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College District Tries ‘Home-Grown’ Teachers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lynda Rader was nervous at first. She took her place at the head of the beginning English class at Ventura College and took a deep breath.

“Everyone was staring at me,” Rader said. “It gave me goose bumps to think that it was my responsibility to give them the information they need to succeed.”

But after a few minutes, Rader felt comfortable, easily explaining to the class the basics of English grammar. It was her debut as one of eight “home-grown” instructors this year in the Ventura County Community College District.

Rader is participating in the district’s new mentorship program, designed to teach women and minorities who are working on their graduate degrees how to be community college instructors.

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For the entire semester, Rader and seven other graduate students will work under the supervision of full-time faculty members at Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges.

“It’s called ‘Grow your own,’ ” said Priscilla Partridge de Garcia, a faculty member who is participating in the program. “Instead of going out and bringing someone in from outside the state, there are a lot of people in Ventura County that would make excellent personnel. We’re training them.”

The program, spearheaded by district Affirmative Action Officer Roland Glover, was started this year by a $14,517 grant from the state chancellor’s office and $6,000 in state college staff development funds.

“The best way to learn is to get right in there and teach,” said Larry Falxa, Rader’s supervisor.

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He said the program provides a “safety net” for the trainees.

Rader said she felt more comfortable during her first lecture knowing that Falxa was there to help her if there was something she could not answer.

“When I first started, I thought, ‘What do I do now?’ ” Rader said. “I just looked right over at him.”

Rader is working on a master’s degree in special education at Cal Lutheran University. Most of the students in her English class have learning disabilities.

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Participants in the program are teaching classes ranging from political science to psychology.

Joseph Sabedra, a teacher-in-training, said he is preparing to give his first lecture on ancient Greece at a Moorpark College history class Tuesday night.

He said he’s been practicing in front of the mirror.

“I’m going to be on my own for an hour,” Sabedra said. “It will be the first time I’ve given a long lecture. I’m nervous.”

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Sabedra said he always wanted to be a teacher but didn’t know how to break into the field.

“I feel lucky to be in the program,” he said.

District officials said the program should give participants a “real boost” for getting a job.

“It gives them the experience you cannot get anywhere else,” said Jerry Pauley, associate vice chancellor for personnel. “They get firsthand knowledge on what teaching is about.”

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De Garcia, who is in charge of Oxnard College’s re-entry program, added: “The community college system is a great system, but it’s not always easy to get in. By being around, when openings come up they could get the jobs.”

Rader said she hopes to continue teaching in the college district.

“Now I realize that I like being in the classroom,” Rader said. “It’s a good feeling to know that I’m helping students succeed. I love to wake up in the morning when I get to do this.”


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