Faculty Continues to Support The Growth of Teachers of Minoritized Students in Central San Joaquin Valley

Having led the Ensenamos en el Valle Central project for four successful years, Dr. Patricia D. Lopez is expanding impact in the Valley with Fall Institutes for Intersectional Justice and Wellbeing. The Fall Institutes include speakers, tailored workshops, and affinity group sessions that are grounded in the day-to-day expectations that future and current community-responsive educators, counselors, and emerging leaders navigate as they aspire and commit to serving the in- and out-of-school needs of students and families. Participants receive resources and tools for strengthening culturally and linguistically sustaining, and healing- and ability-informed curriculum and pedagogies to facilitate greater college and career access and completion.  The Fall Institutes also provide tools for community-responsive engagement and advocacy to sustain healthy campus climates and student- and family-centered well-being—particularly among historically-minoritized youth and families across the Central San Joaquín Valley.  

Each Institute unpacks a thematic topic through various perspectives and each gathering will be held at a different location to help bring exposure to community-based identities, relevant organizations, resources, and support systems further expanding participant capacities to build upon the diverse assets of communities across the region.

Upcoming dates and sites include:

November 4, 2022 

Time: 8:00 to 4:00pm

Location: Reedley Community Center

100 N. East Avenue, Reedley, CA 

December 2, 2022

Time: 8:00 to 4:00pm

Location: Madera Unified School District

Kremen looks forward to working closely with our partners and community members in effort to better prepare tomorrow’s teachers. 

Institute: Fresno State Ensenamos en el Valle Central 2022 Fall Institute For Intersectional Justice and Wellbeing

For more information contact,
Dr Patricia D. López, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction and  Director, Enseñamos en el Valle Central

Taking the lead in building the capacity of the ECE workforce in Fresno

Launching A New Early Childhood Education (ECE) 24-Unit Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Certificate Program to support district partners.

Recognizing the need of district partners to provide well-qualified TK teachers in the classroom, Kremen is launching a transitional kindergarten program through Continuing and Global Education that allows participants to obtain 24 ECE units within 9 months virtually over evenings and the weekends.  

The ECE 24-Unit Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Certificate Program is a user-friendly program that was created by Dr. Pei-Ying Wu, an assistant professor in the Early Childhood Education Program and the Fansler Chair leading the Joyce M. Huggins Early Education Center. Dr. Wu’s research interests focus on early childhood teachers’ professional development and self-efficacy, making her the perfect candidate to lead this program. 

The program came about as a result of the state of California investing $2.7 billion in the universal kindergarten program in order to include all the state’s 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year. It is open to teachers who have, or are obtaining a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and want to meet the state requirements while enhancing their ECE qualifications. It emphasizes hands-on experiences and provides opportunities for teachers to apply the knowledge learned from coursework to their classroom. 

This certificate program is a great workforce development option customized to the needs of current TK teachers who are looking for hands-on experiences and opportunities to apply the knowledge learned from the coursework to their classrooms. 

The Huggins Center serves as a regional model for some of the best practices in ECE. The Huggins Center provides services for children of university students, faculty, staff and to the community between the ages of 3 months and 12 years. The center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and is one of three centers operated by the Fresno State Programs for Children. Brittney S. Randolph is the Director of Programs for Children, a comprehensive early care and education program that holds a 5-star rating from Fresno County’s Early Stars. This center works in partnership with the larger community to provide opportunities for learning and for developing partnerships that will benefit young children and families. The center also provides training, demonstration and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in education, child development, marriage, child and family therapy, and other related areas as well as for professionals in the field.

Beyond supporting the current TK workforce, the demand projections for well-qualified ECE teachers also prompt Kremen to actively prepare for the development of a new credentialing program specific to early childhood educators. With the recent approval of the PK-3rd ECE Specialist Credential, Kremen faculty began to collaborate with other CSU campuses, ECE-related degree programs (e.g. community colleges), Fresno Superintendent of Schools and LEAs on pathways and program design, curriculum development, coursework articulation, accreditation, and recruitment. 

For those interested in the ECE 24-Unit TK Certificate Program or PK-3 ECE Specialist Instruction Credential program please contact the Program Coordinator, Dr. Pei-Ying Wu at peiwu@mail.fresnostate.edu 

(Written by Dr. Pei-Ying Wu, an assistant professor in the Early Childhood Education Program/Fansler Chair, and Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing student employed by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.)

