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Rossier Hosts Screening, Discussion on the Role and Impact of Teachers

March 13, 2014
Dr. Eugenia Mora-Flores, Kelly Russell, Joel Laguna, Dr. Margo Pensavalle

Dr. Eugenia Mora-Flores, Kelly Russell, Joel Laguna, and Dr. Margo Pensavalle

The impact that a great teacher can have on a student’s entire life was the ongoing theme from a  panel of educators who discussed the profession at a screening on March 12 of “TEACH”, a film by noted documentarian Davis Guggenheim.

“TEACH” follows a school-year in the life of four American teachers, two in Colorado, one in Idaho, and a Southern California Garfield High School teacher, Joel Laguna.   Laguna joined the panel discussion following the screening, which included two Rossier faculty from the Master of Arts in Teaching program, Eugenia Mora-Flores and Margo Pensavalle, as well as a current student in the program, Kelly Russell.

“Students may forget what you taught them,” said Laguna, “but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”

The best teachers, according to the panel, are those who truly connect with students, those who push them to get better, and who, according to Pensavalle, provide “the safety net and never give up” on students.

An audience member, who identified herself as a former Garfield High student, grew emotional as she thanked the panel members for the jobs they do as teachers.

The panel also agreed that help and collaboration are critical tools to being successful in the classroom.  “We need to invest in new teachers,” said Pensavalle, “and give them support from colleagues, principals, administrators and mentors.”

The new Common Core curriculum was also a topic of conversation, with a teacher in the audience highly critical of the new standards which she said stifle a teacher’s creativity, and panel members, who were uniformly enthusiastic about its potential.

Mora-Flores, Pensavalle and Russell also underscored how Rossier’s teacher preparation program prepares new teachers to serve student populations that can be highly diverse and differentiated in abilities.

“TEACH” was released in 2013 by Participant Media. The company has aggressively sought community feedback about the teaching profession and has hosted screenings, panel discussions and conducted surveys on teaching around the country.