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Teachers For Tomorrow’s Schools Graduation Speakers | Alessia Cook

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This spring we had some terrific student speakers at the School of Education’s Teachers for Tomorrow’s Schools credential graduation. The speech that follows was given by Alessia Cook, who completed the  multiple subjects credential program and received an award for Reflective and Integrated Teaching Practice. She is excited to be teaching 4th grade at Hesperian Elementary in San Lorenzo Unified next year with a wonderful team of teachers.

Alessia Cook, Multiple Subjects Credential graduate '14

Alessia Cook, Multiple Subjects Credential graduate ’14

My parents always thought I should go into education. Many years ago, when I was freshly out of college, we sat together at the dining room table and I rebuffed my mom’s suggestion. I remember the exact words I used: I told them, laughing, that “I wasn’t ready” to become a teacher. I wanted something else -­‐ I wasn’t sure what -­‐ to happen first. Maybe I resisted because I sensed that they knew about some part of me that I was only just discovering. Ten years later, however, here I am: looking with some trepidation about that first year on my own, but mostly great excitement, toward a career I can’t wait to begin. Turns out they knew me pretty well.

I’ve spent the last week thinking about my experience at Mills, trying to decide what to say tonight. I wondered if there was a way to represent this group of extraordinary people with whom I have shared the journey of the last year, even though we’re all different in any number of ways. So I decided to begin by sharing a few of the things I’ve learned from my colleagues in the last ten months.

I’ve learned when to stop pushing, and that sometimes being too forward can make someone suspicious. That the absence of some of our classmates here tonight speaks to how much more we have to do in order to be truly inclusive and live a social justice stance because there is no neutral. That even though I didn’t feel my own authority when I was 23 and couldn’t imagine holding the responsibility of a classroom, some people seem hold that presence from birth. That most elementary school teachers, other than me, really do have mountains of art supplies in their homes, and probably in their bags right now. That you can live and breathe being a teacher and it doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time working. That there are games I actually like, like eyeball tag. That there are infinite configurations of insightful, fierce, generous and inquisitive personalities. That my own questioning of how I could have done something better is exactly what I need to keep doing. And to the secondary folks, I’ve learned that even though you still sometimes feel like the cool, older, more rebellious kids who smoke in the parking lot and collectively might have more tattoos and piercings, that you’re still part of the same web. You help all of us question the status quo, and we can’t do any of our work without each other.

This was the year when I learned that one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received could turn out to be a particular student telling me, “That was kinda interesting, I thought it was gonna be boring, but it kind of wasn’t.”

I’ve learned that we all came here for different reasons.

My dad was a career educator, first as a classroom teacher and later as a math-­‐ science program coordinator and teacher of other teachers. He loved his work. He once came home at the end of a day at school, and keep in mind this was about 35 years into his career, and said, without any sense of irony, “I have the best job in the world.” He was the epitome of an enthusiastic lifelong learner. I always knew how admired he was by both students and other teachers, but truthfully I didn’t pay close attention to that when I was growing up. I just loved him because he was my dad.

I didn’t decide to become a teacher until after I lost him three years ago. One of the most difficult parts of the decision to become a teacher was regretting that I had lost the greatest model and mentor I could have hoped for before I even began my career. What has been so extraordinary for me about the community at Mills is that it has fulfilled what is otherwise an incredibly painful gap for me. Our professors, supervisors, and my colleagues have enriched my life and widened my perspective in ways I didn’t know were possible.

When I tell people I’m going into teaching, they often respond with some version of, “Good for you! Thank you. I could never do that job, but we need more good teachers in the world” and to be honest, this response drives me insane. I’ve struggled to figure out exactly why it bothers me, but I think it’s mostly because I don’t consider teaching a sacrifice and I don’t want to be treated like a martyr. I’m becoming a teacher because I want to use my strengths and my interests to do something I truly enjoy. Every time I walk into a new classroom, I can’t wait to get to know the students in there. That is my touchstone and the feeling that I know will sustain me when I face the challenges and moments of self-­‐doubt that are sure to come.

As you can see, I learned a tremendous amount this year. And one of the people who taught me the most was Vicki [LaBoskey]. I learned from her that even without my dad here, there are models of everything I aspire to be as a teacher, mentor, and a human being, and that can include going on a passionate rant in the middle of class and making sure your students know exactly what you value.

