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AT LOCKE HIGH, FOR EXAMPLE, Morris utilized the
collaborative concepts she learned at UCLA to help push through
change in the biology curriculum. She drew strength from four other
TEP graduates and a field adviser who helped make the case that
students deserved a full lab experience. "You can't do this
alone," she says.
Like Morris, other Teacher Education Program graduates put into
practice the principles they learned at UCLA.
At Moffett Elementary School in Lennox, fifth-grade teacher Ryan
Williams '98, M.Ed. '01 moves beyond classroom instruction and dives
into community issues as adviser to the student government's community
committee. UCLA encourages community involvement as a way to reach
kids outside the classroom, and Williams harnesses students' desire
to improve their neighborhoods by organizing cleanups and visits
to a local homeless-services center.
"The whole idea is to make kids realize that they can be agents
of change in the community," he says. "They learn an important
lesson — that they're in control of their community . . .
and they can see change occurring because of their actions."
A little more than eight miles away at Jordan High School in Watts,
Felipe Barragan M.Ed. '99 pushed to make English-as-a-second-language
and history materials more culturally relevant to his students,
many of whom are Spanish-speaking immigrants or children of immigrants.
"You can read Steinbeck, and you can also read a book by Tomás
Rivera," Barragan says. "Both of them are going to provide
ability and skills in reading and writing, but we just needed to
offer more that would engage students."
In the highly diverse universe of urban Los Angeles, teaching outside
of cultural context is counterproductive, say Teacher Education
Program administrators, graduates and teachers-in-training. "Isn't
the essence of teaching knowing your students?" asks first-year
education graduate student Bill MacDonald.