LMU School of Education was selected as the inaugural partner by Chapman University to submit a funding proposal as part of the California Educator Preparation Innovation Center (CalEPIC), a program that builds the capacity of California’s educators to support equity, inclusivity, and the whole child.
The proposal will focus on boosting the SOE’s capabilities for preparing educators to deliver inclusive education for students of all abilities, and particularly to indigenous, Latinx, and other underserved communities in the state. SOE will propose partnering with select PK-12 schools in California as a means of preparing its candidates for this transformational work.
Inclusive practices have long been a part of the curriculum at SOE, says Victoria Graf, professor of special education. ”It aligns with our core value of centering the student in any educational setting—public, parochial, or private,” she says.
SOE also hopes to use grant funds to attract diverse faculty and students to its programs. ”The need to build a teacher workforce that mirrors the demographics of our California schools is long overdue,” says Marta Sanchez, professor and director of bilingual education.
One way this can be accomplished is by providing additional pathways for school paraprofessionals, who assist teachers with their plans in the classroom, to become credentialed teachers themselves. The paraprofessional community employs a high proportion of Latinx and other marginalized groups, says Graf, and their training gives them a leg up on inclusive instructional methods. “Cultivating this skilled group as future teachers will empower these communities and transform the students and families they serve,” she says.
Graf and Sanchez are SOE’s faculty co-leads on the project. Additional SOE faculty and staff members on the project team include Annette Pijuan Hernandez, Kate Murray, and Helen Kim.