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Future Teachers Benefit From Samueli Foundation Gift

Support to Expand Programs, Foster Diversity in the Teaching Profession
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Future elementary teacher Lizbeth Rodriguez Montoya is among students benefiting from a $100,000 Samueli Foundation gift to Cal State Fullerton’s College of Education.

The gift supports expanding programs offered by the college’s SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Center for Careers in Teaching, which includes Titan Future Teachers and Men of Color in Education. 

“This gift allows us to provide pathways for those underrepresented in the teaching profession and support to recruit all future teachers in areas of the highest need, which includes math, science, special education and bilingual teachers,” said Aimee Nelson, the center’s director.

California is experiencing a teacher shortage in public schools, including teachers with diverse backgrounds to teach multicultural students.

According to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, there were more than 10,000 teacher vacancies across the state during the 2021–22 school year. Overall, the state has also experienced a reduction in new teacher credentials.

The Center for Careers in Teaching provides a range of resources and guidance to students before they enter a teacher credential program and the support they need to pursue a career in teaching. Programming includes academic, career and professional support, leadership engagement, and tailored mentoring. 

Located in the Education Classroom Building, room 379, the center is also a physical space for students to study, connect with their peers and grab a snack before their next class. 

lizbeth-rodriguez montoya
Future teacher Lizbeth Rodriguez Montoya and Class of 2024 grad (Courtesy of Lizbeth Rodriguez Montoya)

Rodriguez Montoya, a soon-to-be Class of 2024 grad and first-generation college student whose first language is Spanish, has been receiving guidance from the center since her sophomore year to become a first-grade bilingual teacher.

“The Center for Careers in Teaching has helped me by giving me the resources that I need to complete my degree and guiding me on the steps I need to take to become a future teacher,” said Rodriguez Montoya, a liberal studies major with minors in Spanish and Chicana and Chicano studies.

Building a Diverse Teacher Workforce

The Samueli Foundation gift will also help the center boost mentorship opportunities to increase diversity within the teaching profession.

“Since mentorship can be key to retaining teachers of color, plans include connecting credential students with teacher mentors in local schools,” Nelson said.

Men of Color in Education offers activities, resources, academic advising and professional development. The program is open to all CSUF students interested in supporting Latino and African American/Black undergraduate men in obtaining a teaching credential and becoming teachers for social change. 

The program does not consider race, color, national origin, sex or any other protected status to participate in Men of Color in Education programming and activities, Nelson said.

“Beginning as early as their freshmen year and continuing throughout their undergraduate and credential studies, the program promotes belongingness and inclusion and fosters a community of future educators committed to social and educational justice,” she added. 

Titan Future Teachers
Students in the Titan Future Teachers program (Courtesy of SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Center for Careers in Teaching)

Titan Future Teachers, established in 2018, is designed to engage students as early as their first year at CSUF. More than 1,100 students have participated in the program to learn about pathways to credential programs to teach in elementary to secondary school settings, Nelson said. 

Inspired by her elementary school teachers, Rodriguez Montoya plans to graduate in May and has applied to CSUF’s combined credential and master’s in curriculum and instruction program in the fall. She will also pursue completing the bilingual authorization program to teach elementary curriculum in Spanish.

Rodriguez Montoya hopes to land a teaching position at the same Anaheim elementary school she attended as a child.

“I’m looking forward to becoming a bilingual teacher and making an impact in the lives of students to help them achieve their learning goals,” she said.

Visit the SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Center for Careers in Teaching website or the California Department of Education for more information on becoming a teacher.

Debra Cano Ramos