Donor Stories: Eisner Foundation Expands Teacher Credential Programs

Alumna and teacher Erica Rood stands at the front of her third grade classroom, while CHIME Institute students raise their hands to answer a question.

Third grade students at CHIME Institute in Woodland Hills vie to answer CSUN alumna and teacher Erica Rood’s question. In 2016, Rood ’15 (M.A., Elementary Curriculum and Instruction) won the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Photo by Lee Choo.

The Eisner Foundation and its founders, Michael and Jane Eisner, are dedicated to helping create connections between generations to enrich communities. Their legacy at CSUN began in 2003 with a transformative gift to the College of Education that is proud to bear the Michael D. Eisner name, and continues thanks to a recent grant to the college to expand its teacher credentialing programs.

The $400,000 grant provided by the foundation will be used to boost the number of CSUN students who can participate in the Accelerated Collaborative Teacher (ACT) Preparation Program, the SIMPACT immersive learning program and the college’s internship programs. Long-range goals are to credential at least 70 students through ACT, serve at least 1,200 students through SIMPACT and place at least 140 students in the college’s intern programs.

CSUN prepares more teachers than all 10 University of California campuses combined. In addition to preparing nationally recognized educators — including the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki ’95 (Single Subject Teaching Credential), M.A. ’15 (Education) and 2016 Presidential Award-winner for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Erica Rood ’15 (M.A., Elementary Curriculum and Instruction) — the Eisner College is working to ease the looming teacher shortage crisis in California.

“CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education is committed to providing an outstanding education for the teachers who will inspire future generations in the region, state and nation,” President Dianne F. Harrison said. “We are grateful for the ongoing support from the Eisner family and The Eisner Foundation. We are excited to work in partnership to improve and expand these impactful programs.”

The ACT Program is an accelerated credential option designed for post-baccalaureate college students (those who’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree) who want to pursue multiple-subject, single-subject or education-specialist teaching credentials. Students enrolled in ACT are guaranteed courses that are scheduled to be completed in one year. Candidates progress through the two-semester, full-time program as a cohort, and they work with experienced teachers to learn to teach in classrooms that serve students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Thanks to the accelerated pace, tuition costs are significantly lower than many other credentialing institutions.

“Currently, there is a shortage of teachers in California,” said Shari Tarver-Behring, interim dean of the Eisner College. “Our ACT credential program is a great choice for people seeking a second career in teaching. Funding from The Eisner Foundation will help us expand the number of qualified teachers through recruitment and training. We also will be able to support more interns already in teaching positions to complete their credentials. In addition, this funding will al- low more students to participate in our innovative SIMPACT program. Thanks to the support of The Eisner Foundation, our teacher credential programs will be able to provide more highly qualified teachers to our community.”

Used in university classes, K-12 schools and profession- al trainings, the SIMPACT Immersive Learning simulation uses avatars to provide a highly realistic, immersive virtual platform for practice and feedback in the types of skills that are difficult for teaching candidates to practice before entering the classroom. Skills covered by the simulations include direct instruction, classroom management, parent conferences and co-teacher collaborations, conducting discussions, eliciting student thinking, using specific forms of praise, Individualized Education Program meetings and job interviewing. According to the college, students have reported that the SIMPACT simulator is often more effective, more realistic and more useful than traditional classroom role-play.

The Eisner College’s Internship Program is an alternative pathway to earning a California Teaching Credential for individuals who have partially completed a credential program. Through a partnership between the candidate’s school district and CSUN, interns complete a state-approved professional education program. The intern option is available in the following programs: multiple-subject, single-subject, education-specialist and pupil personnel services.

“At The Eisner Foundation, our goal is to create connected communities that grow and learn together,” said Trent Stamp, CEO of the foundation, which was founded in 1996. “We know that the CSUN Eisner College programs give aspiring teachers the tools to do exactly that, and we look forward to watching their impact on schools in Los Angeles and beyond.”

University officials dedicated the Eisner College in 2003, commemorating a $7 million grant from The Eisner Foundation to establish the Center for Teaching and Learning. The center’s focus is an innovative teacher-training program that offers educators a new approach to understanding and managing differences in childhood learning. At the time, the gift was the single largest donation in the university’s history.

“Michael Eisner and his foundation have been actively involved with CSUN for many years, making a real difference by helping to lift the futures of Matadors who have earned California teaching credentials and gone on to serve com- munities throughout Southern California,” said Robert Gunsalus, vice president of University Advancement and president of the CSUN Foundation. “This most recent partnership between the foundation and CSUN’s Eisner College adds to the growing evidence of CSUN’s elevating impact throughout the community.”