Flourishing in Education Amidst a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tremendous challenge for students and faculty in higher education. The struggle with balancing mental health, teaching/learning in an online context and new household disruptions have shifted our daily realities. But with difficulties, come opportunities to thrive. The Kremen School of Education and Human Development community has shown resilience and strength when faced with challenges. Read the stories of our champions.

Pandemic Champions

Submit a pandemic champion.

Jaskirn Johal-Dhillon
Student, M.S. in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling

Jaskirn is studying to become a counselor and has a strong desire to help those in her community. 

2020 has forced her to face many challenges. With coursework transitioned to a virtual space, her fieldwork counseling sessions transitioned as well. During 2020, Jaskirn learned how to counsel clients via zoom and she met with her program supervisor virtually every week to discuss concerns or crises with ongoing cases. Jaskirn is proud that she was able to successfully complete all of her coursework throughout the year and that she has gained the skills to counsel online. 

In addition to her studies, Jaskirn tragically lost a family member from COVID-19. She specifically remembers how her program supervisor, Maira Hernandez, helped her through this time and provided resources to her grieving family. Maira continued to check-in on Jaskirn in regards to her mental health and made sure she took time for self-care. Jaskirn greatly appreciates the care and support she received. 

“For 2021 I am excited to graduate! It’s been a great adventure and I can’t wait to get out there and help the community!”

Thea Fabian
Lecturer, Department of Literacy, Early, Bilingual and Special Education

Thea teaches in the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential program and prepares the valley’s future teachers in early and disciplinary literacy.

Focused on maintaining high-quality virtual instruction, Thea increased her compassion and reached out to students more. She was able to individualize assignments and became adept to responding to her students’ specific needs. 

“This semester has been hard for students. I am proud to have been able to offer the same rich resources the teacher candidates needed, and I am very proud of the students for being able to adjust, be flexible, and demonstrate compassion for themselves and others.”

Thea was excited to learn how to make video lectures and her students reported them to be very useful, allowing them to review the learnings at their own pace. “Using a combination of zoom live (synchronous) class, video lectures, and independent assignments proved to be a good mix. I plan to incorporate video lectures even when we come back to in person instruction.”

Bob Nelson, Ed.D.
Alumnus, M.A. in Education, Administration and Supervision and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential

Bob Nelson serves as the superintendent of Fresno Unified School District and is a true pandemic champion. With a district student population of over 70,000 and over 10,000 employees, Bob has had to make decisions for Fresno Unified that not only impact the students and employees, but also their households.

“Fresno State has taught me to take a moderate path and to recognize the interest of all parties. There is so much diversity in the valley that it has made me a better leader. I consider multiple perspectives before making a decision.”

Some of the ways Fresno Unified has supported its students is by utilizing new engagement strategies. Parents are now a large part of the school and Bob recognizes that being present and listening will help the students move forward.

Over winter break, the district offered credit recovery courses to assist with any learning loss students may have suffered from. Bob is working on creating multiple learning opportunities so students don’t fall behind.

Fresno Unified is also supporting its teachers and administrators with new technology and training. “We are making the most of the technological tools that we have in order to do the best we can.”

Elizabeth Marquez
Mentor Teacher, Clovis Teacher Residency Program

Elizabeth teaches 3rd grade at Miramonte Elementary School and she is a Mentor Teacher to student teachers in the Clovis Teacher Residency Program. 

Teaching eight-year-olds virtually has taught Elizabeth how to be even more patient than she was before. She also increased her focus on students’ social and emotional state of being. “Keeping things consistent has been key in making sure students feel safe and comfortable in this unprecedented time.”

Elizabeth didn’t just have to adjust her teaching for her students, she also had to adjust how she mentored her Fresno State student teacher. She utilized zoom to meet with her student teacher to virtually review lessons and activities. 

“I have made sure to be supportive, comforting and compassionate. The student teacher and I make a good team and I feel very comfortable having her take over lessons and work with groups of students.”

Elizabeth has been exceptional at being flexible and adapting to changing circumstances, utilizing technological tools and new strategies to triumph through the pandemic.

Submit a Pandemic Champion

If you know a member of the Kremen School who has been a champion throughout the pandemic, submit their information here.

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