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Meet the New College of Education Faculty

Published November 13, 2018

This fall semester, five new faculty members joined the College of Education. Learn more about their research interests, why they chose Education, and what they want to inspire in their students.

Dr. Avery Olson

Avery Olson
Dr. Avery Olson

Why I chose the College of Education at CSULB:

I chose the College of Education at CSULB because I share the College of Education’s commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice. As an alumna of the college (SDHE ’09), I had an impactful experience – developing significant relationships with other alumni, and with caring faculty who provided quality training. I am proud to continue to be part of this community. 

Why I chose Education:

I chose Education because in society we see education as the social good that acts as an equalizer to inequity. As a low-income, first-generation college student myself, I know the significant impact that education can have on the lives of many – yet, we still see inequity in experiences and outcomes. I think we still have quite a bit of work to do here and I hope I have an impact through teaching the next generation of educational leaders, and by researching social structures and policies that need improvement.  

My research interests:

My areas of research and scholarship include: (1) the experiences and outcomes of underrepresented and underserved populations in higher education – including examining the impact of interventions designed to increase equity in higher education; (2) the influence of context on student development outcomes; and (3) the relationship between social policy, education, and social inequality in the navigation of the P-20 pipeline. 

My teaching philosophy:

My philosophy of teaching has evolved from over 20 years of practical experience in student affairs. The mission of my teaching is to promote a positive learning experience where students are co-constructors of knowledge. I view teaching and learning as more than just content mastery, but also development of critical thinking, individual fulfillment, and self-directed learning. Students bring personal lived experiences to the classroom and I work with my students to co-construct knowledge via these lived experiences.

What I hope my students see in me: 

I hope my students see in me someone who really cares about them as individuals and who wants to work with them to improve outcomes for students.

What I hope to teach my students:

How-to do-good work and not lose themselves in the process. 

What I hope to inspire in my students:

Critical thinking and the enactment of social justice in their daily work. 

Dr. Alejandra Priede

Why I chose the College of Education at CSULB:

Because of its student-centered and social justice-oriented mission and vision.

Why I chose Education:

I believe education increases opportunities for living a more wholesome life.

My research interests:

Research methodologies, program evaluation, underrepresented minorities, inequalities in health and education, students' and teachers' success

My teaching philosophy:

My goal is to increase students’ confidence in their ability to learn complex concepts and guide them to achieve their personal and professional goals. 

What I hope to teach my students:

I hope to teach my students that understanding statistics will help them become better leaders and make better decisions.

What I hope to inspire in my students:

The desire to help others and be kind to each other.

Dr. Kelli Sanderson

Kelli Sanderson
Dr. Kelli Sanderson

Why I chose the College of Education at CSULB:

I earned both my Education Specialist credential program and a Master’s degree in Special Education from CSULB. When I was a student, I recognized that the College of Education at CSULB was a special place. In particular, I felt the faculty went above and beyond their duties to help students succeed. I pursued my doctoral degree with hopes that I would one day join the faculty at the College of Education at CSULB. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a dedicated faculty.

Why I chose Education:

I began working with children with disabilities many years ago, as a behavior interventionist in the LA area. During that time, I worked in various classrooms, providing one-on-one support to students with severe challenging behavior. I found that I really enjoyed working with students with disabilities in the school setting. I was also inspired by the teachers who were making a difference in their students’ lives.

My research interests:

My research interests include informal supports for adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, and disability advocacy.

My teaching philosophy:

I strive to create a safe atmosphere where my students feel comfortable participating and sharing their experiences. I want my students to feel comfortable taking risks in my courses. I believe students learn by doing, so I try to incorporate many hands-on activities into each lesson.

What I hope my students see in me:

I hope my students recognize my passion for the field of special education and disability advocacy.

What I hope to teach my students:

I hope to provide my students with broad foundational knowledge about the field of special education, as well as practical skills that will help them be successful as classroom teachers.

What I hope to inspire in my students:

I hope to inspire an advocacy disposition in my students. I want my students to advocate for individuals with disabilities and provide their students with the best services possible.

Dr. Jolan Smith

Jolan Smith
Dr. Jolan Smith

Why I chose the College of Education at CSULB:

The job matched my interests perfectly - a special education program seeking knowledge in moderate-severe disabilities. 

Why I chose Education:

It's a noble profession where you serve children and families and guide children to a lifelong love of learning.

My research interests:

African American students and families in special education

My teaching philosophy:

I believe special educators must be strong advocates for students and families with disabilities, problem-solving and breaking through barriers of bureaucracy and school politics and deficit perceptions of disability. I believe that true educators are community agents who have a visceral pull to advance social and community change. To educate is to go beyond academics. An educator cares; he cares about the community in which he teaches; she cares about the students she sees daily; he cares about the families of his students because he knows that family functioning affects the child he sees in his classroom; she cares about the life outcomes of her students. As a teacher educator, I aim to prepare my students to be educators who will be dedicated to the long-term development of our students, families, and communities.

What I hope my students see in me:

A dedicated professor who is knowledgeable about theoretical and practical problems and solutions pertaining to special education. 

What I hope to teach my students:

The importance of being a strong advocate for students with disabilities because it is the desire to empower and not fail students and families that will help you become a better professional. 

What I hope to inspire in my students:

Equity, advocacy, professionalism

Dr. Maiyoua Vang

Why I chose the College of Education at CSULB:

I enjoy working with first generation college students. The campus as a whole serves over two thousand first generation students, with many enrolled in programs housed within the CED.

Why I chose Education:

Education is the one field that forces you, whether as student or instructor, to recognize your connection to the wider world. 

My research interests:

I study the neoliberalist tendencies of orthodox school leadership and ways to contest that project.

My teaching philosophy:

We have a responsibility to tell the truth.

What I hope to inspire in my students:

I've always felt most at home and most relevant when in the classroom with my students.  For me, teaching and giving are the most important things I can do - bar none.  I hope that my students recognize this as well, that our purpose in the world is not to be more clever than the next person, but to build one another up.  That's the rent I pay to breathe on this planet.