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New center promotes innovation and teaching

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Savannah Dingman
Assistant Editor

The LaFetra College of Education opened a Center for Teacher Leadership and Learning Innovation this fall.

Kimberly White-Smith, dean of LaFetra College of Education, said the center is designed to ensure there is a space for professional development for the education faculty.

“This center can help further our understanding of how we need to change the classroom in order to be more student-centered and student-focused,” White-Smith said.

The center, in the Barkely Annex building, has an innovative lab space with the latest technologies to improve teaching culture, strengthen curriculum and apply STEM based learning. The center will look at changes in pedagogy needed to truly serve its diverse student teachers and prepare them to best serve their future students, White-Smith said.

“This is something we need to know as educators … in order to be able to support neuro-divergent learners, first generation college-going students or students from honors classes,” White-Smith said.

The center is open to full-time and part-time education faculty at the University, as well as community education partners and affiliates.

Anamarie Mangahas, assistant professor of education and director of the Center, said it will be open to more educators as they continue to develop the space.

“With this center we want to address cultural relevance and culturally sustaining pedagogies,” Mangahas said.

Kristan Venegas, LaFetra College of Education endowed chair for teaching, education, and excellence, said this center will zero in on the needs of different learners.

“This is really a cutting-edge space,” Venegas said.

She added that other institutions will be looking to the La Verne Center as a leader in these areas..

White-Smith said this center embodies a philosophy and a way of approaching education.

“We have a wide-variety of students, and because that landscape is always changing and innovating, there’s always new technology being introduced,” White-Smith said.

This center, especially with the addition of the lab space, aims to better prepare teachers for the integration of new technology in the classroom, said Bryan Best, senior instructional technologist for LaFetra innovation lab.

“This space is much different than a traditional classroom,” Best said. “We want new teachers to be exposed to the new technological elements they may experience in their first years of teaching.”

One unique installment to the learning space is a classroom setting with multiple cameras and microphones.

The information gathered there is then fed into the faculty lab space, so that observation is much more relaxed and natural for both teacher and students.

This also allows for more honest feedback and makes the teaching observation process less obtrusive, Best said.

Savannah Dingman can be reached at

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