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Ceremony Honors Center That Prepares Diverse Future Teachers for Workforce

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Odalys Garcia knew in high school that she wanted to become a middle school teacher for English language development students. As a former ELD student, Garcia understands the challenges they are likely to face. After being inspired by her own teacher, she ultimately hopes to help ELD students navigate the K-12 education system.

“As a teacher, I want to be able to focus on middle school students in ELD and get them prepared for high school,” Garcia said. “I want to inspire them to push themselves no matter your background, no matter if you speak Spanish or other languages first, that you can still achieve what you want with your education.”

The Cal State Fullerton freshman majoring in liberal studies participates in Titan Future Teachers, a program where students can meet other peers interested in teaching, access resources and learn skills they will need to enter a teaching credential program. It’s one of the programs housed under the SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Center for Careers in Teaching.

On Oct. 26, a dedication ceremony celebrated renaming the College of Education’s flagship center to honor SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union‘s $800,000 gift. The gift will support the center’s outreach, advising, and teacher preparation programs like Titan Future Teachers and Men of Color in Education.

Ribbon Cutting

The center also includes the SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Center for Creativity and Critical Thinking, which offers in-service teacher professional development and educational experiences focused on the arts, science, and technology for preschool through grade 12 students.

Director Aimee Nelson said the center, the first-of-its-kind to launch in the California State University system in 1998, engages thousands of future and current teachers each year. It aims to alleviate barriers for diverse educators and provide the support they need to be successful.

Speakers at the ceremony included CSUF President Fram Virjee, Bill Cheney, president and CEO of SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, and Lisa Kirtman, dean of the College of Education.

“The impact our students and future teachers will have on classrooms will be felt for generations,” Virjee said. “Over the last two decades, our Center for Careers in Teaching has been central to developing best practices and assisting future teachers through its programs.”

Hongxia Mo, a junior majoring in psychology, moved from China to the U.S. when she was 20 years old. Hoping to pursue a career as a middle school teacher, Mo says the community she gained by participating in Titan Future Teachers has been very supportive.

“You get to meet others who have gone through similar experiences,” Mo said. “(Program coordinator Jacqueline Calabrese) supports us when we feel like we’re not prepared. She’s helping us get there step-by-step.”

Titan Future Teachers, which launched in 2018, is now scaling up in its fourth year.

“We have over 700 undergraduate students as members now,” said Calabrese, the center’s graduation specialist. “It really helps bring students together. Even if one student wants to teach kindergarten and another student wants to teach high school calculus, they can still find common ground on wanting to support students.”

Kendra Morales