in a classroom of his own.

Sanchez and three other multiple-subject credential alumni were hired by Girls Inc. of Orange County to teach a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in the organization’s Eureka! summer enrichment program. College of Education professors developed the arts-infused STEM curriculum for the Costa Mesa-based nonprofit that provides girl-focused programs. Continue reading

Future Science, K-6 Teachers: Innovative CSUF Teaching Programs Graduate Quality Educators


By Debra Cano Ramos

May 18, 2012 :: No. 189

To prepare more high-quality elementary school teachers and science educators for California’s schools, Cal State Fullerton is graduating the first classes of students from two new and innovative efforts: the combined credential/master’s in education and B.A. in earth science.

Students graduating from both programs will be participating in this weekend’s commencement exercises Saturday, May 19, and today’s (May 18) teacher credential ceremony at 5 p.m. in Titan Gym. Continue reading

A Fulbright Quintet: Scholars Teach, Conduct Research Abroad


By Mimi Ko Cruz and Debra Cano Ramos

April 3, 2012

Five Cal State Fullerton faculty members are busy conducting or planning the research or teaching activities that have won them Fulbright grants for international scholarship.

The U.S.-sponsored international educational exchange program to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries” awards about 7,500 new grants annually, involving more than 155 countries. This year’s grants will see one professor complete his research in India while four other Titan faculty members travel to Japan, Korea and Poland. Continue reading

Teaching Math Is Elementary: Tutoring Program Helps Young Students Excel

California State Fullerton teacher credential student Kayla Magill uses candy M&Ms to teach fractions and percentages to elementary school students struggling with learning math.

Using the colorful candy makes learning fun, and more importantly, helps reinforce math concepts of comparing fractions to percentages.

“The M&Ms make it easier for the young students to learn these math concepts because it allows them to count the color and use it in a fraction,” said Magill, who wants to teach elementary students. “It’s the greatest feeling as a teacher to see their faces light up when they understand what we’re teaching them.”

At another table inside the multipurpose room at Richman Elementary School in Fullerton, teacher credential candidate Emily Beard was using multicolor cubes to teach students about the relationship between fractions, decimals and percent equivalents.

Richman Elementary School student Jose Morales is tutored by Cal State Fullerton credential student Nicole Moncher at the new Community Mathematics Education Center. Photo by Karen Tapia


“Using manipulatives, such as cubes, are concrete and help students to better understand abstract concepts,” explained Beard, who wants to teach kindergarten. “This is a great teaching technique in mathematics because students often learn better with hands-on activities.”

Magill and Beard are among teacher candidates in the College of Education’s Elementary and Bilingual Education Department’s Multiple Subject Credential Program. Both tutor fifth- and sixth-grade students at Richman.

This spring semester, 60 Cal State Fullerton students — preparing for a multiple subject credential to teach grades K-6 — provided structured and individualized mathematics tutoring sessions for Richman students. Michelle Vander Veldt and Cynthia Gautreau, both assistant professors in bilingual and elementary education, coordinate the tutoring program, which is offered through the college’s new Community Mathematics Education Center.

The math focus reflects the university’s renewed emphasis on increasing student interest in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Richman students Irving Oliver, left, and Enrique Sotelo, are tutored in math by university credential students Cherish Vandervort and Sarah Strauss. Photo by Karen Tapia


Enhancing Math Instruction

During the sessions, credential students use math manipulatives, such as cubes, candy or other familiar objects, to help the young students grasp basic math concepts.

The tutoring sessions not only provide academic support for the children, but also supplemental professional development for the teacher candidates, Vander Veldt said.

“The program addresses the urgent need to help children improve mathematics achievement,” she said. “At the same time, because our teacher candidates are working one-on-one with students, they are learning the tools and methodology to teach state mathematics content with greater depth and expertise and will be more effective in their math instruction as future elementary school teachers.”

Through the College of Education’s new Community Mathematics Education Center, fifth- and sixth-grade students at Richman Elementary School in Fullerton receive one-on-one tutoring in math by CSUF credential students. Photo by Karen Tapia


Through the tutoring program, credential students also plan the curriculum and work collaboratively with their peers. All of the math activities are hands-on learning opportunities that focus on conceptual development of different mathematics skills — from addition and subtraction to algebra, Gautreau noted.

Often, new elementary teachers have anxiety and apprehension about teaching math, so giving them the chance to teach the subject in a tutoring setting gives them a boost in self-confidence, added Vander Veldt. Unlike junior high and high school teachers who hold credentials to teach a specific subject, elementary school teachers hold a multiple subject credential to teach in all subject areas, including math.

Magill, who also is studying to earn a single subject credential to specifically teach math, said the program has helped her feel more comfortable teaching the subject.

“The tutoring center has helped apply what I have learned so far in the credential program and it’s been a good experience,” she said. “It has allowed me to grow as a future teacher because I not only gained experience working with these children, but it allowed me to create lesson plans, learn pacing, management, and most of all, taught me to be flexible. We were given the opportunity to experience all the things teachers must deal with on a daily basis in the classroom.”

Community Outreach

Teacher credential student Cherish Vandervort gives Richman students Enrique Sotelo, left, and Ivan Serna a lesson in math. Photo by Karen Tapia


Moreover, the program offers a valuable outreach to the local community, said Gautreau.

“This program gives student teachers the opportunity to assess the math knowledge and skills of real children in the local community, and then they help them overcome their difficulties through individualized assessment and instruction,” she said. “Our students are providing help where it is needed most.”

During this spring, Cal State Fullerton multiple subject credential students provided math tutoring to students at Richman Elementary School in Fullerton. Photo by Karen Tapia


The Community Mathematics Education Center serves low-income, mostly immigrant Latino students where families primarily speak Spanish at home, Vander Veldt said. Elementary school students are identified and referred to the program by teachers at the school.

Susan Ly, a sixth-grade teacher at Richman Elementary School, said the tutoring program has dramatically helped her students.

“I’ve seen students’ grades jump a level,” said Ly, a Cal State Fullerton alumna. “They’re more engaged in math and have changed their attitude about math.”

Mark Ellis, chair and associate professor of secondary education, Andrea M. Guillaume, professor of elementary and bilingual education, and Martin V. Bonsangue, professor of math, received $25,000 in funding through a 2008-09 University Mission and Goals Initiative to develop the tutoring program. Armando M. Martinez-Cruz, professor of math, also helped to create the curriculum. The Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative, a California State University project to recruit math and science teachers across the state, provided some funding for the program this year, Ellis said.

Now, Vander Veldt and Gautreau, who also oversee the tutoring curriculum, are seeking grant funding to continue the program in the fall at Richman and to expand it at another local elementary school.

Media Contacts:
Michelle Vander Veldt, Elementary and Bilingual Education, 657-278-4305 or
Cynthia Gautreau, Elementary and Bilingual Education, 657-278-3639 or
Debra Cano Ramos, Public Affairs, 657-278-4027; 657-278-2414 or

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