Kremen Graduate Wins Award for Dissertation About Anti-Racism

Rosemary Wrenn, a 2021 graduate of Fresno State’s Ed.D. program, recently received word that her dissertation about white female teachers committed to anti-racism transformation in the classroom was selected as the 2022 Outstanding Dissertation Award by the California Council on Teacher Education.

This is a distinguished and highly competitive award that honors the top doctoral dissertation in the field of teacher education in the state of California. 

The dissertation is titled, Towards Anti-Racism as Stance: White Women Teachers Committed to Transformationand it focuses on how white women teachers navigate issues of race and identity in the classroom. She found that today’s educators need more access to authentic and meaningful training and professional development surrounding critical conversations and culturally sustaining practices in order to be better prepared to serve their students. America’s teaching force not appropriately representing children in the classroom. 

It was Wrenn’s childhood experiences that inspired her to write this important dissertation to enact change, especially in the public school system, where the majority of teachers are white women. 

Wrenn grew up in a post-World War II neighborhood that was predominantly white in Long Beach, Calif. Her family lived on a cul-de-sac near two other families. One was African American and the other emigrated from Mexico. There was also a family that was Creole from New Orleans. She thought this was the typical demographic structure of all neighborhoods in suburban America back in the 1960’s.

But then, reality set in.

She also admits that her ideas about who belongs in education were influenced by her influential first grade teacher, who was African American. While this was unusual at the time, Wrenn believes this experience was formative. She was well-respected and revered, an established person in the community.

In 4th and 5th grades during the early 1970s, she participated in the voluntary integration of Long Beach school system attending school in the inner city.. She experienced and began to understand the anger that African Americans had towards white people during that time.

“I had experience with the anger that a lot of Black folks have towards white folks,” said Wrenn. “That was very humbling; it made me think a lot.” 

Wrenn started the collaborative online Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership in the summer of 2018 when it was offered as a joint program with CSU-Channel Islands. The coursework was very intense, but it allowed her to open up about her previous experiences and how they shaped her views about racial disparities in educational leadership.

Having begun her initial dissertation research in early 2020, she found the direction it took greatly influenced by the events following George Floyd’s murder.

She credits the intense coursework in her doctoral program for helping her find the comfortability to open up about her experiences, both as an educator and parent. 

“I did a lot of reflection about where my ideas of race come from,” said Wrenn. “I never engaged in it until I started this process.” 

Dr. David Low, an associate professor in the Department of Literacy, Early, Bilingual, and Special Education (LEBSE) was Wrenn’s doctoral adviser. He credits her teaching career and family legacy for the success of her work. 

“Dr. Wrenn’s dissertation went far and beyond the bounds of a scholastic exercise,” said Low. “Rosemary conducted a deep and rich study of how white women educators — including herself — understand, reproduce, and contest racial status quos in their curricular design, assessment, text curation, classroom layout, and disciplinary processes.”

Wrenn is tremendously grateful to Dr. Low, as well as Kremen assistant professor Dr. Selena Van Horn and Dr. Camille O’Bryant, the Associate Dean for Student Success at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, for supporting her and encouraging her to focus her ideas into her dissertation.   

The recognition of Wrenn’s dissertation has enabled her to expand her own teaching career. Until recently, she served as Faculty Lead for the Education Department and a part-time faculty member at Cuesta College and also as a faculty member in the School of Education and Liberal Arts department at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. On October 3, she began a new full-time position as a Consultant in Teacher Preparation (Research and Policy) in the Professional Services Division in the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 

Wrenn also conducts discussions and workshops about critical conversations, incorporating culturally sustaining practices in our learning spaces, representation in children’s literature, and integrating Ethnic Studies in K-12 settings. 

Wrenn is still amazed when she recollects about her award. In many ways, it’s the perfect validation for a life spent initiating change in the realm of public education. “I’m very humbled and honored they chose to recognize my work this way,” said Wrenn. 

At the end of the day, Wrenn wants her dissertation to serve as a reminder that teachers are the experts about what’s best for their students’ needs. And everyone-children, adults, parents, and teachers can learn to engage in critical conversations about race and identity to create just and inclusive learning spaces and a better future for our children.

