Teacher Inspires Dreams of a College Education
By Joan Baca, University Supervisor, Department of Elementary Education
Joan Baca (center left) and Kaylie Gomez (center right) and students from Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists
Kaylie Gomez is one of those teachers—a CSUN honors' alumna and a People's Teacher of the Year finalist—who instilled the dream that a college education can become reality for her third-grade students at Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists in South Central Los Angeles. Because of Kaylie's CSUN education and her high expectations for her students, she organized a daylong trip to CSUN to give her students an introduction to higher education and a goal to attend college.
Kaylie's planning began in December 2012, when she shared with me, her former student teaching supervisor at CSUN, that she wanted her entire class to have the experience of visiting her alma mater and learning about college. Thus the seed was planted for a fieldtrip.
With enthusiastic support from Dean Spagna, on April 17, 2013, a campus visit became reality. Welcoming the students as they began their day were Provost Hellenbrand, Dean Spagna, Associate Dean Cabello, and faculty, followed by a song and dance performance by the third graders. Next came hands-on lessons designed just for them by four outstanding professors: Dr. Maria Zavala, biology, Dr. Herman DeBose, sociology, Dr. Jan Dobias, Bianchi Planetarium, and Dr. Nancy O'Rode, elementary education-math.
Already wearing CSUN colors, students appear right at home in the dorms.
You can only imagine the students' excitement during a personal tour of a dorm—where Kaylie had served as resident advisor—with Director Melissa Giles. The day culminated in a gathering with President Diane Harrison, who warmly greeted each student and shared information about her role as university president.
Students visit with Dr. Dianne Harrison, President, California State University, Northridge
As the third graders boarded the bus for home, they had learned many things; most of all, they had learned that they, too, could one day become Matadors. Although both CSUN's Daily Sundial and the Los Angeles Times (Sandy Banks' column) wrote articles chronicling this visit, third-grader Gabriel might have expressed its impact most explicitly:
I like to learn. I want to go to college and become an engineer.
Bravo to Kaylie and all teachers who are instilling dreams of going to college.
Thanks to everyone involved in showing these young students that CSUN is within their reach.