Open the door to a cozy converted conference room on the second floor of PCC’s Child Development Center, and you’ll find a learning space designed specifically for students who want to stimulate a love for learning.
The Hixon Teacher Preparation Program operates the resource center for PCC students who hope to one day become teachers. With couches, a meeting area, and shelves full of books that are appropriate for young children, the space offers students a range of materials to help them develop their skills as educators.
“Students can check out books, they can collaborate on projects, and they can work on the computers,” said Linda Stroud, a child development faculty member who works within the Hixon program. “It’s a different environment than what you find elsewhere on campus.” Stroud works closely with Janis Dwyer, a PCC counselor who specializes in supporting the teacher-prep program.
The Hixon program came into being through the generosity of Alexander and Adelaide Hixon, Pasadena philanthropists who have supported the college in a number of ways throughout the years. Their $1 million gift in 2000 established the teacher prep program, under the direction of Michelle Ireland-Galman, as a way of shortening the path to credentialed classroom service. While PCC offers no education degrees itself — teaching in California requires a bachelor’s degree — the teacher prep program prepares students for success in their four-year degrees.
Through an agreement with Polytechnic School, an independent school about a mile from campus, Hixon students can gain experience working with students in a classroom setting. Involvement in PCC’s Child Development Center also provides crucial training in classroom management, curriculum design, and methods of teaching and learning. These programs, combined with the second-floor learning center, provide students a range of opportunities to explore their affinity for teaching.
The center also hosts seminars and other information sessions for teacher-prep students. On Wednesday, May 3, Bonnie Ratner, who works in the Los Angeles Unified School District's human resources department, will host a talk for any PCC student interested in special education. “LAUSD Special Education Pathways” will cover the various steps required to work with children with special needs in a classroom environment.
Aside from the many programs and services designed to help students, the learning center serves as a respite from the busy life of a college student. Christa Castillo, who assists Stroud in administering the center, said “It’s just a quiet place to hang out. Much quieter than the library.” Future teachers are encouraged to use the center for studying or conversation, building connections that will help them navigate the world beyond PCC’s walls.
“We want to make these students feel comfortable in their learning,” Stroud said. “Teaching is a passion, and we need to nurture that.”