Only then can the real change begin. 

Wrenn was expected to receive her award at the CCTE Fall Conference, which was held October 20-22 in San Diego.

(Written by Jason Smithberg, Communications Specialist for Kremen)

A Legacy of Devotion: Dr. Monke’s Contributions to the Kremen School and the Creation of the Teachers and Friends Honor Wall

In 1969, Dr. Robert Monke arrived at Fresno State as a faculty member in the School of Education, now known as, the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. Kremen had no idea at the time that he would soon become one of the most prolific and generous champions of education in the school’s history. Dr. Monke dedicated both his career and retirement to improving educational opportunities for students in the San Joaquin Valley by supporting the Kremen School and advancing teacher training opportunities. He prized equality, advocacy, justice, and community above all else and devoted his efforts to improving the lives of those who are underrepresented. Dr. Monke focused primarily on counseling, teacher preparation, gender equity, diversity, and community collaboration. In 1985, he was named associate dean of the Kremen School and served as interim dean from 1988-1989 and 1996-1997.

In 1993, after assisting with the relocation and construction of the Kremen School’s current building, he set his sights on a new mission. Dr. Monke became a driving force in the development of the Teachers and Friends of Education Honor Wall outside of the Kremen School. He also served as the chair of the Brick Campaign Committee for more than 20 years. These selfless efforts inspired his colleagues to establish a scholarship in his name to help support future counselors and teachers, a fund which has currently raised over $108,000.

Dr. Monke retired in 2002, however, he has not ceased giving back to the community and supporting Fresno State in every way he can. He currently serves on the Kremen Alumni Chapter Board, leading one of the most engaged alumni chapters at Fresno State. His legacy lives on most prominently through the continued expansion of the Teachers and Friends Honor Wall. The first completed wall has a total of 3,732 bricks, with wall #5 recently established.

Individuals who wish to honor teachers and other special members of the community can purchase a commemorative brick intended for placement on the wall. Many individuals have been impacted by an educator who made a difference in their life, and desire to show their gratitude in a meaningful way. They can do so with the purchase of a brick for $125.00. The recipient will receive notification of the gift along with a certificate. The donor will receive a “letter of appreciation” for remembering the honoree with this special gift.

All funds received from brick donations are used to improve educational technology for teachers and education specialists. These funds have been directed toward the purchase of computer laboratories and other technological equipment used in classrooms at the Kremen School. Technology is a dominant resource, whether students are learning how to teach by showing technology accessibility or by using multimedia tools. It is essential that students learn how to become innovative and creative with their teaching methods, something that technology makes possible. If you would like to donate to the Kremen School to assist with keeping the classroom technology current, please click here.

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

Alumni Feature: Dr. Robert Pimentel-Pathway to Success

Robert Pimentel will be the first one to tell you that people like him don’t end up in positions like this. 

Pimentel is very humble when he talks about his life experiences and how he went from modest beginnings to become the newest president of Fresno City College.

He grew up around gang members for most of his youth. He knew firsthand what that lifestyle was like for young men such as himself. There was a way in, but no way out. 

Pimentel’s incredible life journey started from these humble beginnings to becoming the first in his family to graduate from high school and college. And part of his journey to becoming president of Fresno City College included a pit stop at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State.  

After he graduated from high school, Pimentel ventured to West Hills College-Coalinga and wound up transferring to Fresno State, where he earned his bachelor’s in social work. After Fresno State, he earned a master’s in social work with an emphasis in mental health at CSU Bakersfield. Then, he headed back up to Fresno State, where he earned a doctorate in educational leadership, with an emphasis in higher education. 

The Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership is eight semesters of rigorous, full-time study. It allows students to work directly with faculty to assess their skills and progress. “This is a pretty intensive program,” said Dr. Varaxy Yi Borromeo, the interim program director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership.

“The program is rigorous because our students are full-time employees who are already leaders and administrators in their own right, working at school sites, district offices, institutions of higher education, and at the California State University chancellor’s office, among others to direct transformative work. They commit to a full-time curriculum in addition to their employment duties and other familial and personal responsibilities. They conduct their dissertation studies while completing coursework simultaneously in their third year. The three years in our program are challenging, but our students meet these challenges directly and are increasing their leadership capacity. Dr. Pimentel is a great representative of the transformative leaders we hope for to lead us into a future where equity and social justice are the central driving force for educational leadership.” 

