Alumni Perspectives

Melissa Curtis

MST, M.Ed., 2018
6th Grade Teacher
Santa Barbara, CA

TEP has made me a well-rounded teacher. I am an out of the box thinker who prioritizes what is best for the student, not what is easiest or most convenient for me. By giving us the research and the information behind the decisions we make, and how they impact the students, TEP has been helpful for me, in addition to giving us experiences to try some of these strategies firsthand. Many of the teachers tried their own strategies on us as a cohort (I’m thinking of the math games in Ann Caryle’s class, the science experiments in Danielle Harlow’s class, all of the literacy activities in Danielle Whitaker’s class, etc.). Every single class I’ve had here, we have participated in the strategies first hand as students. Because we know what it feels like, we know what it activates in the brain and can use that to craft our lessons in the classroom.

Carla Eckland

MST, M.Ed., 2018
4th Grade Teacher
Bishop, CA

I went to a small liberal arts college that was close-knit, and I grew up going to a small school in a small town. I really value the community, and don’t necessarily like being anonymous. I knew my learning style, needs, and motivation include having a close cohort of people who are going through the same journey as me, and it's that comradery-filled background that led me to choose the UCSB Teacher Education Program. I need those meaningful connections you make in experiences that have a lot of hardship and struggle, but they also have a level of bonding that is very rewarding. Having people around is partly why I want to be a teacher.

Kebi Howe

MST, M.Ed., 2008
Teacher, Peabody Charter School
Santa Barbara, CA

The program was such an experience! Although I was so busy and at times felt like I was going to lose my mind, it went by so fast and I learned so much. Not only was it a great experience, I feel as though I was overly prepared to start my career in teaching and feel confident of being able to teach students at their fullest. I fortunately got hired on at Peabody Charter School in Santa Barbara. I student taught there, so I felt very comfortable in accepting the job. I'm very familiar with the school, their philosophy, and the faculty and staff, which makes me feel at ease about starting a new job where I will be the only teacher in the room! I actually took over my Cooperating Teacher's job teaching kindergarten. I learned so much from her and we also developed a very good friendship. I feel very blessed to be able to take over her classroom and her job and hope to do as well as she did teaching this grade. (I think that the program prepared me to do so well!)

Cindy Mata

SST (History/Social Studies), M.Ed., 2008
History/Social Studies Teacher, Edgewood High School
West Covina, CA

I cannot stress enough how instrumental this program was in preparing me to achieve my goal of becoming a social studies teacher. I wanted to become a history teacher so that I could go back to my home in L.A. and foster socially conscious individuals. In my TEP year I was given the opportunity to learn management skills, curriculum planning, community building activities, and numerous higher level thinking activities to help educate my students. My three teaching placements at various junior and senior high schools really helped put in practice what I learned at the university. These experiences, combined with the grand reputation that the Teacher Education Program has in the educational system, made it easy for me to stand out in the sea of new applicants. My experiences in the program prepared me well for going into the school system.

Graham Oleson

SST (History/Social Studies), M.Ed., 2008
History/Social Studies Teacher, Achbishop Mitty High School
San Jose, CA

My year in TEP was the fullest year of my life: fun, challenging, rewarding, exhausting, enlightening, encouraging. The faculty are truly exceptional and practice what they preach when it comes to their instructional strategies. In twelve months, I built relationships with faculty, colleagues, and my own students that I know will last a lifetime. To me, TEP stands above and beyond other teacher education programs because of its hands-on approach and cohort system. We were at our school sites from the first day of school to the last day of school, seeing the process from beginning to end. The cohort system provided much needed support: everyone in the program is taking the same course load and doing "classroom takeovers" at the same time; and we met in our small professional seminars every week to share triumphs and defeats. I'm convinced that TEP has given me the strategies, experiences, and passion to help me make the world a better place for kids for many years to come.

Erin Powers

MST, M.Ed., 1995
Literacy Coach, Stevenson Middle School
Los Angeles, CA

Great teachers are not born; they're created at UCSB

The TEP program fosters a supportive community where it's safe to make mistakes and grow together. Not only do their student teachers receive tremendous one-on-one faculty support, the program inserts a philosophical compass that guides their graduates professionally for decades. I've worked in rural communities and the most urban of areas. Years later, TEP is still guiding my everyday practices. They gave me the tools needed to make a difference in chlldren's lives.