Kremen Student Wins Award for Improving the Quality of Life for Students with Disabilities

Back in October, Noble was awarded the City of Fresno Disability Advisory Commission’s 14th Annual Achievement Award for outstanding and dedicated service to improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Noble was nominated for the award by Dr. Alicia Becton, Associate Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development

Jordan Noble was only 25 years old when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). She was working for Fresno Unified School District in the Special Education Department at the time and holding down three different jobs.

Shortly after the diagnosis, she began to struggle with walking and standing. She was falling down more than usual.

“After I got the diagnosis, the progression of the disease was a lot quicker than doctors were expecting,”

– Noble. 

As a result, Noble’s life changed faster than she anticipated. She had to purchase a wheelchair and come to grips with the effects of having a disability. She had to put aside her plans to adjust to a new lifestyle by requesting accommodations and resources.

“The biggest test for me was learning to find myself after becoming disabled. Who I was as a person changed fundamentally.”

– Noble.

Noble, now 37, could’ve used her diagnosis as a reason to give up on life; instead, she used it as motivation to help others with disabilities. Now, her accomplishments have been recognized by the City of Fresno.

Noble’s diagnosis forced her to open a case with the California Department of Rehabilitation to explore her options and determine what services were available to assist her. It also served as a secret blessing, one she never imagined at the time. 

She spent the next several years picking up the pieces of her broken education by attending Fresno City College. After she finished her education, Noble transferred to Fresno State. It was then that her new passion started to surface. 

Noble began interning with Resources for Independence Central Valley (RICV) as a Youth Empowerment Specialist when she bumped into Dr. Becton, who was at the time the RICV Board President. She expressed to Dr. Becton her interest in becoming a counselor, and after that, the rest is history. Mentorship, community connections, and support were key pieces to Noble thriving in her endeavors. 

Noble enrolled in the Masters of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program at Fresno State. Things quickly began to change for her.

 “If it weren’t for Fresno State, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

– Noble.

Dr. Alicia Becton, Sarah Harris, Dr. Yuleinys Castillo, and Aubrey Alfano wrote the inspiring letters of recommendation that eventually garnered Noble the DAC Achievement Award.

With her new award firmly in hand, Noble has future aspirations of working for the California Department of Rehabilitation. She hopes to assist others who also identify with having disabilities while also limiting her work to part-time so she can focus on family. 

Until then, Noble’s award will continue to uplift her family, friends, and the community. 

“All that means to me is that everybody else needs to step their game up.”

– Noble.

(Written by staff members at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development)  

The SECREd Garden: A Haven for the Community 

Community Garden projects are gaining momentum across the country as they serve as places to beautify and unite neighborhood communities as well as to grow crops in neighborhoods where there are issues of food insecurity. Community gardens have been shown to have many strong and positive impacts wherever they are established. They serve as spaces to educate children about beauty and conservation, allowing citizens to explore their cultural heritage through community practices associated with food production, agricultural traditions and storytelling, and serve as natural gathering places which unite the community. Existing gardens on Fresno State’s campus include the Peace Garden, Maple Mall Arboretum, Allergy-Free Demonstration Garden, and the Memorial Plaza Garden

The Kremen School of Education and Human Development is currently embarking on their own project to connect outdoor education efforts on Fresno State’s campus to community members and local agencies. Kremen employs innovative models of teaching that emphasize the importance of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) in Transitional Kindergarten (TK-12) education. Studies show that outdoor learning experiences positively impact science, literacy and math standards as well as the environmental, nutritional, social-emotional aspects of learning and development. Opportunities to explore outdoor classrooms and gardens have proven to transform the academic experience, contributing to increased teacher commitment in the sciences as well as improving student interest and curiosity in the natural world. To meet the growing need for outdoor learning spaces that support wellness, research and STEAM education across a range of ages and disciplines, the Kremen School is establishing a SECREd Garden Demonstration Program. The name SECREd Garden stands for STEAM Experiences through Community, Research, Education and Demonstration.

