The CSUDH College of Education has been awarded $1.59 million through the U.S. Department of Education’s first-ever Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program, which aims to increase high-quality teacher preparation programs for teachers of color, diversify the teacher pipeline, and address teacher shortages.
CSUDH was the only California university represented among the twelve institutions of higher education awardees, which were announced February 15.
The funds will support Multilingual/Minoritized Educators Networked-Learning and Development (MEND), CSUDH’s project to dramatically increase and retain the number of multilingual and minoritized teachers in Southern California. MEND will specifically target CSUDH’s elementary education teacher preparation program, focusing on pre-service teachers’ wellness, academic pursuits, and high-quality early clinical experiences in schools.
“In Los Angeles County, we have such diversity in language education and language experiences,” says Professor of Teacher Education and MEND Co-Principal Investigator Pablo Ramirez. “We are seeking to transform teacher education so that it’s reflective of the needs of our communities.”
MEND includes Co-Principal Investigators Associate Professor of Teacher Education Edward Curammeng, Associate Professor of Liberal Studies Jen Stacy, and Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Minhye Son, with the College of Education’s Academic Research and Evaluation Center (AREC) leading evaluation efforts. The team is also partnering with Assistant Professor of Teacher Education Stephanie Cariaga and Associate Professor of Teacher Education Elexia Reyes-McGovern, whose expertise round out the project’s focus on multilingual learners, wellness, and Ethnic Studies.
Curammeng says that when the team began their proposal in Fall 2022, the grant parameters seemed to be “written for them.”
“This is the work we already do,” he says. “Our college has undergone invigorating transformations, and it’s exciting that the Department of Education sees value in what we’ve been doing for the past several years.”
In fact, the MEND team earned a perfect score from three independent reviewers–a rare achievement for grant proposals that reflects the trailblazing work of the college.
“The models we are going to co-create with students, teachers, and mentors will be groundbreaking,” Ramirez says. “We need to take teacher education in a different direction, and this is just one step.”
The first MEND Fellows cohort will be recruited from the College of Education’s Liberal Studies undergraduate program, with subsequent cohorts recruited from Ethnic Studies majors and students interested in earning their bilingual authorization. Fellows will be connected with credential program alumni who will serve as MENDtor teachers, and the program will also share best practices with school district partners.
“With so many teachers leaving the profession, we need to provide support structures so that there is a solid sense of community and material resources to ensure our students will be teachers for the long haul,” Curammeng says. “They need to be sustained throughout the trajectory of their careers.”
The MEND award marks CSUDH’s second major Department of Education grant this academic year. Last fall, the College of Education was awarded $2.571 million for Project MEDALLA (Multilingual Educator Development Advancing Language Learning Achievement/Activism), which aims to create a network of certified bilingual educators in the greater Los Angeles area.
“These awards are a testament to the critical work CSUDH has been doing for years in teacher education,” says College of Education Dean Jessica Zacher Pandya. “With these additional resources, we can continue to produce the passionate, dedicated, and culturally-conscious teachers that Southern California needs.”