Prior to starting the Ed.D program, Pimentel had considered going to law school. But his passion to make a difference in higher education led him down the path he was truly meant for. 

He wound up applying for the Doctoral Program. “Me, going around, working with a lot of people with doctorate degrees that I didn’t feel were contributing much to the education field, I tried to contribute,” said Pimentel. 

But his journey through higher education didn’t happen overnight. It took Pimentel a few years to realize that this was his true calling. “It took me a while to go back to school and get a doctorate,” said Pimentel. “It took six or seven years before I decided to go back.” 

Pimentel’s main impetus for returning to college was to hone his research skills and do something that would benefit the community. 

Kremen Associate Professor, Dr. Christian Wandeler helped him change his view on doctoral education. “I met Dr. Wandeler and I think he played a big role in how I viewed doctoral education,” said Pimentel. “I credit Dr. Wandeler a lot.”

Shortly after he earned his doctorate, Pimentel was offered the role of Vice-President for Educational Services and Institutional Effectiveness at Fresno City College. And he also held key leadership positions for the West Hills Community College District for more than 17 years. 

All of these leadership positions set him up perfectly for the bigger task that would eventually fall in his lap. 

Pimentel definitely has challenges to face as the newest president of Fresno City College. Due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s tasked with finding solutions to declining enrollment, especially among men of color. He’s striving hard to encourage young African American and Latino men to return to college. 

“Because of the pandemic, my leadership style has to be a little bit different,” he said. “My focus has to be different”. 

His focus is set, and he seems ready to go. 

These are huge goals to achieve, especially as we enter into a post-COVID-19 pandemic. But he sounds like the right leader for the right job. 

(Written by Jason Smithberg, Communications Specialist for Kremen)

Hiring 17 STEM Specialists Within Madera Unified Has Allowed Students to Thrive Academically

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) have been predicted as far back as President Barack Obama to be the major disciplinary game changers for equity in the future.  Still, there is much to be done in our region and throughout California to give STEM access to all students.  Under-representation for Latin-X, Black, Indigenous Native Americans, and other groups is still a major concern according to the latest reports.  

Todd Lile, Superintendent of Madera Unified School District, began to critically assess the teaching of STEM in his P-6 workforce as early as 2019.  In his pre-pandemic assessment, he observed what has been a national trend for decades.  Elementary teachers have few formal science experiences or training, despite the expressed interest to learn. He began to explore international education practices and realized the success that students of other nations were experiencing and pondered ways to engage his teachers in similar ways.   

It is predicted that the vast majority of students currently in school will retire from jobs that don’t yet exist. The Digital Age is creating new jobs requiring new skills for which traditional school models cannot prepare them.  For students to be successful in their future vocations, they must learn to be nimble, thoughtful, and adaptive to a changing world. 

Superintendent Lile focused his research on the quality of project-based learning in the area of STEM education and also on allowing teachers more blocks of time during the day to meet with their fellow colleagues in order to plan and anticipate the needs of their classrooms. 

“Traditionally, teachers have been given thirty minutes of preparation time each day, fifteen in the morning and fifteen in the afternoon, which generally consisted of packing and cleaning up the classroom,” Superintendent Lile explained. “To successfully initiate change I have determined it is necessary to give educators two hundred and fifteen minutes of professional collaboration and planning time within the contract day.” 

Superintendent Lile

In order to execute his vision, Superintendent Lile needed more experts in the field of STEM education. To accomplish this, he partnered with the Kremen School of Education and Human Development to help brainstorm a solution.  Laura Toney, the College and Career Readiness Coordinator for Madera Unified, is the lifeblood of this initiative.  A veteran of MUSD an elementary science educator for over 25 years, Laura was the perfect choice for leading such an effort.  She convenes her STEM cohort weekly for support, extends resources, teaching ideas, and significant professional development to both support teachers and bolster student engagement.  