The SECREd Garden program was founded by Christina Macias and was inspired by her Master’s work in Early Childhood Education at the Kremen School. The primary scope of her research was centered around the barriers and affordances of early science education. She became interested in providing developmentally appropriate spaces that would engage young learners in the field of science exploration. This interest spurred her on a year-long journey of visiting school gardens, farms, and outdoor learning spaces across the state to gather a better understanding of how to establish her vision. 

“The SECREd Garden will provide for equitable and accessible science experiences for young children while supporting pre-service teacher training, research, the community, the Fresno State campus, and most importantly: food security and wellness opportunities.”

– Christina

While Christina was the initial creator of the project, it quickly transformed into an expansive group effort, requiring the involvement of professionals, students, and volunteers spanning across multiple disciplines. 

I continue to be inspired by the range of interest and participation in the project from students, Fresno State faculty and the surrounding community.  The range of expertise and commitment to this work has been more than I could have imagined.”

– Christina.

The original concept for the SECREd Garden was developed in partnership with Dr. Cathy Yun, a Senior Researcher at the Learning Policy Institute, and was presented to the University in 2016. Time was spent over the next year introducing and refining the project details in collaboration with the Campus Planning Committee, VP for Administration Deborah Adishian-Astone, and Associate VP for Facilities Management Tinnah Medina. 

Calliope Correia, an Instructional Support Technician III with the Jordan College of Agriculture Science and Technology, was introduced to the project early on as she was recognized as the campus expert on effective horticulture practices. Her work is deeply rooted in wellness and therapeutic methods which aligns with the program’s central mission to connect the community with natural spaces.

“Access to natural spaces, whether wild or intentionally designed, is critical to our well-being. The SECREd garden is a wonderful culmination of ideas and experiences that will benefit the University and the community not only with harvests and access to fresh vegetables but for the opportunity to play in the soil and get dirty!”

 – Calliope.

Calliope has remained a constant supporter, consultant, and visionary since the project’s inception. Through both her and Christina’s tireless efforts, the project was granted permission to explore Phase 1 in the Spring of 2018. It was determined that the SECREd Garden was to be located on the west side of the Kremen School. 

Since then, an ongoing fundraising campaign has taken place to establish the necessary funding for placing the project out to bid. This campaign has been supported by ASI, community donors, and through DOG Days, along with other Fresno State Crowdfunding opportunities. While many project-related activities were put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts were made to continue the development of the SECREd Garden. Outreach with numerous project partners allowed the program to grow despite its need for a physical location.  

The proposed project includes the development and maintenance of a demonstration garden and an outdoor classroom space. The goal is to allow students and educators to address interdisciplinary research, partake in play-based learning, explore early science experiences, learn healthy eating habits, and study community food scarcity issues. 

Jacob Hurst, a lecturer in the Fresno State Plant Science department, has created a detailed revegetation plan for the turtle pond located near the proposed site of the SECREd Garden. After acquiring measurements of the proposed space and taking aerial satellite shots, Jacob realized that there was a lot of work to be done. He intends to design a managed ecosystem for the children of the Huggins Center while also reducing the amount of maintenance required on the garden.

Jacob aims to alter the ecology of the landscape by introducing plants native to the area, allowing them to function as natural mulch to cover the bare patches of soil. Currently situated in the Huggins Center play yard, the Turtle Pond is a feature which Jacob plans to revitalize by creating shade using plants that produce thick leaves and foliage. 

“There is some concern, especially during the summer, about having coverage for the turtles. Introducing water lilies, for example, or even simply denser vegetation around the edges, will provide countless benefits for them.”

– Jacob. 

His revegetation outline also includes the introduction of more flowering vines to increase cross-pollination. To accomplish this, he intends to place Passion flowers along the back fence which will attract a variety of insects. 

Another individual who has played a crucial role in the SECREd Garden project is Arashnoor (Arsh) Gill, a student in the Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling Master’s program in the Kremen School. Arsh was first introduced to the SECREd Garden and quickly appointed to the position of student leader through engaging with Christina Macias in an adolescent development course in the Child and Family Science department. 

