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Vol 57 No. 11 : June 2, 2005
Vol 57 No. 11 | June 1, 2005

Alumni Grant to Assist Teacher Education Program

Linda Symcox

Teacher Education's Linda Symcox was pleased and surprised recently to receive a $3,000 CSULB Alumni Association Grant to support her department's Curriculum and Instruction Master's program.  

More than 70 applications were received by the Alumni Association Grants Committee, which offered $35,000 to nine projects. Symcox's grant money was used to purchase a projector and camcorder for use in Teacher Education's off-campus master's program.

“I feel wonderful,” said the Pacific Palisades resident who joined the university in 2000. “This is my first Alumni Association grant and I felt honored to be recognized. Then I realized that more than 70 other people had applied and I was one of only nine who received an award. Then I felt even more fortunate.”

The key to Teacher Education's Curriculum and Instruction Master's program is the launch of three separate school-based Master of Arts programs at local elementary schools over the past three years.

“We hope to establish a fourth and possibly a fifth next year at two more urban schools in the area,” Symcox explained. “As you can imagine, the libraries and bungalows that serve as our seminar classrooms are not equipped with Smart Boards, camcorders or other computer equipment, let alone full-size chairs for teachers to sit on. The project will allow CSULB faculty to integrate technology into our instruction with PowerPoint and video presentations. The camcorder will make it possible to capture educational images of teachers in their own classrooms and subsequently to analyze real-life pedagogical examples in graduate seminars.”

The Curriculum and Instruction Master's program is one of the largest at CSULB, so Symcox believes the new technology will help about 100 graduate students this year alone, and about 75 more next year.

“However, the impact is exponential when one considers that each teacher has a classroom of approximately 30 elementary students who will benefit indirectly from this initiative,” she said. “By the time they earn their MAs, these teachers will be applying many of the technology integration skills they will have learned to their own curriculum and teaching. With a relatively small initial outlay, we will have a program whose cumulative impact will extend far beyond the teachers in the program, to their colleagues and students in a ripple effect.”

Symcox served as assistant director of the National History Standards Project during the 1990s. Her 2002 book, “Whose History,” addressed the struggle to develop national standards for historical instruction in American classrooms. She received her bachelor's degree in history from UCLA, her master's in history from UC Santa Barbara, and her doctorate in education from UCLA in 1999.

“I feel the university, even in these difficult economic times, is trying to find every way it can to support the faculty,” said Symcox. She feels this recognition reflects strong support for the idea of going out into the community. “We are reaching teachers who otherwise might not be able to pursue a master's after a long day in the classroom,” she said. “We tailor the program to particular school campuses. For instance, if the campus is an arts magnet, there will be a focus on the arts. There is something about going into their space that makes the program connect to their classrooms and that makes the teachers feel honored and welcomed by the university. The College of Education has worked hard to develop our K-16 partnership and this kind of support helps sustain that partnership. This is the grassroots level of that partnership. It's very rewarding.”

Symcox is grateful to the CSULB Alumni Association for its support. “I think it's wonderful that the Alumni Association offers these grants and tries to bring something special to the faculty and students,” she said. “The Alumni Association is connected to the community. They strengthen that connection by recognizing what's going on here that reaches out to the community. The alumni awards and ceremonies are encouraging to faculty who work so hard. It's nice to pause now and then to receive this kind of support and recognition by our neighbors.”


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