Success Stories in Education

Anne FitzgeraldAnn Fitzgerald ’93 M’98

Principal at La Serna High School

When Ann was offered her position as a high school principal, Whittier’s hands-on curriculum gave her confidence and a more complete idea of the role she was stepping into.

Not only was she equipped to lead, she was prepared for a sea change in education—both as a teacher and an administrator. As schools moved to Common Core, it seemed to Ann that the rest of the world was catching up with the way Whittier already prepared its graduates.

Those graduates have gone on to fill Ann’s district, and she sees in them a developed passion for children and education. She’s helping shape their graduate coursework, too: the College reaches out for her insights about how best to train teachers who can meet the needs of schools now.

“I think the education you receive at Whittier College really helped develop your foundation, and I think that with a strong foundation you can move everywhere,” Ann said. “We have a lot of teachers who stay here, but if they do move out of state or move to another district, they’re very well prepared.”

Jenna GeorgeJenna George '10 M'12

Teacher at La Serna High School

Jenna always knew she wanted to teach.

She used to line up her stuffed animals in neat, little rows when she was a kindergartner. Now her dream is a reality, and she found an efficient path to get there thanks to Whittier’s program.

While working on her master’s, Jenna finished her single- and multiple-subject credentials at the same time. All the while, professors challenged and supported her through the student-centered curriculum, and she applied that approach in real classrooms as a student-teacher.

Entering a competitive job market, Jenna walked into her interviews with confidence and quickly landed a teaching position, thanks not only to preparation in the classroom, but also thanks to professors and staff supporting Jenna's job hunt with resume feedback and interview preparation.

Now, as Jenna leads her high school classroom, she’s seeing how Whittier’s philosophy of focusing on the whole child—not only their academics, but their identities, backgrounds, and emotions—creates an environment where they excel.

“If someone had asked if they should choose Whittier for their graduate program, I would say without a doubt it would be the best decision that they could make,” she said. “You build these amazing relationships and you walk away with real-world experience that I think is truly unique to Whittier. I think that our smaller class sizes, those personal connections, really help to build a culture where we’re going to succeed.”

Carlos ContrerasCarlos Contreras '06 M'10

Teacher at Pioneer High School

Carlos Contreras knows how to adapt.

Google will always have an instant, comprehensive answer to a student’s question. But as technology dramatically changes the classroom, what Carlos can do—and do well—is create an inclusive environment where his students learn how to contextualize overwhelming information and apply it to their lives.

The graduate program prepared him for that student-driven shift. At the same time, supportive professors helped him gain confidence as he led real classrooms and learned how to design curricula relevant to his students’ identities and backgrounds.

Thanks to Whittier’s preparation, Carlos quickly landed a job after graduating, at a time when the market was hard to get into.

“I thank the program for making me marketable. I had the tools that made me useful in a new teaching environment,” he said. “They were ahead of their time here.”

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