A primary goal for both Arsh and Christina has been to maintain a strong student presence within the project. By holding tabling and gardening events on campus, the two have been able to draw many students into the SECREd Garden student leadership committee, a group that meets on a regular basis. 

Arsh has also helped develop a gardening curriculum for the CalFresh Healthy Living series by partnering with the Student Cupboard, currently assisted by Michael Ballin. He has helped reconceptualize the SECREd Garden as a non-physical entity and has worked with several other organizations to explore gardening and early education opportunities. Most recently, he has helped to develop a social media page for the project while also offering a pivotal presence during fundraising events.

Arsh’s area of research is centered around multiculturalism, mental health, and how gardening is heavily influenced by cultural practices. Working on the SECREd Garden project has been an extremely fulfilling experience for Arsh and has allowed him to conceptualize how such a space can positively impact an individual’s outlook. 

“Dean Yerrick and I would meet up at the turtle pond to remove the remaining banana trees. It was a fun experience for everyone involved because we would share stories, talk about our backgrounds, and discuss how much gardening meant to us.”

– Arsh.

The SECREd Garden has truly been a collaborative community effort. It would not have come this far in development without the countless volunteers who have participated in the program’s numerous projects over the years.

“We intend to leverage this garden to emphasize the education of children in the heritage of agriculture, sustainability, and the stewardship of resources that was practiced here in this area long before Fresno State was built.  Indigenous people’s had important ways of managing resources and caring for the environment that need to be remembered and that we continue to learn from. Early childhood education at the Huggins Center is an important time and place to begin to emphasize STEAM education from a culturally sustaining perspective.”

– Dr. Randy Yerrick, Dean of the Kremen School.

Many contributions are from Fresno State faculty and staff who have devoted their time as consultants and provided expertise in building an inclusive framework for the project. There have been countless volunteers for site specific projects with unique connections to gardening practices, many of which have been University High School students. The SECREd Garden team is also incredibly grateful for the countless supporters who have provided substantial financial support over the course of the project. 

“Fresno State has the unique opportunity to serve as a demonstration model for outdoor learning, interdisciplinary partnerships, and the diverse cultural practices associated with land use and sustainable food practices. Our mission is to provide a space where all members of local communities can engage in work that supports their individual and community interests.”

 – Christina.

Due to generous contributions from donors, we will now be able to break ground of the SECREd Garden in the Spring of 2023, however, more donations will be needed to fund future stages of the project.

If you want to make a donation to the SECREd Garden project, please visit this site.

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing student employed by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development)

Fresno Rural Teacher Residency Program Receive Statewide Honors for Excellence 

The Fresno Rural Teacher Residency Program (Rural-TRP), an educator preparation partnership between Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education and Human Development and Fresno County Superintendent of Schools (FCSS), is front and center for excellence in local teacher residency partnerships. Recently, their efforts have been recognized as the best in the Central Valley, and by extension, the State of California. 

This project would not have gained such high honors if it hadn’t been for strong district partnerships and a supportive alliance of dedicated educators. The collaborative leadership of Dr. Heather Horsley, Director of Teacher Residency Programs in Kremen, along with Christina Macias, Rural-TRP Professor-in-Residence and Dr. Hank Gutierrez, FCSS Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services, with Brooke Berrios, FCSS Program Coordinator of Residency Programs, positions the Rural Teacher Residency Program as a successful model for partnering with multiple rural districts focused on growing its own teachers. 

Kremen has a decade of experience developing, improving, and sustaining teacher residency programs and is seen as a leader of this rigorous pathway, teaching both locally and nationally.  Kremen residency leadership and faculty are responsive to the needs of their local district partners. They design coursework and clinical experiences that ensure that the teacher residents are day-one ready to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students in the Central Valley.

Historically, Kremen’s teacher residency partnerships have focused on the needs of the larger local districts, in part because they can more successfully hire the resident graduates into their districts. This created unequal access to highly prepared teachers for smaller districts. Fresno County and Kremen leadership worked to address the issue, which led to the launch of the Rural-TRP in August 2021.

