Student-Centered Reforms are Underway at Loyola Marymount University

Dr. Shane Martin began his career as a general education classroom teacher. An eye-opening experience caused him to focus his efforts on making sure education is accessible for all students.

Dr. Martin’s defining moment came while visiting the CHIME Institute, an inclusive school in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Reflecting on his visit, he shared, “It’s one thing to read about a fully inclusive model—it’s another thing to visit the school and see how it works in action.” During his visit, a student situation required a teacher’s intervention. The teacher’s training allowed her to compassionately attend to the student while continuing instruction for the rest of the class. This visit solidified a belief that he carries with him to this day: “The classroom can be a welcoming environment for all students.”

Dr. Martin has carried this idea with him throughout his career, especially in his current position as the dean of the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). In fact, Dr. Martin would “like to see the day when we do not have general education and special education—we just have education.” As such, Dr. Martin has been instrumental in breaking down silos at LMU. He has strived to open dialogue between general education and special education faculty. He believes, as we do at CEEDAR, that such engagement ultimately benefits all students.

One key to leading change on campus is to get faculty buy-in, Dr. Martin explained. The challenge is that he is not asking his faculty members to “tinker around the edges, but to have a major paradigm shift.” It requires not just an operational change, but also a conceptual transformation. Dr. Martin refers to it as “not just changing syllabi, but changing hearts and minds.” He says that it is vital to have a core group of faculty to buy in on a heart level. After the core group is convinced of the necessity of change for the benefit of all students, operational change follows. A change in heart and mind predates syllabus change every time.

Dr. Martin’s efforts represent one of the core beliefs of CEEDAR—that every student deserves an opportunity and is capable of success. We are thankful to partner with LMU—a major change agent committed to improving teacher education for the benefit of all students—and hope to see their bold example in other programs for teacher and leader preparation.

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