Written by collegialconnections

July 9, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Around the World in an Hour and Thirty! | Kula Addy

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Kula Addy, MBA/MA in Educational Leadership Student

Kula Addy, MBA/MA in Educational Leadership Student

The MBA/MA Huddle skipped through three continents in ninety minutes. How? Keep reading.

The idea of global citizenship is the foundation for bringing more international and comparative education opportunities to the MBA/MA in Educational Leadership program. In defining this unique type of citizenship, attendees at the first discussion on February 14th were presented with a tangible pathway to secure it; a new course set to begin spring 2014.

True to the dedication Mills has to their students, we were given a direct line to voice our opinions, and leadership answered—on the first ring. The Huddle hosted a discussion with Dean Deborah Merrill-Sands of the Graduate School of Business and Dean Kathy Schultz of the School of Education. The deans shared their international history in their fields, and ping-ponged plans for future coursework.

Dean Schultz described how her partnership with the International Rescue Committee led her to teacher education initiatives in Southeast Asia and curriculum development in Lebanon. Collaboration with the existing culture was paramount to the group’s learning and development. Dean Merrill-Sands spoke to the importance of the “deep dive”; practical and principled immersion in another culture to help understand your own. As an agricultural scientist in Mayan villages to countries in West Africa, Merrill-Sands emphasized leading by inquiry and participatory action.

Both narratives echoed a complete reframing of how each work in the world today. The new international course will encourage the same transformative critique on how we work in relation to others.

International and comparative education encompasses a wide variety of points in education and humanities, but especially in business. It is neither limited to studying abroad, nor confined to exchange, but is synonymous with one of our favorite phrases at Mills, “multiple perspectives”. Participation in international discourse enhances soft and hard skills promoted in any career field. For MBA/MA students, many of these educational entities are looking for astute financiers and program managers to strategically advance their global mission.

The proposed course will include anthropological insight, case studies on key issues (foreign and domestic), and perhaps a trip for field experience, which garnered the audience’s applause. This course, matched with others currently offered by the GSB, like Multinational Business Strategies and International Finance, may eventually become a concentration in International Education or Relations.

During the huddle, we started with a definition. “A person entitled to the rights and privileges of a free man, loyal to the state or nation to which he was born.” A citizen.

In recent exposure to Michael Foucault’s ruminations on power, I fell upon his description of a “free man” or, the state in which one is free. Freedom, he says, is a “field of possibilities in which several ways of behaving, several reactions…may be realized.” Foucault sees freedom and power in mutual existence, that where possibilities abound, action does too.  Now think of where you live, of where you have lived, and where you would like to live. Did you consider yourself a citizen of your home address, or of a city in the Bay Area of California? Did you consider yourself an entitled free (wo)man who had a field of possibilities to behave in a way that was loyal to herself, as well as her larger zip code? Did you consider yourself a tool in a box of Pandora proportions, where the way the mundane choices you make in life directly affect your next door neighbor?

Today, we find that we are increasingly interconnected and must address different realities in the world around us. We are free women and men engaged in power relations that require us to talk, think, and act with multiple, global perspectives in mind. To build bridges and fill gaps across national borders, creating a more culturally-competent, socially just, and economically equitable world. To be global citizens, a seemingly cursory term, that has true meaning to students here at Mills who plan to take that meaning around the world and back. Join our class in the spring 2014 and stay tuned for more updates on our efforts!

Are you a global citizen? Tell us more about your citizenship here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1MJtKoQcGZbqo5QRDsu2ChrjJL8HSUbQwlmWLdCx8i9I/viewform?pli=1

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The MBA/MA Huddle is a graduate group that offers a platform for action-oriented exploration of the intersection of business management and education, with a focus on innovation and reform.

Written by collegialconnections

March 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm

The Intersection of Business and Education Meets at the Huddle | Parijat Tanna

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MBA/MA in Educational Leadership student, Parijat Tanna

MBA/MA in Educational Leadership student, Parijat Tanna

In the fall of 2012, a group of students in the MBA/MA in Educational Leadership Program (a joint program of the School of Education and the Lokey Graduate School of Business) came together and realized an opportunity for an ongoing space to discuss the intersection of the worlds of business and education. Thus the Huddle was born, providing joint degree students with resources and opportunities to learn and participate in this emerging field.

