Five questions for Shane P. Martin
Shane P. Martin is the dean of the School of Education and dean of Graduate Studies at Loyola Marymount University. While education courses were offered at LMU as early as the 1930s, the first Teacher Education Program was established in 1948. The School of Education was established in 1992, and today, it enrolls about 250 undergraduate students and 1,400 graduate students. LMU’s School of Education is committed to improving urban education for a culturally diverse citizenry. Its many partnerships include those with Teach For America and with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for the PLACE Corps (Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education) and CAST (Catholic Archdiocesan School Teacher) programs that focus on under-resourced public and Catholic schools respectively. LMU’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership for Social Justice program prepares superintendents, principals, policymakers and leaders of nonprofit and community organizations to transform schools and communities in Los Angeles and beyond.
What was your first role working in education?
My first teaching job was in an inner-city parochial school in Los Angeles where I was the teacher of record while also working on my teaching credential. This was before Teach For America, alternative routes or internship programs, although what I went through was a similar experience. The school was predominantly African American, and I taught all subjects in seventh grade except for math. I taught 42 students who tested in a range from second to 12th grade reading level, with the class average at a fifth-grade reading level. In one year, the class average improved so that all of my students were reading at grade level. I also did home visits to every family and learned about the community as well as the issues and concerns impacting my students’ success.
What is one pivotal moment in your career in educator preparation that left a positive impact on you or others?
A very impactful moment for me was visiting CHIME Charter School in the San Fernando Valley – my first experience at a full-inclusion school. While I was visiting one of the classrooms, one of the students had a seizure. I was amazed to see that the teacher didn’t stop teaching, and that the other students continued to follow the lesson as a paraprofessional assisted the student with the seizure. The way that the school responded to this student’s particular disability normalized the situation and created a positive learning environment for all of the students. In this school, there were children in wheelchairs, paralyzed with breathing apparatuses, who could move and communicate by moving a stick in their mouth, sitting next to students without those challenges. The environment was extremely positive and welcoming for all students, which made it transformative to experience the power of the full-inclusion model.
Why did you decide to join Deans for Impact?
I belong to several organizations in the field of education, and my concern has been the lack of innovation and openness to new ideas. There are many critiques of schools of education, including that we are not preparing teachers for the schools of the future but instead for the schools that existed more than 20 years ago. While those critiques sting, we as a field have to pay attention to them, and I wanted to be a part of a group that was willing to do this work – to think differently and more creatively about solutions to some of the challenges we have in educator preparation.
What most excites you about the opportunity to transform the field of educator preparation in the years ahead?
I actually believe that transformation is possible. It won’t be easy, and while there are many obstacles to doing so, we know that – like medical schools learned a little over a century ago – we as a field must change in order to improve our outcomes. We need a shared vision and shared set of indicators on what effective educator preparation looks like.
What is one surprising thing that everyone should know about the program you lead?
One of the things that distinguishes the Loyola Marymount University School of Education from other programs is the way we work across the spectrum of K-12 education. We have strong partnerships with traditional public schools, public schools that are newly reconfigured such as pilot, magnet and charter schools, as well as private and parochial schools. We’ve positioned ourselves as a convener and facilitator between and among the different education providers, who often do not talk or work with one another, and at times, mistrust one another. LMU serves as a trusted space for collaboration, the sharing of ideas, and finding solutions that work for all learners.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series featuring Q&As with all the member deans of Deans for Impact.