Steps Issue No. 123,
14:55 PM

Meeting the Demand for Great Teachers - Then and Now

By Margaret Chantung

It’s often said that despite temporary economic conditions, budget cuts or other factors that may impact our nation’s education system, the need for great teachers is timeless and universal. That is true today and it was certainly the case 25 years ago when Steve Lilly arrived for his first day of work at CSUSM.

The task of launching a new university from scratch is no small one, but Lilly was attracted to the challenge and inspired by the prospect of being an instrumental part of creating a teacher education program that would be focused on the needs of the local region.

What began in 1990 with six faculty members preparing students for careers in elementary education has expanded to a program today that serves students interested in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education as well as specialized training in the areas of literacy, special education, administrative services and bilingual education. Even a joint-doctoral program in educational leadership offered in partnership with UCSD.

Perhaps what has set CSUSM’s education program most apart from others over the years is its commitment to nurturing education professionals who will take an active role in the community. For example, the revolutionary Distinguished Teachers in Residence program—now in its 24th year—was based on the idea that great teachers learn from other great teachers. And, in 1992 CSUSM launched, in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education, the North County Professional Development Federation, a unique collaboration that now represents over two dozen member districts who share resources to improve curriculum and instruction through staff development.

Miriam Lobo is a kindergarten teacher at Burbank Elementary School in the Logan Heights neighborhood of San Diego. Lobo earned her degree in liberal studies from CSUSM in 2000 and her multiple subject teaching credentials in 2001.

“I had motivated and engaging professors,” she said. “The material that was taught was relevant and authentic. I had to write and teach lessons in all subject areas that were critiqued by teachers and my peers in the cohort. The feedback was valuable and helped me create lessons that engaged students. In addition, I had two student teaching experiences in hugely diverse demographic areas. It gave me a window to the needs of students from various backgrounds while also helping me eventually find a teaching position.”

“For a quarter of a century, we have been inspired by the noble call of working together with P-12 partners and other community leaders for a more just society,” said School of Education Director Manuel Vargas. “We believe that teaching is one of the noblest professions. People who go into it have a desire to make a difference in the lives of many, continuously planting the seeds for a better tomorrow.”

To learn more, view the student-produced video “Teaching, A Career in High Demand.”