“When superintendents of local, rural districts opened up conversations about their unique needs, we felt a collective responsibility to take intentional action. We were driven by a common goal of developing a rural teacher pipeline that creates the conditions where K-12 students, rural  residents, teachers, and communities can thrive. It amazes me how much we have accomplished in a short period of time, something that would not be possible without a strong local partnership consisting of several interest holders.”

– Dr. Horsley.     

The success of the County-University partnership has been recognized with two prestigious state awards for excellence in education.    

The California School Boards Association recently bestowed upon FCSS, in recognition of the Fresno-TRP, the 2022 Golden Bell Award in the Professional Development and Teacher Recruitment/Retention Category. The CSBA Golden Bell Awards promote excellence in education by recognizing outstanding programs and practices of school boards in school districts and county offices of education throughout California.

The Fresno-TRP is geared towards recruiting, retaining, and supporting a teacher workforce that accurately reflects community demographics. It positions teachers to thrive by providing equity-driven professional development and intentional partnerships with mentor teachers. The Rural-TRP also partners with the California Teaching Fellows Foundation, a local expanded learning program, to deepen the rural teacher pipeline.

“What stands out most to me is how the Rural Teacher Residency Programs recognizes the various community assets that exist, and the ways in which there is a desire to bring those community assets together to help accomplish the goals of the rural residency. As a community based organization, I appreciate the recognition and inclusion strategies that helped uplift our agency in the process and created the circumstances that allowed those students to make the transition from Expanded Learning youth worker into the residency program.”

– Mike Snell, CEO California Teaching Fellows Foundation.

The success of the Rural Residency goes beyond instruction in the classroom. The local, rural districts have the opportunity to hire resident graduates, the majority of whom are residents of the rural communities in which they serve. To have teachers who reflect the backgrounds of the K-12 students and who are deeply rooted in their communities is greatly beneficial to the students’ academic and social development. 

“This [program] is extremely important. We want to see our hometowns grow and progress. I plan to stay here and serve the Spanish-speaking community. Teachers that understand and can connect with parents will change the lives of rural students.”

– a member of the Rural Resident Cohort 1. 

At present, the Rural Residency partners with districts have hosted two distinct cohorts. The first cohort of 19 residents graduated in May 2022, while the second cohort of 18 residents is currently enrolled. Together, 35 rural residents have been placed in 10 different elementary schools in the Kerman, Firebaugh, Mendota, and Golden Plains school districts.

According to information provided by Berrios, of the 19 rural residents in cohort one, 74% have received contract offers. Nearly 63% were hired back into a rural district and 27% were hired on Dual Immersion contracts.

“The Rural Teacher Residency supports the Teacher Development, Economic Development, and Human Capital for the communities of Firebaugh – Las Deltas, Kerman, Mendota,  Golden Plains, Laton, and Parlier Unified in an “equity in action” model, providing the essential elements for long-term sustainable educational effectiveness and generating highly qualified teachers for some of California’s most impoverished students.”

Dr. Gutierrez

An Apple for Excellence

In addition to receiving the Golden Bell Award, the Rural Teacher Residency  Partnership was also awarded the Apple for Excellence Award from the California County Boards of Education. The Apple for Excellence Award recognizes outstanding programs administered by county offices of education that reflect the depth and breadth of a county education program necessary to address students’ changing needs.

The Apple for Excellence Award also represents an appreciation to the dedicated educators in county offices across the state that strive to provide high-quality education with cutting-edge innovation.

Both awards signify a level of distinction that sets these programs apart from others in the state. These awards also validate FCSS and Kremen’s ongoing commitment to shape policy around funding, diversification, recruitment, and retention efforts for the rural teacher pipeline.

“These awards highlight outstanding programs and provide an opportunity to share information about effective educational strategies with other county offices of education throughout the state.”

–  Berrios. 

The Rural Teacher Residency Program received both awards at the Golden Bell Awards Reception and Ceremony on Thursday, December 1, 2022, at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina.

