A historic coming together of two premier public universities bears its first fruit on Sunday, June 18. On that day five Ed.D.s from the first cohort of the Joint Degree Program (JDP) of the College of Education, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara get their diplomas. The JDP focuses on non-urban schools, like many of those in Central California, and combines the research aims of the University of California with the learn-by-doing focus at Cal Poly. All five graduates currently work in education. They are Kevin Bontenbal, an Instructional Technology Librarian at Cuesta College; James Brescia, Principal at St. Rose School in San Luis Obispo; Holly Edds, Principal at Joe Nightingale Elementary School in the Orcutt Union School District; Patty Grady, Principal at Arellanes Junior High School in Santa Maria Bonita School District (as of July 1); and Jan Wellman, Reading/Resource Specialist at Nipomo Elementary.
James Block, the UCSB Program Leader, says about this historic occasion: “California faces a growing shortage of capacity to lead on matters of P-16 education and especially instruction. The mission of our JDP is to address this shortage, harnessing the collective resources of our major Central Coast public school organizations, community colleges, and universities. Our resultant distinctive, regional, and accelerated program helps working educational professionals better address the achievement gap in our public schools and to lead more local students to learn better, faster, and more self-confidently.”
Students in this innovative program spend their first year at UCSB completing core courses in educational leadership, policy, and organizations and in research methodology. They spend their second year completing a set of advanced doctoral seminars and practica at Cal Poly on information technology, policy and politics, learning organizations, organizational management, and financial leadership. While this coursework is underway, they also participate in ongoing research projects in various central coast Professional Development Districts, crafting solutions to regional educational problems. Students spend their final year of study completing coursework at both Cal Poly and UCSB as they research and write their dissertations. These dissertations cover topics such as increasing engagement among at-risk junior high school students and how new accreditation standards affect learning at community colleges.
Ed.D. holder Dr. Holly Edds explains the value of the program: “The JDP gave me the opportunity to work on current issues facing schools and school districts. As a practicing educational administrator, it was important to me that I apply what I learned directly to my daily work. The program afforded me the opportunity to do that, working alongside current researchers in the field of higher education. I am now much more aware of how research is conducted and also how to better interpret what I see. I also have a stronger knowledge of how to design and carry out research at my own school or district.”Graduate Jim Brescia praised the program, saying, “I commend UC and CSU for forging this partnership to provide a rigorous program in leadership for the central coast. Working professionals are often left out of higher education due to the demands of holding full time employment. This program enables those of us who cannot afford to become full-time students to continue learning and growing in our practice.”
[Photos of the graduates are available; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789.]