“America is only as great as its educational system.”
That was Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho’s message for the aspiring teachers gathered at the College of Education’s 2022-23 Credential Celebration on May 22. Carvalho was the keynote speaker for the event, which celebrated the nearly 300 teacher-students who completed a CSUDH credential program this year.
Before introducing Carvalho to the audience of Toros and their family and friends, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Spagna spoke about the mission of the College of Education (COE) and the central role teachers play in shaping society.
“We are creating ‘nation builders,’” he said, referencing the term used for teachers in the Republic of Korea. “We are one of the top producers of talent for LAUSD, the second biggest school district in the U.S.”
“Until we pay attention to the larger ecosystem and work with our intersegmental partners to really bolster L.A. Unified, we won’t truly reach equity and get to a social justice agenda–which is what our university is about.”
In her welcoming remarks, College of Education Dean Jessica Zacher Pandya also referenced the College’s vision–which includes principles of justice, equity, and critical consciousness, as well as the goal of preparing critical educators to co-create and enact transformative change.
“You are those critical educators, and we are here to celebrate you,” Pandya said.
Carvalho then took to the podium to offer his congratulations, discuss the impact education had on his own life trajectory, and expand upon the idea of teachers as “nation builders.”
“We are a nation at a point of inflection,” Carvalho said. “If there’s one place in America where we have a chance of actually growing, it is in our classrooms. Public education and democracy are two sides of the same coin.
“I am looking not only at nation builders, but the architects of hope and the engineers of opportunity–for teachers are exactly that,” he added.
Carvalho went on to explain that he came from humble beginnings, and that his parents never had the opportunity to attend school past the third grade. Carvalho’s fourth grade teacher took him under her wing, affirming him and giving him the confidence he needed to succeed in school. He implored the teachers present to truly invest in their students and form real, emotional connections with them.
“You will not touch the child’s mind without first touching their heart,” he said. “You will create meaningful, magical moments with kids, and take them to places they never dreamed they could reach.
“That was my journey.”
Following Carvalho’s speech, credential program graduates had their names called as they walked the stage. For Zulema Pettway, earning her special education credential marked a great personal achievement.
“It was a hard road to get here, but worth it,” she said. “I want to be a light for my students and give them the opportunities they deserve.”