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A Conversation with Education Dean Hector Ochoa

“When we look at the whole person and what he or she needs to develop most fully, we maximize the potential of the child.”

Dean Ochoa

Dean S. Hector Ochoa

It is often said that a parent is a child’s first and most important teacher. What is the College doing to help families and young children?

We are in the process of merging the Family Studies Program with Early Childhood Education to form a Family Child Studies Program. As we look at the critical role of parents in the development of a child, we know that we need professionals trained to work with families and young children, even before children are old enough to begin formal schooling. This merger, which will be complete within the next academic year, will allow us to better train our graduates to work with parents and young children in a variety of settings, including daycare centers, preschools, public schools, and social services agencies.

What steps is the College taking to better prepare teachers to work in today’s classroom?

Students being admitted to the College for the next academic year will have the opportunity for a new academic focus in our teacher preparation program. Through a comprehensive review process, we have adjusted our teacher preparation curriculum to address two areas in particular. First, we are including coursework to better prepare our teacher candidates for working with children with disabilities, English language learners, and Native Americans. Second, we are including a focus on specific skills for classroom management and assessment of learning. The changes to the curriculum are designed to ensure teacher candidates are equipped for the challenges that they will face in the classroom.

The College prepares many professionals—other than teachers—who will work with children and adolescents. How are these professionals important in the lives of young people?

By taking a comprehensive view, we can make a positive impact on children. When we look at the whole person and what he or she needs to develop most fully, we maximize the potential of the child. We have degree programs that prepare professionals for careers in nutrition, family studies, child development, health education, athletic training, exercise science, counseling, and educational psychology. The nutritionist may work with a school district to ensure students receive adequate nutrition. The family studies professional may work with an agency that supports parents. The health education leader may influence public policy that improves the health of a community. The counselor may guide a group of middle school students as they develop social-emotional skills. All these areas support and enhance not only learning but also the full development of a person.