(Written by Dr. Heather L. Horsley, Assistant Professor and Residency Director at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development and co-authored by Kremen staff)

Sherri Nakashima: A Legacy of Devotion and Perseverance 

Photo Credit: Ana Espinosa

During her 27 years of hard work and dedication, Sherri Nakashima processed over 20,000 credential recommendations for teachers, counselors, administrators and school nurses since being hired in 1997 as Fresno State’s sole Credential Analyst. Without her countless hours of diligence and precise attention to detail, many educators throughout the Valley today would not have obtained the credentials required for them to enter the field of education. As part of her position, she also ensured that all credential programs offered through Fresno State maintained both national and state accreditation by submitting credential recommendations to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) for state licensing of educators.

Nakashima’s journey to this position is paved with a deep devotion for teaching. She graduated from Fresno State as a first-generation college student after being inspired by her two older brothers who both received their degrees in Agriculture. Nakashima obtained a BA in Liberal Studies and also earned a Multiple Subject credential through the Kremen School of Education and Human Development which she then used to teach 4th grade. Soon afterwards, she began to crave a career change. A friend of hers who worked on campus informed her that a position had opened up within the Kremen School. After applying in 1995, she was quickly hired for a front-desk position by Associate Dean Dr. Robert Monke.

“This return to Kremen became a pivotal moment in my life with everything coming full-circle.”

 – Nakashima 

Thea Beddingfield, the Credential Analyst at the time, became her supervisor in Education 100 (now CASS). While working the front desk, Nakashima was also being simultaneously trained by Thea on how to process credential applications. During that period, Fresno State consistently produced the highest number of credential candidates in the CSU system and because of this, Thea was able to convince administration that a second Credential Analyst was needed. After applying in 1997, Nakashima moved to a Credential Analyst I position assisting Thea with processing applications. Shortly thereafter, Thea moved to a different job on campus, leaving behind the world of accreditation. Nakashima then became the sole Credential Analyst for the campus.

The duties of a Credential Analyst are extremely demanding and sometimes even challenging in nature as they are required to remain up-to-date on all credentialing policies and procedures for the state of California. Nakashima was in charge of submitting credential recommendations for all required programs including (Multiple Subject, Single Subject, Education Specialist); Pupil Personnel Services (School Counseling, School Social Work, School Psychology); Administrative Services, Agriculture Specialist, Reading Specialist, School Nursing as well as the online CalState TEACH program.

Her responsibilities also included credential advising, the evaluation of transcripts for adding authorizations, submitting appeals for credential extensions, attending CTC meetings, working with Kremen advisors, program coordinators, and other academic advisors across campus. This frequent communication and collaboration with other colleges at Fresno State was crucial to ensuring that all students met the requirements to earn a credential. Nakashima would also serve as a liaison to local county offices of education, school district human resources personnel, other CSU system Credential Analysts and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Processing and submitting credential recommendations requires the highest level of attention to detail, something that Nakashima excelled at. Each individual credential candidate’s application entails an evaluation of credential documents to verify that the candidate has successfully met the state and university legal requirements to obtain a credential. Nakashima would double and triple check these requirements to guarantee that the students whom she advised were on the path to ultimate success.

In 2007, Nakashima received a brick on the Teachers and Friends of Education Honor Wall as a Richter Award recipient for outstanding Kremen Staff. In 2019, she accepted yet another outstanding staff award, cementing her legacy within the Kremen School even further.

After 27 years of commitment and resolve within the field of education, Nakashima has decided to file for a well-earned retirement. While she is thrilled to finally be able to turn off her 5:30 a.m. alarm and spend more time with loved ones, Nakashima has discovered that the most difficult part of retiring is the knowledge that she will no longer see her colleagues on a regular basis. However, she is grateful for the cherished memories she has made with her coworkers both in and outside of the Kremen School. She is especially appreciative of the hard work put in by staff and faculty members as well as the presence of invaluable student assistants — the great majority of which have pursued their teaching credentials and/or master’s degrees within the Kremen School.

“I don’t have children of my own, but our current and former student assistants make me feel like a proud “Mom”! It’s heartwarming to see how fellow staff support each other throughout the course of an academic year. They are generous, kind, intelligent, respectful, hard-working and dedicated. All have a wonderful sense of humor, which is needed in dealing with challenges that arise.”