With the support of its local community and schools, MUSD hired 17 additional STEM specialists and placed them throughout the district. Superintendent Lile also offered supplemental support through increased salaries, supplies, equipment, and training. Combined, they have made a phenomenal impact on elementary science teaching throughout the Valley.  Their goal is being met as every single child of the MUSD is experiencing STEM education at every grade level every week.  The passion and enthusiasm with which these teachers approached the initiative is commendable. 

“I am extremely impressed with the dexterity of these educators. They are teaching six different grade levels in one day and in two separate languages. I’ve never met a teacher that would even think of taking on that role, much less fulfilling it and helping one another at the same time.”

Superintendent Lile

This new educational approach has benefited students all the way from TK through sixth grade, allowing each child to enjoy a rich stem experience. Implementing science in elementary education has always been treated as an afterthought but now it is being pushed to the forefront. STEM has been proven to help children develop a mental architecture that encourages them to be strategic problem-solvers long after they graduate.  

Inspired and motivated by these efforts, Kremen is working side-by-side with these STEM teachers to support them in their learning of such notions as the Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards as they redesign lessons and create a learning community to support the advancement of STEM among elementary children.  It is an unprecedented investment and daunting task for each of these teachers as they often will teach every grade level of k-6 children in a single day–often adapting culturally responsive lessons on the fly with developmental appropriateness.  In addition, this complex cycle of teaching/reflecting/adapting often happens within a bilingual dual-immersion context. Their accomplishments are so unique that these teachers are presenting with Drs. Randy Yerrick and Fred Nelson at the California Science Educators Conference October 14th in Palm Springs.  The intent is to bring awareness to the challenges of teaching today’s children rising from a global pandemic, honor the cultural and linguistic diversity of the community, and simultaneously raise the professionalism of elementary content teachers more broadly.  

Superintendent Lile wants to take this initiative to the next level by helping secure more funding for Madera Unified and elevating the profession of teaching, (particularly in the area of elementary science). Their goal is to ensure the success of our future generation and to make sure each individual reaches their full potential. 

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing Student Employed by The Kremen School of Education and Human Development)

Educator-preparation programs awarded new national accreditation

With the second-largest educator preparation program in the California State University system, Fresno State prepares three out of every four teachers in the San Joaquin Valley.

And now, Fresno State is the first in the California State University system to earn recognition from a new national accrediting body, the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation.

The Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation awarded full, seven-year accreditation to nine education-related programs at Fresno State — seven within the Kremen School of Education and Human Development , one in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and one in the College of Health and Human Services.

Founded in 2017, the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation is a membership association and quality assurance agency that provides accreditation services and formative support to all types of educator preparation providers.

“Fresno State began as a teacher preparation institution and has grown into the world-class University it is today,” said Dr. Randy Yerrick, dean of the Kremen School. “We are grateful to the innumerable community partners we collaborate with who place our emerging professionals in their schools and workplaces throughout their preparation experiences. We could not accomplish such a feat alone.”

Previously, the Kremen School was awarded national accreditation under the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education standards under the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation  in 2014.

This new national accreditation was awarded to the Kremen School’s multiple subject, single subject and education specialist teacher education programs; bilingual authorization program; school counseling program; reading and literacy specialist program; and preliminary administrative services program. Fresno State’s agriculture specialist program and school nurse services program were also accredited.

Collectively, each program engaged in a process of selecting and examining data to determine where they were in meeting each of the accreditation standards. After looking at the results of the analysis, the programs took steps to continue to build on the work they were already doing to prepare educators to serve the region.

“After AAQEP was established, Fresno State realized it had a choice in its national accrediting body. We chose AAQEP because of its focus on continuous improvement and the opportunity to select our own measures to evaluate the work we are doing,” said Dr. Juliet Wahleithner, an associate professor in the Literacy, Early, Bilingual and Special Education Department and the Kremen School’s assistant director of teacher education.

Driven by her passion for the Kremen School’s mission, Wahleithner helped lead accreditation efforts. Wahleithner said receiving national accreditation goes beyond teacher prep — it’s about producing results that remain consistent to the core of the programs and the students who benefit from the instruction.

“This accreditation affirms the Kremen School’s development and preparation of educators in the region — teachers, counselors and leaders,” Wahleithner said.

(Story by Jason Smithberg, communications specialist for the Kremen School.)