Keeping local K-12 schools staffed with quality teachers and administrators has been as much a part of Stanislaus State’s heritage as the Turlock fairgrounds and Warrior Pride.
No fewer than a dozen superintendents in Stan State’s six-county service region and countless teachers have trained for credentials and earned advanced degrees from Stan State.
Still, the nationwide teaching shortage, brought about in part by the aftereffects of the pandemic, is impacting the Central Valley, too, and new Dean of the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work Brad Porfilio has a vision for attracting future teachers.
“You have to have beacons of hope,” Porfilio said, and to that end he envisions calling on those who’ve built satisfying careers with Stan State degrees to inspire current students.
“You have to have inspiration from people who’ve been engaged in the profession and have succeeded,” Porfilio said. “It might be bringing back some of our alumni or teachers who have been successful and asking them what makes the profession rewarding and how they have dealt with challenges successfully to assure students’ intellectual, social and emotional growth.
How have they worked with underserved communities to help them address some of the pressing problems facing them, whether it’s homelessness, poverty or violence? How have they collectively engaged in communities to support the needs, and why is this a rewarding profession despite all the challenges, obstacles and concerns?”
Beyond hearing tales of success, Porfilio — who arrived last fall at Stan State from San José State University where he was a tenured professor and director of the Ed.D. Leadership Program at the Connie L. Lurie College of Education — has other plans.
His department is working on a program for California’s new PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential, which aligns with studies that show the critical need for children to read at the third-grade level to have educational success.
“The other thing I see people doing more and more is getting involved in residency programs where you have funding for teacher education programs to work specifically with school districts,” Porfilio said.
Stan State has residency programs with Turlock and Ceres unified school districts. Its student teachers work alongside an experienced teacher-mentor for a year of clinical training while completing required coursework in the University preparation program. Studies show residents are more effective new teachers than those who step right into a classroom.
The residency program could expand beyond Turlock and Ceres.
Stan State recently reached an agreement with Stockton Unified School District to place student teachers in its schools. It’s a boost for the single subject and multiple subject credential programs offered at the Stockton Campus, which also administers an online teaching credential program and has an administrator’s master’s degree program.
Stan State’s administrative credential program has prepared countless principals and other administrators in the region, and many have gone on to earn a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from the University.
“We’re going to continue to educate those students who want to become leaders in K-12 schools,” Porfilio said. “What you’re seeing is more of a pipeline — people getting the teaching credential, which is what we hope to do with this online format, then getting their master’s degree in school administration and if they want to go further, getting their Ed.D. and becoming a superintendent, a leader in the Stockton schools.
“We’re making an impact. We want to go further and try to do more of this.”
The University, Porfilio said, isn’t passively waiting for adults to decide to return to college and pursue a teaching credential or for college students, who according to some studies change majors five times, to land on liberal studies and decide to become teachers.
The Department of Teacher Education received a grant to start teacher clubs in area high schools, first in Modesto and eventually Stockton.
Through these clubs, Stan State hopes to reach young people, particularly those who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color), and introduce them to teaching and to what Stan State has to offer in preparing them for careers in education.
Additionally, the department received a grant for dual enrollment, which will allow high school students the opportunity to take and earn credits for Stanislaus State teacher preparation courses.
“It dovetails with being a career ready University,” Porfilio said. “We have to provide students with the insight of what it means to become a teacher, the policies, process and credentials, and what it means to be successful. They’ll be able to see from the time they are in high school how to become successful teachers. We provide them with that critical connection to our University, with our student teachers and with credentialed teachers. They connect with teacher educators who can provide mentorship and support.”
Education has long been viewed as a noble career. While it might not be considered glamorous, it does offer satisfaction for positively impacting young people and preparing the next generation of leaders and productive citizens.
The effects of COVID-19, the weight of standardized tests, and in some states, government intrusion on classroom subjects, are prompting teachers to leave the field.
Stan State’s Department of Teacher Education is committed to filling that void with well-trained and enthusiastic professionals.