– Nakashima explains.

As she reflects, Nakashima is keenly aware that it wouldn’t have been possible for her to have worked as a Credential Analyst for 27 years without their continued support. She would like to thank the Kremen School administration, staff, and faculty for their encouragement and teamwork over the years. Now begins her next chapter in life!

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing student employed by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development )

Education Leaders in the Valley Gather for Exemplary Practices in Education Leadership Conference 

Fresno State’s annual Exemplary Practices in Educational Leadership Conference returned this year with an emphasis on inspiring children’s learning in an innovative 21st century. 

Over 300 educators and leaders from across central California gathered at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District on November 1 to learn from experts, explore best practices, discuss critical issues and gather relevant ideas needed to transform organizations into collaborative cultures of learning for students and educators.

The EPC is one of the focus points of the John D. Welty Center for Educational Policy and Leadership. It’s an opportunity for the center to partner with county and local school districts to bring in respected leaders and educators to share their knowledge and for local districts to showcase their work.      

A vocal performance from operatic tenor Chris Pucci and a welcome from Fresno State President Dr. Saul Jimenez-Sandoval  set the tone for the conference. 

Developing Curious Minds for the 21st Century was the theme for this year’s conference and attendees were treated to a keynote speech from nationally-renowned educator and speaker Dr. Kenneth Wesson, who places a heavy focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programs and how the brain affects learning.  

Dr. Wesson’s speech, Ushering in the Age of innovation-Where Anything is Possible,  focused on emotional impacts on learning and methods for creating 21st century PK-16 classrooms. It also emphasized the need for the integration of learning concepts, including math, science, writing, reading, technology – and the arts. Wesson entertained and enlightened the audience, beginning with the fundamental question, “If we are to teach our students how to think, don’t you think we should first understand how the brain works in the 21st Century?”   

According to Dr. Mabel Franks, the Director of the Welty Center, “Dr. Wesson delivered the right message, to the right audience at the right time.”

“It is imperative that we remain in touch with the needs, desires and interests of our students if we are to provide a quality, purposeful education that will prepare our youth for this brave, new, exciting, yet complex future. We also need to recognize the impact emotions have on learning and the importance of developing the whole child who is eager, willing and able to fully engage in the learning. That should be the mission of every educator.”

Franks.

Following Dr. Wesson’s speech, the conference attendees then ventured out to selected breakout sessions. Many of the sessions focused on topics that included early literacy design, proactive approaches to school safety, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and other innovative teaching strategies affecting local districts and universities. There were 20 breakout sessions total, and each session was uniquely geared towards engaging and reengaging learners about the topics that are vitally important to educators and leaders in the 21st century. 

These sessions were a great opportunity for the attendees to learn from experts in their fields and share best practices for closing specific achievement gaps and improving learning outcomes for students.

The EPC is part of the Dr. Peter G. Mehas Lecture Series and is held every year. The Mehas Lecture Series honors local education icon Dr. Pete Mehas, and explores educational leadership, issues of equity and access, emerging topics in curriculum and instruction, and student success in local, regional, and global context. 

(Written by staff members at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development) 

Teacher Residency Programs Prepare Future Educators

During her first visit to campus, Dr. Shireen Pavri, assistant vice chancellor for Education Programs and Leadership for the California State University, was especially interested in learning about the five teacher residency programs Fresno State has established in partnership with local districts to prepare future educators.

Modeled after medical residencies, teacher residencies at the Kremen School for Education and Human Development aim to integrate teacher residents into the full, day-to-day workings of a school and district during their teacher preparation coursework, with a goal of better preparing teachers for the realities of the teaching profession.

According to the Learning Policy Institute, residencies hold the most promise for remedying the growing need for teachers in California, a need that has only been exacerbated in recent years. The Fresno Teacher Residency Program, a partnership with Fresno Unified School District, boasts an 81% three-year retention rate over the past seven years, while the Sanger Unified Teacher Residency program boasts an 87% three-year retention rate. Both rates are significantly higher than the national average, which hovers at around 50% teacher attrition in less than 5 years.