The Huddle met and formed three Tiger Teams to take on the specific tasks necessary to expand the scope of the Huddle. The Career Tiger Team presented a mind map of the education industry, highlighting the vastness of the industry while recognizing the sectors in which the joint students were interested in working. The Huddle Tiger Team invited in a professor from the Graduate School of Business and a professor from the School of Education to debate the topic of opportunity costs in education. They also heard from Professor Tom Li, who shared his experience of sitting on a school board to which he brought his knowledge as a CPA in order to address school- related issues. Students’ opinions and thoughts regarding the both the Huddle and the MBA/MA joint program are also welcomed and valued.

The Huddle has recently added the Business and Education Action Team (BEAT). BEAT will be an outward facing component of the Huddle, with students volunteering with schools and educational organizations, and providing business consulting and supplemental workshops to students.

The Huddle is a great resource for the MBA/MA joint students at Mills. It offers a motivating site for students to synthesize their classroom learning with real life situations. The group also allows students to explore career paths which align with the joint degree.

For me, the Huddle is a meeting place for my peers and me to reflect and examine the new connections being forged within the areas of education and business, as well as the challenges that may arise from that relationship. To be a part of something that is creating a significant impact is empowering, and it is amazing to be able to bring that to Mills. I hope that we can carry this conversation into action, especially through BEAT. I look forward to the continuing progress and ripples of success we will make, not only at Mills, but also within the Oakland community.

Written by collegialconnections

March 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

A Beautiful Noise | Annie Neves

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Annie Neves '12 Executive Assistant to    the Dean of the School                of Education

Annie Neves ’12 Academic Coordinator & Executive Assistant to the Dean of the School of Education

What has 80 arms, can be natural, be flat, be sharp and makes a beautiful noise?

The Mills College Choir, re-established this year after a 22 year absence from the campus!

Last spring, I saw emails inviting the Mills community to join. I fondly remembered participating in the University of New Mexico Community Choir over ten years ago and thought, “Why not?”

The choir has 40 members; undergraduate women, graduate women and men, faculty, and staff. The School of Education is tunefully represented by Elizabeth Baker (Visiting Assistant Professor) and me.

Sopranos, Altos, and Tenors. The voices….ah, the voices! The director, Cindy Beitman, makes each week’s two-hour practice in the chapel fun as we tune up our voices and practice, practice, practice. Early in the semester, some members were unsure of which singing range to belong to. Cindy’s acute ear placed people in the section best suited to her or his voice. For years, one woman was convinced she was an Alto. Cindy heard something different and placed her with the Sopranos – the Soprano 1 group with voices so clear and high that at times, we expect to see glass shatter!  I found myself with the Alto 2 group – very low range, perfect for someone’s vocal chords that prefer Tenor and Alto 2 tones.

There is something wonderful when you are in a large group, singing parts and ranges, having a piece come together with rich harmony and sound. The chapel walls literally vibrate with glee. It is energizing, it builds a different sort of confidence, and it is invigorating. There are times we complete a piece and are in awe how the bits come together to produce an amazing effect.

Earlier this fall while we were working on a piece, President DeCoudreaux was walking past the chapel. The sound and her curiosity pulled her in. We stopped, Cindy introduced the Mills College Choir to her, and she asked to hear a song. Forty-strong, we delivered four-part harmony that left her applauding and excited to get back to Mills Hall to tell the folks there about the harmonious sounds of the choir.

Besides our weekly Wednesday practice, some of us practice with other members or outside Mills. Whether we sing with our choir or to our friends, our pets, in the shower, or to the dishes in the kitchen sink, the exhilaration of the simple act of freely singing gives pleasure to the soul.

We have sung at this year’s convocation. Standing next to the robed and capped alumnae women, we sang Fires of Wisdom. Some of the alumnae were misty-eyed as they sang along with us, and several expressed their appreciation for a song well executed in prosaic solidarity.

The Mills College Choir will hold its Winter Concert on Sunday, December 9, in the Music Building’s Littlefield Concert Hall, at 4 p.m. (If you are on campus on Wednesday, December 5, and happen to be at the Tea Shop at 12:30 p.m., you might get a preview of the concert!) Come hear us! It will be music to your ears!

Written by collegialconnections

December 4, 2012 at 9:27 am

Posted in Mills News, Students

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