Alumnae Help Stockton Homeless Through Education

Dan Olivas Singing
The staff at TLC (from left): teacher Gail Jones, secretary Kathy Jantz,
teacher Raquel Olpin, founder Sara Garfield, teachers Lisa Rie, Rita Steele
and Carol Cohen.

Sara Garfield has been helping children from homeless families find a quality education for two decades. And from the beginning, the CSU Stanislaus professor emerita has been doing it with teaching talent culled from the university.

Stockton's Transitional Learning Center for Homeless Children — or one.TLC, part of the San Joaquin County Office of Education's "one." alternative education program — opened under Garfield's direction in 1992. Since then, the school has helped more than 7,500 homeless children transition into the public education system.

Of the four teachers currently on Garfield's staff, three of them are CSU Stanislaus alumnae, and Garfield said it's no accident that teachers Carol Cohen, Gail Jones and Lisa Rie all moved from the university's teaching credential programs to her staff at TLC.

"I actively recruited them because of their knowledge, commitment to working with at-risk students and their heart for working with this population," Garfield said. "They are on the front line every day and are totally committed to serving our homeless youth."

TLC provides standards-based education, remediation, counseling and support services, along with backpacks, school supplies, clothing and personal hygiene items to children. The school also offers assistance for parents to obtain birth certificates and school records.

"Each day presents new challenges to motivate students to learn, and it is an incredible joy when a student learns to read and discovers how empowering knowledge and words can be," said Cohen, who earned her teaching credential from CSU Stanislaus in 2004. "The students teach me so much about my own life and challenge me to be a better person and teacher."

And it's not only teachers Garfield recruits from CSU Stanislaus. More than 350 students from the university — typically those studying education, psychology and social work — have spent time at TLC for fieldwork, student teaching, internships and volunteering. Garfield said the school also gets volunteer help from three retired teachers and a number of local high school students and community groups.

Other CSU Stanislaus alumnae who have taught at TLC include Ria DeGroot and Carrie Filler. TLC's preschool specialist, Raquel Olpin, studied at San Joaquin Delta College.

For Lisa Rie, who has been involved with TLC since 1994 as a volunteer, mentor advocate, teaching assistant and teacher, the CSU Stanislaus connection was invaluable in establishing her teaching career.

"CSU Stanislaus created the link for me to meet Sara Garfield, to discover her remarkable school and — to the best of my ability — to provide these children with as positive a school experience as possible," Rie said. "CSU Stanislaus gave me an exceptional educational experience, and Sara and the university have both completely impacted my life as an educator."

For information on TLC, call (209) 468-9492 or (209) 468-9494.