Born in Washington D.C., Joe Bell has become a native of Northern California since moving here as a child. He lived in Berkeley, Benbow, Redway and Garberville, attending South Fork High School in Miranda, California.
Bell received his Bachelor’s Degree from Chico State, his Master of Arts in History from San Francisco State University and finally, his single subject teaching credential from Dominican University of California – Ukiah in 2002. Bell chose Dominican because it was close to home. Teaching seemed like a logical choice with a history degree, but most important to Bell is he feels “education is a key vehicle that allows for social mobility—it allows for people regardless of race, gender, or family income to have good lives and achieve their dreams. In that sense, I feel as though I am helping people have better lives.”
Because Bell didn’t want to leave the Fort Bragg area, he did substitute teaching for a year until an alternative education position came up, which he worked at for three years. Then, a history position opened up at Fort Bragg High School and he’s been teaching U.S. and World History to 10th and 11th graders there ever since. Bell has learned that teaching is extremely rewarding; it’s heartwarming when students thank you at their graduation ceremony or when students you write letters of recommendation for get into places such as Harvard. He also loves the “great energy” that comes with working with teenagers.
Bell has learned there is no “one right way” to teach, and that after being taught and exposed to different theories and strategies you learn which ones work best for you. His advice to new teachers is to realize that teaching is more than a 9-5 job, but being involved in extra curricular activities is one of the things which makes it so rewarding. Bell loves his job so much that he looks forward to at least another twelve years, and he is also in the process of working out a college level teaching position at Mendocino College.
Bell recommends Dominican University because they did “an excellent job of introducing me to the teaching profession. The feedback given to me after observations during my student teaching was most beneficial and in addition to outstanding pedagogical instruction, there was also a lot of useful, practical instruction such as making resumes, binders of lesson plans, practicing interviews, etc.”
Lura Vieria's family goes back five generations in the coastal town of Fort Bragg, California. Her mother was a school teacher, but it wasn't until Lura lost a dear friend quite suddenly--who was also a teacher--that she decided that was the path for her. An elementary school librarian at the time, Lura realized she wanted a closer relationship with students than the 500 who cycled through the library weekly.
Lura earned a teaching credential from Dominican University of California - Ukiah, in May, 2007. The following August she was hired three days before school started as a third grade teacher for Fort Bragg Unified. She moved over to fifth grade her second year, where she remained until she moved on into administration.
Lura followed up her teaching credential with an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction a few years later. "I chose Dominican becaue I could continue working as the school librarian and earn my credential simultaneously." She chose Dominican initially for convenience, but soon came to realize how comprehensive the program was, and loved working with her co-hort. "We had a lot of fun!" she recalls.
As Lura watched a succession of principals move through the school where she taught, she thought, "I could do that." When the next opportunities came her way, she applied for a few openings hoping to polish her interviewing skills. Apparently those skills were pretty good--she was hired at the first interview she went to! Lura has been the principal at Coyote Valley Elementary now for two years.
"The best part of my job is building relationships," Lura says. I also love that every day--and sometimes every ten minutes--offers a new challenge or opportunity to learn something new."
What's next for Lura? Meeting the challenge of implementing the new Common Core State Standards and writing a comprehensive Local Control Accountability Plan for my site, for starters. With Lura's positive attitude, desire for lifelong learning and passion for education, her future looks very bright indeed.
Lura's Advice to New Teachers
Lura's advice to beginning teachers is to "be gentle with yourself ... Take baby steps and don't try to master too much at one time. It's okay to admit you don't know the answer to something, as long as you do get back to the person who asked." Lura adds, "I would also encourage new teachers to trust yourself, go with your instincts, and don't be afraid to try new things--that's how you learn."
Dawn Gittleman grew up in San Diego and moved to northern California to attend Humboldt State University. There she majored in botany, agriculture, and art and obtained a degree in Sustainable Systems.
After college, Dawn began a teaching job in Romania. She taught English at a private English Immersion school that was looking for Americans to teach. She had previously worked with preschoolers and toddlers and really enjoyed helping others learn.
When she and her husband had a daughter, Dawn wanted to find a stable job and home in the country. Her family moved to Ukiah 6 years ago. While she was raising her children, Dawn started working as an instructional aide at Pomolita. This experience led her to realize she was “inspired to go into the (Dominican) program.” Dawn says “Pomolita felt good and was an exciting fun job. I was good with students, had the same schedule, and same hours vacations with the kids. I wanted that. It’s rewarding to work with kids. I wanted to work in something that I did something positive in the world. I grew up working with kids.”
Dawn entered the teacher preparation program at Dominican University of California’s Ukiah Center in fall 2012. It was Dominican’s local reputation, convenient schedule, and accelerated format that were important to Dawn. She says “Honestly, I chose Dominican because it was close to me and I have a family. So, it was do-able for me. That’s why I didn’t even look anywhere else or into any other programs. I don’t even know what other programs offer. I chose Dominican because it was right here and I knew I could do it.” Dawn was recommended for her preliminary multiple subject credential in 2013.
