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) 

Donor Gift Represents a Labor of Love for Huggins Center

It was a gift of inspiration from a Kremen alum that transformed a labor of love into a reality. 

It was a gift that turned an ordinary, empty classroom into a flourishing academic oasis for children. 

Brittney Randolph can’t help but be overwhelmed by the generosity of the gift bestowed by a Kremen alum that has now provided significant learning opportunities for the students and staff at the Joyce Huggins Early Education Center


Randolph, the Program Director for the Fresno State Programs for Children, still recollects fondly upon the impact of this gift and what it has done to provide more opportunities for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics) learning. Randolph gave Chuck Hudelson a tour of the Huggins Center and in particular, a certain classroom that was “Reggio-inspired” from an innovative, four-pronged approach to education in Italy. This tour ignited his desire to donate the gift.

“The classroom that we were talking about was basically empty. We told him our ideas and what we envisioned for the room.”

said Randolph

All it took was one look at that empty classroom, paired with the inspiration of teaching, for a dream to become reality. From that point on, Randolph could tell how passionate Hudelson had become about the type of STEAM learning that was being taught at the Huggins Center. 

Randolph explained that they were actively seeking a donor who believed in their vision even before Hudleson came along. All it took was one look at an empty classroom for that search to end. Hudelson knew what needed to be done.

They needed chairs. They needed tables. They needed other basic classroom necessities to provide their students with the best possible learning experience. Dr. Hudelson stepped up, and delivered the ultimate gift of passion and generosity. 

Hudelson’s gift has now enabled them to purchase the STEAM  materials they need: microscope pens, light tables, projectors, coding pens. Randolph’s students now have the tools they require to help them succeed. 

“He told us to do whatever we wanted to do with the amount he gave us,” said Randolph. “He was just excited that these children could potentially learn things like this at such a young age.”

For Randolph, the gift serves as a constant reminder of the labor of love she and her staff share for the teaching of their students. The gift is not just about money; it’s about their passion for teaching. 

“We don’t always have the resources to do what we envision all the time. But when you have adequate financial resources, you can execute it exactly how you pictured it.”

Randolph explains.

After the “Reggio-inspired” themed classroom was completed, Randolph took snapshots of the room to share with Hudelson. She wanted him to see, firsthand, how his gift of generosity helped their vision come to fruition. “We wanted him to finally see the vision we had explained to him during that tour,” said Randolph. 

It was the best way for Randolph and her staff to say thank you for a gift inspired by love and vision.  

“The tears of joy that come from student parents at the end of the semester remind me why it is so important that we continue offering this opportunity to students, faculty, staff, and the local community,”

Randolph concludes. 

(Written by Jason Smithberg, Kremen Communications Specialist)

 From Internship to Success

Lucero Mendoza, an intern who worked with Kremen’s Center for Advising and Student Services, is now pursuing her master’s degree in Student Affairs and College Counseling. She is projected to graduate by Spring 2023, after which, she plans to become an academic counselor in higher education. The knowledge and life skills she gained through her internship prompted her to continue reaching for her dreams, instilling her with a sense of purpose and renewed confidence.

Unfortunately, Mendoza did not have a smooth transition to college. Being a first-generation college student, she was not equipped to navigate the intimidating environment of higher education. Because of this, she decided early on that she wanted to use her future degree to help assist other first-generation college students facing the same predicament. Throughout her first year of college, Mendoza was part of a support program called “College Assistance Migrant Program” (CAMP). CAMP not only provided her with valuable resources but also introduced her to the Student Affairs College Counseling program. She began seeking assistance from peer mentors within the program. This motivated her to become a support system for other students who may also be struggling or simply need someone to talk to.

Mendoza’s internship at Kremen has helped prepare her for a future position in higher education by showing her the foundational principles of college counseling. Over the course of the last year, she has developed a new outlook regarding academic advising.

“I now understand how important it is to build a rapport with students, learning how to put oneself in their shoes. This has allowed me to take into consideration the fact that students have other responsibilities outside of their academic life, and because of this, counselors must approach each student with kindness and an open mind.”

Lucero Mendoza

Mendoza has also learned the importance of networking with other professionals. Throughout her internship, she has taken part in the Teacher Recruitment Fair and has also joined the Campus Advisors Network, where she was able to learn how other advising centers operated across campus, including any new changes that were happening. Mendoza also had the opportunity to connect with the Liberal Studies Dean, as well as other counseling members from their department. These opportunities have given her the chance to get to know other professionals in her field and learn more about their unique journeys to higher education.

Lucero Mendoza (Second from far left) with some of the other staff members at the Center for Advising and Student Services.

Working with the Center for Advising and Student Services has allowed Mendoza to gain a vast array of technical experience. Through them, she mastered how to navigate PeopleSoft, Bulldog Connect, and Zoom. Some of the other skills she has acquired include building effective communication pathways amongst students, discovering how to motivate individuals, and learning how to become an approachable person. Mendoza quickly realized the importance of having good listening skills and now strives to be as attentive to students as possible. She wants to make sure her students feel understood and validated when coming in for a session. Through Kremen, she has been taught the importance of working as a collaborative team while also building healthy relationships with both her coworkers and students. 

One of the techniques Mendoza has adopted is being flexible with her student’s availability, especially with 98% of student meetings now occurring via Zoom. At times, students may prefer having a phone call or do not feel comfortable meeting face-to-face. Other times, they are only available in the late evenings or after school hours. To Mendoza, it is extremely important to meet students halfway and remind them that she is there to support them in any way she can. Through working with the advisors at Kremen, she has learned many different techniques on how to approach students. One of her biggest takeaways is remembering to always check in with her students and conduct a follow-up after their appointment.

Organization is another crucial skill that Mendoza picked up during her internship with the counseling center. She began to utilize platforms such as Google Calendar to help itemize priorities and to keep herself from over-booking.

“Juggling school, work, and an internship can quickly become overwhelming, but having a calendar helped me to stay accountable and on track. I also used it to remind myself to take self-care days, allowing my mind to naturally reset during stressful semesters.”

Lucero Mendoza

 Mendoza loves sharing this tool with her students, knowing that it will help them exert more responsibility over their academic lives.  

For Mendoza, the Center for Advising and Student Services will always be an environment filled with positivity and encouragement. The staff members provided her with tremendous support and guidance throughout her first year as an advisor intern. One of the most poignant memories Mendoza made during her internship was when Kremen hosted a Christmas potluck. It was her first-time meeting everyone in person since joining the department. She was amazed at how well everyone got along, something that made her feel included immediately.

Lucero attending the Christmas potluck with her coworkers.

Being with Kremen has made Mendoza realize that she wants to secure a job that makes her feel welcome and understood, a place where everyone works as a team and shares the same goal of supplying the best possible service for students.

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