On July 31, California State University, Northridge hosted approximately 500 pre-K-12 teachers at the inaugural Better Together: California Teachers Summit. CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center was filled with teachers eager to learn and network with their fellow professionals through the exchange of educational best practices. Nearly 11,000 pre-K-12 California teachers throughout the state participated in the event.
CSUN was one of 33 locations across the state, including 21 CSU campuses, that participated in the summit. The CSU is California and the nation’s largest producer of teachers, with a yearly average of 6,500 graduates completing the CSU program and earning a California Teaching Credential.
“Behind every successful student is a great teacher,” said CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison. “Teachers are the driving force of innovation and education, now more than ever, as we implement new California standards.”
The program included discussions about new innovative practices, led by teachers. The event EdTalk speakers included CSUN alumna Rebecca Mieliwocki ’95 (Single Subject Teaching Credential), M.A. ’15 (Education), the 2012 National Teacher of the Year; Tina Repetti-Renzullo, a 28-year veteran educator of K-12 grades and 2010 Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year; and Aba Ngissah, sixth-grade teacher in the Inglewood Unified School District.
Additionally, two other keynote addresses were given by Leland Melvin, co-chair of the White House task force charged with developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plans; and actress Yvette Nicole Brown, from NBC’s Community and recent partner with Stephen Colbert on an initiative to fund education projects.
Brown, who grew up in East Cleveland in a single-parent home, reflected on the escape and opportunities teachers gave her in her young life.
“My mother told me that education is the way out,” she said, “because a lot of times, if you’re in an impoverished neighborhood, your family can’t give you what you may need to succeed because they haven’t experienced it themselves.
“Teachers can change the trajectory of a life. Little things that teachers do make such a big difference.”
As she reminisced about teachers throughout her young life, Brown inspired the audience with her heartfelt stories about how the great teachers of her youth shaped the woman she is today.
“So much of who I am is because of you [teachers],” she said. “So much of what anybody accomplishes is because of you.”