For Laurie Inman, lecturer and chair of liberal studies, working in the university’s College of Education is uniquely rewarding. “Here, putting students first isn’t just a mission statement or vision that’s written on the wall,” she says. “We all come here because we want to do the work, and the work is about our students.”
“Building relationships and engaging with students is very important to me,” she says. “I tell them during our first class, ‘I’m not going to stand up here and lecture you. That’s not what this class is about.’ Teaching and learning are synchronous—we will learn from each other.”
Inman’s student-centered, engaging style has earned her the 2022 Catherine H. Jacobs Outstanding Faculty Lecturer Award, which recognizes faculty who demonstrate excellence in teaching effectiveness, and acknowledges the role non-tenure track lecturers play in student success and the campus community as a whole.
“I was pleasantly surprised to be nominated,” she says. “Over 60 percent of the teachers on campus are lecturers, and I know there are so many people who are deserving of the award. I’m honored, blessed, and really humbled by the award.”
Inman has been an educator for more than three decades. She served as “an elementary teacher, principal, assistant director for curriculum, and everything in between” for the Long Beach Unified School District, and was senior literacy consultant for Smartel Learning Links, a professional development company focused on educating teachers in reading instruction.
She has also spent time in the world of charter schools, serving as CEO for Apple Academy Charter Public Schools and the Center for Independent Charter Schools.
In 2017, Inman saw that CSUDH had a position open. She had worked as a part-time lecturer in the university’s liberal studies department between 2000 and 2008, and wanted to return, because “CSUDH always felt like home to me.”
“It always felt comfortable,” Inman continues. “Everyone was accepting. Everybody was always so kind and it just made you feel welcome. There was no, ‘You’re only part-time.’ You become part of the Toro family, and always feel like you’re a part of Dominguez Hills.”
Inman currently serves as chair of the liberal studies department, while teaching the ‘Liberal Studies Integrated Capstone’ course, which prepares future teachers for the performance assessment they must pass in order to teach in California. CSUDH’s integrated teacher education program allows students to work towards their bachelor’s degrees and teaching credentials simultaneously.
By focusing on making connections with her students during early classes, Inman strives to create a space where they can have “conversations about the real work,” as she puts it.
“Students today are so committed to teaching differently than they were taught,” Inman says. “They see the inequities as we talk about critical issues. By the time they get into a classroom, they’re ready to put what they’ve learned into practice. But they’re also seeing where change and progress is not happening out there, and many students struggle with how to make it happen.”
In Inman’s classroom, students come together and discuss the real-world situations they encounter, helping one another integrate the educational theories and practices they’ve learned and believe in with the realities of K-12 daily life.
“I love seeing that light bulb come on,” says Inman. “The more the students talk and process the information they’re getting, the faster that light bulb can come on. Engagement and connection with my students are key.”
Ultimately, Inman says, her courses are about shared experiences. “I’m learning from them while they’re learning from me. As far as I’m concerned, we’re on equal status. I’m a veteran teacher, you’re a future teacher, and we’re going to learn this stuff together. I love the fact that I get to help shape, develop, and prepare future teachers.”