CBU dean of education aims to produce teachers who want to be difference-makers in students’ lives
Riverside, Calif. (Sept. 11, 2019) – Dr. Robin Duncan smiled as she reminisced about her years in education.
“I always loved math and thought everyone else should love it too,” said Duncan, dean of the Dr. Bonnie G. Metcalf School of Education at California Baptist University.
Duncan started teaching in middle school and later transitioned to teaching math and chemistry in high school.
“I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students,” Duncan said.
She recognized that not all teachers had the training or passion to do the same. That desire led her to seek additional training in higher education.
“I thought, I’m only one teacher. If I teach at a university level, I’m able to continually train educators who positively affect students’ lives; the impact is exponential,” Duncan said.
Duncan transitioned to teaching at Samford University (Birmingham, Alabama), where she earned her doctorate degree in education leadership. She also became a director for one of the university’s education programs. Then, she was presented with an opportunity to work overseas. Duncan, her husband, Rob and their two children, spent a year in Indonesia and then three years in Malaysia. Duncan created a program to assist refugee students who wanted to attend college.
“I had the belief that if those students who had lived the [refugee] experience have an education, then they may be the very ones who can speak into the future of how we can better serve our brothers and sisters around the world,” Duncan said.
When the couple’s time in Malaysia was scheduled to end, the Duncans prayed whether to stay or return to the U.S.
“Then the opportunity at CBU presented itself, and it just felt like it was the right fit,” Duncan said. “One of the things that drew me to CBU was how truly Great Commission-focused CBU is. We were overseas because God called us to be. If we were coming back to the U.S., we wanted to come to a place where we could continue living out that Biblical mandate—‘to make disciples.’”
Duncan, who started at CBU last November, said the School of Education has a reputation of training professional educators and leaders in their field.
This fall 2019 semester, nearly 900 students are enrolled in the School of Education. The largest program within the school is the Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Studies program, which has more than 130 students enrolled. The largest graduate programs by enrollment include the credential, Master of Science in School Counseling and the Master of Science in School Psychology.
“All of our programs are about people caring about others and people who want to make a difference in others’ lives,” Duncan said. “I want to see us producing the best teachers for the students in our schools. The research shows us that a good teacher has more impact on a student’s learning than anything else. We want to produce teachers who have the skills and knowledge but also compassion and the heart to be the very best every single day for every student in their classroom.”
The goal is not only to give educators the research-based skills, techniques and methods, but also that they develop a heart to provide equity in the classroom, Duncan said.
“If we believe that every child is created by God and in the image of God, we’re going to do everything in our power to be the very best teacher for that student,” Duncan said. “If each of our teachers gives their best, we will see students’ lives transformed.”