In fall 2013, Dawn was hired to teach 1st grade at Saint Mary’s of the Angels School in Ukiah. Her class is comprised of 31 1st graders who are “chatty but a really great class.” Dawn feels fortunate to have found her first teaching job at Saint Mary’s “I feel fortunate. Everyone is really open and willing to help me. I feel super fortunate being here in this place for my very first year.”
Dawn’s advice to new teachers:
“In the program in general, really just try to stay positive, try to take one step at a time. One week at a time. The professors are very understanding really, just remember to communicate with them if you’re having a hard time with the timeline, they’re really nice to work with.”
Once you’re teaching “Don’t take things personally. I’m trying to distance myself from criticism, I want and need the feedback but I don’t want it to hurt my confidence or my feelings. Separate yourself from the situation, have a sense of professionalism. Be easy on yourself. Try not to get overwhelmed. Because it is overwhelming, there is a lot of stuff that you have to think about.”
Caleb Cimmiyotti grew up in the Fort Bragg / Mendocino area where his parents own a family business. After graduating from Fort Bragg High School he attended UC Santa Cruz, and earned a degree in Economics and History.
He thought he would enter teaching as a second career. He began substituting and was working with a 6th grade student who couldn’t read and “hurled a mug at the back of his head.” Caleb calls this his “Wake up call into elementary education to teach reading.”
Caleb chose the Dominican University of California’s Ukiah Center because of the cost and overall convenience. He was able to live at home, not work, and be supported by his family while he completed the program. He attended the weekly seminars with the cohort that meets on the coast. While attending that class, Caleb observed multiple teachers in multiple grades. This overview of many different educational situations was a benefit to his learning to become a teacher himself. Caleb now holds a multiple subject credential, two single subject credentials, and a Master of Science in Education degree.
Last year, Caleb taught a 2nd grade class in Point Arena. With such young students, Caled learned the importance of “keeping things going, keeping the activities fresh and keeping the students engaged.” This year, Caleb is teaching 7th grade at Redwood Academy in a classroom of 21 students. In this self-contained classroom, he teaches everything except fitness. He feels that the students are “a bit older and more stable in their academic expectations and they know the classroom routines.” In the future, Caleb wants to go into administration. Caleb plans on teaching for 3-5 more years then entering an administrative credential program.
Caleb’s advice to new teachers:
Put classroom procedures in place from the first day of school. Always refer to the procedures to keep the schedule, rules, and expectations in order. Prepare bell work; always have something for them to do when the bell rings. Automate procedures as much as possible. Caleb uses a magnetic white board for the daily lunch count and easy roll taking.
“Talk to peers in program. What sites were they at? What are the policies and procedures? Do they like the staff? Make sure the school fits. Observe in schools before applying. Screen schools you are interested in. You want to be a happy first-year teacher. Carefully pick the environment you want to work in and the people you want to work with!”
Jensen Henderson was born and raised in Ukiah. She attended Chico State University and graduated with a degree in political science. After moving to San Francisco and working in casting and advertising, she wasn’t feeling fulfilled in her career. She decided to become a teacher because she “has just always loved kids.” According to Jensen, “I just love to hear what they have to say. Even growing up, I would rather spend time with kids. I have always been outgoing and thought about teaching but thought it would be so difficult. But I also thought it would be fun.”
Jensen decided to pursue her multiple subject teaching credential through Dominican University’s Ukiah Center because of the reputation she learned from the local community and alumni. She wanted an accelerated program that was local with no commute. Jensen successfully completed the program in June 2013 and is currently teaching 6th grade at Pomolita Middle School. She was hired a week before the school year started and was welcomed with a great deal of support and information from her school and district. Her recommendations for new teachers once they begin teaching: “Get to know everyone at your school. Hang out in the staff room and introduce yourself to as many people as you can. Try to make sure you’re going to be in a supportive district.
Entering the job force so quickly, she has found a few surprises. Jensen was “surprised that the students were so young. They still want to impress their teacher and do well.” She continues, “one of the girls was waiting at the door to the classroom because she was so nervous. But she has come out her shell and already found confidence.” The District is so supportive that even the principal asks me what I need. It’s great to have that kind of support.”
Jensen’s advice to new teachers:
Jensen has great advice for beginning teachers before they receive their credentials. “Go into as many classrooms as possible. Observe as many teachers as you can. Use their strategies, rules, decoration ideas. Get as much knowledge as you can as often as possible.”
Dominican University’s Ukiah Center welcomes over 20 new teacher candidates this fall. These aspiring teachers are eager to enter the teaching profession as Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers in our local schools. Courses for the teacher preparation programs at Dominican University’s Ukiah Campus began on August 9.
