College of education to open demonstration site for future

Sandy Archila

The Michael D. Eisner College of Education will open a temporary site for a new Learning Achievement Center while it seeks funds for a permanent building.

The temporary site will house and develop a new interdisciplinary approach to train teachers on the different ways they can support K-12 students who are struggling in school, said College of Education officials.

The new LAC is designed to provide community service through instructional training where faculty members, counselors, and graduate and undergraduate students will work with K-12 students from local partner schools using new techniques.

Plans are in the early stages since the college has not been able to secure the estimated $12 million it will take to open a larger facility needed for the college to expand its services and resources, said Laura Lindberg, grant writer for the College of Education.

“At this point the Learning Achievement Center is just a concept and no funding has been secured,” Lindberg said. “If we are able to find a donor to help us build a facility, then we will begin planning for that, but at this point it’s just a vision for the future.”

The College of Education will soon begin construction of a temporary site, next to its current facilities due to open next semester so that the program can get started.

“We are in the progress of seeking funding for a larger facility, but in the interim ? we’re starting with a small demonstration site over where our current centers are all located,” said Philip Rusche, dean of the College of Education.

“There’s a lot of excitement about it, and that’s why we’re eager to get the demonstration site open and get it working and show people that we’re turning out very stronger teachers,” he said.

Rusche said the hope is once donors see the demonstration site and the work being done, they will be able to begin raising funds for the center.

Lindberg said the concept of the LAC was developed by Rusche and college faculty members as a way of introducing an innovative approach and interdisciplinary model in preparing teachers on how to work with children.

Lindberg said the new model will recognize that children’s learning needs are complex, and also recognizes that professionals who work with children need to work in collaboration with other professionals to support the needs of a child. She said the model will allow active and experiential learning in a clinical supervised setting.

Rusche said the college wants its students to learn in a comprehensive way about teaching and learning, adding the new center will offer them the opportunity to prepare highly qualified teachers, regular educators, special educators, a school psychologist, and school counselors.

Nicole Park, undeclared freshman, said she has an interest in going into education and has been researching the programs offered at CSUN.

“This past year, I’ve been looking at the college of education and at the requirements and programs they offer,” Park said. “I’ve heard a little about the center, and think that it would be great. It sounds like a great learning opportunity for students.”

Christine Kennedy, junior deaf studies major, said she believes the new center will be a great learning experience for college students.

“It’ll be a really good chance for us to work with children in an environment, where we’re doing community service and learning at the same time,” Kennedy said.

Rusche said that the facility will be an instructional laboratory to help children and families who need services.

“The idea is we prepare a large numbers of teachers, counselors, and administrators,” Rusche said. “We don’t just see it as a public agency, we see it as an instructional site, so we would only bring in as many k-12 students as we need to complete our instructional programs, because a thrust of this is instructional not just service.”

Lindberg said the vision behind the LAC is that new facility will give the college the ability to provide high-quality services to the local community members while also providing a research, demonstration, and clinical training site for the college.

Rusche said that in the Teachers for a new Era, a project the college is involved in, one of the challenges is to think of teachers as modern day clinicians, people who can diagnose student learning, assess learning potential, set goals, and develop methodologies for achieving goals, and then be able to evaluate the results at the end.

“By bringing this more comprehensive view, teachers will better recognize student learning strengths and weaknesses and know where to refer them when they see problems or other attributes,” he said. “It’s trying to bring an interdisciplinary model to teacher education.”

Rusche said the center and services are an exciting prospect, and that talented faculty are working to conceptualize and working on making the program a success for the college students, children, and the university.

“Anything we do has to enhance the instructional mission of the university and the college,” he said. “It’s an instructional center and so our students, (both graduate and undergraduate) will be able to get involved and see what is happening in the educational field from day one.”