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Voice Magazine / Stories / 2023 Winter / Equipping Educational Leaders for the Future

Equipping Educational Leaders for the Future

The LaFetra College of Education is leading the charge in addressing the evolving teaching and learning challenges that face the region and beyond.

Southern California, with its diverse communities and changing educational landscape, has long been a case study of the broader challenges facing the U.S. education system.

Over the past decade, TK-12 educational leaders have witnessed significant transformations in their roles, driven by shifts in state rules and policies like assembly bill 130, workforce shortages, changing societal expectations, COVID-19, and the ongoing need to prioritize student equity, readiness gaps, neurodiverse learning, special education, bilingual education, and STEM education.

To help address such issues, educational institutions in the region must be increasingly agile, innovative, and deeply connected to the communities they serve. The University of La Verne’s LaFetra College of Education continues to rise to the occasion.

LaFetra College of Education offers a wide range of programs, partnerships, and resources that address specific needs of the region, from educational leadership resources to cuttingedge neurodiversity programming. These multifaceted degree programs, non-degree programs, certificate programs, centers, and trainings ensure that graduates and participants are not only well equipped academically but are also culturally competent to navigate the intricacies of Southern California’s education system.

Moreover, LaFetra College’s emphasis on research and innovation has led to the development of evidence-based practices that can be readily applied to meet the unique needs of students in Southern California. These practices include interventions for students with neurodiverse learning needs, strategies for improving English language proficiency, and the use of technology to bridge educational gaps.

The college is also creating several new opportunities such as a Principal Pipeline, including a 24-unit online, one-year Preliminary Administrative Services Credential program. Cohorts in San Diego, Kern, and Los Angeles counties will be starting in the spring. Courses are designed in a “learn by doing” fashion to encourage leadership development by providing learning activities commonly experienced by school site leaders.

“We face a perilous time in education, and our communities in general, as the void of qualified and effective leadership is highlighted by scary imitations. Never can we recall such a time where critical thinking and courage are scarce, and endangered by political and legal maneuverings as they are now. We support our leaders to stand steadfast in courage and ethical reasoning,” says triple alumnus Eric Bishop, EdD ’08, who recently became the chair of the organizational leadership doctoral program (EdD). “I want to maintain the program’s rich tradition of preparing and developing successful and innovative educational leaders for the region and beyond.”

Bishop is also ushering in new efforts to create a pipeline of leaders and support through program alumni. He sees this partnership as an opportunity for alumni to join their alma mater to provide mentorship, resources, ongoing workforce development, and leadership pathways for future educators. The university alumni network, which spans across different sectors of education from TK-12 to higher education, also serves as a dynamic force for change, influencing policies, fostering innovation, and addressing the most pressing issues in Southern California education.

In the summer, prominent education leader, expert, national speaker, and alumna Candace Singh, EdD ’15, joined LaFetra College as the new clinical professor of leadership and inaugural superintendent-in-residence. The roles were created to enhance programs through increased development training, pathways to leadership, and partnerships, while contributing to the college’s ongoing commitment to developing effective leaders and advocates for equity and access in education. Singh brings more than 33 years of experience in all levels of education and an impressive track record in educational leadership. She is also helping to bring new educational leadership resources and training to the region.

Additionally, the university is seeking ways to increase diversity among school leaders. Research shows that students have better academic and behavioral outcomes when they attend schools led by those who reflect the communities they serve. Yet in California, diverse TK-12 administrators are underrepresented. While 60 percent of students in public schools identified as Black or Latinx, only 20 percent of public schools were led by Black or Latinx principals in 2018, according to the Diversity in Leadership Institute. The non-profit is leading efforts to establish funding to train, place and retain 300 new, diverse, and culturally responsive administrators to improve student outcomes and meet the needs of California’s education workforce.

With a range of programs, a vibrant alumni network, and the visionary leadership of Bishop and Singh, among others, the college is not only meeting the demands of the region but also setting the standard for educational excellence. Learn more about the LaFetra College of Education at education.laverne.edu.