The new teacher candidates are enrolled in three teacher preparation programs. Ukiah residents Alexandria and Kira are preparing to teach in elementary schools. Others, like Serena and Tyler are getting ready to teach in middle- or high schools. Serena is preparing to teach Spanish at the high school level, and Tyler will become a history teacher. Tanya and Maria are incoming candidates who will take courses and practice teach to earn their education specialist credentials to teach students who have special needs. Dominican’s new teacher candidates will be in public schools in Lake, Mendocino, and Sonoma counties on the first of school to learn how classrooms are prepared at the beginning of a school year.
The Ukiah Center works collaboratively with local schools to ensure that their new teacher candidates will observe and work under the direction of master teachers. The Ukiah Center’s programs provide highly qualified instructors, a meaningful, practical, and relevant curriculum, and a range of outstanding local resources. Students will learn from instructors who are classroom experts and know local school, district, and county cultures.
Eleven teachers who have teaching credentials are returning to the Ukiah Center to complete their master’s degrees in education. They will be taking courses, learning to conduct research in their own classrooms, and will complete a master’s thesis to earn their degrees.
The Ukiah Center, which was established in 1984 to meet the needs of working adults, offers classes in Ukiah in the late afternoon, in the evening, and on Saturdays.
In Celebration of Teachers, Honoring the 2012-13 Credential Candidates and Master's Degree Recipients from the Dominican University of California Ukiah Center on June 1, 2013. 20 Teaching Credential candidates and 6 Master's Degree students celebrated their successful year with the faculty, friends and family.
Lisa Ray, welcomes and congratulates the students on their accomplishments.
Guadalupe Guerrero, Multiple Subject Credential Candidate, explains to the crowd that "Dominican has taught us that we have to believe in the students if we want them to believe in themselves. We may fail at times, but everyday is a good day to try again. We came into teaching not for the income but for the outcome. Because we have the power to change lives."
Kate Ruprecht, Single-Subject Credential Candidate, discusses "Without teachers we probably wouldn’t be able to read, write our own name or tie our shoes. Take a minute to think about your favorite teacher. I know we all have one. The reason why this person is your favorite teacher might be different than the reason the person sitting next you today came up with, but all of these great teachers had the same effect on us regardless of the way they went about it. They changed our lives in a profound way. Stop and think about that. How many people in other professions can say that in a room full of a hundred plus people everyone was profoundly changed by their work? "
Education Specialist Credential Candidate, Marilyn Starwalker, details the importance of lifelong learning "No matter our age, our minds have continued to grow from knowledge and experience, and from the successes and challenges we have faced. Although not measurable on a wall, our growth can be measured by the impact we have made and will make on the students we teach."
Master's Degree recipient, Pauls Krasts, welcomed the crowd, congratulated his fellow students and thanked the support of his family while speaking about the importance of the future of education.
Dominican Alumni and Schoolmasters Educator of the Year Award recipient, Tobin Hahn, inspired the room stating "Schools need strong leadership and vision. Great instruction may be an important factor in student learning, but great leadership can create synergy, and with that synergy, what happens at a school becomes greater than what happens in any individual classroom. Don’t wait for that leadership to appear and don’t wait for it to come from a principal or a superintendent. Develop that pocket of greatness within your classroom and it will spread."
Single-Subject Credential Candidates:
left to right
Stacy White, Kate Ruprecht, Cathy Welling, Rachel Leach, Ed Donovan, Patrick Kelly & Chris Wood. Not pictured is Shawna Byrns and Paul Holt.
Education Specialist Teaching Credential Candidates
left to right
Suzy Charles-Engelke, Christian Dorn, Marilyn Starwalker, Colleen Shannon-Milani, Stephanie Sentell.
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential Candidates
left to right
Lupita Guerrero, Dawn Gittleman, Hayley Milovina & Jensen Henderson. Not pictured are Punya Droz and Molly Ryan.
Master's Degree Recipients
left to right
Caleb Cimmiyoti, Katyellen Lindroos, Debbie Imhoff, Debbie Crowningshield, Victoria Starr Soria, Pauls Krasts.
Sometimes teaching finds you. For Jose Sevilla, it took several years of life experience before he knew he wanted to become a teacher. Born in Mexico and moving to the United States at age 12, he began 7th grade. Going into 7th grade was already something new for Jose and his four sisters because his parents did not finish elementary school. To his own dismay, Jose was moved to the 9th grade after a year and a half even though he could not speak English. At the time, his high school had an influx of native Spanish speakers who they were not prepared for. As a result, Jose struggled with core class work and his schedule was predominantly filled with non-academic classes.
You may recognize Theresa Oster. Some may remember her as a 2001 graduate of Ukiah High School. Some may know her as their son or daughter's Language Arts teacher at Eagle Peak Middle School. One thing everyone can recognize is her passion for teaching.