To see the residency work firsthand, Pavri visited Centennial Elementary in Fresno, where she visited both a kindergarten and a fourth-grade dual immersion classroom, connecting with the residents and their mentor teachers. She also met with site and district leadership to learn more about the Fresno Teacher Residency Program, the Kremen School’s longest-standing residency partnership.

Pavri then had the opportunity to interact with residents, teachers and administrators from the Madera Teacher Residency Program who were attending the Enseñamos en el Valle Central Institute at Reedley College. One of the newest residency partnerships, Madera Teacher Residency prepares teachers to work in dual immersion classrooms by supporting them in earning their bilingual authorization in addition to their multiple-subject credential. In doing so, the residency partnership responds to both the need for more teachers in general and Madera Unified’s specific goal of expanding its dual immersion opportunities for its learners.

I was struck by the mature, reciprocal and authentic partnerships that Fresno State has nurtured with neighboring school districts that continue to evolve based on local contexts and needs,” Pavri said. “I also see so much potential in the intentional and strategic Grow-Your-Own Programs that are being built, that address workforce needs in culturally responsive and sustaining ways by getting young people in high school interested in ways that they can serve their own communities.”

Another priority across the state related to education is the preparation of educators to work in transitional kindergarten (TK) settings, in response to Governor Newsom’s expansion of TK for all children. Educators in the Kremen School’s Early Childhood Education program have been leading the way in response to these initiatives, building on the program’s history preparing teachers and educating young children in the Joyce M. Huggins Early Education Center, which is housed in Kremen School.

Pavri engaged with children age 5 and younger at the center and said she was enamored with the dedication and professionalism she observed, calling it “a labor of love.” Additionally, she met with faculty to discuss the development of a 24-unit certificate program that will allow multiple-subject educators to become TK-certified-the Kremen School’s first response to the need for more early education teachers.

“It was truly an honor to host Vice Chancellor Shireen Pavri here at Fresno State and have the opportunity to introduce her to the wonderful partners we work with and the extreme high quality instructors, faculty, project Directors, and staff that make Kremen such a special place,” said Dr. Randy Yerrick, Dean of Kremen. “I am glad she was able to see first hand the nature and the magnitude of the impact the Kremen School of Education and Human Development has on the Central Valley.”

(Written by Kremen staff)

A Wellness Program for Hmong Americans

(Photo courtesy of May Twenty and Five)

Since the pandemic, emotional and behavioral wellness has been in the spotlight although it has always been a concern. When Dr. Song Lee, a full professor and licensed counselor in the Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation applied for sabbatical, she didn’t know that a pandemic would occur.  Nor was she aware that the pandemic would impact people’s social connections and heighten symptoms of mental health.  

Dr. Lee was granted her sabbatical in November, 2020, but had to wait until spring 2022 to take it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She used most of her time to create a Wellness Program hosted at Freedom Community Church in Fresno, Calif, to serve Hmong Americans. The City of Fresno has one of the largest Hmong populations in the United States, second to Minneapolis – St. Paul in Minnesota. About 35,000 Hmong reside in Fresno and currently about 1,444 Hmong students attend California State University, Fresno. 

Dr. Lee hopes the Wellness Program, known to the Hmong elders as the “Noj Qab Haus Huv Program,” will be a place that the Hmong will trust and easily access information and knowledge on mental health concerns and coping strategies to strengthen families. The Open House for the Wellness Program took place on October 22, 2022 and was celebrated with Fresno State faculty and students, members of Freedom Community Church, and members of the community who serve Hmong Americans in their respective fields and agencies.  

For questions about the program or if you or your Hmong families and friends would like to seek support or services, please contact Dr. Song Lee at maLee@csufresno.edu or at 559-278-0349. The services are not considered counseling because they do not include diagnosis or treatment for specific mental health illnesses. Support services include bilingual and bicultural individual consultations and support groups on Sunday mornings at Freedom Community Church. Workshops and trainings will be posted on the Freedom Community Church website: https://www.freedomcommunity.org/wellness-program.html

(Written by Dr. Song Lee, Professor, Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation)