The Cal Poly Can podcast is produced by the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. Assistant Dean of Advancement and External Relations, Kathryn Dilworth, interviews faculty, students, alumni, and friends whose stories and work inspire and uplift. Collaboration and sharing are the themes of this podcast as we examine the power of mutual service and support for solving problems and answering important questions.
This quarter, our podcast is focused on the theme of EDUCATION. Education is the core of the Cal Poly mission, and our faculty, students and alumni are engaged in various roles supporting teaching and learning. Each show this quarter will take a different look at the issues facing education on our campus and across the country.
This episode features Dr. Lola Berber-Jimenez, Professor & Liberal Studies Department Chair.
If you have any ideas for upcoming guests or want more information on how to support the programs and projects featured in any of the podcasts in this series, please get in touch with us on our website or by email.
Hello out there, we are so happy to welcome our Cal Poly community to the Cal Poly can podcast. This podcast features you, our community members on and off campus. We are celebrating the remarkable work you're doing, and giving you the opportunity to give a shout out to those whose help and support is crucial to your success. I'm your host, Katherine dilworth, your assistant dean of Advancement and External Relations in the College of Science and Mathematics. Welcome, and enjoy the conversation. This quarter our podcast is focused on the theme of education and education is the core of the Cal Poly mission. And our faculty, students and alumni are engaged in various roles supporting teaching and learning. And each show this quarter will take a different look at the issues facing education on our campus and across the country. Now, let's get straight to the conversation. Hi, everybody, this is our first episode of the Cal Poly Cannes podcast. And today, my guest is Dr. Lola Berber Jimenez, she is the department chair for Liberal Studies in the College of Science and Mathematics. And Liberal Studies is a four year Bachelor of Science degree. It's an undergraduate teacher preparation program. So when students finish this degree, they go on to get their teaching credential and then get right into the classroom. So welcome, Dr. Berber, that's what all your students call you. So I'm so happy to have you here today. Thank you, Katherine, I'm really, really happy to be here with you today. So in this series, what we're talking about is Philanthropy In general, not means really helping and the people who come in and support us to do work that's really important to us in our life mission. And that's particularly poignant when we talk about teacher training and students who want their, you know, their professional goals are teaching young children. So tell me a little bit about your students. And really what this what the inspiration is behind this work that's so important for us? Oh, yes, absolutely. Ah, I think we have the best student body in Cal Poly. And I always enjoy meeting every single one of our students and where they are, we get a few of them that actually know that they wanted to be teachers since they were in third grade, and are continuing with that passion. And they are very, very focused on getting better themselves to actually be contributors to the society. Teaching is a very important role. As you know, it does create jobs for us, and opportunities for all students that we all want them to look into. We have some students that come after they figure out the current major, they move to a major because they, they like working with people, this is a profession that helps you make a change in society, as I mentioned, but also it's other core, helping one to one helping one to many right now as we have different classroom sizes. Or maybe in some meetings. We have students or love to learn, I think that characterizes or our student body really well. And they have to learn everything, Katherine, we have at least seven areas that they need to make sure that they're very, very good at, you know, that's the core areas of science, math, language, arts and history. Plus, we add, the additional areas are just as important. The arts, for example, we know that they we don't support them in the arts, whatever they get in our undergrad degrees, or they're going to have in the professional life, because this is an area that is not targeted. In in, in the professional life. We have also physical education, I help amazingly important areas for the student complete development. And that goes into the social and emotional areas that we actually talk a lot now in elementary school education. And in addition, the human development basically adds on an area to all so there's seven, if we go back to them that four core area plus a tree, they're amazingly important. And in addition, we give them experience, we're kabbalists. So we're absolutely learned, by the way, all the way from the very, very first year we send them to the classroom, we want them to, you know, it's elementary school education. So everybody thinks I know what that is because we all did elementary school education, but it's not the same when you go back to it as an adult. So on the first year, we want to give them an opportunity to go back into the classroom with the eyes of a professional, into all the little decisions that a teacher has to do every day. In, in addition to the what they need to know, right, we find that the lower the grade, the more decisions, the more important decisions need to be a lot of critical thinking, problem solving, and connections with students are really amazingly important. So we want them to learn by doing on the first year, going into the classroom. So feel experiences are amazingly important, starting on the first year second, and then we specialize into STEM areas, which are high needs areas for us. So you know that we need more people with careers in STEM to support our society to support our community to support our money, income and so on. To make sure that children are prepared for for the, for the modern economy, don't we, that's where that's, and there's a real loss. I know I've recently read some studies in California is, is struggling as much as the rest of the country to not only have teachers, you're talking about a real holistic education. So they're getting, you know, all of these different elements of really helping a child learn not just with their brain, but making sure they're healthy. But you know, in California, they don't have enough teachers who are confident in the sciences and the math. So that's, I would imagine a really unique piece that that these students have coming out of a place like Cal Poly and, and why you're, you know, in this College of Science and Mathematics, teaching, teaching is teacher prep. We are the only Liberal Studies program in the state that it's in the College of Science and Math. And that the one thing that we can say for with certainty is that we make sure that our students are very confident in science and math, and so on, our graduates are actually opening doors for my incoming students, because there is a strength, they're not afraid to, to present problems in mathematics, this way, in that way, so that we can address all learners in the classroom. And as you know, our demographics in K 12 has changed quite a bit. And all our students basically are trying to just figure out how do I make this relevant to all my students? How do I help them grow as an individual so that by the end of my school year, they those students are ready to go. So while we address the big things about knowledge and skills in mathematics, for future teachers will also address the not so in own important skills of making sure that they meet every learner where they are. And they can actually look at the cultural and the richness that they all bring to the classroom with an idea of opening doors for all the students, so we want them to all consider to be engineers. Yes, that would be fantastic. And accountants and medical school and all those different things with the diverse experiences that we offer in Cal Poly, we allow our students to actually integrate themselves with other majors to be richer and better representatives of all the professions the students may pursue in the future. That's so important because they are there's a mean a teacher in their career is going to be in all different kinds of areas with with young, you know, students who are interested in a wide variety like you say, of professions, you know, what are you going to be when you grow up, and one thing that I wanted to ask you about and give you an opportunity to share is how alumni, you know, from your program are coming back and helping you achieve some of your goals in particular, bringing in students who want to learn to be teachers, but have need, you know, have financial need and supporting scholarships, to to bring to bring people in, who might not be able to afford to come to Cal Poly, but really want to help meet, deliver this mission of teaching, especially across the state, you know, coming out of areas where, you know, there the education delivery, it has been really challenged and students are suffering. So tell me a little bit about how you're getting how, how these students are getting help and it's really helping the department to get to bring students into the program from all around the state. Yeah, and while you're mentioned is amazingly important to us. We have amazing alumni that see the animation have four years into a degree is not for everybody and many of their students may not see, first of all just come into a four year institution and getting a degree as a possibility. And those alumni are helping are actually doing the work for us and making sure that all students know that that's a possibility for everybody that we want that door open for everybody. And that we want to facilitate it. We are looking at students investment in their time, we know that when they got come to Cal Poly, they need to concentrate on learning. And sometimes that may require not being able to get continue their jobs. So the support that they have the freedom that they have, while they're pursuing higher education is amazingly important. We have them with all the cognitive capabilities involve in our in our courses, but more right, we want that peace of mind that they have by getting and we're lucky to have some support from some of our alumni that basically helped our students make progress without worrying about how am I going to pay for my tuition, how am I going to pay for my dorm, my housing, as they're pursuing and their higher education. So we're really lucky in that respect. And it's a very important because we want to diversify the teaching profession. It is, we also want to make sure that people appreciate what teachers do, and I think boscovich people are appreciated. What did you learn, because a lot of parents are doing that. So there's something good come in from us, it is not an easy profession, it is something that is not appreciated, in general, by society, it is one of the best professions that I can think of that you basically can make a difference in a big way. So I'm really super excited to work with our students, I'm really super excited to work with our alumni. And people like you that are helping us bring this message outside, we want to make sure that you know that we need help. Absolutely, we want to basically match and diversify and enrich our, our teacher force. Well, I think you really hit the nail on the head. I mean, so many people who maybe don't know much about maybe they didn't have a family member, you know, who was a teacher, they don't know how hard that work is, and they're and they're really seeing it now and, and just how you have to have so much diverse knowledge to respond. You know, it's not like even teaching a college course, where it's on this specific topic, and it's going to stay on topic, and there's so much more that your students have to be trained to prepare for, and it is truly the future, you know, they are training the future. And so, you know, I think with our listeners, as, as so many have observed this and observed, you know, the impact of education and what it really means for our children, not just their mind, but their social development and their emotional development. You know, any it small gifts add up, and it really makes a difference for you to be able to have the funds you need to give people who want to do this work the opportunity to have the amazing, robust training that they get in this program. Yes, and a little bit helps a lot. Let me just say me a little bit helps a lot. So we're really, really excited with the support from the people out there. As every I was gonna say, Tell me, you know, I think everyone would just love to hear it. It's so putting you on the spot and it's kind of like everything is shifting so much but boy has this time opened up our eyes into like the many different ways to engage and to deliver teaching. So is there anything kind of that you see, since you lead this program and this is what you do is train teachers that you see is like a positive outcome for this that that maybe will remain, you know, when things go hopefully go back to classroom delivery that you want to share? Yeah, I love this as an opportunity of rethink everything we do and why we do it. So it is really important that we continuously keep ourselves young is what I tell my students you need. And this is a profession that is always gonna keep you young because there's gonna be one thing happening after another a year ago, we were not thinking we were gonna be in soon and here we are, and we are good and effective. And guess what on next year, we don't know what's happening and then seven years, in especially in elementary things change periodically. So we We always go into the lifelong learner, we go into the big things like critical thinking they are effective communicators, and all the bigger you allows University learning outcomes that we have. And I think they take us a long way. And we are, are really appreciative of having this time of reflection to see what is it that we want to move, going for what is the most effective, and always keep it in the learning. So learning and teaching will go hand in hand. And keeping making sure that we are addressing the learning as we move forward in our careers, or in our major or wherever we are, that's great, and just really wraps up the whole spirit of what we're doing here, I mean, just continuing always To learn more, and to find ways that we can be more effective. And, and, and reach these goals that that we have to really make a difference. And you're making a difference by inspiring the students to go out into the community and work with children, which is so vital to flourishing, you know, to our communities flourishing. And I just encourage everyone, if you really want to make a difference, and make a difference in in your community support the students who are going to be teachers, they're all brilliant and amazing and full of energy. And they could choose so many things to do with their wonderful brains. And this is what they choose. And this is what they want to do with their life. So So I hope that if if those out there want to help they'll they'll reach out but I am so grateful to you, Dr. Berber for taking this time. And, and I know people are going to enjoy our discussion and learning more and probably be very surprised to find out that we are training elementary teachers here in the College of Science and Math. Yes. I'm happy to meet with anybody or answer more questions if they come up. I we're all about community building on you, our communities. Really appreciate all that. Well, thank you, and thanks for chatting, and have a great rest of your day. Thank you, Katherine. Have a good day. Thanks for listening today. Join us every two weeks for more interviews featuring the remarkable work you do to make the world a better place. If you have any ideas for upcoming guests or want more information on how to support the programs and projects featured in any of the podcasts in this series. please get in touch. Use the link in the description below. Or email me at KDILWORT@Calpoly.edu rT at Cal poly.edu